In our Digital World, Paperbacks still outsell e-Books

Closures are unfortunately a continuing trend for retail industry

by Greg Rodman S o which version do you prefer to read, paperback or e-book version of your latest novel? We are not sure of your choice, but it might come as a surprise to those reading this article, but for most people, they still prefer old school print on paper to e-books. Publishers of books include trade and educational books, as well as fiction, in all formats made almost $26 billion in revenue last year in the U.S., with print making up $22.6 billion and e-books taking $2.04 billion, according to the Association of American Publishers’ annual report 2019. While digital media has disrupted or taken over many other industries such as news and magazine publishing and the music business, people still love to own physical books for a few reasons. First, experts feel that for most readers, the physical book itself is very appealing almost soothing for the reader making them connect with the author and the story. The second reason is more about the reader themselves. Most paperbacks have amazing thoughtfully designed covers that are as much a work of art as the stories inside. Plus most book lovers like to display what they’ve read so these well designed covers allows book lovers to record what they’ve read and let others know by decorating with them as part of their reading collection or personal library in their homes or offices.

by Jamie Barrie R etail store closures don’t appear to be slowing down in the industry. There have been over 7,100 store closures announced by U.S. retailers this year, according to a tracking done by Coresight Research and that number could hit 12,000 and beyond by the end of 2019, setting a new record. Last year retail store closures were at 5,524 for 2018, which was down more than 30% from an all-time high of 8,139 closures announced in 2017. With the holiday shopping season just around the corner, most retailers planning to shut stores this year have already shuffled through those announcements so they can shift their focus toward the industry’s busiest times. But analysts say there are still some exhausted businesses teetering on the brink of survival, as sales continue to shift to the internet and newer brands to the market like Neighborhood Goods. All the store closure announcements have also been bad news for U.S. mall owners which are already struggling with traffic to department stores that are falling off. That being said, landlords are getting creative with their malls and available space with now bringing in eating establishments, e-commerce brands and even changing available space over to apartments, hotels and office spaces and owners reinvent the mall model. But it is not all bad news for retailers as there are still retailers opening stores as there have been over 3,000 store opening announcements this year. Lululemon opened its largest store ever in Chicago along with the plan to open a massive, 3-million-square-foot mall called American Dream in New Jersey in late October or early November of this year, showing that there is still some life in retail.

How you read a book may also have something to do with the types of books that you like to read. People who read nature and cook books tend to prefer paperbacks and it goes without saying that children’s books are mostly purchased in the paperback version, while people who prefer to read crime, romantic novels and thrillers are more likely to indulge in the e-book version rather than paperback, according to Nielsen Book International. While millennials are sometimes blamed for the downfall of many industries, it’s actually the opposite for the book industry, as younger people who appear to be popularizing print. In the U.S., 75 percent of people aged 18 to 29 claimed to have read a physical book in 2017, which is much higher than the national average of 67 percent, according to Pew Research. As for the future of books, we are very confident that all formats used in the industry will continue to be in demand as people naturally have a thirst for knowledge and are always in need of good stories for their entertainment. So regardless of the format you prefer, paperback or e-book the key to this industry is that you continue to enjoy reading.

While some retailers are closing nonperforming stores they are opening new locations in different markets. Bed Bath & Beyond plans to close at least 40 locations this year, while opening 15 stores. Bath & Body Works also has some closures planned for about two dozen locations this year, but will also be opening 46 stores and renovating more than 170 locations. Specialty apparel retailer Abercrombie & Fitch Co has plans to close up to 40 stores during fiscal 2019, after closing 29 locations in 2018 as the company works toward reducing the size of its stores and remodeling existing locations. Abercrombie also has plans to open additional stores this year, to make up for the closures, after opening 22 stores in 2018. •




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