Germany-Based Bookwire in 2020: Titles Up 11 Percent Over 2019

In Feature Articles by Porter Anderson

The digital distributor reports a rise in audiobooks of 123 percent in 2020 over the previous year. Print-on-demand advanced 18 percent.

In Cologne’s marketplace amid Germany’s ongoing lockdown, January 31. Image – iStockphoto: Thomas Stockhausen

By Porter Anderson, Editor-in-Chief | @Porter_Anderson

Klingelhöfer: ‘Learning and Support’
By the end of 2020, Bookwire’s new report says, the Frankfurt-based digital distributor had some 600,000 titles moving in commercial channels for publishing clients.

That represents an 11-percent increase over the same criterion in 2019.

  • The number of audiobooks increased by 46 percent to around 90,000 titles
  • Ebooks, already the core of Bookwire’s trade, increased by 6 percent to around 500,000
  • Print-on-demand activity advanced by 18 percent to more than 4,500 titles

Bookwire GmbH, as Publishing Perspectives readers know, has been in operation since 2009, when it was co-founded by Jens Klingelhöfer and John Ruhrmann, and today has staffers in Germany, the United Kingdom, Spain, Brazil, and Mexico, providing services in ebooks, audiobooks, and print-on-demand to a reported 1,900 publishers. Its offices outside of Frankfurt are listed in Barcelona, London, Mexico City, and São Paulo.

Bookwire’s team is also looking at an expansion of the total number of titles its operation saw reflected in sales. As an aggregator for publishers, the report says, Bookwire increase sales by 46 percent, audio turning out to be the most consistent driver.

The rise in audiobook titles in turnover ran at 123 percent, a strong lead over that of the 32 percent growth in ebook titles tracked by the company. consistently the driving force: 123 percent growth outshines the positive 32 percent growth for ebooks.

Bookwire’s audio production service, which is branded “Bookwire WAY” (for “We Audiobook You”) recorded increased demand, as well, described as producing “a three-figure number of German-language audiobooks,” although what that figure may be—between 100 and 999—is not divulged in the statement being made to news media. The company also offers a publishing software called Bookwire OS, which was brought out in May 2019.

Ruhrmann: ‘The Essence of Digital Strategy’

And in October, as we reported, just after its presentation by Bookwire’s London-based audio head Videl Bar-Kar at Frankfurter Buchmesse, Bookwire made public its report on a study of usage patterns in the German market, “Listen and Read: The Battle for Attention.”

Jens Klingelhöfer

For this new report, the co-founding CEO, Klingelhöfer, is quoted, saying, “The past year has posed challenges for the entire world, in terms of the economy, health and also organizing work. These challenges have touched every single aspect, including the lives of individuals.

“We too are looking back on an eventful and moving year that can be summed up as a year of learning and support: what do we really need, what matters, what we can contribute, and how we can give support to those who need it in these challenging times.

“Another major realization was that digital publishing is more important now than ever before.”

John Ruhrmann

And Ruhrmann—not surprisingly for the co-founding managing director of a digital distributor—speaks to the importance encountered by many publishers during the coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic of e-commerce and supply chain features.

“Analyses conducted in 2020 have confirmed our forecasts for the digital market,” he says. “It’s more important than ever for publishers to make the essence of their digital strategy for all formats about establishing an efficient digital distribution structure and appealing appropriately to different target groups.

“The trends or niches of twelve to eighteen months ago have since become mainstream.

“This development has definitely gathered pace because of the coronavirus pandemic, and we’re keeping up.”

The Coronavirus in Germany

In Bookwire’s home market—where Arne Delfs reports for Bloomberg that the chancellor, Angela Merkel, is to meet this week on a lockdown likely to continue to the end of February—Reuters Berlin reports that the Bavarian premier Markus Soeder has said that he, too, sees it as too early to lift the lockdown without risking a third wave of infections.

At this writing, the 7:23 p.m. ET (0023 GMT Monday) update of the Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center sees 2,291,673 cases in Germany’s population of 83 million, with 61,602 fatalities.

These numbers place Germany at 10th in the world for caseload and at ninth in the world for death tolls.

Deutsche Welle, in its Sunday report quotes Germany’s federal police chief, Holger Münch, expressing strong concern about rising levels of “threats and hostilities” from COVID-19 deniers, whose targets are primarily politicians, virologists, and journalists.

On Eiserner Steg, the iron footbridge over the river Main in Frankfurt, where Bookwire is based. Image – iStockphoto: Pierre Aden

More from Publishing Perspectives on audiobooks is here, more on ebooks is here,  and more on Bookwire is here.

More from us on the coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic and its impact on international book publishing is here.

About the Author

Porter Anderson

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Porter Anderson has been named International Trade Press Journalist of the Year in London Book Fair's International Excellence Awards. He is Editor-in-Chief of Publishing Perspectives. He formerly was Associate Editor for The FutureBook at London's The Bookseller. Anderson was for more than a decade a senior producer and anchor with, CNN International, and CNN USA. As an arts critic (Fellow, National Critics Institute), he was with The Village Voice, the Dallas Times Herald, and the Tampa Tribune, now the Tampa Bay Times. He co-founded The Hot Sheet, a newsletter for authors, which now is owned and operated by Jane Friedman.