Both reported the same trend: a decline or plateauing in e-book sales. Rod Morrison at Xoum said that the global digital market ‘retreated’ to 20-25% of total sales.
Not all that long ago, there were predictions that e-book sales would swamp sales of print books, but it seems that there has actually been a very small increase in purchases of print books world-wide.
Publishers seem to be struggling to predict the trends. On the demand side I know some independent bookshops in Australia had a tough year in 2016.
Another interesting piece of news was that, after a burst of enthusiasm in 2015, and a brief bonanza for publishers, sales of adult colouring books fell away in 2016.
I’m neither surprised nor sorry to see the demise of that particular fad. It would be interesting to know how many colouring books purchased were actually coloured in by adults.
Books on the move
Whenever I travel, I’m always on the lookout for examples of writing and literature in local communities. In 2016, I came across two quite different examples:
In Italy, boarding a train in the small mountainside village of Santa Maria Maggiore in the north-west, I saw a collection of ‘swap’ books at the station, using the English term, ‘Book crossing’, and an explanation (I assume) in Italian below.
I know there’s are organisations (e. g. http://www.booksontherail.com/) that promotes the idea of leaving books behind on trains and buses for someone else to read, and exchanges pop up in communal rooms in hostels etc, but this was the first time I’d seen one at a railway station. Later I discovered there’s an organisation called ‘Book Crossing‘, that promotes this idea.
Blind date with a book
In Fremantle, Western Australia, Elizabeth’s, a second-hand bookshop (also in Newtown, Sydney) is selling ‘blind dates with a book’. Books are wrapped in brown paper (which was once the sign of a certain sort of book, but no longer), with just a few words on the wrapping to indicate the kind of book it is.
The idea apparently started with some libraries in Australia to celebrate Valentine’s Day. It’s a sophisticated version of a lucky dip for people who like surprises in what they read, but with a few clues in advance. You can find them online here.
Until next time
What writers say
Imagery for me is of paramount importance in a text, not complex imagery that jumps up and down and demands to have its hand shaken, but a more subtle web that weaves its way throughout, often enigmatically, and knits everything together.~ Kate Atkinson