With less than a 2 % market share, e-books are still to come in Denmark.
The year 2011 saw a small breakthrough for e-books in Denmark. However, we are still waiting for the big sales figures to kick in. While we are waiting, some questions are vital. Who will drive the Danish e-book market? How to deal with pricing? What kinds of business models will suit the digital book market? And how can we embrace the new possibilities?
In Denmark, we have followed the US market closely in order to get some indications about the increase of the e-book market worldwide. Knowing that we are far behind, it has been essential for us to see what is driving the e-book market abroad. We haven’t had the Kindle or Amazon.com to kick-start the e-book market in Denmark and other dedicated e-book reading devices haven’t been as successful as we could have hoped for. What did start the reading on digital devices were the introduction of the iPad on the Danish market in November 2010 and the significant increase of Smartphones in 2010 and 2011. Hopefully, 2012 will bring more reading devices in the hands of the customers. More importantly, we as publishers have to create more awareness of e-books through more and new products and especially through our marketing campaigns.
Danish e-book retailers are trying to get the sale on its way. Saxo.com, g.dk and riidr.com are all important participants in the development of a Danish language e-book market. So was the introduction of Danish e-books on iBookstore in the last quarter of 2011. It has taken more than a year to get sales fully on their way. In each of the four quarters of 2011, sales figures have only doubled, which has been a little disappointing. Still, it has been a fine entrance for a product that demands that you have a reading device. If the expected increase of reading devices in 2012 will take place the market will continue to expand. The e-books are out there – now we need the readers to grab them. How can we get the readers’ attention?
Testing prices, products and marketing
The awareness of e-books is already there. The media’s focus on e-books has helped this on its way and might have had a great impact on the consumer. The main topics have been pricing and convenience. At the moment, most new books in Denmark have a 30-40 % lower retail price on e-books than on p-books. Is this the right pricing? Nobody knows. We have to test the market all the time. Some publishers set their prices low, some set them high. We have to find a way for our small territory (5.5 million people) to approach this new market. Testing, testing and testing! Is it possible to make money in a digital world? Newspapers haven’t had the greatest experience and the music industry have changed their business model completely – we will also have to change our way of thinking books.
In November 2011 we released the first Danish app-novel. This crime story – Begravelsen (or The Funeral) – is a non-linear narrative made solely for the iPad. The release was met with a lot of publicity and was mentioned throughout the Danish news media. All in all it was a great experience and we learned a lot about the iPad as a platform, about what the readers expect, how to set the price and what skills it takes for the marketing department to promote an app. We did some testing and we will continue to do some testing with ePub3, apps and other digital formats to find out some more about this new world of opportunities. The publishing industry has to deliver what the readers want. Some have already killed the book-app as a new book format because it is too expensive to produce. They might be right – they might be wrong! The testing on different platforms must go on.
The convenience of the digital book has to be the answer to how to make money in a digital market. When you read news and reviews you do it on the internet, you are online and your purchase of a new book will take place simultaneously in the same environment. Marketing in the digital book industry has to adapt. Adds right beside the news and reviews! It has got to be easy. Convenience is key. And if buying an e-book is both easy and problem-free, consumers might be willing to actually pay for it.
Digital books challenge the mindset in publishing
The possibilities of the digital book world are at the moment way ahead of the Danish e-book and app market. Undoubtedly, the hype about digital books has created high expectations for the expansion of a blue ocean adventure for some publishers and frightened some other established publishers. In order to act in this new market you have to be open-minded. But you also have to be focused, pragmatic and wise enough to find your own business model for the present and the future. The digital books are here to stay; now the ‘old’ publishing world will have to adjust to this new and exciting future.
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