So dead tree books aren’t dead yet?


Here’s a bit of a surprise, especially to the book sellers

The number of books sold over Christmas rose by 10 percent, and sales for the year were up by eight percent.

The chief executive of the Booksellers Association, Lincoln Gould, said there had been a significant turnaround, with the trend for book sales climbing.

“Booksellers have not seen figures like this for a few years, and they come despite doomsayers telling tales of e-book and off-shore online sales heralding the death of the bookshop,” he said.

He said more shops were getting onboard with online selling, and for many this had become a significant part of their revenue.

But Mr Gould said there were still problems for the book industry.

“New Zealand booksellers remain competitively cramped in competing with off-shore online retailers who do not collect GST on sales,” he said.

Booksellers in Australia, the United States and the United Kingdom are all reporting record Christmas sales and a rise in overall book sales last year.

I can assure you that I’ve not been responsible for any “real” book sales for some time now, and I suspect you’ll find a definite older/younger generation split between those that buy and want “real” books and those that are happy with an electronic version.

For one, the electronic version is frequently cheaper, can come to you within a minute or two, and doesn’t take up any extra room in your… anywhere.

Of course, they make for very lame gifts….

Are you still filling your shelves with blocks of printer paper?   Why?




THANK YOU for being a subscriber. Because of you Whaleoil is going from strength to strength. It is a little known fact that Whaleoil subscribers are better in bed, good looking and highly intelligent. Sometimes all at once! Please Click Here Now to subscribe to an ad-free Whaleoil.

  • jude

    Ok I am guilty of buying hard copy.
    Rest of my family read on-line.
    I have commented before about the feel and smell of paper.
    The e reader is not the same to me. I accept that I will eventually need to try this form of “book”. I am resisting for now.
    I must admit, travelling for my husband was so much more convenient with the e reader.
    I just carried books that I left behind when finished:)

    • Curious

      So you are a book crosser Jude.
      I know what you are saying but I have found myself converted to the ebook and audible book as they are great for travelling.

      • Garbageman

        have always been curious about audible books, as i like to drift away into fantasy land when reading, do you find them distracting or you miss certain parts in traffic ?

  • I buy books a lot. More than half from Amazon/online and then the rest from bookshops.
    eBooks are not for me, I tried them but find reading them to be cumbersome and difficult when lying down.

  • EveryWhichWayButLeft

    I buy a lot of books – mostly through Amazon. There’s something about the dead tree variety (esp. hardcover), which makes them my preference over ebooks.

    Maybe it’s because I usually ready rather weighty non-fiction tomes or maybe it’s just because I’m old and nostalgic. Just like I still have an analogue watch.

  • caochladh

    For the same reason that “bricks & mortar” stores will always be with us. Well, for me anyway, I like to touch, feel, see the quality of major purchases before I commit. As for books, I buy real books as presents and books that come up for auction from the libraries of people I admire. It is a privilege to hold a book that they have held and read the very same words that they have read.
    In saying that, all the bricks and mortar stores should embrace the internet and instead of whinging about people coming in just to try things on, give them a discount voucher if they buy from their web site.

  • Sally

    I have loved my kindle as soon as I got it, over 6 year ago . I upgraded to a paperwhite last year which is even better with a backlight and more compact. I did try reading on a tablet for awhile but found I was distracted by emails, notifications etc.
    I search out specials on Amazon frequently and the daily reviews from Kindle Buffet from is another source of what is on special at Amazon.
    My children know they can’t go wrong giving me Amazon gift vouchers as presents
    For non-fiction I would still probably prefer a hard copy as a resource to refer to.
    My 3 adult children all have kindles plus my granddaughter has inherited my old one.

  • Garbageman

    I swing both ways on this one (and only this) have 2 tablets linked to my dropbox that has a lot of epub books in it (thats the format for reading on Android) convenience is the obvious reason especially when you get stuck into a good series that has multiple books also the ability to change font, size of print, formatting etc, still enjoy getting books as gifts and its interesting to see what others think your tastes are

    good site for news and reviews

    • jude

      This was the article I tried to link to the other night! There is a book at the top of my pile” to reads “,that came highly recommended by the owner of “Poppies” in Havelock North.
      It is called a Higher Call by Adam Makos…pic attached.
      There are a few pilots who read the Blog, so thought I would mention:)

  • hookerphil

    Hard copy, not going to run out of power.

  • Sagacious Blonde

    TradeMe cured me of the obsessive need to own and retain books, as any title eventually comes up on a saved search. I retain just one bookshelf of favourites.
    I price the books for my local OpShop and am touched by estate collections; it is a very personal glimpse into someone’s life to see what they have read, treasured and kept.
    A kindle just doesn’t give the sort of window into a person’s life that a scan of their bookshelves can.

  • corporate refugee

    Books are way too expensive in NZ when compared to most other countries, so its no surprise that the book industry has problems here. Plus I’m tired of the excuse about overseas retailers selling to NZ customers online and not having to pay NZ GST. If I buy a book from Amazon UK or USA they have to wrap it and ship it individually to me, a cost an NZ retailer does not have to factor in.

  • MaryLou

    When you’ve got a number of veracious readers in the house with similar tastes, it’s still worth getting the book. Can’t share an ebook so much…

  • JC

    Our place is a bookworm’s delight.. hundreds of books scattered around on big shelves. People come in and wander over and touch the books, read the covers and love it all.. but perhaps only 10% of them are from 2000 onwards.. thats the power of the Internet, Kobo and Kindle.

    I love our libraries.. they define who and what we are but the reality is that the last 30 odd books I’ve read over the last several months are E-books set in fonts that I can read on a 23 inch screen.. its a huge and cheap boon for the older reader.


  • Gaynor

    I sell 2nd hand books …recycled trees?

    • caochladh

      Many of the books you sell are probably not available in electronic format, so really you are recycling knowledge.

  • Mayan

    Serendipity might just be a major reason why bookstores don’t die out (and various other physical retail, too). At a bookstore, one browses. If you turn around, you’re looking at a different shelf. People see things they wouldn’t have searched for, and so discovery unfolds.

    The problem with online is that one either searches for something specific and so doesn’t see things that are slightly different. Worse, the algorithms that are often used tend to narrow the results that are given. Even where a page pops up with “you might also like”, that is the product of algorithms that, essentially, give you more of the same. There’s no opportunity to discover.

  • johcar

    ““New Zealand booksellers remain competitively cramped in competing with off-shore online retailers who do not collect GST on sales,” he said.” – I call bovine excrement on this comment!

    Anyone who checks the prices on the back of paperbacks can easily see that the difference between the cost of a dead tree book in NZ and anywhere else in the world is way more than 15%, even taking the exchange rate into effect.

    A while back I was browsing in Whitcoulls Downtown when a cruise ship was in town and overheard a couple of American tourists, one of whom commented “How can New Zealanders afford to read books?!”

    I can’t remember the last time I read a dead tree book. I have been buying ebooks since 2003…

  • EveryWhichWayButLeft

    I had an ambitious plan to read a whole bunch of books over Christmas… Unfortunately, with one thing or an other (incl. the good weather) I didn’t get much of a chance.

    Here’s the first bunch (some I’ve already read) and there’s another stack about the same size on my desk at work). [pic]

    Did I mention, I love books and I love reading?

    Edit: and before anyone ask; Yes – that is a gun case on the left. No – there’s no guns in it (they’re safely locked away).

    • jude

      You might want to add A Higher Call by Adam Makos to your pile! Judging by your selection there, you have similar taste in books to my husband !Some of those books grace our bookcase too:)

      • EveryWhichWayButLeft

        It’s in my Amazon wishlist already :)

        I won’t post a pic of my bookcase(s)… People might thing I’m a little nutty [and they would generally be right].

        They’re overflowing with books on military history, politics, and general non-fiction/history – although there’s a good chunk of ‘light reading’ too, esp. classics like Le Carre, Ludlum, Forsyth…

        • jude

          Snap! I would love a dedicated library like the one on The Bookthief! We have one wall floor to ceiling books but it is hard to keep under control

  • Mechanical Gear

    And then you have shops like Atlantis Books that opened three new shops last year in New Zealand because they chucked out the old rule book and decided to do things differently.


    In the lazy hammock with a good book and a drink….hard to beat!

  • mommadog

    I’m still filling my shelves with blocks of paper and the why is a good question. For novels and light reading its electronic all the way with mostly kindle purchases through Amazon. For non-fiction reference type books I really like to have the blocks of paper. I also have a couple of books signed/autographed by the author. It wouldn’t be the same electronically. Take for example a good recipe book. I like to hold it in my hand and look through at leisure to get inspiration. I don’t like to have my laptop open in the kitchen to read the recipe due to bench space and the risk of having something spilt so without the paper book I end up printing out lots of pages anyway.

  • FredFrog

    I find that for linear access, i.e. a novel or one of my historical non-fiction tomes that I often devour, electronic suits me fine

    However, in my professional life I have to make much use of reference books, mostly random access. Electronic is not really suitable for this, especially when having to access several sections in different places semi-sequentially. For this I require dead tree and post-it notes.

  • oldmanNZ

    centerfolds looks better in hi gloss, and you can hang it up.

    • I.M Bach

      And update it monthly, unlike the wife.

      Hmm, maybe you could update the wife monthly but I’d bet it would cost a fortune.

      Edit: spelling Nazi in the house; me.

  • Murray Smith

    K9 perspective

  • Pacman

    Just been away camping. With no way to recharge a device there is no substitute for a real book. Who wants to take an iPad to the beach anyway ?
    We still buy lots of books in our household. Books get borrowed, lent, re-read etc. can’t do that with an ebook.