Arts and Culture

This survey shows that people prefer printed books – even in the digital age

picture of someone reading a book

Overall, people still prefer ink and paper when it comes to reading a book. Image: Unsplash/Haidan

Felix Richter
Data Journalist, Statista
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Book Club

  • 45% of people bought a printed book last year, compared to the 23% who bought an e-book.
  • This suggests that e-books have the potential to complement the publishing industry and function alongside it - rather than replace it.
  • This chart shows the preference for printed and e-books globally, with e-books being most popular in China.
  • More than half of Germans bought a printed book in 2020.

With smartphones, tablets and e-readers reaching mass adoption over the past few years, many have predicted that printed books would soon become a thing of the past. And while it’s true that people use their electronic devices to read, they still rely heavily on ink and paper when it comes to reading books.

Have you read?

According to data from Statista’s Advertising & Media Outlook, e-book penetration still trails that of printed books by a wide margin across the globe. In the United States for example, where e-books are very popular in comparison, 23 percent of the population are estimated to have purchased an e-book last year, compared to 45 percent who bought a printed book.


What is the World Economic Forum doing to improve digital intelligence in children?

These findings suggest that e-books will not be the final nail in the coffin of printed books but rather a complementary product that should ultimately benefit the publishing industry. People may grab an e-reader when they head to the beach or commute to work, but as far as actual books go, there’s nothing like the real thing.

a chart showing the estimated share of the population that purchased an e-book VS a printed book in 2020
Studies show that printed books are still the most popular. Image: Statista
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Arts and CultureIndustries in DepthEmerging Technologies
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