A new report from the Publishers Association of New Zealand (PANZ) has revealed Kiwis still vastly prefer print books, with sales of physical books growing while demand for ebooks has shrunk.
Despite significant investment by publishers in digital formats, ebooks make up just 7.2% of total trade and education sales in New Zealand.
The New Zealand Publishing Market Size Report 2019, completed by Nielsen Book Research for PANZ, shows that in the trade market (books for the general consumer) print book sales increased by +7.1% in 2019, while digital books declined by -4.5%.
“The report confirms that New Zealanders continue to prefer the experience that a physical book has to offer,” says PANZ president Julia Marshall.
The report provides a snapshot of an industry that was in good heart at the end of 2019, experiencing a +6% increase in total revenue on the previous year. An impressive 21.1 million books were sold in the country that year.
But the closure of physical and online bookshops in Level Four lockdown from late March 2020 caused a -20% decline in domestic book sales to the end of May 2020.
Consumers clearly missed access to books: Nielsen reports that in the second week of Level 2, domestic revenue through bookstores was up +22% compared to the same week in 2019, although sales overall are still down year-on-year.
The book trade is an important contributor to New Zealand’s economy, generating $292.2 million in total revenue last year with content exported around the world.
Last year New Zealand publishers issued 2662 new books, accounting for 23% of all domestic sales. That figure was up +11% on 2018.
The report also shows a renewed interest in books written in te Reo Māori (either directly or in translation), with these titles seeing +61% growth in unit sales over 2018.
“In the post Covid-19 world, we hope to consolidate the gains made as many consumers rediscovered the pleasure of reading, at a time when they needed it most,” Marshall says.
“The publishing industry is determined to encourage new readers and serve existing ones — providing them with the education, entertainment, reflection and challenge that good books offer.”