During the last decade, in spite of the emergence of new technologies and internet based commerce, the book publishing industry has not been seriously affected by the recent economic revolution. Whereas music, videos, an daily press have experience strong storms, in the book industry the way things are done remains more or less identical.
However, over the last months a conjunction of factors has paved the way for a revolution that authors and readers are wainting for years. Let’s have a look closer on what is ahead of us.
CURRENT MARKET SITUATION
According to GFK if we take a look at the cultural goods market in France, the books represented 52% of the market in 2011. 2 things are interesting to note :
- The book publishing market is the less affected by the economic crisis in 2012 (-3% growth) whereas other content categories experience strong decreases : music ( -15%), interactive leisures (-12%) and video (-9%).
- The online book publishing represents less than 1 M€ Turnover in 2011, that is to say less than 1% of the overall cultural goods market.
Due to this 2 factors the traditionnal editors did not have many reasons to be worried about their futur. Even if the prosperous years are behind them, the necessity to change is not strong enough to urge them towards a completely new business models. So far a few adjustement have done the trick : the editors focused on international bestsellers to minimize the risks and capitalize on social media to strengthen the word of mouth for their bestsellers.
2012 : A TURNING POINT ?
However 3 things happened during the last months.
- The strong growth of the tablet PC, led by the iPad. At the beginning of 2012, the iPad was the only valuable offer on the market. However, during the last months, many strong competitors have launched attractive offers, among them the Samsung galaxy Tab, Note 10’1, Nexus 7, Kindle Fire. The tablets were defintly the 2012 Christmas period ‘s stars and now, according to Mediametrie/Gfk more than 10% of the french households possess a tablet. Moreover the number of tablet devices is expected to surpass the number of laptop in 2016.
- The e-book average price is becoming more affordable. Even if the price remains relatively closed to the print version (due to the french regulation) we can observe that the average e-book kindle is 5,78€, a relativly affordable price. Moreover, the number of available e-books has strongly increased : Amazone claims having more than 1 millions e-books, kobobooks several millions and among them many attractive bestsellers.
- Amazon marketing efforts towards authors. Let’s not forget that Amazon has built its success on selling books. And they have decided to go further. They now have :
With the combinaison of new households equipments, increase of attractive offers, and strong marketing efforts we will definitly see some big changes on the digital book market in 2013, and Amazone will certainly lead the way. The company already communicates for more than one year that they are selling more digital books than paperback.
In the coming months/ years, there is a strong probability that we assist to the following scenario :
- A strong increase of the e-book sales and development of new marketing offers : free book lending, monthly subscriptions for unlimited content…
- Desintermediation of the industry :
- Authors will market and sell directly their book on direct publishing plateforms like Kindle Direct Publishing
- The emergence of specialised digital publishing houses ( ie Amazone publishing) that will compete against traditionnal book publishers
- The evolution of literrary agents towards e-reputation and digital marketing managers for authors.
Traditionnal editors will focused on marketing best sellers from well known authors, or authors that have already a strong reader community in order to minimize risks and guarantee turnover to mortar retailers. Offline book sellers will rationnalized their stores to focus on best-sellers.
We can forecast that Internet will then become the main source of book procurements for:
- Big readers that will be attracted by monthly paid subscription for unlimited content : ie spotify business model for the music.
- Small communities that are fans of a specific literrary style that will be harder and harder to find on the sheleves due to low demand.
- Opinion leaders that will use the direct publishing plateforms to detect new talents and recommend them to their friends and followers.