tv U.S. Book Show How Books Get Covered Around the Globe CSPAN July 10, 2022 4:27pm-5:31pm EDT
stop. it's pretty good right? no work in a bookstore. so everywhere on that note i am going to thank everybody for your participation today. i i do i do i have to read this this comment because it's just you know, and it it's regarding urgent versus important. someone has written. it's a book not a kidney on ice and i leave all of you with with that thought. we love books. we love publishing namaste and i will see each of you around a virtual room. i'm sure down the road. thanks very much. thank you. thank you. bye-bye. welcome to the us bookshelf. i'm christopher. kenneally host of velocity of
content from ccc. over the coming hour my guests and i will tour the world of books leaping from continent to continent as fast as you could turn a page and your favorite novel. to learn more about publishing and literary developments in europe south america the middle east and africa. i'm very happy to welcome a distinguished panel of journalists and analysts who report on the news from those regions for leading publications and cover publishing trends for the publishing and bookselling industries. from madrid spain javier. saleha is ceo and founder of dosteki.com which analyzes the use of technology in the cultural sector and publishes annual studies on trends in the creative industries. welcome to the program javier. hello from spain. thank you for having me. from paris february's po is editor-in-chief of leave hebdo a weekly magazine covering publishing and bookselling in france. welcome fabrice actress. also from paris olivia snage is
an editor and journalist who is reporting has appeared in the guardian publishing perspectives and the new york times. welcome olivia. thank you, chris. and from vienna rudiger weischenbart is the founder of content and consulting and editor of the global 50 an annual ranking of the world's largest publishers. welcome rudiger. hello, chris. and finally joining me today with his editorial analysis and commentary is andrew albanese senior writer publishers weekly and my regular guest every friday on velocity of content. good to see you andrew. hey there chris. so bookmark is everywhere have much in common from the challenges of online commerce to bestseller list dominated by authors with internationally recognized brands, of course important national differences remain despite globalization. let's open our tour by landing in madrid spain and joining obviously in his office help ola javier nice to see you. all i want to see us. buenos dias. so tell us about the situation
in spain. let's go back to when covid-19 first broke in the early spring of 2020 and spain was hit especially hard. we all remember and was one of the first nations to impose a hard lockdown for booksellers and for publishers those were dark days. yeah, almost two years ago. we had as you have mentioned a very straight lockdown in spain when the covid the pandemic has started and basically for three months all libraries and bookstores work clothes and i had a huge impact in the publishing sector cells came down almost 30% and and basically everyone thought that he was the end of the sector because we had had previously 10 years of very small growth of negative growth derived from a financial crisis and then the pandemic but fortunately as you know know after that those three months team came back and little
by little we went back to back to normal basically now in this year. well, and and so helping with the situation, of course for some government subsidies for those publishers, but what really mattered and i know this is important to you. is that span spaniards maintain their reading habits by taking advantage of existing digital platforms? it was very very interesting because i mean the government had invested in e-landing platforms like a bbw and really able to takea are to elanding platforms that had been in spain for the last five years, but a lot of people either didn't have the time for them or they did more not aware of their existence and because all bookstores and and libraries were closed they you know, basically discovered them and the government reported a 200% increase in the uses of this platforms and then when we went back to normal back in june july of 2020 people went back to book stores, of course on libraries
and start buying again pretty books, but half of the people who visited those sites and it started using elanding programs of ebooks and audio books remain using them for the years after so basically the pandemic has had a very positive fact making the digital services more visible because it was not only but also subscription services there were there were several platforms in the market like audible storytell and others in the market and they had huge growth during 2020, which has been maintained in 21. there has been basically now using as in many markets a restructuring of the growth meaning that we compare 2021 to 22 the growth has only been 15% but if we compare 20 or 21 to 2019 to normal years to growth has been over 40% with you know, the compound growth has been tremendous so both formats print on digital are growing growing
quite as thrown in spain after the pandemic, so it's very good news. and your work at those decade heavy assilia you are concerned only with spain but with the spanish language markets across south america as well as mexico. so so contrast the situation there in those nations. they're very close to the us market. of course, there are some significant differences tell us about the way that latin american readers have also embraced digital. yeah, it is very interesting because when we talk about the spanish market we tend to talk about a spain because of spain is basically the main country in terms of producing content in spanish, but become something countries meaning the people who consume that content is latin america we have over 500 million spanish speaking habitants from mexico the way down to argentina and especially more than 60 million people in the us who are americans meaning that were born in the us they take working english to study in english, but
they maintain their latino routes in their culture and they'll listen to music and they what's two news in spanish and now they also read in digital as well as listen to audiobooks in spanish and during the pandemic the same thing that happened in spain when you know, most of the book stores in latin america world close digital boom in those countries are like for example ebooks had 200% increase in 2020 compared to 2019, but didn't see happen in 21, and now in 22 as well. we sing continuous growth of digital consumption in all the different formats unit cells are subscription services as well as elanding services, and i think it's because of the proximity to the us as you mentioned. there is a lot of people from latin america that have family in the us and they work in the us or they're study in the us or the business us and they bring back to their countries their ecommerce behaviors and they understand the streaming service
quite naturally and we see that behavior being extended in the whole region very rapid. and it's fascinating i think and i want to explore a little bit further the success of streaming services in spain and in the latin american countries, it does contrast with the situation so far in the us as well as in the uk where many publishers have resisted the the move towards subscription, but in the markets that you follow hobby is la you've seen some real uptake and it's not just that this is helping the bottom line, but it's bringing new readers into the into their audiences. yeah, i think the main difference compares specially to the anglo-saxon markets where they're as you mentioned some of five publishers were reluctant to go into subscription service in the spanish market spain elect america, all the publishers have embraced subscription except anyone but no house that as you know, they decided globally in at the end
of 2019 to exclude all their catalog from the ebook and audiobook services, but the rest of the players are fully embracing subscription because they understand that is the only way to reach especially millennials and set generations meaning people from 20 to 35 that they understand streaming as a service meaning that they consume their content in their mobile and on the go they do not understand that unit purchase as their you know way of acquiring content and they have seen extremely good results and most of the problems from big publishers like planet i kind of grammar. they basically today release their new releases in print together with ebook and audiobook simultaneously and and also they're embracing streaming as a way to not only getting new audiences from this generations that i mentioned but also as a way to reach other markets as
spain has always been an export market and in the publishing sector and streaming being that, you know internet has no frontiers allows the publishers to which markets for example in europe 10% of the cells in curb by spanish publishers in spain or derived from streaming services in europe germany, uk the nordics people who this is spain they have maybe their second residents in spain on when they go back to their countries. they want to continue reading in spanish and they use the system in service to assessment. and it's not just the streaming services that a global of course spanish is a global language as you mentioned half a billion speakers in latin america alone, and that global nature of this audience is changing the relationship that spanish publishers have traditionally had with their south american audiences and the south american counterparts is it's a real opportunity and a challenge as well. tell us about that who's in the driver's seat at this point.
well, this is very interesting and we since the last two years as more content has come up in digital performance specially in audio we speak the same language as you mentioned in spanish is spoken by more than half a million people 500 million people worldwide, but we have different accents. we have expense from spain cast still in spanish and they have latin american accent and what we see is that latin american accent sells better in the hispanic us market out of those 60 million people that i mentioned first and second generation americans they have latino roots 40 million of them are mexican therefore, they're interesting mexican topics and in content that is being produced with mexican accent. so many publishers like tangled random house on planet or producing their audio content with latin american accent in order to have a better commercial performance in latin america together with the us market. so before we used to be a country that we just come to the
spain and it was exported directly imprint to a latin american the us now the same publishers or producing content that with latin american accent to be sold in latin america and the us. well, it's an interesting influence that the audience on the publisher's activities and another way. we're seeing that in the us of course is with book talk and i understand you're seeing the same in spain as well as in other spanish language markets that that readers are telling publishers what they want. yeah, it was a bit later than other markets, you know in those dots there we follow up this strain and we public server articles how this new movement as you said driven by the readers was already, you know producing a very good results in the us and in the uk and in germany, it took a couple of months to get here. we usually assume it's you know, a business load at the beginning with new technologies and now, you know users in spain and
embracing this too and publishers or doing today are some activities around our book talks more from promotional. i think we will see during the next few months. i'm more south driven efforts meaning that they're really creating a source channel through this new way of going to market but i think is really really interesting and we'll see it growing as well as tiktok. we've seen in tiktok itself with the bookstock activities becoming this bridge of promotion and sales direct derived from that promotion all right. well obviously in madrid spain, thank you very much for a look at the spanish market and the spanish language market around the world our next stop in the program today is to paris where we'll first visit with fabrice po at the headquarters of leave hebdo. not far from the latin quarter salute fabrice. nice to meet you, chris. it's good to have you join us today, and and i would like you to sort of pick up the point
that javier started with which it goes us. it takes us back to the days of 2020 because it's important. we're in the sort of near normal period but for a long time things were quite not normal and in paris and france certainly that was the case that the first lockdown the confine mall the confinement as as it's called in in french really led to some some tremendous fear for the future of publishing and bookselling. yes, because the the market stopped completely. i mean the the booksellers were closed. the publishers were had to to interrupt their publication program during the whole 2020 year. there has been only a little more than 60,000 new titles. usually it's 68,000. so it's a huge. it's a huge difference.
and but rapidly actually the the the bookstores were recognized as essential shops. so there were among the first shops to to reopen not completely of course and with the special special rules, but finally the in the during the whole year the market when went down only 4.5% so it's not so terrible and the most important is that during this period then there has been emerging a new a new dynamic in the on the book market and 2021 was the very best years for decades with an increased of the sales of more than 12. sorry. yeah. it's 17% sorry 17.
more than 17% increase of book sales. so so finally if there has been a very important shock during the first half of 2020 then the market went went up again, but of course a lot of uncertainty because sometimes shops were closed sometimes open and and people didn't know what will happen next. well, and and the book sale is really pushed to have themselves declared essential as i remember, they weren't immediately so and they really made the case that in france and true around the world books and reading are essential activities. they're part of our culture part of our lives, but they had to make sure the government heard that and allowed them to be opened as along with the supermarkets and pharmacies and so forth. yeah, there has been a very important campaign in france to
to promote independent bookstores and first many many bookstores even during the lockdown they open some nearly secret service of freaking college. so so, you know, they they just open a little their door for some customers who had made some reservation online or things like this and then progressively the all this type of initiatives expended and and yes, well, they they have mid recognized as essential and so for a long time, there were the nearly the only only type of shops open with of course. pharmacy and things like that right and this even though things turned out better than people had feared the sales were
able to recover. it's still a challenge when you can't go into a bookstore and browse which is the habit in in paris. i know you are your ability to find new works and to discover books is limited and in france. that was a you know, the result was that prize winning books the books that got attention in the media have really done very well indeed that the pre-gone core in 2020 as well as in 2021 the sales there have been very strong. actually, except except for travel books. the market has been good in for all categories of books, but in each category, it was always the the best seller books who were sold the best actually because it was as the it was not possible to have so many people in each bookseller all the discovery system didn't didn't work as it used to to work.
so they're gone cool the pregun cool the enemy from every little year. so now more than a million copies and it's most important in france since well in a little more probably than lemo of margaritas, so it's a really a huge success. as well as the the book which just recently won the award for 2021 by senegalese writer muhammad mukar. saw that has done very well too. has it not. yes. absolutely. and it's it's also this is also interesting because it is it it shows also the growing interest for french french literature, but from from other countries from french speaking countries, but outside france and mohammed
bugattis from senegal, but there are others i mean julia medu amar also she's from cameroon and all a lastly many who is franco moroccan and they have they have a growing success and it has been growing also during during this period i think it's not only a french and we can see it also on the english english speaking world, and we've been surprised for example to see david job who is a now a well-known author from senegal writing in french having the the booker price last year. so, that's all so i think an important sign well, it's an interesting facet of globalization. we think of globalization leading to homogenization, but what you're talking about there is really increasing the diversity of works available and finally to bring us to 2022 and
the market today. where do we stand and we've just come off of the recent french presidential election in our own country in the us in 2020 that led to a real boom in political books books about donald trump particularly, where are sales today and and do writers like elix amor who ran for president or the ex-president sakozi? what are their sales like actually booked from politicians are not are not often successful in in france. there is an exception for the more but the more was he was a journalist and he has been writing for years and he's also always a successful author sarkozy. it's a different phenomenon. a sarkozy is one of the only political politicians to write him his books alone. i mean, there isn't any ghost
writer behind him and and he's really a bestseller author into in 2020. he he sold more than 160,000 copies of luton de topet time for time of storms or something like this. and this was the third nun food best seller in nonfiction in the nonfiction category and the 30th best cell all categories included and last year. also he published. it's a different book. it's more sort of art books. it's called promenade. it's about his what he likes in terms of. literature, and this is much less much less copy. it's only 12,000, but it's it's an expensive book and it's it's
the 25th. best best best sales among the art books inference. well, thank you for that picture of the french market for this po would leave hepto and also in paris joining us today is journalists olivia snage who reports on authors and publishers from france as well as the middle east and africa salute olivia tell you hello. hello, so adding to our picture of the french marketplace. there are some interesting contrasts with the with the north american experience and and one of them is the the the rise of agents which i suppose implies the fact that they really haven't been there is a tradition of literary agents working in france. listen on that and why you think it's important? um, well the subject of literary agents. it's something i've been following in france since about 2009 since i started covering
the book industry and the fact that literary agents have taken so long to become a thing in france is i think it's a cultural phenomenon unique to france because in neighboring european countries germany at least spain, it's really a non-issue, but traditionally in france authors and publishers have a privilege very close relationship and the bigger publishing houses have well respected rights teams that take care of selling the author's rights, but and also agents were viewed sort of suspiciously as an anglo-saxon import that was there to be mercantile and and sort of come between the relationship of the author and the publisher, but the number of agents has been growing and over the years and there's even professional association of agents now, i think was founded in 2016 and there are apparently about 32 literary agents now, but they still have no official
status i believe and so to explain the increase one agent who used to be in editor at several of the big houses here said that there's a trend in france which already happened in the anglo-saxon world, which is the consolidation of publishing houses, and so payroll for editors was reduced and editors had less time for their authors which you know gives agents a world to play that said most of the agents that i speak to although they say things are improving. there's still not fully integrated into the industry and an example would be that for example last month during the 50 value, which is not a professional fair. there was a professional rights market that was organized by the yes, which is a body that helps french publishers to develop international export right sales and acquisitions, and it also should be underlined that members of the bf are
exclusively publishers. but anyway literary agents weren't invited to this rights market and even if there were some agents present, but that's because they were affiliated with publishers and so the association of literary agents wrote an op-ed calling, you know, sort of complaining about this and calling for more openness, which would probably actually benefit everyone so i guess that's an example of how they're not fully integrated into the system and there's for example, i guess the bf could open membership to literary agents as well. well, it's interesting this that there's some resistance there. it was we'll have to watch that story. i'm sure literary agents in the us are looking on with interest another area that has been interesting regarding rights and certainly agents play, you know important role in acquiring, you know, or in the acquisition of rights for publishers involves the francophone authors who may be in france, but who are taking
some steps to control the rights to their works to be published in other countries, and this really comes down to an economics for readers it across africa. yeah, i mean lots of well-known francophone authors from former french colonies many of them are published by the the well-known publishing companies in in france and it in a way it's almost tied to to rights also because they're realizing that in order for their books to become available in the respective countries and on the african continent they have to be first of all distributed and be made affordable. so a lot of authors mainly from the african continent are starting to keep the rights for local publishers in africa and
given that traditionally french publishers were used to having world rights. they're not used to serve breaking up territories. and so they're getting used to this with with the advent of agents, but just as an example a book that's published in france. let's say by a senegalese author when it's exported and distributed in an african country. it costs anywhere from 12 to 27 times more proportionately in terms of purchasing power. so your book might cost $150 or $300. colors and you know who who could buy a book at that price so you have examples like this has been going on for a while though kamel dawood very well known algerian author who writes in french. he keeps his rights for algeria with his publisher basak, and i think he's published by act student france, but the gunku winner that you mentioned the
senegalese bugar he kept his rights for a senegalese publisher while he's published by a french publisher in paris. it's an interesting way that authors are being mindful of their rights of the ownership of their work. and i think it also is important to think about the way it's helping to expand and grow the audience of readers where it's been limited before. it's really interesting story olivia, and we've been talking with the other reporters here today about the impact of the pandemic and in the middle east which you cover very closely. they are celebrating the return of book fairs because that has been not on the table not on the calendar for the last two years and that has really meant that has been a loss of opportunity a loss of sales in that market. tell us why well, i mean publishers are breathing a huge five relief because this is their main avenue for selling books because distribution across the arab territories is
so difficult. so as i'm sure you know publishers compare themselves to traveling salesmen. i mean or sales people they go to all the book fairs around the arab world, and it's vast territory. i mean if you think about it you're traveling in the west from you know in morocco to the east and saudi arabia and so with the abu dhabi book fair coming up at the end of the month. i've been speaking to publishers in a variety of countries and i can talk a little bit about what you know, let me and egyptian publishers have said because they have lots of well-known publishers in lebanon. they're dealing with a lot. i mean a an economic and political crisis. that's you know, never been seen before the lebanese pound has been devalued over 90% they have paper shortages and on top of it. there was a ban on export to saudi arabia because of political kerfuffle which seems to be over but this was actually
really serious because some publishers export anywhere between 30 and 70% of their books to saudi arabia. but anyway, so there are soldiering on and the sure that i'll adab which has the reputation of being the galima of our publishers has a new translation of edward sides classic orientalism, which he wrote in english of course, and they're going to abu dhabi they're going to launch a prison novel written by nasa. abusrud who's a palestinian serving life sentence in israeli prison. he was arrested when he was 19 in 1993, and he's since then gotten a masters and political science and has written poetry and i believe his brother snuck the manuscript out. then let's see after that. oh that a lot of also has a book on the shortlist for the international prize for arabic fiction by an emirati author reem.
al-kamali. that asaki another well-known lebanese publisher also has an author the kuwaiti khalid nasrala on the short list of the international prize for arabic fiction. and i spoke to an egyptian publisher al arabi. it's been rough in egypt as well, but not as rough as in lebanon the egyptian pound lost about 20% of its value recently following the war in ukraine. and so but this publisher a lotabi has been using their time really well. when there weren't any book fairs to travel to and they've upgraded internal software, they've been making all their books available as ebooks and their experimenting with print-on-demand. they began a youtube channel with interviews with their foreign authors because they're known for publishing translated fiction from around the world and they're doing super well with international crime series and a recent translation of a
swedish author anders roseland whose book knock knock is already in its second printing in arabic. well interesting use of technology in that case to to get around the limitations of not having sales venues like book fairs olivia station paris. thank you. thank you for that report and and joining us now from vienna is rudiger visionbarat. he follows the german language markets of europe including germany, austria and switzerland. welcome in rhodier. hello, chris. well you i would ask you the same question. i've asked the others root a group which is about the covid impact in the marketplace that you follow as javier selea was telling us in spain. we've seen a real strengthening of subscription services looking at publishing as a subscription play rather than a single print units play. i'm tell us about the german markets. where do you stand or where do
they stand around that environment of digital and subscriptions and was was what was the covid lockdown to really critical factor in any change? absolutely, i can very much echo what javier clay has said about the spanish language markets. what we've seen and i got the latest numbers this morning is a continuous upswing in anything. that is digital. and at the beginning in 2020 when the lockdowns hit some people said well that will be just for the time of bookshops being closed now two years on we see that is here to stay and when i say that that's an entire range of different digital things number one. e-commerce as everywhere has even increased we have now roughly a third of book sales in
the german language going through online purchases. up from quite a few percent less and we have seen. an increasing gap in the recovery between the overall market, which was very stable similar to france losses have been recovered, but that was only the case for the overall market. if you look at local brick and mortar zone stores, they have still double digit losses by comparison to 2019. so there is an opening gap between the physical distribution and online e-commerce. number two, we have seen as expected a rise in ebook sales, which was ever more noticeable
as ebooks had become kind of boring. they never went beyond the eight to ten percent of the market share in the german language. but suddenly they they increased their share and that came in tandem with even more relevant increase of the audiobook market. we have seen also that by category it's much more diverse now children books in digital and in audiobooks have received. very significant sales pushes a new formats have come around and then as you mentioned chris everything that is streaming subscription etc has become a fixture that is not going away. now what we've seen in these really up to date data for the
full year of 2021 and even for first quarter of 2022 we see that there is a little bit of a decline as compared to the big peak in 2021, but the the basis the threshold of everything that comes in digital formats and through the various different distribute distribution models. that is not going away anymore. we have. not surprisingly with a huge presence of penguin random house that debate about if subscription is a viable business model for publishers and we have an even harshly debate about lending of ebooks many many publishers are strictly against lending the the standard models of giving new titles to libraries in digital formats.
by fear of cannibalization, but we see that all that has found their audiences and these audiences will not return to the practices of preferences of two in the house three years ago. but, you know rudiger as you were speaking. i was just thinking we've been talking for a while now about books and publishing around the world. we haven't brought up the word amazon, so i want to bring it up with you rudiger. tell us about the place of amazon in the german language market and the very interesting competitive of the competition that's going on there with a local e-commerce provider. yes. well expectedly amazon is the largest book seller. we don't know exact numbers, but estimates are that amazon makes a turnover from books of 1.3
billion euros, but we have a contender in the with the second with the largest jane bookstore talia, which is a genuine german brand and they have been very very poorly almost at risk of disappearance a little bit more than 10 years ago and did the fabulous turn around and now are also around 1 billion even over 1 billion euros intern over from books and they had also very very strong performance in the lockdown period because they bet very early on on what they called online channel approaches and they even reached other independent books that was to use their platform for selling printed books. so suddenly you see a much more balanced less consolidated less
monopolistic situation in a german language markets by comparison to let's say the anglo-saxon. and that is even true. i'm sorry that is even true for ebooks where you have with the tolino alliance, which is which has some involvement of kobo rakuten. you have an alternative to the kindle. and and book talk is also helping to drive digital sales digitally first sales in the german language market and and as you see it, this is an interesting disruption of tradition and and the whole role of the high priest of publishing that is changing and and it's it's it's it's it's of benefit to to readers you see for me the most fascinating observation not just because of covid but accelerated very clearly by covid and lockdowns etc is the
increasing fragmentation and segmentation of the book industry and the book consumption. we haven't mentioned another keyword, which is increasingly important so far in that program and that is self-publishing. and get a day i made i was just getting curious and i compared ebook best-selling lists with ebooks from publishers with what amazon has and also what to lino alliance has as fiction best sellers and there's hardly any overlap. so suddenly you find audiences consumers who go their own ways and who form their own communities and this is where book talk then very successfully comes in because book talk is very much about creating communities and we are still at the very early stages in my
understanding to grasp what that segmentation that specialization of different communities and audiences and the respective forms of promotional conversation will have as an important impact long term on the book business from authoring to producing to distribution to reading overall. well, we've been talking rudiger about inclusion and diversification, but there's a movement to exclusion at the moment going on which involves the russian market and i know you watch that closely. what can we say at this point in may 2022 three months into the invasion of the ukraine about the russian publishing market. a very hard question we had at first to my surprise a few fairly strong statements by the
leading by by high ranking management of the leading russian russian book group exmo isd where they wouldn't condemn the war because the war as a term was not even allowed to say, but they have quite outspoken reactions on saying we don't need that that special operationally ukraine etc and at the same time from the ukrainian side, there was very harsh criticism in professional social media a circles. about the russian market, which had a very predominant role in ukraine before the war and they were already really quite some some important controversies
going on. i haven't heard anything much about that lately. well from the ukrainian side. i'm not very surprisingly because they have other concerns right now, which is just survival and we learned today that perhaps some eight million people are displaced one way or another out of a population of 14 bill 40 million in and in russian the the censorship the pressure on any any opinions any expressions of whatever has become which is different from from the official propaganda has been become more and more strict so we don't know very much. there is one very important thing. however that we must say what concerns the international communication between western international book people and and russia right at the
beginning a number of the leading book fairs internationally had gotten to a mutual understanding to say we make a big difference between the official government controlled organizations, which are in charge of russian collective stands russian collective pr for the russian book on the one hand. they are excluded from all the international book fairs. no collective stands, but at the same time in bologna, there was a very very warm embracement of books from the ukraine some conversations with they were not really russian publishers. anyway in these fares not not even in london. but there is on the on the professional side. there's some communic.
and continue continuing to to occur. all right. well, thank you indeed roudica russian bar for joining us today, and i want to turn now to someone i speak to every week about the us market. mostly andrew albanese published his weekly seeing your writer welcome to our program today. hey there chris. i just want to warn you a construction crew is set up outside my window. i've enjoyed this little tour of the world, but we're clearly back in new york. now you are apologize for the jackhammering. we are we are indeed back in new york, but i don't want to ask you to speak above the sound of the jackhammers and tell us about your reactions listening to this there. there's some interesting common elements in the story of books and book publishing around the world, but there are some interesting contrast with the us experience. yeah. absolutely. i think we'll start with what the common thread is and that's cope it right covid really sort of changed the game for every publisher now in the us as in the rest of the world the
publishing industry is performed magnificently through covid in terms of its sales, right we saw you know, i don't have the exact numbers for the last two years, but it's fair to say we've stuffed about 10 years of growth for the industry into the last two years, which is really quite remarkable. i mean publishing is a mature industry if you if you're able to get one to two maybe three percent growth a year. you're doing very very well the gaudy double digit growth. we've seen for the last couple of years has really been remarkable. i think a lot of that has been driven by a lot of the trends that are european counterparts have seen and that's you book. talk for example. in fact jonathan karp the ceo of simon & schuster and their earnings call for the end of the first quarter called out book talk is you know something that was really driving sales for the company. and what's interesting in the us too is that the sales bump is really been driven by backless sales, right? we can't highlight enough.
how much backless cells in fact it's as much as 70% of some publishers sales here in the us, which is pretty remarkable now backless sales are always in a part an important part of publisher sales. but 70% is a large number. and i think looking forward we'll have to see how that continues to go. i think at some point the conversation is going to be you know, what's wrong with the front list if the backlist continues to do this, but i want to point this back to book talk. because you know i think book talk is a big driver of backless sales, and it's a big driver of print sales too. right because you look at these videos and there's people with physical books and you can flip through the pages and things you can't really do with an ebook. and that's one of the differences here. is that in the us the digital market is actually starting to come back down to earth in the early days of the pandemic shutdowns. we saw a digital. we saw ebooks really sort of take off and fill the gap. but you know. i think the jury is is maybe not quite out on ebooks here, but i think that we know about where
ebooks are gonna land. so about an 80/20 print to digital, you know ratio here in the us and while digital sales spiked during the pandemic, they're not settling back into about where they were. and and the other point that came up, but we only lightly touched on the european experience in the global experience was around consolidation and that's an issue in the us. of course, we've got the department of justice trying to block the acquisition of simon and schuster by penguin random house taking us potentially from the big five down to the big four talk about the role of consolidation and and how you view it in it's it's place in globalization. i think there's going to be a courtroom drama unfolding this summer with the the department of justice suing to block the acquisition of simon and schuster by penguin random house by bertle's mom. and i'm not quite sure how that's going to play out to be quite honest, you know, the government has based its case
around a fairly narrow argument so far from what i've seen from the filings and that's that you know. this subset of best-selling authors stand to not get as high advances if there's emerging of simon issuester and penguin random house, and i don't think that that's wrong. i think that that may indeed be true penguin random how simon issues to dispute that the authors guild say, that's absolutely the case, but what's unclear from the government's case so far is and i think it's important is this what we're drawing the line now, right. are we drawing the line at five the big five? is that going to be it or if this merger is not allowed to go through is news corp and the second largest, you know publisher going to be able to buy simon and schuster and so we'll still wind up with four publishers, but instead of having one big one at the top we'll have two big ones at the top and i don't think there's going to be an appreciable difference on author advances if we have two big ones at the top versus one. i think the die has been cast on
that. so i think in the us where we're gonna have a a real showdown a real discussion about bigness and should also point out when we're well we're talking about business that the real bigness the real player here which we touched on briefly in the european with the europeans as amazon lawmakers have now turned their attention to amazon, but it's still unclear. what's going to actually come of that. we've seen hearings. we've seen a report issued on amazon. there's been concerns. there's been you know potential legal action, but it's really unclear is to you know, how the government is going to approach the size of amazon. but we do know they are going to take a swing at blocking penguin. random house from acquiring simon schuster. all right. well andrew albanese with publishers weekly, thanks for the perspective. i want to bring back our global panel. we are talking today about how books get covered around the world and and maybe a way to bring us all back together is is to turn to our panelists and ask
about how they view the us market and the role that the us market and us publishers play in in their particular countries, and obviously, what about that? you watch closely from madrid you studied in new york you you know, the american market probably almost as well. if not as well as you know, the spanish language market. how do you see the points that andrew just made the consolidation concerns and the concerns around the the market dominance of amazon? well, i think we are entering the digital age where these global trends become common and every market and they've pace of that transformation is even more rapid. i mean that concentration that andrew just mentioned in the us is happening also here in spain with international players and local players. maybe will be you know, the difference that is not a concentration on only local players, but also concentration of big places like people random
housing local players like planets and then amazon there are different studies that clearly indicate that today. they already have close of 25 to 30% of the market including print and digital in digital of course is almost more than 50% and we go to audiobooks it could go up to 70% of the market. so, you know there were some local players in the different fields like bookstores or subscription services that can competing as this global players, but the realities that the economics of a scale of digital makes that competition more and more difficult from from a content point of view. the us used to be the place where international content became best selling world why? i'm not a sin does not the case anymore meaning that it will continue, you know content from the us especially in searching categories like true crime will come out of a country, but we've
seen other places across the world were two stories become more why that's sellers. we seen this in streaming we have, you know tv series from korea or content coming from spain becoming world why i think in publishing we also going to see that trend very soon. all right. well in the few minutes that we have left i want to turn to the other panelists and ask about what you're watching as this year 2022 marches on we're already almost at the halfway point and if you are seeing any particular trends or any concerns in in the marketplace and february's po from france in france, there is a so called fixed price law so that helps to keep the price of books equal across all sellers. so amazon can't take an advantage by by driving a lot of discounts. but but is amazon trying to make a move is is there a chance that that the situation may change there in france or how do you
see it? amazon entrances no more than 50% of the market and well, it's quite important, but it's not growing so much because probably of the fixed price of course and because of the importance of independent independent booksellers, which are really did by all the all the political party and there is a unity on this. i mean in the french culture independent bookstores are in the core of the business and there are many initiatives taken by all political parties to protect them and specially regarding amazon competition. all right. well and and rudy gavishenbach from vienna you follow the world you published the global 50 a look at the the top publishers around the world. are you seeing anything
changing? that's that's important to watch for in the next few months. yes, absolutely and let me highlight two things first consolidation in the german language market at first counts. we have much less consolidation as for instance in in france or in spain. and half a year ago when i talked to friends and said well, let's let's discuss consolidation in germany. they said what consolidation it hasn't changed and then i said well in retail there is a lot of consolidation going on with the few chains getting much bigger. oh, yes here. we have a lot of consolidation in the whole sales same thing big changes. so what i anticipate is a tremendous transformation in the less visible parts of the book industry supply chain issues consolidation in wholesale in
distribution and also all the positive developments of the last years have put the largest players at the big advantage. and at the same time we know that the diversity in books the many many topics that we can read about in books. depend extremely strongly on a variety of small and medium sized publishers and we have no idea how economically these small and mid-sized publishers are faring so my concern is if the entirety of the ecosystem the diversity of the ecosystem of books and reading can be maintained or if that is taking a big hit in the midterm from academic interruption. all right, and olivia's nature in paris but you again cover many of those very well. we've seen very fragile markets
across africa and in the middle east tell us about your final thoughts here. well, they're so different. you know the the markets in the middle east and elsewhere, but i'd say that their contrasting. i mean you have this big problem of consolidation particularly in france as rudiger mentioned, but you also have smaller very dynamic independent publishers. being created all the time with younger people and i think the same thing is happening in in other markets where we're small publishers are struggling but they're because they're passionate about what they do. they just keep on going and there's somehow managing and perhaps getting more visibility because of social media because of book fairs coming back and so on. so a fragile marketplace, but but one that's resilient as well.
i think it's a good way to summarize it. i really appreciate this fantastic conversation a book tour of the world with our panelists from madrid spain javier solea ceo and founder of dosteki.com. thank you so much javier. thank you to all of you. from paris february's po enter in chief at leif heb doyle. you as well. thank you, chris. welcome. also from paris olivia snage editoring journalists there. thank you, olivia. thanks to everyone. thank you and from vienna rudiger vision board founder of content and consulting and enter the global 50. thank you to thank you. and also finally joining me today as he does every friday on the velocity of content podcast andrew albany's publishers weekly senior writer. thanks for being with us. my pleasure as always and i'll talk to you on friday. stay informed on the latest developments in books and publishing by subscribing to ccc's podcast series velocity of content. i hope you enjoyed how books get covered around the globe part of
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