Report From the Frankfurt Book Fair: Digital is Growing Up!

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I have been attending the Frankfurt Book Fair for many years now. Many of you might agree with me when I say that there was a definite decline in the hustle-bustle during the first few days of the “Messe.” Although despite the calm, one could easily spot the influence of digital publishing everywhere. I believe, we are witnessing a maturity in the industry today – a growth in eBook revenues, widespread acceptance of digital business models and maturity in digital publishing processes. It’s now safe to say that digital is growing up!

PWC’s 2013 reports state that the size of the U.S. ebook market is at a $4.6 billion and the print market has stumbled down to $10.7 billion from last year’s $11.8 billion. This data reflect that there has been a rise in digital consumption and also that more publishers are investing in ebooks confidently. While print is still a large chunk of their business, publishers have implanted strong digital pursuits to meet the growing demands of the industry. The fact that the Fair was calmer than the previous years shows us that publishers are a lot more in control of their digital plans. Everyone has their own initiatives going.

The calm also reflects that the sharp rise in digital that took the industry by storm over the last four-to-five years, has reached a stage of maturity. Digital won’t stop growing but the growth will be a lot more paced now. The slowdown in the manic growth in ebooks along with visible revenue results from their digital initiatives has comforted publishers as they now understand the medium better and are a lot more prepared to tackle digital challenges. What was once a 1%-to-2% share of their total book business revenues has now elevated to 20%-to-30% and in a couple of years from now is expected to be a 50% revenue generator for publishers around the world. This reflects the widespread acceptance of digital as a “must have” business model complementing their book business.

There is a maturity in digital processes as well. What publishers are looking at right now is how to bridge the gap and draw a perfect balance of both – print and digital business models. It’s important for publishers to find solutions that can marry the two in a beneficial, complimenting manner. Within the digital business itself, publishers can open up multiple avenues to best suit their specific requirements. We have been working with some of the biggest publishers in the world and have witnessed the sequential change in their wish-list; starting from doing something ‘digital’ to catering to specific target audiences (retail/institutional) to working with us on innovative ways of promoting their online content and to making their content rich, reachable and remarkable (enhanced ebooks for devices). While some of them have put together internal teams to officiate their digital arms, some prefer partners who come with industry experience and knowledge. Publishers have embraced digital business opportunities and want solutions that are easy to deploy, not complex and, ideally, a powerful solution for their entire book business. We believe it is critical for publishers to choose strong partners so they can capitalize on the content opportunities that arise in the complex, digital world.

These are exciting times for all of us. Innovation is driving this industry and with digital maturity, publishers are being pushed to leverage what they know best – content. Content is evolving like software and the fate of a book is no more confined to only an ebook.

Digital has grown and is now maturing. But the pace of innovation cannot stop now. “E” is no longer unknown and everyone should push the envelope on innovation and work with partners to experiment and innovate further on business models, new digital products and content delivery to make sure they don’t miss out on all available opportunities.

In our experience, we noticed that the publishers who took the first steps towards digital around five years ago are the ones profiting the most with their e-revenues today!

All in all, the Impelsys team had a great time at the Fair and we noticed a reduction in digital anxiousness and an evident rise in digital acceptance. We were happy to be recognized as thought leaders and we — along with our customers — are very excited to push forward in connecting with our consumers through content digitally.

This content was provided by Impelsys, a leading publishing technology and services company. 

Sameer Shariff

About Sameer Shariff

Sameer Shariff is the founder and CEO of Impelsys Inc. Over the years, he has grown the company into a leader in online content delivery for the global publishing market, enabling its clients to compete, evolve and grow in an increasingly complex marketplace.

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