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World Book Day: Keeping printed books relevant

Many organisations have shared research about the importance of printed books

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In 2018, the COST Action E-READ Initiative found that printed materials are better for young people’s comprehension, concentration, critical thinking, and deep reading

Held annually on the first Thursday of March, World Book Day is a charity event held in the UK and Ireland where children are provided vouchers to be spent on books with the intention being to encourage children to read more and embrace literature in different forms.

World Book Day has focused this year’s celebration on children’s ability to choose when they read to make reading fun with research showing that one in five children feel judged for what they read, and a quarter are made to read things they don’t want to.

In 2023 more than 50 million book tokens were distributed via schools, magazines, and partnerships with re-imagined classics, picture books, comic books, and adventure tales being released as part of the World Book Day selection.

World Book Day says that reading for pleasure is the single biggest indicator of a child’s future success, over elements like family circumstances, educational background, and income.

Chief executive officer of the charity, Cassie Chadderton, says: “Our aim for World Book Day 2024 is to bring the fun of reading to more children, to celebrate their choices, and encourage everyone to Read Their Way! Fewer children and their families are enjoying reading, just when the life-changing benefits are needed most.”

Research in 2019 by not-for-profit organisation, Two Sides, found that 69% of consumers preferred to read printed books, while 61% favoured printed magazines and 54% preferred newspapers, compared to percentages of just 13%, 15%, and 20% for electronic alternatives.

28% of survey respondents felt they were suffering from “digital overload” a statistic which could likely have increased in the time since due to the digital fatigue of the pandemic. 

Commenting on the relevancy of book production, Carlotta Maria Basile, production portfolio marketing manager at Canon UK & Ireland, says it's an ever-evolving industry that is steeped in tradition yet “driven by modern innovation”.

Carlotta Maria Basile, Production Portfolio Marketing Manager, Canon UK & Ireland

Basile says: “While a few years ago it was thought that printed books would be entirely replaced by e-books and audiobooks, it’s clear that people’s love for printed books is here to stay. 

“In a digitally saturated world, customers are experiencing more and more digital fatigue. The sheer volume of digital communications is causing many to switch off and opt-out, oand actively seek ways to reduce their intake of online content. In fact, there’s growing evidence to suggest that younger readers are favouring tradition over technology when it comes to reading.”

A report from Nielsen BookData found that printed books were the most popular way to read for people aged 13 to 24 in the UK.

Basile says that the 2020 ‘BookTok’ craze led to a new surge in book popularity which Basile says has meant the future is hard to predict but has encouraged vendors to understand the key challenges and opportunities faced by customers in the book buying space. 

“Traditionally, book production meant high running costs,” says Basile. “Today, book publishers are wanting to minimise these costs, while also maintaining fast turnaround times. What’s more, there’s increasing pressure for publishers to diversify their offering and deliver more bespoke printed material in a world of limitless consumer choice and accessibility.

“With on-demand print, publishers and print providers are able to address these challenges and deliver more economical short-run production with minimal downtime. Recent breakthroughs in inkjet technology have also enabled book production processes to become highly automated, unlocking seamless end-to-end workflows with minimal intervention, which allows for further cost-savings in labour.”

In 2021, Two Sides highlighted a report from the OECD’s Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA), confirming that students perform better when they read from printed materials rather than digital devices.

Two Sides welcomed the news though was alarmed by figures showing that young people are not reading enough as the report showed one-third of students rarely or never read books.

The not-for-profit organisation said this could have far-reaching ramifications in developing literacy skills and giving future generations the tools and skills to combat fake news and disinformation.

Canon points out that more schools and universities are now investing in in-house production services to align processes with their wider values and sustainable goals.

Basile concludes: “By listening to customer needs and going the extra mile to provide tailored expertise and counsel, vendors can start to build these trustworthy relationships with customers. Being agile, connected, and responsive to rapidly changing markets and evolving customer needs will be the key to success in this increasingly competitive industry.”

If you’d like to share news or opinions with us feel free to email at news@printmonthly.co.uk or join in with the conversation on Twitter and LinkedIn.

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