What percentage of people prefer physical books over ebooks?

I looked up a statistic this morning...

According to a 2022 study by Stora Enso:

  • 65% of people (globally) prefer reading from physical books.
  • 21% of people prefer ebooks.
  • 14% of people apparently don't care.

That means that the market for physical copies of books is 79% of the global population, whereas the market for ebooks is 35%, with a 14% overlap of people who don't have a preference.

So the lessons learned from this is that if you're in the book selling business then you really want to be selling both.

However this statistic ignores audiobooks. Finding that statistic is a bit trickier, but I can tell you this:

As of 2022 roughly 44% of Americans have listened to an audiobook sometime in their lifetime. But that statistic doesn't talk about preference. It just means that 44% of Americans have listened to at least 1 audiobook ever. Doesn't mean they like them or prefer them.

I personally find audiobooks very useful. I will often get the physical book AND listen to the audiobook at the same time, which allows me to focus on reading continuously. I am one of those people who frequently re-read the same paragraph again and again, so having the audiobook at the same time prevents me from reading the same section repeatedly. It thus means that I can also read more books faster.

How do I get access to audiobooks easily?

I use a free app called Libby that allows me login to public libraries using my library card and borrow audiobooks. (This is not advertising, this is just what I happen to use.)

My problem with Libby however is that it has a limited selection of fantasy audiobooks.

Which is why I will sometimes also use YouTube, where some people will post audiobooks (or do live readings) and I can use those instead while reading the physical copy.

Nor do I feel bad about listening to the YouTube version. I already PAID for the physical book that I am reading. I just using a free audiobook version as a Reading Aid so I can stop myself from repeatedly reading the same paragraph.

With all the recent developments in AI programs I wouldn't be surprised if someone made an AI that can both translate and produce audiobooks in any language, in any accent, and do so with minimal mistakes in the translation. So if an author has a book that want to make available in Italian they could use an AI to translate the book and a different AI to read the book in an Italian accent.

I should also note that audiobooks available on YouTube are only for popular books that have been around for a very long time.

For example... "Titus Groan" by Mervyn Peake, which was published in 1946 and the author has been dead since 1968. See the playlist below:

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