Will the ebook transition span an entire generation?
My favorite number at the first TOC buchreport in Berlin on April 23rd was 20, as in 20% of the 2.4 million ebook buyers in Germany in 2012 had not bought any books in the previous twelve months, according to GfK, as quoted by Carel Weltbild, CEO of Weltbild, the second largest book chain and online platform for books in the country.
It was a long day, packed with panel debates and keynotes, with discussion topics ranging from ebook strategies in large- and medium-sized houses as well as newly-launched ventures, to author/publisher relationships to big data analysis in publishing, to lessons learned from the music industry. Yet in every detail the focus was (for once) not on some English language case studies but on the local German market.
This one-day event promises plenty of enlightening discussion and debate
Are German ebooks really any different than those in the U.S. or the U.K.? Many strong indicators say yes, they are different. That’s why many ebook debates in the past have not ended with practical guidelines for German publishers and their pursuit of innovation.
That will be different when TOC buchreport: Getting Ebooks Mainstream takes place as a one-day conference in Berlin on April 23, 2013. Many senior-level German publishing and book distribution executives will meet with new, young innovators, to discuss where the market is heading.
When Amazon released data on its financial performance for 2012 at the end of January 2013, Jeff Bezos, the company’s founder and CEO concluded: “We’re now seeing the transition we’ve been expecting. After 5 years, e-books is a multi-billion dollar category for us and growing fast—up approximately 70% last year.” (Amazon reports record sales growth. The Bookseller, 30 January 2013) That is certainly true. But Amazon might not be any longer in that most privileged role of defining the game almost all alone, as it was mostly the case, at least in the US, since the introduction of the Kindle in 2007.
Google's Arabic collection is just one example
A publisher at the Sharjah International Book Fair asked me about Google providing access to ebooks in Arabic. How could they do so without asking Arab publishers for permission, he was wondering. This was a simple question requiring a complicated answer.