An entire library weighing 200 grams: It was an enticing promise that companies like Amazon and Co. had made in the late 2000s. With the Kindle, the shopping provider has made digital browsing popular, other providers such as Sony and Tolino followed in the business with so-called e-book readers. The digitalization grasped reading, and according to some experts, the days of the printed book were already numbered.
But it was completely different.
At the end of 2019, 26 percent of Germans read digital books regularly. So you can say: The e-book has prevailed on the mass market. But the truth also belongs: the proportion has been stagnating for years. In 2014 it was 24 percent. The printed book, however, is still the medium of choice for extended browsing evenings. According to the industry association Bitkom, eight out of ten Germans (79 percent) read printed books. “E-Books have real fans, but no new ones are added, “says Bitkom President Achim Berg.” For many readers, digital books have created added value, but they hardly replace printed titles. “
However, the publishers should not like a number: 17 percent, i.e. every sixth, does not read in print or digitally.
Young people prefer to read in print
But how did digitization turn upside down in almost all areas of our life, from television to listening to music to booking travel, but reaching its limits when reading novels? Book expert Andrew Albanese from Publishers Weekly reportedly identified two culprits: the millennials and Apple.
Albanese says to the younger generation: “They stick to their phones, they love social media, but when it comes to reading a book, they want John Green in a printed edition”. E-book reader are, in his opinion, something for older users, whom he describes as “boomers” in youth. It is a noticeable advantage for them that they no longer have to go to the local bookstore, and they can make the font larger than the conventional book.
The prices are too high
According to Albanese, the second reason why e-books have not prevailed is the high prices. Digitization actually pushes prices down, but e-books sometimes cost even more than print equivalents.
Apple is to blame for this, among other things: The group rose years later Amazon in the market. One of the main goals was to prevent Amazon from securing additional market shares with dumping prices. There were price agreements with the leading publishers. These cartels were later dissolved in court, but the structures introduced by Apple are still the industry standard. An understandable step for the retailers – but the decision was at the expense of the e-book.