Screen fatigue blamed as ebook sales fall for second year running

UK ebook sales fell again last year with readers said to be suffering "screen fatigue" and sales of physical books fighting back to their strongest in four years.

Industry figures showed overall publishing revenues - including books and journals - rose 7% to a record £4.8bn in 2016.

But ebook revenues were down 3% to £538m, continuing a trend seen for the first time the previous year, according to the Publishers Association.

Sales of physical books were up 8% to £3bn - their highest level since 2012.

Chief executive Stephen Lotinga told the Guardian: "There is generally a sense that people are now getting screen tiredness, or fatigue, from so many devices being used, watched or looked at in their week."

The Publishers Association said a resurgence in town centre book shops had helped boost physical book sales, adding: "A book is already the ultimate portable device."

Most hit by the decline in ebooks were consumer titles - comprising fiction, non-fiction and children's books - which fell 17% to £204m.

The wider category of digital books was still up, by 6%, thanks to increases in audiobooks and demand for academic and professional texts.

Overall, digital made up 35% of total revenues.

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