The Frankfurt Book Fair is a popular global book extravaganza that not only sells books, but also serves as a cultural interchange across national borders. This year, while bookworming their way around the aisles, the organizers conducted a survey designed to figure out if the digitization has begun to influence the publishing industry, as well as who might be the driving force behind it. Over 1,000 industry professionals from over 30 countries responded to the survey.
Ready for the Digital Age
As e-readers begin to revolutionize the book industry, 70% of respondents indicated that they felt ready for digital age, though many are skeptical that the digital age will adopt the e-reader and other related technologies over the printed word. Should e-content reign supremely, survey participants may need to pick up the slack, as almost 60% of respondents indicated that they don't currently use e-books and e-readers at all.
Print Still Rules
Overall, the evolution of the digital revolution will take some time, as most industry professionals expect that traditional books will dominate the market in five years time, with very few expecting e-books or e-readers to be the main sources of revenue until 2013.
Consumer Behaviors are Driving the Revolution
Both the digitization and the industry's evolution are dependent upon consumer behaviors, more than publishers, online retailers (like Amazon and Google). According to the survey, respondents believe that consumers in the U.S., followed by those in Japan in Europe are leading the sector in digitization. Yet, they predict that in the next few years, China will begin to edge the U.S. out. With the inevitable digitization, there are also the inevitable challenges that the book industry is poised to face. Though they may feel ready, industry professionals nevertheless recognized the need to work together to tackle certain issues, including copyright, digital rights management, standard format (such as ePub) and retail price maintenance.
A Look Back and Ahead
The survey comes as the Frankfurt Book Fair celebrates its 60th anniversary. The organizers invited respondents to reflect upon the industry's major developments. Those most highlighted included online book selling, better marketing efforts, book fairs and chain store book selling. Such milestones are bound to help shape the future of the publishing industry. In sixty years from now, who knows what the industry will have evolved into. This is why the current trends are being followed as closely as they are.