Ricoh Study: Most Readers Unlikely to Give up Printed Books Anytime Soon

booksNew findings from a Ricoh Americas survey show that despite the hype about electronic ebooks, most consumers don’t see themselves giving up printed books.

The most surprising results of the study, entitled “The Evolution of the Book Industry: Implications for U.S. Book Manufacturers and Printers,” include: 

  • Nearly 70 percent of consumers feel it’s unlikely that they will give up on printed books by 2016. Ricoh says consumers have an emotional and visceral/sensory attachment to printed books, potentially elevating them to a luxury item.
  • Despite their perceived popularity, 60 percent of eBooks downloaded are never read in the United States. Since 2012, the growth of eBooks has slowed significantly, as dedicated eReader sales are declining, and tablet PC devices are increasingly becoming utilized for other forms of entertainment.
  • College students prefer printed textbooks to eBooks, as they help students to concentrate on the subject matter at hand; electronic display devices such as tablet PCs tempt students to distraction.
  • Current trends reveal that while fewer copies of books are being sold, more titles are being published. 
  • Digital printing of “ultra short runs” has empowered book printers to supply books more tightly tied to actual demand. 
  • The top three reasons consumers choose a printed book are: Lack of eye strain when reading from paper copy versus an eBook; the look and feel of paper, and the ability to add the book to a library or bookshelf. 

“More than 500 years after the invention of the printing press, book manufacturers and publishers are playing a pivotal role in the next renaissance in books that is happening now,” commented George Promis, vice president of continuous forms production solutions and technology alliances for Ricoh. “To borrow a phrase from Mark Twain, reports of the printed book’s death are greatly exaggerated. Print is alive, well and sought after in today’s book market. At Ricoh, we’re focused on ensuring this stays true for years to come.”

Other findings from the study specifically relevant to publishers and book manufacturers include:
Publishers are using digital printing in two ways:

  • As a test, with 1 to 2 books placed per retailer, circumventing cumbersome distributor guidelines and storage fees before ordering larger offset or digitally printed quantities.
  • For predicted strong titles, digitally printed books are used for reorders as needed to supplement first-run offset printed books

Digital production inkjet printers have opened the door to a business model shift. Combined, the study estimates that just 50 production inkjet systems owned by 25 book manufacturers produced more than ten percent of all printed book pages in the United States in 2012.

  • Offering titles electronically does not correspond to revenue generation or cost savings—even the largest publishers derive revenues of no more than 20-30 percent from eBook sales

Ricoh conducted the survey in conjunction with the University of Colorodo. The study surveyed more than 800 respondents, with the following demographic profile:

  • Gender: 55 percent female, 45 percent male.
  • Average age: 39 years old.
  • Education:
  • 0.2 percent have not completed high school (1 respondent).
  • 36 percent have a high school degree.
  • 49 percent have an undergraduate degree.
  • 15 percent have a graduate or higher degree.

“Despite the perceived growth of eBooks, our research shows that there is a silver lining for the printed books and the digital production print industries,” said Marco Boer, Consulting Partner for IT Strategies. “As book orders become smaller in quantity and more frequent, and as an unprecedented number of titles are introduced each year, digital print is helping book manufacturers tackle potential challenges head on through automation and more intelligent printing.”

To download the IT Strategies white paper, “The Evolution of the Book Industry: Implications for U.S. Book Manufacturers and Printers”, and obtain more information on Ricoh’s solutions for publishing, visit this link:

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