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A New Chapter for the Print Industry

Published on October 16, 2020, at 3:20 p.m.
by Emie Garrett.

Not so long ago, before large publishing retail companies dominated the market, the only way to get your hands on the newest book everyone was talking about was to walk into your local library or bookstore to skim the shelves until you found it.

With the birth of Amazon in 1994, that same book was now only one click away, causing concern for some readers that their beloved libraries and bookstores would soon become obsolete in the shadow of the internet and its convenience. When Amazon released the Kindle, its electronic reading tablet, in 2007 — which sold out within hours — numerous readers feared that the end was near for print books and those selling them.

Fast forward to 2020 where the internet, social media and online shopping are booming more than ever, especially because of the curveball no one was expecting — COVID-19. No longer exclusively a bookseller, Amazon is now a billion-dollar company, and print book sales in the industry are surprisingly on the rise. In 2018, it was reported that sales of physical books increased every year since 2013, and in the first half of 2020, print sales were up in the adult and juvenile fiction categories.

Photo by Ed Robertson on Unsplash.

Many thought that our near constant use of the internet and social media would cause people to stop reading, but it seems the opposite is happening. In fact, the relationship with the book-reading consumer has strengthened in the internet age.

We are living in a visuals-oriented society where aesthetics matter. Social media apps like Instagram and Pinterest were originally created to share visually pleasing photographs with the world, and now, with consumers.

Because of the world’s social media boom, “bookstagrams,” which stands for “book Instagram,” have become increasingly popular on social media in recent years. People with a passion for stories are using social media to create connections with like-minded consumers. These accounts garner thousands upon thousands of followers and share beautiful photos of books against aesthetically pleasing backdrops. Some “bookstagrams” give an array of book recommendations and reviews, like @Jordys.Book.Club, while some have their own niches, like @diversespines, which offers recommendations written by Black women and other women of color.

While book Instagram accounts are sharing beautiful visuals and providing killer recommendations, they are also encouraging readers to return to purchasing print books. In addition, companies like Read It Forward are creating fun reader experiences that entice readers to buy new books via links to booksellers.

Read It Forward is a large-scale blog dedicated to all book lovers, from the casual reader to the most avid bookworm. Read It Forward’s goal is to share its love of stories through articles, interviews with authors, weekly book giveaways and more. Its website also has cool interactive features like the Book Apothecary that gives users book recommendations based on how they’re feeling, and its current Halloween reading quiz, which helps you pick a spooky-good read in a fun, choose-your-own-adventure format.

Print publishing has been widely viewed as a down-and-out industry, killed by the internet. But it has aptly responded to the changing tides of communication and its consumers’ needs, greatly strengthening this vital relationship. While it’s true that the ways we learn about and buy new books have evolved, there is a devoted, ever-growing community of book lovers breathing life back into print, shouting from the internet-rooftops that there is nothing like getting your hands on a good book and turning the pages for yourself.

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