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Remember when printed books were dying? Not anymore




It seems that, in a Mark Twain style, rumours of books' death have been greatly exaggerated.


Remember when printed books were dying? It was probably around the same time vinyl was put on the critical list (sales up 69% in 2015, since you ask).

Well, it seems that, in a Mark Twain style, rumours of books' death have been greatly exaggerated.

As evidence of the printed word's continued good health, publishing giant Hachette recently announced that it is to close two relatively small and ageing distribution centres and invest tens of millions of pounds in a new, huge, state-of-the-art facility in Didcot, Oxfordshire.

This is good news on a number of levels. Obviously, it is a huge vote of confidence in the long-term prospects for the printed page. More practically, it will also mean speedier and more efficient delivery of Wordsworth Editions books for our trade customers (we use Bookpoint, one of the two distribution centres in question).

We're obviously delighted on both fronts. But not especially surprised in regard to the enduring appeal of 'real' books. We were always confident they would not just survive but prosper.

The murder weapon in what turned out to be the non-death of print was, of course, the e-book. They were supposed to make physical page-turners redundant. But, their sales have now plateaued and the two overlapping markets sit happily side by side. 

There is precedent for this. Television was going to kill radio and cinema. All three seem to be doing rather nicely in 2016. And the reason, just like with books and e-books, is that they fulfil different needs in different contexts.

Most of us use and enjoy all three. Just like now, after the initial hysterical predictions have faded away, we use and enjoy books and e-books.

The idea that the printed version could ever be dismissed as 'old-fashioned' was always bunkum (to use a decidedly old-fashioned expression). Rather, we are especially pleased and well-placed to say, they are 'classics'.

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