Will the book publishing industry survive?

Good overview of the challenges facing the book publishing industry from Peter Donoughue.

After looking at potential growth:

As far as I can work out the best estimates for growth over the next four to five years is about 70-80% per year. This means that by 2015 publishers’ ebook sales could be $5 billion per year. In the US the total consumer book market is approximately $18 billion and this is not expected to grow much at all over the next five years, so we’re looking at around 30% of the consumer market being ebook sales in just five short years.

He then explores potential sales breakdowns for a fictional publishing company and concludes:

So after five years of aggressive ebook transformation of its fiction and narrative non-fiction list this company is in a steep and serious decline. The more ebooks they sell, the more their total business suffers. It’s a disastrous business scenario.

No wonder publishers are worried and adopting defensive postures…

But after some analysis, Donoughue concludes (and I agree):

I would prefer to see a publishing community characterised by boldness, not by fear; by a sense of opportunity, not of threat; by openness, not protectionism.

One willing to embrace the self-evident fact that ebooks are only worth half the price of a print book; that there’s a large market out there of disaffected, ex-book readers who are ripe for re-capture at far lower price points with today’s technology. Any many of these customers will be new and young and ripe for conversion into committed, life-long readers.

Worth a read…


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