In a digital world, it could be easy to think that reading physical books would be dying off. However, you might be surprised to know that it is sales of ebooks which have been falling, down 4.9% from the same period in 2018. The good news, is that sales in paper books are growing. Interestingly, a shift being driven by younger generations of readers. Proof that paper books are not dying and perhaps, they are more alive than ever.
There are several good reasons for a growth in paperback books, including an explosion in adult colouring books (who knew?), as well as a year of high-profile fiction releases, including The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins and Go Set a Watchman by Harper Lee. In my opinion, readers take pleasure in a physical book that does not always translate well on to digital. Something I witnessed on the London underground last year as everyone around me was reading The Girl on the Train. The irony.
As I watched my mum read her kindle on holiday this summer, which I agree, is an easy way to download and read lots of great books; but it is a product that is not for me. At the same time on holiday, I peered over and watched my husband reading his paperback book and he too, would never get a kindle. He loves the feeling of a paperback book. It is a feeling that isn’t quite like anything else. There you go, twelve years of marriage and this is something we both agree on. That is the moment that I witness his love for the paperback book. I can see him getting lost in the pages which seems different to a digital version.
Perhaps there lies something special about a paperback in a way that powers my inner passion for writing and literature. I don’t want that feeling to ever fade, as I too, am currently writing my first book and I pray (I mean beg), that you will walk into a book store one day and buy it.
In 2018, close to 191 million books were sold in the UK which means our country’s love for reading is truly thriving. This increase in paperback book sales gives me hope I am here for this fight for its continued growth. However, on the flip side, I was saddened to hear that according to the Pew Research Center, the typical American reads just 4 books a year and over 25% haven’t read a single book this year.
So how do we get people to read more?
Perhaps we should take some advice from some of the world’s most successful people who have often said that reading is the key to their success. In an interview with The New York Times in 2016, Bill Gates shared that he reads around 50 books per year. Reading is, he said, “the main way that I both learn new things and test my understanding. Whether I’m at the office, at home, or on the road, I always have a stack of books I’m looking forward to reading.”
They are not the only people who love to read and recognize it as a transformational habit. Emma Watson, Oprah Winfrey, and Barack Obama have all said that they find solace in books. Why? Because they know that every single problem they encounter has been faced before by someone else. Someone somewhere found the solution and wrote it down.
Storytelling is fundamental to human beings. It is how we explore and make sense of this world and understand one another. Because books absorb us and harness our imaginations, they are an essential medium for storytelling—as well as a satisfying one. When someone uses their imagination to create a story, it is true to say that incredible things happen. I often fondly think of JK Rowling who sat in coffee shop in Edinburgh quietly sitting in the corner whilst writing Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, which went on to become one of the best-selling books of all time, selling in excess of 120 million copies.
As a writer, my job is to make sure that books remain steadfastly relevant to our culture. We have a duty of care of encourage reading and support our children to read as much as possible. So, whether you have your own story to tell or you just want to learn about someone else’s story, books are for everyone and they have been created to strengthen your imagination. If there is one thing I have learnt on my writing journey, it is that you will never regret investing time in a good book.