Monday, October 08, 2007

50 50, Ask the Audience, or Call a Friend?

On the eve of the Frankfurt Book Fair comes an interesting survey by them, that were published in today’s They surveyed 1,300 publishers, retailers, agents and libraries from around the world and came up with some interesting results. The results like so often lack clarity and relevance. 25% believe High street bookselling will not exist in 50 years, but that means 75% do. 4% believe publishers will be obsolete, but the term ‘publisher’ is very vague and can mean many things to many people. 11% thought the printed book will vanish, which means 89% again didn’t.

However, the most interesting results were over the size of change faced and who the dominant geographic force would be.

55.5%, thought that the industry would continue without any "catastrophic change". This majority obviously have not been watching the music industry’s value chain and previous business models fall apart. We are witnessing unprecedented changes in broadcasting, telephony, music, films, audio, education and all content and rights related industries, but still 55.5% believe books are different! It is not so much about the physical versus the digital book, it is about business model, relationships and in certain genre the opportunity to think outside the jacket in this digital age. Predicting who will thrive and who will survive is difficult and the only certainty is that there will be authors and readers and all between are up for grabs.

36% thought Europe would dominate the industry in the next decade whilst 32% said America and 26% China. The question one has to ask is, where was China ten years ago or even five years ago? What is relevant, is not who will dominate, but the impact of the shift towards true globalisation and potentially global ownership. Will China and emerging economies tolerate external ownership, or step up to take ownership themselves? China and India are clearly in the ascendancy. What happens when we also finally accept that territorial rights become unmanageable and global pricing starts to bite. The final interesting point here is one many have long known and that is the recognition that there is a publishing market outside the US.