No matter what we would like to believe, the answer is simple. Ebook.
We live in the world of competition and affordability is something everyone desires when it comes to books. With the price of physical copies rising and e-books becoming cheaper and even free on websites like Guttenberg or Kindle unlimited, the preference has shifted from paperbacks to e-books. Though avid readers still prefer to own a physical copy of the book than a digital one, they still read e-books more extensively and then decide to buy the physical copy of the book they like and would eventually reread.
The data also clearly shows that online stores like Amazon have become the largest sale channel of e-books and bookstores are being shut down at an alarming rate. In 2014, the sale of e-books was way higher than that of a paperback. The only thing that makes e-books so desirable is that they are cheap and easy to carry. You can have thousands of e-books in you kindle and take them everywhere. It adds an option of convenience that paperbacks can’t. But paperbacks still hold the soul of a real bibliophile in the curve of its spine and the scent of its pages.
With the price difference getting shorter and the e-books sometimes being more expensive than the paperback, physical books are making their return. But it is still a long way to go since e-books have dominated the market.
But then another factor comes into question. Readers sometimes lend their books to other readers, so one just needs to buy one paperback and a whole group of friends can read it. But the same can’t be said for e-books. With no sharing option on Nook or Kindle, each individual would have to buy the book. That further increases the sales of e-books.
With the growing digitalization, everything is becoming modern and the pixelated pages are taking over printed paper. While hardcover still holds the aesthetic value of shelving a book shelf, the days of paperbacks are becoming numbered. While one argument in the defence of paperback may say that paperbacks provide discoverability. A person still hopes to find their next best book in a book shop instead of online. And some genres like nonfiction and cooking are still dominated by paperbacks. Yet, the threat to the print industry is becoming more and more real.