By José Manuel Anta, Managing Director, FANDE
MADRID: Four years ago, in view of the important and rapid changes that are taking place in the sector of publishing and commercialization of digital publishing content, FANDE (Federation of National Associations of Distributors of Editions). In particular, one of its member associations, UDNE (Union of National Distributors of Editions), looked at the possibility of integrating companies which commercialize digital publishing content into an Association of Distributors for the first time.
From that day on and up to today, a total of 17 ebook distributors have been incorporated into this association. These include: Libranda, Versus, E-Libro, Leer-e, Esdecomic, Digital Books, Ulzama Digital, Bubok, Zonaebooks, Arvato Digital, Dawson Books, Lituralia, Bookwire, Arnoia Digital, Lektu, and Odilo y Tagus.
Each of these companies carries out their activities from different perspectives and follows different business models. Some of them have come from the technology sector, others from publishing, others have evolved from the distribution of printed books or POD.
What they have in common is that they all distribute digital publishing content, which while challenging, is also full of opportunities. It is a field in which current issues must be studied and dealt with in ways that are quite different from any other sector.
Therefore, over the past several years the Association has developed their own list of topics, which provided the framework for meetings and discussion. This framework covers the availability of information regarding the market situation; the provision of content for the library network; the digitization of textbooks, the legal framework for digital distribution (Law on Books and Reading, Intellectual Property Law, Law on Information Services, Data Protection Act, etc.); taxation (with different rates of VAT with respect to printed products); pricing; anti-piracy measures, and more.
One of the specific issues taken into consideration by this group of ebook distributors who form part of the UDNE, was the necessity to consider aspects related to international commercialization and the possibility of collaborating with foreign distribution companies, as well as in sharing their vision with respect to common difficulties and challenges.
Moving Toward a Common European Digital Market?
In the distribution of digital content, it seems to make little sense to try and limit the activity by following a merely geographic criteria, beyond the individual legislation which is applicable to each market. This is something that, within a framework such as the European one, it is necessary to take steps forward in order to create a more and more normalized sphere with the final aim of creating the much-proclaimed “common European digital market.”
For this reason, this starting point was what made us at UDNE and FANDE, realize the need to focus on the initiatives that are being developed in Europe in this area, especially with respect to the distribution of digital content, by analyzing their situation, the difficulties and challenges that they are facing, the different types of companies and the future prospects of the sector; as well as by promoting the collaboration between European companies in this sector.
The European Meeting of Digital Distributors in Madrid
With this premise, the 1st European Meeting of Digital Distributors organized by FANDE and UDNE was inaugurated in June 2014, with the invaluable collaboration of the Germán Sánchez Ruipérez Foundation and the Directorate-General of Cultural and Book Industries. In this meeting, companies which were established in European countries and which specialize in the commercialisation of digital publishing contents with different models and systems participated.
The meeting was attended by companies from Germany (Bookwire, Libreka and Tolino), Great Britain (ePub Direct, Gardners and Faber), France (Eden Livres, Numilog and e-plateform Editis), Italy (Edigita, Book Republic and Media Library) and Spain, as well as by the distributors of digital content which form part of UDNE.
At this first meeting, general presentations were made about the characteristics and commercialization of digital publishing content in the main European markets, as well as presentations of the different business models which are used in the sector in the different countries.
At the same time, the participants were able to share their experiences and there were opportunities for collaboration (networking) amongst the participants.
In view of the success and recognition of this initiative, in Spain, as well as internationally, FANDE is looking at the possibility of holding this meeting on an annual basis in Madrid. In fact, our second meeting is taking place today — where it will coincide with the Madrid Book Fair. The structure and content of today’s meeting is more ambitious than the last one, and will once more count on the collaboration of the Germán Sánchez Ruipérez Foundation and the Directorate-General of Cultural and Book Industries.
Furthermore, this second European Meeting of Digital Distributors will be celebrated within the framework of Readmagine, the week of Innovation in Reading and Books which has been initiated by the Germán Sánchez Ruipérez Foundation.
Our intention is to reflect, at each European Meeting of Digital Distributors, the main trends or news of interest that are currently taking place in the sector of commercialization of digital contents.
In this respect, we find the strategy of the digital platform Tolino in Germany particularly interesting, since they are competing with Amazon with respect to leadership in ebook sales, and they are maintaining a series of collaborations with European partners (in the Netherlands and in Italy) which deserves special mention. In order to address this topic, Frederike Freundt, who is in charge of digital development at Tolino, will be with us.
On the other hand, we will have international first-class speakers who will cover the different topics of the Meeting: Distribution in Digital Press (with the presence of the directors of the Dutch start-up Blendle, which is considered the “iTunes of Press” and has recently received significant financial backing from The New York Times company and Axel Springer), Library models (with library directors from the United States and Europe, at a round table hosted by Luis González from FGSR), trends in the commercialization of ebooks (at a round table with the participation of representatives of various types of digital distributors, hosted by Javier Celaya from Dosdoce, in which topics like subscription services, DRM systems and library supply systems are going to be discussed).
Finally, the evening session will be dedicated to the international sector, with the participation of José Henrique Guimaraes (CEO of the Brazilian online distributor Acaiaca Digital), since Brazil is this year’s “guest country,” and Rodrigo Rodríguez (CEO of Odilo), who will talk about this Spanish company’s experience with projects in the international market.
Moreover, there has recently been an important change at UDNE, namely the modification of the Association’s Statutes in order to accept foreign companies as well, which makes it the first International Association of Distributors (UDNE International Publishing Distribution Group), with headquarters in Madrid. This has taken place in response to the numerous requests from foreign distributors in the field of press distribution who wanted to form part of UDNE and have which have now been able to.
In this sense, we offer all European digital distributors the possibility to join UDNE in order to build a stable group which connects different public and private institutions (European as well as international ones) as well as to foster joint business opportunities and initiatives like the annual Digital Distributors Meeting.