Stora Enso – Which do you prefer, an e-book or a physical book

A new Stora Enso survey of 2,400 book readers of all ages in the UK, France, Germanyand the United States found that people still overwhelmingly prefer physical books for the way they look, feel, and even smell.

The study, conducted during March 2022, showed that 65% of respondents wanted physical books, compared to 21% who preferred e-books and 14% who preferred audio books. The French showed the strongest preference for physical books of any nation. And most said they preferred reading or listening to fiction books for leisure and spending quality time alone.

“These results confirmed our expectations that the physical book market should remain strong, which is good news for our printing and publishing customers,” said At Stora Enso Jonathan Bakwell, VP, Head of Segment Office and Book Papers. But there were surprising results from the youngest group (16-24) surveyed, where 70% said they preferred physical books to e-books.

This craze for books among Gen Zers, who are more likely to be the digital disruptors, seems partly fueled by the craze for manga books, driven by netflix animated series, as well as a recent explosion of best-selling teen romance books. For older age groups, physical books are outselling e-books in areas such as human potential and mindfulness – think adult coloring books – especially during the pandemic, when people took a break to look inside.

Digital detox

“People started rediscovering reading, in part because of the pandemic,” says Bakewell, “where many were tethered to their screens all day for work or school and then didn’t want to take them to the couch. when it was time to relax. ‘

A majority of respondents (63%) say they read more during the Covid, including nearly 70% in the UK and U.S. In the youth segment, 64% say they read more and, in particular, 76% of young people in the United States and 73% in the United States UK.

‘In the UK, it helped that we had good weather during the first lockdown, ”recalls Bakewell, who invested in an outdoor sofa to relax with a good book after work. During isolation, the physical nature of a book seemed friendlier to some than a digital reader. Books also look great as a colorful piece of art or a design piece on a table or shelf. Some even cited the smell of a physical book that might evoke pleasant memories.

Sharing eyes and ears

But even though physical books have taken a greater share of hearts and minds, the study showed that there is a time and a place for all three book formats. E-books and audiobooks are more convenient and lighter to carry and can be consumed from multiple devices.

“And while book and e-book compete for eye share, audio is complementary in that it competes for ears – podcasts, radio, music and the like – when eyes aren’t available,” says Bakewell.

Books as carbon storage

Books are also circular: 42% of readers said they liked to keep books when they were done reading them, while 26% lent or gave them away. 26% sell their books and the remaining 5% recycle or throw them away.

And although books emit carbon during production and distribution, they are their own carbon storage unit once they are on our shelves. Some readers who preferred e-books thought they were more durable. “But even e-books require energy to make and run their reading devices and to run their content servers,” Bakewell points out.

Carbon neutrality a plus

A majority of all respondents (61%) and 70% of young people said they would be willing to pay more (on average 5.7% of the retail price) for carbon neutral books. A majority also said they would buy from outlets offering carbon neutral or carbon offset books. However, most have decided to visit a site themselves and use an ISBN to pay compensation separately. This is with the exception of the youth segment and a majority of German respondents, who said they would.

‘Knowing this, the next question for Stora Enso and our customers, is the best way to meet this demand for carbon neutrality as an industry,” says Bakewell, adding, “Offsetting is something we only consider when we have carbon emissions that are currently inevitable. And of course, we are always looking for ways to avoid emissions now and in the future as options open up.

Certainly, Stora Enso has the technical and environmental expertise to implement a process. For example, in copy paper, the company already offers a carbon-neutral choice (At Stora Enso Multicopy Zero), which is compensated for customers at the point of sale.

On the other hand, in the paper book, the situation is more complex. Stora Enso produces the widest range of book qualities at its Anjala Mill in Finland. Thus, one key question among others is whether offsets are applied at the point of production of the book or at the point of purchase of the paper. “The results of the study have opened up many talking points like this, which we are just beginning to address with our clients in print and publishing, and we are open to sharing,” says Bakewell. “So please contact me!”

Part of the global bioeconomy, Stora Enso is a leading supplier of renewable products in packaging, biomaterials, wood construction and paper, and one of the largest private forest owners in the world. We believe that anything made from fossil materials today can be made from a tree tomorrow. Stora Enso has approximately 22,000 employees and our sales in 2021 were €10.2 billion. Stora Enso shares are listed on Nasdaq Helsinki Oy (STEAV, STERV) and Nasdaq Stockholm AB (STE A, STE R). In addition, the shares are traded on the UNITED STATES as ADR (SEOAY).

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Telephone: +46 1046 000 00


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