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Nov 01 2012

Are Printed Books on the Endangered List? [Infographic]

The rise of e-readers is expected to grow significantly in the next few years.

Producers of printed books and producers of e-books have the same goal: Get people to buy and read books. The primary difference between the two is in how they achieve that goal.

The Old West adage “This town ain’t big enough for the both of us” comes to mind.

The rise of e-reading has sparked conversations about the life expectancy of printed books. And from the looks of it, there may be a new sheriff in town, because the publishing industry is already going through the “five stages of grief.”

A new infographic created by compares the growth of digital books with the long history of printed books.

The ascent of e-readers, such as the Kindle and the Nook, occurred fairly quickly. Ownership of these devices nearly doubled between December 2011 and January 2012. Despite this growth, paper books are not completely down for the count, since only 29 percent of American adults own a personal e-book device. It should also be mentioned that 72 percent of American adults read a printed book last year.

If printed books are still popular, why is the publishing industry so worried about e-readers?

For the most part, the publishing industry operates under a consignment business model, in which 40 percent of shipments (books) are expected to return to publishers. In other words, publishers bear the brunt of unsold books, making it hard to stay afloat.

A study conducted by the Pew Internet & American Life Project (results of which are referenced in the infographic below) revealed that readers who own an e-book device read more than readers who do not own an e-book device.

The number of U.S. adults who own e-readers is expected to increase from this year’s total of 15.5 million to approximately 30 million by 2015.

If the goal of the publishing industry is to get people to buy and read printed books, there is cause for worry. Although printed books currently reign supreme, e-books will quickly catch up. Only time will tell whether the publishing industry can make room for both.

Check out the infographic below to learn more about the rise of e-readers.

We want to hear from you. Which do you prefer: printed books or e-books? Share your thoughts in the Comments section.

The Rise of Digital Books

This infographic originally appreared on