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Ebooks vs Printed books: Statistics, Sales, Facts, and trends for 2023

“Digital or print? In a world where technology reigns, eBooks have surpassed printed books in sales and popularity. Let’s dive into the statistics and trends that shape this literary evolution.”

The debate between eBooks vs printed books has been a long-standing one, with passionate advocates on both sides. While printed books offer a tactile experience and a sense of ownership, eBooks provide convenience and portability.

Digital or Print? The Evolution of Reading

Graph illustrating the market trends between Ebooks and Printed Books from 2023 to 2027, with focus on sales, cost, and environmental factors.

Global Book Market in 2023: ebooks vs Printed books

Print Books:

  • Print books continue to dominate the global book market, generating over $64.35 billion in revenue in 2023, a 2.24% increase over 2022.
  • The average global print book revenue has been declining by 1.67% annually over the last six years.
  • By 2027, print revenue is projected to grow by 1.08% annually, reaching $67.14 billion, still below the 2017 levels of $71.50 billion.


  • Ebooks have been growing globally by 3.52% annually on average since 2017 and are projected to generate over $13.72 billion in 2023.
  • Ebooks are projected to grow faster than print books, with revenue expected to reach $15.29 billion in 2027.
  • By 2027, ebooks should account for over 17.27% of global book sales. source:
global book sales statistics 2023 – Global Books Sale

physical books vs ebooks: Comparison

FeatureEbooksPrinted BooksWinning Format
Sales TrendsIncreasing, especially in younger demographicsStable but slower growth compared to EbooksEbooks
CostGenerally cheaper, depending on the platformCan be more expensive, especially hardcoversEbooks
Environmental ImpactLower physical footprint, energy in productionPhysical production, recycling challengesEbooks
PortabilityHighly portable, can store thousands on a devicePhysical space required, weight variesEbooks
CustomizabilityFont size, background color can be adjustedFixed print, no customizationEbooks
Ease of LearningSearchable text, interactive featuresTraditional reading experience, no digital featuresEbooks
AccessibilityAvailable instantly online, adjustable textRequires physical access, fixed text sizeEbooks
UsabilityRequires electronic device, internet for someNo device needed, can be read anywherePrinted Books
Tactile ExperienceLacks physical touch of a bookProvides physical touch, smell of pagesPrinted Books
Ownership & AppearanceDigital ownership, appearance varies by devicePhysical ownership, aesthetic on shelfPrinted Books
Key aspects of Ebooks and Printed Books, including sales trends, cost, environmental considerations, usability, and the overall reading experience.

Ebook and printed book sales statistics and market trends

The world of reading has seen a significant shift with the advent of digital technology. Both paper books and eBooks have their unique places in the market, and understanding their sales statistics and market trends can provide valuable insights into consumer behavior and preferences.

Paper Books vs. eBooks Statistics

The debate between paper books and eBooks has been ongoing for years, and the statistics reveal a fascinating picture. In 2023, the sales trends show a close relationship between paper books and eBooks, reflecting the future of books and reading habits.

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1. Debate: Paper Books vs eBooks

The debate between books vs. ebooks is not just about preference but also about convenience, cost, environmental impact, and accessibility. While paper books offer a tactile experience and a sense of ownership, eBooks provide portability, customizability, and ease of learning.

According to TonerBuzz, the sales of eBooks have been on a steady rise, with a 20% increase in 2020. However, paper books still hold a significant market share, especially among readers who value the physical appearance and tactile experience of reading a printed book.

2. Sales: 2023 Statistics

The sales statistics for 2023 reveal a balanced market where both paper and digital books coexist. The growth in eReaders and digital platforms has made eBooks more accessible and affordable, contributing to their increasing market share. On the other hand, the production and recycling of paper books continue to be a consideration for environmentally conscious readers.

The statistics show that eBooks accounted for 34% of book sales in 2023, while paper books held a 66% share. The growth in eBook sales can be attributed to factors such as convenience, pricing, and usability, while the preference for paper books is often linked to the tactile experience and appearance.

3. Future: Paper or Digital

Looking at the future of books, both paper and digital formats have their roles to play. The convenience and customizability of eBooks make them a preferred choice for tech-savvy readers and those looking for instant accessibility. However, the tactile experience and sense of ownership associated with paper books continue to attract a dedicated audience.

The environmental considerations related to production and recycling also play a vital role in shaping consumer choices. The growth in eBook sales is expected to continue, but paper books are unlikely to disappear entirely. The market is likely to see a coexistence of both formats, reflecting diverse reading preferences and needs.

Printed Books: A Timeless Classic

Learn The Economics of eBooks And Printed Books

Analyzing the current state of the book market, growth, resilience, and technology’s impact provides insights into the economics of printed books and eBooks.

I. Market: Current State

The current state of the book market reflects a balance between traditional digital eBooks and printed books. While eBooks are expanding, printed books maintain stability, thanks to their tactile appeal and the sentimental value attached to physical ownership.

II. Growth: eBooks

The growth of eBooks is a testament to technological influence and changing reading habits. With features like adjustable fonts, integrated dictionaries, and the ability to carry thousands of titles in one device, eBooks offer a level of convenience that resonates with modern readers.

III. Resilience: Printed Books

Printed books have shown remarkable resilience in the face of digital expansion. Their physical presence, appearance, and the sensory experience they provide continue to attract readers who value the traditional reading experience.

IV. Technology: Impact on Reading

Technology’s impact on reading is evident in the rise of eBooks and eReaders. The accessibility, usability, and customizability of digital reading experiences have made eBooks an attractive option for many. However, the production, recycling, and environmental impact of printed books continue to be significant considerations in the ongoing debate between printed and digital reading experiences.

Environmental Impact and Sustainability OF ebooks and paper books

Paper Books vs. eBooks: Environmental Impact

In the modern era, technology has become an integral part of our lives, and reading is no exception. With the advent of e-readers in 2007, the traditional activity of reading was digitalized, sparking a debate on which method, e-readers or printed books, is best for the environment. Let’s explore the environmental considerations of both.

Environmental Impact: Printed Books vs. eBooks

Printed Books:

  • Production: It’s no secret that the paper industry relies on cutting down trees. The production of a single paper book produces around 7.5kg of carbon dioxide, and the process requires a lot of water, energy, and chemicals.
  • Deforestation: Paper books contribute heavily to deforestation, playing a significant part in climate change. Around two glasses of water are required to produce each page of a book.
  • Recycling: Though physical books have greater longevity, the transportation and disposal of unsold books waste a tremendous amount of energy.


  • Manufacturing: E-readers are made using plastics derived from petrochemicals and valuable minerals like copper and lithium. The process expends 100 kilowatt-hours of fossil fuels, producing 66 pounds of carbon dioxide.
  • Pros and Cons: An e-reader can represent an entire library, reducing the environmental burden per book. A Kindle with 32 GB of storage can hold up to 15,100 ebooks, making it a great space-saving solution. However, the entire modern e-reader industry is assembled in China, contributing to air pollution and climate change.

Sustainability: Considerations

Printed Books:

  • Longevity: If well looked after, physical books can be enjoyed by many different people, amortizing their footprint.
  • Eco-Credentials: Even using recycled paper is a mere drop in the ocean when it comes to improving the overall eco-credentials of the production process.


  • Carbon Footprint: A single e-reader’s total carbon footprint is approximately 168kg. By reading 22–23 books digitally, you have the same environmental impact as reading the same books in print.
  • Recycling: Electronic waste is a growing problem. If not recycled correctly, e-readers can release toxic fumes and corrosive battery fluids into the environment.

Most Eco-Friendly Option:

  • Occasional Readers: Buying physical copies of books favors the occasional reader, as they won’t make enough use of an e-reader to pay back the total carbon footprint.
  • Prolific Readers: Using e-readers to the end of their natural lives ensures that they are as economical as possible. Prolific readers would only have to read around 44 ebooks to halve their carbon footprint.

Source: Commercial Waste

Ebooks vs. Print Books: Consumer Preferences

Market Trends and Consumer Preferences

In recent years, the publishing industry has witnessed a significant shift in consumer behavior and preferences between printed books and eBooks. While both formats have their unique appeal, understanding market trends and consumer choices is essential to gauging the future of reading.

Market Trends and Consumer Preferences:

  1. Printed Books: Despite the rise of eBooks, printed books continue to dominate the market. According to the Association of American Publishers, hardcover and paperback books still rule the market, with approximately $3 billion and $2.5 billion in sales in 2019, respectively. The tactile experience of holding a book, turning the pages, and feeling the paper has kept the allure of printed books alive.
  2. eBooks: On the other hand, eBooks offer convenience, portability, and customizability. With the ability to store thousands of books on a single device, eBooks have become a popular choice for tech-savvy readers. Sales in the U.S. declined slightly to $983 million in 2019, following several years of double-digit declines.
  3. The COVID-19 Impact: The 2020 pandemic was a boon to print publishing. Sales rose 8.2% year over year to a total of 751 million copies. More leisure time and a need to educate children at home were cited as reasons for the book-buying spree.
  4. Cost Comparison: Print books are still a little more expensive than e-books. For example, President Barack Obama’s memoir, “A Promised Land,” is $17.99 for the Kindle edition and $23.96 for the hardcover. Classics are the real bargain in any format, with Charles Dickens’ complete works available for Kindle at just $2.99.
  5. Environmental Impact: While eBooks eliminate the need for paper, the production and recycling of eReaders must be considered. Printed books, on the other hand, require paper, ink, and energy for production and distribution, impacting the environment.
  6. Accessibility and Usability: eBooks offer font style and size flexibility, making them accessible to a wider audience. However, some readers may find the quality of illustrations and the reading experience on a screen less appealing than print versions.
  7. The Shrinking Price Difference: E-books aren’t much less expensive than their paper counterparts, especially for new books from major publishers. The cost difference is closing, with e-books priced about the same as paperbacks but less than hardcovers.

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The Pros and Cons of Printed Books

Printed books have been a beloved format for centuries, offering a tactile and visual experience that many readers cherish. The feel of the paper, the smell of the ink, and the weight of a book in hand provide a sensory pleasure that e-books can’t replicate. Illustrations on paper are generally of higher quality than even high-end e-readers can reproduce. However, printed books are often more expensive, heavier to carry around, and consume more physical space.

1. The Pros and Cons of Printed Books

  • Pros: Physical feel, higher quality illustrations, no need for electronic devices.
  • Cons: More expensive, less portable, takes up physical space.

The Pros and Cons of eBooks

E-books offer a modern reading experience with the convenience of portability and customization. E-readers can store thousands of books on a single device, and the font style and size can be adjusted to suit individual preferences. E-books are often less expensive than their printed counterparts, especially for classics. However, some readers find the lack of tactile experience unappealing, and e-readers must be recharged and may not be easily readable in sunlight.

2. The Pros and Cons of eBooks

  • Pros: Font flexibility, can store thousands of books, often cheaper, portable.
  • Cons: Need to recharge; some screens are not easily readable in sunlight, potential eye strain.

The Reading Experience: Analysis

The reading experience varies significantly between printed books and e-books. While printed books offer a traditional and sensory-rich experience, e-books provide flexibility and convenience. The choice between the two often depends on personal preferences and specific needs. For instance, avid travelers may prefer e-books for their lightweight and space-saving advantages, while those who value the physical aesthetics of books may lean towards printed editions.

The Reading Experience: A Comparative Analysis

  • Print books offer a tangible experience, allowing readers to physically turn pages and feel the paper. Some readers find the quality of illustrations superior in print.
  • eBooks offer flexibility in font style and size, and the ability to carry an entire library in one device. Some e-readers mimic the look of real paper for a comfortable reading experience.

The Cost Factor: Printed Books vs. eBooks

The cost of printed books and e-books can vary widely. While printed books often have a higher upfront cost, they can be resold or shared with others. E-books, on the other hand, are generally cheaper but may come with restrictions on sharing. The price gap between the two formats is closing, and the cost difference may not be as significant as it once was. Additionally, there are platforms that offer free e-books, especially for classics, further reducing the cost barrier for e-book adoption.

The Cost Factor: Printed Books vs. eBooks

  • Print books are generally more expensive than eBooks, but the price gap is closing. The cost difference between eBooks and hardcovers on Amazon increased by 75% in favor of eBooks between 2021 and 2023 Toner Buzz.

Comprehensive Analysis and Conclusion

The Battle of Books: ebooks vs Printed

The debate between printed books and eBooks has been a prominent topic in the literary world. Both formats have their unique advantages and disadvantages, and the choice often boils down to personal preference and specific needs.


  • Convenience and Portability: eBooks can be carried in devices like eReaders, tablets, or smartphones, allowing readers to have access to multiple books in one compact device.
  • Customizability: Readers can adjust the font size, style, and background color to suit their reading preferences.
  • Environmental Impact: eBooks are generally considered more environmentally friendly as they don’t require physical materials. However, the production and disposal of electronic devices can also have environmental implications.

Printed Books:

  • Tactile Experience: Many readers prefer the physical feel of a book in their hands. The texture of the pages and the smell of the paper often enhance the reading experience.
  • Ownership and Appearance: Owning a physical book can be satisfying for collectors, and they can be displayed on shelves as decorative items.
  • Environmental Impact: The production and recycling of printed books can have a significant environmental footprint, including the use of paper, ink, and energy in manufacturing.
  • Sales Trends: eBooks have seen a surge in popularity with the advent of digital technology, but printed books continue to hold a substantial market share.
  • Cost Considerations: eBooks are often less expensive than printed books, but the initial investment in an eReader can be a barrier for some.
  • Accessibility and Usability: eBooks offer features like search functions, hyperlinks, and adjustable text, making them accessible to a wider audience, including those with visual impairments.


The battle between printed and digital books is not a simple one. It involves a comprehensive analysis of factors like convenience, cost, environmental impact, portability, customizability, ease of learning, sales trends, market share, growth, eReaders, production, recycling, tactile experience, ownership, appearance, pricing, accessibility, usability, and the overall physical and digital reading experiences.

In conclusion, both printed books and eBooks have unique attributes that cater to different reader preferences and needs. Individual preferences, lifestyles, and values frequently influence the decision between them. As technology advances, the coexistence of these two formats is likely to continue, each serving specific segments of the reading community.


From convenience to environmental considerations, eBooks have carved a significant niche in the reading world. Whether you’re a digital enthusiast or a lover of printed pages, understanding these trends helps shape our literary future.

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Tony Hoffman

Tony Hoffman is a tech expert with over 10 years of experience in the printer and scanner industries. He has developed a keen eye for the latest innovations and trends in printing technology making him a go-to resource for consumers and professionals alike. His engaging writing style and ability to break down complex topics make his articles and reviews accessible and informative for a wide range of readers. Outside of his work as a tech writer Tony enjoys tinkering with gadgets and exploring the outdoors.View Author posts

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