Selling books and digital files: A comparative study of the sales of books and e-books in Sweden | Intellect Skip to content
Volume 13, Issue 1
  • ISSN: 1601-829X
  • E-ISSN: 2040-0586



The book trade is going through wide-ranging changes pushed by digital technology and e-books, and there is considerable concern over the consequences this will have for literature, culture and reading. The article proposes that the present development can be compared with similar changes in the book trade in the past, and that the effects of sales of e-books might not be all-encompassing as has been feared. A comparison between sales in the Swedish book clubs in the 1970s and the Internet bookshops in the 1990s, offers a range of similarities and differences. These are then related to the e-book sales since 2010. While the e-book might be a disruptive technology, put in a historical perspective and in a Swedish context, it appears less radical and the impact not as far-reaching as has been predicted. The comparison with book clubs and Internet sales gives an indication of the structural changes to be expected and what aspects are fundamental and new.


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