Print Books Are Still Outselling eBooks, Study Finds

Illustration for article titled Print Books Are Still Outselling eBooks, Study Finds
Photo: STR / Contributor (Getty Images)

According to a study by Statista’s Advertising & Media Outlook, ebook sales are still trailing physical book sales globally, especially during the dog days of the covid-19 pandemic. The study, which asked respondents to describe their book purchases in 2020, found that ebooks still haven’t replaced paper in most countries.


“In the United States for example, where e-books are very popular in comparison, 23 percent of the population are estimated to have purchased an e-book last year, compared to 45 percent who bought a printed book,” wrote researcher Felix Richter.

China, in particular, is an interesting case in that ebooks and printed books are actually closing in on each other with 24% of respondents saying they bought a digital book versus the 32% who bought paper. This disparity isn’t quite explained, but given Asia, more broadly, has been on the phone-reading kick for a long time, witnessed by the 2000s fad of “phone written” bestsellers in Japan, it’s still an interesting finding.

As an avid reader and writer (and technophile), I feel I have a dog in the ebook fight, and I keep expecting ebooks to overtake paper books at some point in the near future. That said, I’m always slightly disappointed and still feel these studies, which could be biased towards readers who have time to take a survey, may skew the findings slightly. That said, nothing about this is surprising and it’s good to know we’re all still reading.

Illustration for article titled Print Books Are Still Outselling eBooks, Study Finds
Illustration: Statista

John Biggs is a writer from Ohio who lives in Brooklyn. He likes books, watches, and his dog. He is the Editor-in-Chief of Gizmodo. Signal: +16468270591 Telegram: @johnbiggs


I’ve tried. I’ve really tried to read e-books. I have dozens on my iPad and I’ve just never been able to finish any. There’s just something about a physical book that makes it that much more enjoyable to read.