By Nicholas Gary, editor of ActuaLitté
Today we look at the markets in Spain and Japan, with Milagros Del Corral., the former Director of National Library of Spain and Chair of the Scientific Committee of Focus 2011, and Yasuko Matsui, Vice President of Japanese e-retailer PAPYLESS.
SPAIN: Concerns About Falling Sales, Piracy
ActuaLitté: How is the book market in Spain doing? Are people reading more or less?
Milagros del Corral: The book market is deeply impacted by the economic crisis that we now have in Spain. Sales in bookstores have fallen by more than 20% since the beginning of 2011. The book industry also worries about the rise of digital piracy of e-books.
I think that the level of reading is maintained thanks to lending services of public libraries and among the young, thanks to internet. We now see quite a lot of readers with tablets in the metro.
What is the added value of the e-book over the printed book?
E-books can attract many new young readers as long the number of legally-distributed digital books in the Spanish continues to increase substantially and reduced VAT is granted to e-books in order to guarantee reasonable prices. It is urgent that we counter digital piracy before it becomes a normal usage for consumers.
What do you see as the major changes in the book world?
The book industry moves slowly and cautiously. The e-bookstore Libranda, created a few months ago by the major Spanish publishers, has largely failed as a result of its limited selection and the complexity of the chosen system.
The good news is coming from bookstores and its confederation (CEGAL), which just launched the digital portal todostuslibros.com. It allows users to see the availability of titles in any of 1,600 participating bookstores throughout Spain.
What are you currently reading?
I am currently reading Los enamoramientos, the latest novel by Javier Marías, and a collection of essays by Wole Soyinka, Clima de miedo (2004) in which is amazingly up to date.
JAPAN : $800 Million in E-book Sales in 2010, Fueled by Mobile
ActuaLitté: How strong is the e-book market in Japan?
Yasuko Matsui: The e-book market in Japan is growing and hit $800 million in sales fuelled by the expansion of the mobile (cellular or feature phone) e-book market. Sales of mobile e-books has increased sharply and has risen to $700 million in 2010. Now the mobile e-book market has overtaken PC’s. Comics are the most popular genre among mobile e-books in Japan.
What are some of the recent innovations and the problems they’ve encountered?
I consider that if the mobile e-book has a weakness, it is that the memory capacity and the screen size of devices too small. I think it is hard for middle aged or elderly customers to read on small mobile devices. I expect that the spread of new devices, such as smartphones and tablets, will solve a part of this problem. Major Japanese companies have introduced various new all-purpose devices and dedicated e-book devices in the last year. Many Japanese customers are interested in this new trend.
PAPYLESS had already opened the e-book rental site “Renta!” for new devices in 2007. In “Renta!” you can read the same book using multi-devices, such as iPhone, iPad, Android, PC.
What do you hope to see happen so the market can develop?
I think it is important for the market to improve the environment that customers read e-books: this means improving device quality, screen size, line speed, usability and so on. And the market players should offer a large number of titles in various categories and serve more attractive content, such as additional functions, movie, audio, and interactive features that are impossible with paper books.
What are you currently reading?
I often read mobile e-books such as novels, comics. It is so convenient to carry many titles at a time with feature phone or smart phone. I can select the book I want to read at any time.