Half-full or half-empty glass? There are always two ways to look at the figures. The edition world may enjoy the increase of new readers and digital books’ selling but the situation is still sad. In the digital era, the e-book – in its actual form – does not meet public’s expectations : 76% of French people declare that they do not even consider using it ! Being pleased with market perspectives cut by the ¾ of its clients seems suspect. On the digital field the edition sector is evolving slowly, very slowly. Here is an understandable attitude as it is important to take place on the new digital value channel while avoiding that a technological actor captures the whole cake. Here is the thing : in the digital no embankment resists endlessly to the waves of change. Due to waiting, companies are being exposed to the tiredness of clients and consumers, and to the limitless imagination of new incomers.
Unsatisfied demand and deliberately timid offering, when will the e-book break into the market?
Digitalisation of the upstream
In the hallways of the “Salon du Livre 2016”, named for the first time this year “Live Paris”, the visitors wander around like always. 180 000 amateurs were expected. During this literary event, they were able to touch, go through, sometimes smell dozens of thousands of books introduced for this special occasion. For the traditional book, here is a mass market. The loyal heir of Gutenberg feels pretty great. In the world it even remains the first cultural market, largely in front of the music industry, the cinema and the video games. In 2014, its global sales generated 125 billion dollars of profit, according to a Kurt Salmon survey on the cultural and creative subjects. By way of comparison the music industry makes three times less. The book is also the first culture industry in France with a turnover of 4,6 billion euros in 2015, according to GfK.
Publishing is the cultural and economic leader in softback or bind printing but small and produced by a digital niche. A huge paradoxical gap at the time of the digital revolution. It is surprising to observe the marginal success of books in its dematerialised version. On a global level the sector shows the weakest digitalisation rate with barely 15% of the global turnover, against 50% for the music industry and 30% for the video, according to the Kurt Salomon cabinet. In France the digital sales stay very marginal too : “below 2% for a majority of editors”, according to the last KPMG barometer. The e-book still struggles to seduce a large audience.
The editors’ curb
For the general public, the e-book almost stays a niche experience despite the obvious advantages such as the immediacy of access or the comfort of reading, e.g. the mobility. The main curbs to the democratisation of this market have to be looked for next to what the publishers are offering.
At the centre of the reactor : the editors
Every big publishing house whose turnover goes over 20 million euros are in this market but less than the half of the smallest ones are launched. The economic aspect is not primordial except for the republication of old books or for the edition of small-printing publications. For the new ones, on the other hand, the savings on the printing, the storage or the distribution are low because the editors still have to produce printed books. Today we do not see the digital as fewer costs but as additional takings. Firstly on the big sales, the cost of fabrication is not really a differentiating element.
What about tomorrow?
Just like other sectors and industries, the world of edition is still being caught up by the digital tidal wave. The consumption modes change. The expectations of the consumers too. On experience level, the e-book is voted for its ease of storage and transport. In front of it, the printing wins for its comfort, its pleasure, the sharing or for gift-giving.
Are the good old books dying or are e-books just a useless innovation? Tell us what you think in the comments down below !