+91-9830330809 / +91-9830050132

Ebook VS Paperback Books VS Audiobook? This Is Why Physical Books Still Outsell Ebooks or Audiobooks TODAY

In this day and age of digital transformation, we have so many means of getting information and most importantly getting access to information with the help of books.

With many mediums as options, you do not have to grab a physical copy of a book which is bulky and cumbersome as well as prone to damage because you have so many other ways of consuming books.

We now have ebooks as well as audiobooks, some would argue that technically they are far better and with more advantages and features than regular books made of paper.

But then, why do they never get as popular as physical books and why do physical books still outsell ebooks as well as audiobooks even today?

The question may baffle anyone who wants to understand this phenomenon. We are going to utilise logic, emotion and our understanding of human nature in order to understand why physical books are still outselling digital books even today.

In order to do this, we are going to look at stats and the advantages of ebooks and audiobooks and try to understand the reason why paperbacks outsell ebooks and audiobooks.

So, let’s dive right into it.

Advantages Of Ebooks


If we have to sum up the advantages of ebooks then portability is one of the biggest conveniences because you can fit thousands and thousands of ebooks on your smartphone or on ebook readers the size of a regular book.

When it comes to accessibility and instant access, you simply and just search for a book and get access to it and then again it is much more cost-effective.

If you talk about the environment then again it is much more environmentally friendly because it does not need ink, paper and energy to bring all that together into a book.

Advantages of Audiobooks

Audio Book

The advantages of audiobooks are just very similar to ebooks in that they can be brought up conveniently on your smartphone and you can even listen to it while doing other things such as driving or cooking.

It’s also much more accessible that way and then again it is much more environmentally friendly and it is even cheaper to produce than paper books.

But Then, Why Do Paperbacks Outsell Them? Let’s Look at Some Data

The global book market revenues are rising and have seen a considerable rise in 2023 despite the prices of books rising in general.

The biggest considerable chunk of that rising revenue is in the form of paperback books.


Source wordsrated.com

If we look at a few important stats then we are going to find that paperback books generated a revenue of $64.35 billion globally in 2023. Trends suggest it is projected to grow by + 1.08% annually by 2027.

Compare that to eBooks which managed to generate a sales revenue of just $13.72 billion globally in 2023.

Now let’s bring in audiobook figures and we will find it’s significantly less at just $5.16 billion globally in 2023.


Source wordsrated.com

While this data might suggest that the sale of eBooks and audiobooks rising even if it is very slow, the strange thing to note here is that the sale of paperback books is rising at the highest quantity possible.

This data clearly suggests that paper books are making a comeback better than eBooks and audiobooks through sheer volume of sales in spite of the convenience advantages of digital books.

If you look at further data from Statista, one of the premium data crunching and statistics entities globally for all types of book sales in the United States, you are going to find that 20% of the US population has purchased an eBook in 2023.

However, 30% of the US population has purchased a paper book in the year 2023. And while the data for 2024 can only be concluded at the end of the year, predictions suggest that the percentage of paper book sales is only going to rise by 2024.


Source statista.com

All data suggests that the sale of paperback books only slowed down temporarily during the years of the pandemic and is expected to rise exponentially throughout all the major markets in the world with eBooks and audiobooks coming nowhere close to the sales figures of paper books.

It makes us wonder why that is the case. Why do people prefer paper books over ebooks and audiobooks?

Let us get to the bottom of it.

This Is Why Paperback Books Are Outselling eBooks and Audiobooks

Emotional Connection


One of the most important reasons why paper books are outselling ebooks and audiobooks is simply because of the emotional connection we have with books.

We love the sensation of books so much that we actually have a word for the smell of old books which gets us nostalgic and it is called bibliosmia.

The thing you need to understand about books is that it is not just about opening your smartphone and reading a few pages, it is the whole 9 yards of experience whether it is the tactical experience of holding a book.

Whether it is experiencing how the paper feels and whether it is the physical satisfaction of turning pages and looking at the number of pages you have read as an achievement that you can touch physically.

Books satisfy multiple emotional and sensory needs and this kind of multi-level satisfaction can never be felt with something digital which does not have a physical character that is only present a with a physical book.

If you compare that to audiobooks then the feeling of holding a book is non-existent because you are not even holding an ebook reader.

You can call that nostalgia or you can call that something that is not really logical but it is what it is because we are humans at the end of the day, feelings and emotions count more.

Actual Standalone Convenience

Actual Standalone Convenience

However, if we are going to go by the route of logic then again having a physical book is actually much more logical and makes much more sense than having something digital.

You do not need to charge your book.

You do not need to add money from your credit card to a book platform wallet in order to continue reading or continue getting the services of a physical book.

You do not need to make sure you have a connection to the internet and you do not need to worry about accidentally clearing data and losing a physical book and having to download it again.

When you buy a physical book, that’s it, you have a physical paper book.

It cannot get more convenient than that because when you buy a physical paper book, you have complete ownership of that physical object and you can do whatever you want and interact with it whenever you want.

No additional support systems are needed for accessing a paperback, alright maybe some coffee.

Sensory and Cognitive Engagement

Sensory and Cognitive Engagement

If you look at the average human attention span, it is approximately 8 seconds. However, you can extend that attention span to nearly 6 hours in certain situations.

That certain situation is when you are reading a physical book by holding it in your hands and actively concentrating on reading the book and doing nothing else.

We can only increase our concentration and attention span and improve critical thinking as well as idea comprehension and idea retention when we are actively engaged both physically and mentally with something.

This is only possible when you do something exclusively without doing anything else.

That is not possible if you are reading an eBook on a phone because you do multiple things on a phone, and that physical engagement is just not there when you are listening to audiobooks on your earbuds.

You can only have that deep level of connection and understanding about some information if you interact as deeply with it as when you read a physical book.

That is why we unconsciously or subconsciously prefer a physical book more because it helps us understand the information in it better compared to anything digital.

Distraction Free Reading

Distraction Free Reading

This is probably the easiest thing to understand about why physical book sales will always be higher than any digital format book sales.

It is because when you are reading a book, you are just reading a book and maybe having some coffee but ultimately the most memory-intensive task you are doing is reading a book without any distractions.

Anything you do while reading a physical book such as having coffee is only going to improve your cognitive response to absorb the information in that physical book and not distract you from it.

Compare that to reading an eBook on your smartphone. Even if you actively try not to have any distractions, a simple notification from a news app is totally going to destroy that attention streak.

Compare that to listening to an audiobook and the chances of distraction are even worse. It is an established fact that most people generally do not just listen to audiobooks. They scroll short videos on mute on their phones or do something else like driving or cooking while listening to audiobooks.

Doing something like that will never allow anyone to attentively absorb information as it is possible with a physical book.

People actually understand that.

That is exactly why people prefer physical paper books more than ebooks and audiobooks because people understand that if they actually have to gather information and understand something then digital copies of a book will never do the job.

The Established Market Stability

The Established Market Stability

It is much more convenient to get a book because of the role of bookstores and the general availability of books.

If you have a favourite author or if you know someone who is publishing for the first time then there is a high probability that they are going to publish a physical paper book first.

This makes the availability of paperback books much more common and if you take that argument and try to find older books then the chances of finding older paper books over ebooks are even more.

You can find new and older books in physical paper form much more easily than you can find books in digital form.

It is also a fact that the first form of any book in the world is a physical book and a physical book is then converted to a digital book.

That is why if you want to grab hold of any copy of any written book in the world, there is always a higher probability of getting that in physical form whether it is through the help of online or offline bookstores or libraries.

Physical Ownership Investment

Physical Ownership Investment

One of the most important things we must understand is that as humans we are actually quite simple and similar globally.

When we make an investment, we love to look at that investment and we actually prefer if the result of that investment manifests in something physical that we can actually hold in our hands and look at.

This simply means that if you are spending money on something, you would much rather prefer it to be something that is actually physical and not digital.

That is exactly why book collectors hate audiobooks and ebooks because there is nothing to collect and nothing to hold on to and the collector value is zero because digital copies of books can be replicated and do not hold value.

Compare that to physical books, replicating an exact copy of a book that will never be printed again is next to impossible.

That is why it makes much more sense to physically own a book as an investment rather than spending money on something digital that can be copied quite easily and lost quite easily if you lose your account details.

A Meaningful Gift

Meaningful Gift

Last but not the least, if you want to gift your child a book, would you gift them a physical book or an ebook or an audiobook?

The response to that answer 99% of the time is going to be a physical book that a person can hold on to and read because gifting someone something physical is just more emotional and meaningful.

It is also much more practical and convenient to gift someone a physical book rather than giving them a digital copy.

Does that mean that it is impossible to give someone an eBook or audiobook? No, but the process is very complicated because if you want to give someone an eBook then you need to either share your account details with them or purchase the book for them by adding your credit card details to their book platform account.

Would you want to go through all these steps to give someone an eBook when you can simply gift someone a physical book and wrap it up with a greeting card? Nearly everyone is going to choose a physical book.

It is because giving someone a paper book is meaningful and it is a gift that they can hold on forever and care for.

A physical paper book is not a file that can get deleted if you press delete.

We hope you now understand all the reasons why physical paperback books outsell ebooks and audiobooks even today and why paper book sales are actually rising after the pandemic.

And if you are someone who values paper books as much as we do and you want to publish your very own book and become an author then we are here for you.

We are Orange Publishers and we are the fastest-growing and most popular legacy book publishing company in India.

All our operations are in-house and we would love to publish your legacy for you. We publish in a wide and diverse range of genres and welcome you to visit our website and check out everything we do.