Who would have thought it? Cautious optimism has returned to international book markets. The feared widespread fire caused by mobile apps and e-books has failed to materialize, sales figures have stabilized - and in some markets they are even rising slightly.
People want to hold something haptic and tangible in their hands as an alternative to the digital experience. A study conducted by Two Sides
in 2017 found that 72 percent of readers prefer printed books in order to switch off from the digital information overflow. In a digital world, books are becoming the lean-back medium par excellence and can contribute significantly to deceleration.
It is well known that printed books have lost market share in individual segments, such as fiction in the form of paperbacks - in the US, e-books account for 19 percent of the total market (2017). However, this translates as a decline in sales volume of 10 percent over just one year. What is all the more surprising, however, is that the number of books sold in the US rose by 8 million in 2018 to a total of 695 million copies.
Change is the only constant
The US is not an outlier in this respect. According to MediaControl
figures, the German market for children's and young people's books posted strong growth at a plus of 4.4 percent. By contrast, in Germany, the proportion of e-books has been stagnating for a number of years, and has stabilized at between 6 and 7 percent.
There is also consistently positive news from Great Britain. The book market there grew by 0.3 percent to 191 million copies sold in 2018, and sales rose by 2.1 percent to 1.63 billion pounds. What is more, the Booksellers Association
recorded an increase in independent bookshops, an entirely contrary trend to the one in general retail. Especially when it comes to higher-quality books, consumers want to hold the books in their hands before buying them.
Adaptability of book publishers
But that does not mean that the publishing industry can move on to the daily agenda - change is much more ongoing and, as in many industries, the only constant. New forms of content generation, collaboration between authors, publishing companies and readers, and innovative business models will continue to keep the industry on its toes in the future.
And there's no need for the industry to hide - with a turnover of 122 billion dollars (source: Bookmap 2017 study), the global book market is three times as big as the music industry - and is a big player in Europe in particular. In 2017, European book publishers achieved total sales of 22.2 billion euros (source: European Book Publishing Statistics).
Books with Added Value
In general, there is a trend toward high-quality books with special features that offer additional haptic experiences. The possibilities are vast, ranging from special substrates through to shiny, matte or soft-touch foils, digital spot lacquering, one-color or multicolor hot foil embossing, rounded corners on the book block and cover, through to laser die cutting, and personalized printing of the trimmed edges of the books.
“Such added value is especially important in view of the competition with digital media for readers, especially if the book is sold in a brick-and-mortar store,” says Erik Kurtz, Managing Partner of Kösel GmbH & Co. KG
, one of the leading book producers in Europe.