What Does Germany’s Adoption of Digital Foretell for Europe?

In Discussion by Edward Nawotka

As in financial matters, will the rest of Europe be forced to fall in line with Germany’s lead?

By Edward Nawotka, Editor-in-Chief

For a long time much of continental Europe has been reluctant to embrace ebooks. In many countries fixed book price laws and inequitable VAT rates on print vs. digital books have provided little competitive price advantage or even served as a disincentive to buying ebooks. But as discussed in today’s feature story, “German Readers Finally Embracing Ebooks, Self-Publishing,” things are beginning to change.

Throughout much of Europe, ebooks still represent less than 5% of the total book market — Germany, the largest book market in Europe, it is still just 2% — compared in the US where conservative estimates peg the digital market share at 25% or more, depending on the segment.

So, what does this recent embrace of ebooks and all things digital in Germany augur for Europe? Yes, it may be impolitic to say it, but these days, when it comes to financial matters, as Germany goes, so goes Europe. Can the same be said for ebooks? How soon will the digital bug spread throughout the rest of the continent?

Gazing into the future, will we see a push for a universal single market for ebooks? VAT normalization? Perhaps a move to establish a pan-European ebook platform?

Or will individual governments, industry bodies and publishing associations, do all they can to inoculate themselves from the spread of this particular affliction?

Let us know what you think in the comments.

About the Author

Edward Nawotka

A widely published critic and essayist, Edward Nawotka serves as a speaker, educator and consultant for institutions and businesses involved in the global publishing and content industries. He was also editor-in-chief of Publishing Perspectives since the launch of the publication in 2009 until January 2016.