The Staying Power of Print Books
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Print Has Prevailed: The Staying Power of Physical Books

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Print Books Have Prevailed

The Briefing

  • Survey data from 10 different countries shows that a majority of people still prefer print books over e-books.
  • 42.5% of respondents purchased at least one print book in 2020—that’s significantly more than the 15.5% who’d bought at least one e-book.
  • Out of the 10 countries surveyed, Germany has the most print book lovers. 58% of German respondents bought a print book in 2020.

The Staying Power of Print Books

E-books are certainly not a new phenomenon. In fact, they’ve been around longer than the internet.

Yet, while the emergence of e-books dates back to the early 1970s, they didn’t hit the mainstream until the 2000s, when big companies began launching their own e-book readers, and digital libraries started to become more accessible to the public.

Around this time, sales for e-books started to soar, and by 2013, e-book sales made up 20% of all books sales in America. Many wondered if this was the end for print books.

But fast forward to 2021, and e-books haven’t made print books obsolete. At least, not yet.

E-book versus Print Book Purchases

A recent poll found that people still favor print books over e-books, at least when it comes to their purchasing behavior.

Of the 10 countries included in the survey, an estimated 42% of people had purchased at least one print book in 2020, while only 15.5% had bought an e-book that same year.

Here’s a look at all 10 countries, and the estimated share of their population who bought physical versus e-books in 2020:

CountryPhysical BooksE-books
🇨🇳 China32.0%24.4%
🇺🇸 United States44.5%22.7%
🇬🇧 United Kingdom48.7%20.0%
🇯🇵 Japan40.1%17.3%
🇰🇷 South Korea34.6%16.8%
🇦🇺 Australia41.2%15.9%
🇪🇸 Spain49.3%14.3%
🇩🇪 Germany58.0%10.4%
🇫🇷 France52.1%7.5%
🇮🇳 India24.5%5.6%
Average42.5%15.5%

China had the highest portion of e-book lovers—an estimated 24.4% of its population purchased an e-book in 2020, which is more than 8 percentage points higher than the average across the whole list.

On the other end of the spectrum, e-books are least popular in India, where an estimated 5.6% of the country’s population purchased an e-book in 2020. Keep in mind, the country has a lower percentage of book purchasers in general.

Why Print Has Prevailed

Why are print books still more popular than e-books? There are many theories. One study suggests that readers retain information better from a print book versus an e-book, while other consumer surveys found that e-books haven’t yet managed to fully simulate the tactile experience of a print book.

However, while e-books might not eradicate print books entirely, the market for digital books is expected to grow in the near future. By 2025, global revenue from e-books could reach $18.4 billion, with 1.2 billion users across the globe.

Where does this data come from?

Source: Statista

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Ranked: The Top Online Music Services in the U.S. by Monthly Users

This graphic shows the percentage of Americans that are monthly music listeners for each service. Which online music service is most popular?

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Top Online Music Services in the U.S.

The Briefing

  • Two-thirds of music listeners in the U.S. used YouTube at least once per month
  • 64% of music listeners use multiple music services per month

The Top Online Music Services in the U.S.

The music streaming industry is characterized by fierce competition, with many companies vying for market share.

Companies are competing on multiple fronts, from price and features to advertising and exclusive content, making it a challenging market for companies to succeed in.

YouTube (the standard offering and YouTube Music) has the highest amount of users, attracting around two-thirds of music listeners in the U.S. during a given month. This is largely due to the YouTube’s massive reach and extensive catalog of music.

Here’s a full rundown of the top music streaming services in the U.S. by monthly listeners:

RankMusic Service% of U.S. Music Listeners Who Use Monthly
#1YouTube61%
#2TSpotify35%
#2TAmazon Music 35%
#4Pandora23%
#5SiriusXM21%
#6Apple Music19%
#7iHeartRadio15%
#8SoundCloud10%
#9Audacity6%
#10TTuneIn5%
#10TDeezer5%
#10TNapster5%
#10TTidal5%

Two companies are in the running for second place: Spotify and Amazon Music.

Spotify leads in one important metric: number of paid users. Meanwhile, Amazon Music has a large user base since the service is bundled into Prime—however, recent changes mean that without a premium subscription, shuffled playback is the primary option. Time will tell what impact those changes will have on the service’s market share.

Prices for premium music services are beginning to creep upward. Apple Music and Amazon Music raised their prices, and it’s rumored that Spotify will not be far behind. This move would be significant because, in the U.S., Spotify hasn’t raised its prices in over a decade.

Rising prices and more aggressive promotion of premium subscriptions could be a signal that music streaming services are transitioning from a focus on capturing market share to monetizing existing users.

Where does this data come from?

Source: Activate Technology and Media Outlook 2023 by Activate Consulting

Data note: “Music services” include free and paid services used for listening to music through any format excluding terrestrial radio. “Music listeners” are defined as adults aged 18+ who spend any time listening to music.

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