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How bookstagrammers are driving print sales

Discover why digital book printing is driving revenue growth for Print Service Providers

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The printed book is not dead

The total digital print book volume will reach 100 billion pages in 2022 – read about the exciting new chapter ahead.

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A woman in a check shirt looks at her smartphone and a man wearing a hoodie and white earphones reads a book on a train

What is a bookstagrammer?

There’s fashion bloggers, lifestyle “vloggers”, and “foodstagrammers”. Now there’s “booktubers” and “bookstagrammers”! These specialist book-bloggers are storming social media platforms with their love for printed books, igniting a passion for reading, and helping to drive the booming European book industry.

Printed books have faced tough competition from ebooks, social media, and digital entertainment in general. But after struggling to keep up with faster and more accessible ways of both publishing and consuming content – especially with the restrictions of short run book printing – the art of printing has found new appreciation from the digital world – in the form of bookstagrammers and their millions of fans.

Expertly combining book publishing with digital media, these social influencers promote the beauty of print – photographing books in lifestyle shots, or reviewing the novel in a vlog. And this blend of print with digital isn’t just superficial, concerned with getting likes or views. Digital technology has morphed from being the opposition, to the way forward for print publishing. With digital printing comes opportunity abound for PSPs to add value to their existing services, offer new ones, and attract a whole new wave of customers.

The print revival

thebookseller.com has estimated that the total market value for European book publishing is an incredible €36-38 billion. Fluctuations in the British pound might have affected total sales revenues for publishers recently, but last year in the UK alone, printed books earned £1.7 billion of the £2 billion book sales.

With the upsurge in printed book sales comes a plateau in the popularity of e-books – now well past their initial new-toy phase. According to market intelligence agency Mintel, 54% of books purchased in the last 12 months were printed, while only 24% were digital. Mintel expects print sales to continue on the up, predicting a whopping 25% increase by 2022, which would see sales rocket to £2.1 billion. In stark contrast, e-book sales are only set to see “marginal” year-on-year increases as the fad begins to fade.

So why are print books coming back so strongly? Jen Campbell (@jenvcampbell) – a bookstagrammer/booktuber, award-winning poet and best-selling author – explains why she’s passionate about print:
“E-books are great for travelling, saving on space, and they offer fantastic text-enlarging features for those who need them. However, in a world where so much of what we do is online, books offer an escape from that, and their printed form is a tangible representation of that.”

People love to predict ‘the death of the book,’ but that’s not happening any time soon.

Jen Campbell poet, author and booktuber
Image of a living room with a colourful bookcase across the back wall, two large table lamps on side tables and a two-seater silk sofa in the middle.

Vocal social support

Booktubers and bookstagrammers use social media platforms like YouTube and Instagram to share the books they love. This type of lifestyle content is massively popular with today’s digital audience – most big vloggers have managed to achieve celebrity status – and can have an incredible impact on the industries they support. “Viewers watch booktube channels for recommendations and come to know whose tastes they share. I link to my recommended books in the description box of my videos, if anyone wants to buy them. Through these links, viewers buy around 600-800 physical books a month. This is a small representation of the number of books bought from the recommendations I give, as many people go into bookshops or search for the books themselves,” says Jen Campbell.

A man works at a laptop on a sofa in a living room and a woman sits on a stool surrounded by two piles of books, putting books into a bookcase.

Part of booktubing/bookstagramming’s success is the way it balances honest book reviews and brilliant imagery. In a digital world where online aesthetic is everything, looking good is half the battle. The artistry and skill that goes into book printing means traditional print can be visually stunning on digital platforms.

The trending “#shelfie” hashtag is proof of this: the trend of sharing photos of bookshelves packed with books is a staple among bookstagrammers, and adds huge physical and emotional value to printed books. Unlike digital, they are a physical thing to own and show off.

So, what does a booktuber/bookstagrammer think the future of printing looks like when it comes to publishing?

“People love to predict the ‘death of the book’,” says Jen, “but that’s not happening any time soon.”

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