BOARDMAN, Ohio (WKBN) — As digital media has an increasingly large role in daily life, it prompts the question: Are fewer people reading and buying print books?

Buy A Book Day is celebrated internationally on Sept. 7 to raise awareness about the book-buying culture and the benefits of reading. Reading is beneficial to mental health by reducing stress and giving people more understanding, according to the National Alliance on Mental Illness.

According to Craig Duster, owner of POP! Art Books Culture in Boardman, the print book industry is still alive and well.

“I think that there’s a narrative that the digital is, is killing of physical books, and I just I don’t see that. I don’t think that’s true,” Duster said. “What I see is that people are changing the way that they’re reading. I have customers come in all the time who are reading, they’re reading a physical book, they’re listening to an audiobook, and then they also have something on their e-reader, too.”

According to data from Statista, 788.7 million units of print books were sold in 2022. This shows a decrease from the 843.1 million sold in 2021 but still marks the second-highest figure in the last decade.

Unit sales of printed books in the United States from 2004 to 2022
Unit sales of printed books in the United States from 2004 to 2022. Courtesy of Statista.

While there was a steady decline from 2008-2012, the trend of sales has been slowly increasing since, with the spike in 2021 during the COVID-19 pandemic.

POP! opened in November of 2021, and Duster says people have been delighted to have a second-hand book store in the area.

“I’ve had people come in and been just beside themselves, excited,” he said. “I had one lady come in, and she was almost in tears because it had been so long that there’d been a used bookstore near her in in the area.”

Not only are book sales increasing, but libraries are seeing an increase in physical book circulation as well. Data from the Public Library of Youngstown and Mahoning Valley shows the number of physical books checked out increased from 79,989 in 2020 to 93,755 in 2022.

“While we have seen a large increase in e-book use, especially during COVID-19, physical books remain increasingly popular, even in the years since the pandemic,” said Maggie Henderson, Strategic Communications Officer of PLYMC.

According to a study conducted by Pew Research Center, 65% of adults said they had read a print book in 2021 while around 30% said they had read an e-book.

Duster said that even though people often ask if the business is going to close, POP! is alive and well.

“I think people do get concerned that they think that we’re going out of business and stuff… [but] we’re doing better, every month is better than the last,” Duster said.