Home » Big Publishing, Non-US » Print sales might be rallying, but don’t get complacent

Print sales might be rallying, but don’t get complacent

31 May 2017

From The Bookseller:

In many ways, the worst thing to happen to book publishing has been the persistent strength of print books and the drop in sales of ebooks. Namely, the stalling of the digital transformation of the industry.

Yeah, I did say that. Let me explain.

Some might say that book publishing has weathered the transformation very well and is in a strong position. The numbers would tend to agree with that. Print sales up a notch, new bookshops opening, children’s book sales going from strength to strength. Time to put the kettle on then, sit back and put our feet up, yes?

Well, I tend to agree with Andrew Keen, the Internet critic and author who spoke at FutureBook in December. To paraphrase, he said publishing had come through the digital transformation mostly unscathed. However, he went on to say that this was down to good luck and not by any strategic play.

. . . .

During the early stages of the transformation, publishers threw money at a variety of digital initiatives: apps, ecommerce platforms, their own community websites… even buying the odd start-up. But big publishers spent big and lost big. I could easily list 10 initiatives that were launched with much fanfare, to be left unloved for 18 months and closed with a whimper. The intent may have been there, but the commitment certainly wasn’t. And further, their structures, people and processes did not allow for successful innovation at any scale.

But what does this matter if print sales are up and ebook sales are down? We’re fine, right?

Well yes, if we anticipate no further transformation happening. Or put another way, if we hope nobody else enters the industry looking to disrupt it; if no companies come along with new business models for books; if readers do not change how or what they buy; if no new technology emerges to offer readers a different experience, and if – a big if – Amazon, Google et al don’t come up with yet more game-changing ideas. That’s a future dependent on a lot of unlikely ifs.

Link to the rest at The Bookseller

Fashion is about dreaming and making other people dream.

Donatella Versace

Big Publishing, Non-US

6 Comments to “Print sales might be rallying, but don’t get complacent”

  1. *yawn* Usual nonsense.

  2. Print sales might seem to be rallying for the qig5 after they went and priced their ebooks out of the market, but don’t be getting your hopes up.

    Seems this is another poor fool that thinks the qig5 is all that matters and they can’t see all those little indie/self-pubs each nibbling off their own slices of the pie.

  3. “…book publishing has been the persistent strength of print books and the drop in sales of ebooks.”

    LOLLing all the way to bank… lol. lol. lol

  4. To paraphrase, he said publishing had come through the digital transformation mostly unscathed.

    Losing 30-40% of the eBook fiction market to independents is a pretty good scathe.

  5. Anyone wonder how much Amazon’s deep discounting of BPH hardcover fiction is stimulating the “rebirth” of print?

    • Most of it, as well as the AU/AG authors whining when Amazon later reduced the discount to better ‘honor’ what the publishers think their books are worth.

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