In an increasingly digitised age, there is frequent debate over the relevance of printed books, magazines, newspapers, marketing materials — pretty much everything. From publishing (printed books or e-books) to marketing (direct mail or email), and how we consume our news (app-style or traditional newsprint), people always have a stance on what the most effective media is.

Colour me published

In May 2016, the Guardian reported that the sale of printed books was on the rise for the first time in four years – and that the number of e-books was in decline for the first time ever. Sales of e-books fell by 1.6%, and the sale of published books rose by 0.4%.

The cause of the surge in published books? The craze of adult colouring books and the 150th anniversary of Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland.

However, as reported here in The Verge, here in March 2017, sales of colouring books are now starting to fall. Although a strong seller, the surge of sales has begun to slow.

What does the science say?

To add some facts to the argument, CBS News looked into the science of how we read, to try and settle the score once and for all in the e-book or p-book debate. And the results? Turns out each may well have their place in our 2017 lives…

Published books…

Are better for retention. Small studies have found that information read on paper is more likely to be retained by the reader.

Are better for those with sleep problems and eye strain. The blue/white screen of a tablet or e-reader can be tough on the eyes, so published books are the kinder option on sore eyes! A Harvard study, reported by the Guardian, also found that bright, light-emitting e-readers were linked with sleep deprivation and that those using them took on average 10 more minutes to fall asleep.

Are better for book lovers. Traditional, published books are favoured by avid readers, due to the touch and scent associated with a new book – and the tactile experience printed books create. The West Australian Study in Adolescent Book Reading (WASABR) also found that students preferred published books.


Are better for young people. Young people are more likely to prefer e-books – this is supported by a study in Library & Information Science Research.

Are better for poor eyesight and reading disorders. The text size, background and spacing of words can be adjusted on e-readers, helping those who need help.

The future may be in collaboration

Publishing insights magazine The Bookseller recently reported that the traditional merged with the contemporary could be the future for book publishing. The article discovered that a 160-year old public library and a 4-year old online publishing start-up in Melbourne, Australia had united in order to create an online writing community. The State Library Victoria Tablo community supports emerging writers and connects them with other writers, readers, and potential publishers.


By Emma Thompson, group manager at Precision Printing

GDPR Summit Series is a global series of GDPR events which will help marketers to prepare to meet the requirements of the GDPR ahead of May 2018 and beyond. Further information and conference details are available at

comments powered by Disqus