Print books benefit from sales growth as e-books plateau

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Balance: After growing from 17% of all trade book sales in 2011 to 23% in 2012, digital sales have leveled off.

Illustration: William Waitzman for Barron’s

Just two years ago, e-books seemed to pose an existential threat to printed books, leading to predictions that at least 50% of books would be read digitally. Ordinary books would become “printed and bound media artifacts, as Gary Shteyngart put it in his dystopian novel A real sad love story.

These predictions fell apart. After rising from 17% of commercial book sales in 2011 to 23% in 2012, digital sales have plateaued, according to the Association of American Publishers. Print books aren’t going away: In the first quarter, publishers sold 3% more print books than a year earlier, according to data firm Nielsen. “There was a huge sigh of relief [from publishers]says AAP Vice President Tina Jordan. “We are balanced in terms of formats.”

“I think consumers have decided what formats they want to buy in,” says Jonathan Nowell, president of Nielsen Book. During a focus group with young readers, Nowell even found teenagers ready to put down their devices. “They use digital devices for school work and read printed books for fun,” he says. “Everyone has an iPhone now, so having one doesn’t say anything about you. But your choice of playback hardware does.

–Avi Salzman

Next week

Monday 20

The Chicago Fed The national activity index for March is published.

Shanghai Automobile The show begins.

Morgan Stanley

reports results.

cut its EPS estimate to 77 cents per share, reflecting a slow start to the year for underwriting and trading.

Greek foreign minister meets with Secretary of State John Kerry.

tuesday 21

FireEye given a technology briefing at the RSA conference in San Francisco.

Barclays sees

Financial Regions

posting EPS of 15 cents per share, with consensus not fully capturing the impact of a debt buyback charge.

Alice Rivlin of the Brookings The institution’s Center for Health Policy caters to the Economic Club of New York.

under protection should post a solid quarter reflecting a robust sales trajectory, according to Canaccord Genuity.

wednesday 22

Search existing home sales for March at an annual rate of five million, according to RBC Capital Markets.

Iran negotiations the nuclear program is about to resume.

Sterne Agee waits Skechers reports a strong quarter with earnings per share up sharply to $1.03. Its channel checks showed that retailers remain very bullish on the brand.

Earth Day is famous.

National Storage Affiliate Trust is priced at 20 million shares at an average of $16 each.

Siga Technologies‘ creditors are asking the court for permission to investigate the role played by its executives in a dispute with a company that led to its bankruptcy.

Israeli markets close.

thursday 23

New home sales expected to fall at a pace of 500,000 in March from a surprisingly high 539,000 in February, according to RBC.

Charles Schwab

given an interim activity update.

Dot Hill Systems meeting with analysts.

The Institutional Center of the Atlantic Investor Forum is held in Washington, DC




are among the companies posting quarterly results.

friday 24

Greece won deadline for designing the reforms needed to unfreeze aid. The deadline comes after S&P downgraded Greece’s debt to triple-C plus.

Initial date for

it is
the watch will be in stores, although it looks like it will still only be available online.

Fitch reviews Spain and notes from Italy.

sunday 26

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe visits the United States

The highlight of the week

Friday 24: Greece has imposed a deadline on itself to propose the reforms needed to unfreeze aid.

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