This is a guest post from Tom Chalmers, Managing Director at IPR License.
Amazon is taking over the world, booksellers are going under, ebooks are leading to the demise of the physical book. This has long been the subtext of the modern publishing world but is this still the case? Maybe not.
Waterstones has just reported that sales have risen 5 per cent in December compared to December 2013 figures. Foyles suggested an 8.1 per cent rise in sales over the same time-span. And in the US, Barnes & Noble appear to have ended a run of declining sales with expectation of sales figures to be flat in 2014 and 2015. Its shares rose 5 per cent on this particular news.
In addition to these statistics, according to Nielsen BookScan, the number of physical books sold in the US rose 2.4 per cent last year to 635m. In the UK, although physical book sales were said to have fallen by 1.3 per cent, this represented an improvement on the 6.5 per cent fall in 2013.
This is great news but the fact remains that booksellers and publishers mustn’t become complacent. As was fully apparent at the recent IPR License Global Rights Licensing: The Bigger Picture conference, the industry faces a continual battle for readers’ attention, especially from the gaming world, You Tube, apps and social media. But as illustrated from the recent success of Girl Online, such exposure can also help in terms of physical sales as well as in the creation of additional income through different forms of licensing opportunities.
I have long held the belief that as long as the quality of writing and production remains the physical book will certainly never die. But that certainly shouldn’t stop the publishing industry from evolving in terms of how it interacts with readers and searching for new ways in which to get a variety of content into their hands, whatever the vehicle.
It’s also clear that we need to continue learning from other sectors on how best to do this. And this remains especially important when it comes to licensing as this continues to remain arguably the most important on-going revenue stream and one that with a little more exploration could well work to increase the bottom line for many forward-thinking publishers. And help the industry carry on moving forward in the right direction.