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The Markets 2018 – new publishing revenue models

Jane CharltonBy Jane Charlton
Category - Blog

Monday 26th November 2018

Last month I attended The Markets 2018 at the Frankfurt Book Fair to gain new market insights into the publishing industry. Experts from across the world showcased different publishing revenue models, shared market knowledge and insights, and highlighted opportunities for international collaboration. 

Strategy of audio first is the future 

Keynote Charlie Redmayne, CEO of HarperCollins and President of the Publishers Association, opened the conference and shared his vision for the future of publishing. 

Redmayne said the rise in audio was substantial and HarperCollins had grown its own audio revenue by 47% over the last year. The company now has a total audio strategy and, for some titles, the audio version will launch before the e-book. He went on to say there are new audio opportunities such as podcasts becoming the next revenue stream. 

Experimenting with new business models is a prerequisite for success in the publishing industry and ensuring your business has multiple routes to markets globally is essential. 

Redmayne said that in a competitive market place, publishers need to be more inventive in reaching more diverse and niche markets. Making content available through as many digital channels as possible is one way of doing that. 

HarperCollins was one of the first publishers to use data analytics to understand consumer behaviour. Analysing consumer data to make informed business decisions has now become the norm for most industries and it’s becoming increasingly important to compete in the market place and deliver what consumers want. 

 Redmayne concluded that embracing a more diverse workforce was essential in reaching out to niche and hard-to-reach audiences. Developing an innovative culture and recruiting people with original thinking and ideas will help drive new revenue models and meet customer and market needs. 

Audio was also cited as one of the most lucrative publishing revenues by other speakers. Anki Ahrnell, chief digital officer at Bonnier AB, Sweden, presented some eyebrow-raising stats: nearly 40% of all Nordic consumers are premium subscribers of streamed music and audiobook services are growing at a rate of 400,000 paying Swedish subscribers. 

 Competing with social media for readers time  

At the conference, Kyra Dreher, Börsenverein des Deutschen Buchhandels, said that physical book sales had dropped by seven million buyers in Germany over the last year, coinciding with the rise in use of digital media.  

 Recent German research shows that consumers experience a great deal of stress from the fast pace of everyday life and the social expectations associated with constantly responding to and engaging with digital media.  

 Whilst consumers cited book reading as a relaxing and enjoyable activity, time constraints and distractions on social media have become blockers to book reading. The German book market is now looking at new market strategies that will provide readers with more direction on what to read, based on their interests and finding new ways of bringing books to customers. 

 Niclas Sandin, CEO of BookBeat, similarly observed that digital publishers are heavily competing with the distracting and hugely time-absorbing nature of social media channels for a share of users’ time. 

 But how can publishers get a bigger share of users’ time? By attracting light readers, turning them into heavy listeners and tracking which books users listen to according to relevance, finish rate and popularity rating. 

 Diversification strategies in China 

Jiang Yanping, CEO of OpenBook in China, presented one of the most fascinating revenue models, explaining how Chinese publishers are diversifying into new market verticals such as e-commerce and tourism.   

Authors of popular books are getting involved in developing merchandise around the theme of their books and working with the Chinese government and commercial organisations to build theme parks for tourists. Authors benefit from these new ventures where they win the rights to their work.  

OpenBook are keen to invest in Western companies and can advise publishers on the best way to enter the Chinese market. It seems the publishing industry in China is well and truly open for business. If you’d like to know more, read Publishing Perspectives interview with Jian Yanping and visit the ALPSP website for their webinar series ‘How to grow your business in China‘. 

OpenAthens’ top takeaways from The Markets 2018 

  1. Consumer interest in audio books and content is growing exponentially. Any digital publisher that wants to succeed in the global market needs an audio strategy.
  2. Use data analytics to inform your business about consumer behaviour and how people access and consume content.
  3. Make your content available through as many digital channels as your business can manage to ensure a wider readership.
  4. Review your routes to market and see where there are any gaps or opportunities to reach new audiences. 
  5. Recruit bright, innovative employees from diverse backgrounds who think differently and can bring something new to your business. Because they’re the ones that will help you grow in the niche and hard-to-reach markets.
  6. Find new ways to engage with readers so you can compete for a larger share of the time they’re spending on social media.
  7. Give consumers the relaxing, positive experience they crave with books and direct time-poor consumers to literature that’s relevant and interesting to them.
  8. China’s diversification into new market verticals is highly innovative. Is it a risky strategy or will it engage with consumers and deliver on new revenue models the Western world hasn’t yet thought of? 

Visit The Markets 2018 documentation to view the programme and slides.


Header image: Photo by Frankfurter Buchmesse/ Bernd Hartung.

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