German Buch News: Frankfurt’s Digital Survey Results Are In

In German Buch News by Siobhan O'Leary

By Siobhan O’Leary

The Frankfurt Book Fair has released the results of its annual survey on the digital future of the publishing industry and the good news is that, of the 840 international industry insiders who participated in the survey, 80% see the radical change sweeping the industry as an opportunity, rather than as a crisis.

Teaming up with the German trade magazine Buchreport and with Publishers Weekly, the Book Fair posed a series of questions on the challenges faced by publishers going digital, differing points of view about e-book pricing, and even the e-reading habits of those working in the publishing industry.

A majority of those surveyed felt that the development of new business models, new multimedia products and suitable marketing strategies is the greatest challenge facing publishers. Around 60% estimated that less than 10% of their revenue will come from the sale of digital products in 2009, but 58% or respondents feel that digital products will comprise a much higher share of total sales by 2011.

Around 42% see the year 2018 as the turning point when digital will overtake print sales.

Regarding pricing for online content, a flat rate subscription model was the favorite at 25%, though primarily among those in continental Europe. The micropayment model was not far behind at 23% and favored more by publishers in Great Britain and the USA.

There was not much of a consensus regarding e-book pricing, however, with seventeen percent responding that e-books should be 20% cheaper than their printed counterparts. Meanwhile 16% feel that e-books should be more than 30% cheaper than the printed book and 15% think that e-books and printed books should be priced identically, with an equal percentage preferring Amazon’s standardized price model.

Perhaps most surprising of all is the fact that only 35% of those industry insiders who completed the survey quality themselves as e-book readers and the majority (65%) admitted to never reading e-books.

About the Author

Siobhan O'Leary

Siobhan O’Leary is a literary agent, translator and writer based in Berlin. She previously worked in the Foreign Rights department of the Crown Publishing Group (Random House) and at the publishing consulting firm Market Partners International.