People are totally over ebooks: Sales decline and non-fiction is on the rise

Lynsey Barber
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We're still a nation of paperback (and hardback) readers (Source: Getty)

Once destined to replace our beloved paperbacks (according to some), the ebook-ageddon never materialised. In fact, sales are falling.

Figures from the UK Publishers Association revealed sales of books on the digital devices declined by three per cent last year, continuing a trend first seen in 2015.

Sales of ebooks brought in £358m, while physical books brought in nearly 10 times as much.

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And sales of consumer ebooks, the biggest segment, plummeted 17 per cent to £204m, the lowest since 2011.

Real-life book sales brought in £3.5bn, the highest sales in five years and six per cent higher than the previous year. That rise was driven by sales of non-fiction, which grew by nine per cent, while fiction fell seven per cent.

And for the first time exports of books grew after three consecutive years of decline. The EU mades up 35 per cent of that, and the group urged Brexit negotiations to account for this.

"Whatever the makeup of the new government, they must ensure that any post-Brexit trade settlement it reaches with the EU and other countries reinforces this continued success," said the Publishers Association chief executive Stephen Lotinga.

Read more: The three biggest post-Brexit risks to the UK digital economy

“UK publishing is a world leader and these figures confirm the industry is flourishing due to the hard work and ingenuity of its superb publishing houses and workforce."

While ebook sales were down, overall digital sales, including audio and academic books, increased, rising six per cent to £1.7bn.

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