Another one of those “ebooks didn’t kill print” is being passed around again, and this one is far worse than the dreck we have been seeing about every five months for the past six years.
Strategy & Business presented an unconvincing argument to support the claim that “books are the only form of physical media whose sales are growing”. They mis-labeled publisher revenue stats from the AAP as sales data, and S&B also cited projections from the notoriously unreliable PricewaterhouseCooper:
According to PwC’s Global Entertainment & Media Outlook 2018–2022, the consumer market for physical, printed books is holding its own in an increasingly digital world (see “Print Presses On”). Between 2018 and 2022, sales of physical video games, home video, and music are expected to decline each year, in some instances by double-digit percentages. By contrast, sales of physical books are expected to grow modestly, by about 1 percent annually, every year. By 2022, PwC expects consumers around the world will spend US$50.3 billion on books in physical or audio (i.e., non-electronic) form, compared with $47.8 billion in 2017.
The problem with PwC is that this is the same firm that predicted ebook sales would exceed print sales four years out. They made this prediction for three years in a row (2012, 2013, 2014). Needless to say, their prediction did not come to pass, but on the upside at least the multiple failed predictions made it clear that PwC cannot predict rain if they were standing in a downpour.
This piece is, well, shit, and I was planning to ignore it. And I would have, except it kept getting shared, and it was even the topic of a Beyond The Book podcast a week ago. All this activity surprised me, but I slowly came to realize that this article was so popular because it told people in the legacy industry what they wanted to hear – that print isn’t dead.
This article is as bad as that nonsense about replacing libraries with Amazon Books, and yet everyone just ate it up.
Peter McCarthy even told me that he tweeted this piece because he thought it was unusual that someone wrote print wasn’t dying. (Apparently the fact we see something like this every 5 months or so escaped his notice.)
Feel free to link to any projection data you find to be not bogus. My reason for posting is that it is rare for me to see analysts who posit what I've found to be the case; that our industry is essentially flat. Not dying, which is a common perception.
— Peter McCarthy (@petermccarthy) August 24, 2018
His tweet was also a revelation in that it gives us a peek into what the legacy industry believes and how they see themselves.
Peter sees his publishing industry as consisting of only established publishers and print books, and doesn’t count ebooks or indie authors as part of the industry.
I had already got the impression from others in the legacy publishing industry, but it was still useful to see it confirmed that the old guard still refused to accept indies as part of the industry.
This attitude is not something that indies can change, nor should we bother; it merely has to be endured until people like Peter retire.