The Plot Twist: E-Book Sales Slip, and Print Is Far From Dead

The Plot Twist: E-Book Sales Slip, and Print Is Far From Dead

The Kobo eReader Touch, an Amazon Kindle, an Aluratek Libre Air, and a Barnes & Noble Nook, left to right, are displayed in this photo, in New York, Tuesday, June 14, 2011. Today, e-book readers, including a Kindle, can be purchased for just over $100. (AP Photo/Richard Drew)
The Kobo eReader Touch, an Amazon Kindle, an Aluratek Libre Air, and a Barnes & Noble Nook, left to right, are displayed in this photo, in New York, Tuesday, June 14, 2011. (AP Photo/Richard Drew)

(New York Times) – Five years ago, the book world was seized by collective panic over the uncertain future of print.

As readers migrated to new digital devices, e-book sales soared, up 1,260 percent between 2008 and 2010, alarming booksellers that watched consumers use their stores to find titles they would later buy online. Print sales dwindled, bookstores struggled to stay open, and publishers and authors feared that cheaper e-books would cannibalize their business.

Then in 2011, the industry’s fears were realized when Borders declared bankruptcy.

“E-books were this rocket ship going straight up,” said Len Vlahos, a former executive director of the Book Industry Study Group, a nonprofit research group that tracks the publishing industry. “Just about everybody you talked to thought we were going the way of digital music.”

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