By Jaroslaw Adamowksi | @JaroslawAdamows
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‘A New Golden Age for the Book’With digital formats playing an increasingly important role in its expansion strategy, Denmark’s publishing house Saga Egmont has announced that its parent group is creating around 40 new positions to facilitate the release of more digital books in a number of markets in the coming years.
“We see a new golden age for the book out there in the shape of the digital book,” says Lasse Korsemann Horne, publishing director at Saga Egmont. “And the highest possible number of authors should benefit from this global development, hopefully through us.”
Horne says that half the new staffers will be employed in countries in which Saga Egmont already has a presence, with the remaining 50 percent of new hires to be based in markets in which the company hopes to establish traction in the digital book market.
“We’re looking for young people who think it’s cool to work with digital books,” Horne says. “We’re looking for people who can put together entire publishing programs, curate content, produce, market, and sell our books.
“And above all, we’re looking for new colleagues with non-Nordic backgrounds. We need local knowledge and language skills in all the main languages.”
Saga Egmont’s team, Horne says, hopes to reach a total of 100,000 digital publications within the next few years, benefiting from the rapid expansion of the global digital book market, which posts growth rates ranging between 15 and 25 percent annually in various regions across the world.
The Coronavirus Accelerates the Trend Toward Digital
Asked whether the coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic has bolstered the growth of digital book formats, Horne says, “COVID-19 has accelerated a development that was already underway. More readers want more flexibility.”
“If your book doesn’t exist as an audiobook, then the consumer is listening to a podcast instead. “Lasse Korsemann Horne, Saga Egmont
“In Denmark,” he says, “we have a special situation, because the digital book market is very well developed.
“Many readers have embraced both the ebook and the audiobook, but there’s no large selection of ereaders. Some readers import Kindles, but have to struggle with converting the ebook files themselves. That’s why it’s actually the digital public library that’s the largest ‘retailer’ of ebooks for students who read these on smartphones, tablets, and laptops.”
Horne says that “after various countries chose to close down physical stores,” in efforts to contain the spread of the coronavirus, “digital sales and the lending of books increased. The tighter the shutdown, the greater the increase in digital book sales. The same trend has been seen in online shopping, including with physical books.
“What can we deduce from that? People actually really want to read books.”
As part of its ongoing expansion in digital, Saga Egmont this year took over the Spanish audiobook publisher Sonolibro, becoming the largest audiobook publisher in the Spanish market, as reported by Publishing Perspectives.
But, as we reported in September, there’s new competition in audiobooks in Spain, with the arrival of two new subscription services, Podimo and Audible.
For Horne, adding more international markets to the publisher’s portfolio is seen as a crucial element of its re-orientation toward digital.
Saga Egmont is part of Reinhardt & Ringhof, the second largest publishing house in Denmark after Gyldendal Forlag. The company’s self-described mission is to serve as a vehicle build a digital revenue stream for the group.
“Digital books are primarily a competitor to cheap paperbacks,” Horne says. “And the audiobook meets a need: to read on the go.
“If your book doesn’t exist as an audiobook, then the consumer is listening to a podcast instead. He or she does not necessarily buy the book to read it the old-fashioned way. Books have always been exclusive goods, and in the digital age, a book must be super-exclusive: canvas, lacquer, design make a visual and tactile work of art. And this is how Lindhardt & Ringhof think of books: print editors create the country’s most beautiful books, and Saga publishes the best digital books.”
Saga’s goal, Horne says, is to generate enough digital revenue “that our authors can make a living from digital books alone in the future.
“That’s why we translate and publish authors in more than 30 languages—to create more and bigger markets for our writers.”
More from Publishing Perspectives on audiobooks is here, more on the Danish market is here, more on the Spanish-language markets is here, and more from us on the coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic and its impact on international book publishing is here.
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