Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Digital future of publishing

Each year, thousands of publishers & authors gather in Germany for the Frankfurt Book Fair. This year, a fascinating survey of over 1,00 industry professionals from 30 countries participated in a survey that asked "How will digitisation shape the future of publishing?" Read the press release here.

Ebooks are the prime focus, with digital audiobooks overlooked. But there are interesting observations that are applicable to all digital formats:

Digitisation opens up new fields of co-operation. With which other sectors should the publishing industry work more closely?
• 22 per cent thought that mobile handset manufacturers and networks would be the most important future partners

Who is currently leading the sector in digitisation?
• over half said the US (51 per cent)
• Japan was in second place, with 15 per cent, followed by Europe – excluding the UK – at 11 per cent
• only five per cent named the UK as the dominant market in terms of digitisation
Which market will be leading the sector in digitisation in five years time?
Respondents predicted that the international balance will shift in the coming years:
• only 29 per cent predict that the US would still be leading the way
• China followed with 28 per cent
• respondents still expected Europe (17 per cent) and the UK (three per cent) to be trailing in this area

Who is really in charge?
When asked who was driving the move towards digitisation in the book industry, only seven per cent felt that publishers were leading the way:
• 22 per cent said that consumers were pushing the move towards digitisation
• online retailers like Amazon (21 per cent), Google (20 per cent), and the telecommunications sector (13 per cent) were not far behind
• only two per cent felt that authors were driving this aspect of the industry – and governments lagged even further behind with only one per cent

As the much-hyped e-readers hit the stores, and digitisation continues to revolutionize all aspects of the book trade, this year over 70 per cent of respondents revealed that they feel ready for the digital challenge. The survey also reveals that current opinion is divided on the future of the e-books and digital content versus the printed word. 40 per cent of respondents expect e-content to overtake traditional book sales as early as 2018 – whereas a third predict that this will never happen.
Interesting reading!

Image from www.book-fair.com/en/fbf/general/

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