Stora Enso Oyj: Survey finds that physical books still outperform e-books in sharing hearts and minds, with carbon neutrality an important consideration.

A new survey commissioned by Stora Enso in March 2022 of 2,400 book readers and listeners in the UK, France, Germany and the US showed that people still overwhelmingly prefer physical books (65%) to e-books (21%) or audiobooks (14%). And consumers are willing to pay extra for carbon-neutral books.

“With the book market being strong coming out of the pandemic, our goal with this survey was to find out if the market would stay that way in a post-pandemic world. And the answer we got was a resounding yes,” says Jonathan Bakewell. , Vice President, Head of Office and Book Papers Segment, Stora Enso.

Reinforced reading in the event of a pandemic

Clearly the pandemic has had a positive effect on reading, with 63% of all respondents and nearly 70% in the UK and US reporting reading more. Among the youngest respondents (aged 16-24), 64% say they read more, including 76% of young people in the US and 73% in the UK.

Demand among young people appears to be fueled in part by the manga book craze, driven by Netflix animated series as well as an explosion in top-selling teen romance books. For older readers, the book market has seen an increase in the human potential of books and mindfulness as people pause to look within. But most people said they read or listen to fiction books, mostly for their free time. And the trend looks set to continue.

Why physical books?

The 65% who prefer physical books cite their haptic properties. “Besides being an object of beauty, the physicality of a book is pleasant,” says Bakewell, “Even the smell of a book can evoke pleasant memories for some readers.”

Books and the paper they are printed on are also circular and renewable –42% of readers said they like to keep the books when they have finished reading them, while 26% lend or donate them. Another 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 hit shelves.

Room for all formats

While physical books look set to remain dominant, the survey showed that there is a time and place for all book formats, with few respondents saying they stick to just one. Ebooks and audiobooks are convenient, light to carry, and can be consumed from many different devices.

Promoting low carbon

Carbon neutrality was a priority for most, with 61% of all respondents and 70% of young people saying they would pay more (on average 5.7% of the retail price) for carbon neutral books. A majority would also buy from an outlet providing carbon neutral or carbon offset books.

“These findings, among many others, are great conversation starters with our printing and publishing customers,” says Bakewell, “as we begin to understand as an industry how best to meet the demand for neutrality carbon”.

For more information

Liisa Nyyssonen

SVP, Communications and Marketing

Phone. + 358 40 544 3491

An integral 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 amounted to €10.2 billion. Stora Enso shares are listed on Nasdaq Helsinki Oy (STEAV, STERV) and Nasdaq Stockholm AB (STE A, STE R). Also, the shares are traded in the United States as ADR (SEOAY).


Lucas E. Kelly