E-books are so much more than yet another format and edition of printed books.
For the book publishing industry, the 20th century was arguably the era of the paperback format. Inexpensive printing, rising literacy and a global mass media helped to put more books in more hands than ever before. The medium may be the message, but the paperback format was the business model.
In 2017, print remains a critical element of the book business, of course, yet attention from editors and executives – and authors too – focuses on digital. The arrival of the annual Global E-book Report, an ongoing project from Vienna-based publishing consultant Rüdiger Wischenbart, is an opportunity to filter through conflicting story lines to better understand the current fortunes of the new century’s fundamental format.
As Wischenbart tells CCC’s Chris Kenneally, e-books are much more than a new format, and have ushered in a new way of looking at the publishing industry.
“The real key is that e-books connect directly the authors and the readers. And that changes dramatically the role of the publisher; that also changes the role of the booksellers and everybody else in between,” he explains. “So suddenly, everyone is connected in an interactive exchange on the network,” says Wischenbart.
Among important findings, Wischenbart notes Amazon’s recent push for globalization beyond Germany, the United Kingdom and Japan. According to his research, Amazon’s share of revenue from the rest of the world has increased from a mere 8 % in 2010 to 24 % in 2016.