• Robin Birtle, Sakkam Press, @birtle
  • Jurgen Snoeren, Meulenhoff Boekerij, @jsnoeren
  • Lasse Winkler, Svensk Bokhandel, @lassewinkler
  • Stephen Barr, SAGE London, SAGE International
  • Richard Mollet, The Publishers Association, @richardmollet
  • Rebecca Smart, Osprey Publishing, @rebecsmart

Discussion. (Yay!)

Starts by asking each about the state of play in their territories.

Lasse: Per cent digital and change: More or less none, but doubled :-) Started to have specialised plays. Don't have amazon. No devices. People buy Kindles (like in Iceland.) Doesn't see that changing for 2-3 years.

Robin on the japanese market: Dominated by manga. 1% only in terms of mainstream books. Manga continues to grow. Biggest change is the expectation of Amazon's entry which will shake everything up. The japanese purchase of Kobo. He's hoping for a strong Kobo as well. Kindle + Kobo is promising. Almost pre-digital. A lot of talk about black ships.

Rebecca: Specialist non-fiction and fiction. Fiction is going over to ebooks faster than non-fiction. More than 70% buy from amazon. Apple + Kobo about 10% total. B&N 20%. Ebooks tiny for her in non-fiction, expensive to produce. Can't see the Kobo/WHSmiths partnership working as presented.

Jurgen: Small market in Holland. 1.5% of the total. Don't have any of the large platforms and hesitation from the big publishers to enter the ebook market. Most of the top 60 now available in ebooks. Amazon and Google will enter the market next year. Apple just started. Change should happen quickly. Kobo also next year. Has been suffering from high prices. (Implies that the industry is scared shitless, actually references WW3 and the end of local culture.) Young readers are turning to English. Most publishers do realise that they have to deal with it, though.

Stephen: Academic space is different. For him Sweden and Netherlands are a big markets. The journals business got into digital 15 years ago. 80% of sales are digital or have a digital component. Book sales to the academic library is falling behind. Sales to professional readers are following the trade path and follow the spread of the devices. Students tend to stay with print, for the moment.

Next question: Territoriality. Importance. Diminishing.

Rebecca: They buy global rights for everything. Caught in a trap between the territorial print world and language-oriented rights. Consumer frustration promotes piracy. Hopes that all rights in the future will be world rights for a language. There are very few choices in terms of distributors.

Jurgen: Copyright the issue. Translation rights are an issue. They only have rights for seven years which prevents them from building up a big backlist and investing in it. Also the issue of being allowed to sell dutch translations of english books internationally.

Lasse: Sweden is a big market for english language books. 4000 swedish books versus 200 000 thousand english language books. Means fewer and fewer translations into Swedish. An english language backlist kills the market for swedish language translations. (Iceland solves this by focusing on translating German, Swedish, Danish, etc. titles instead of the US/UK ones.) Sweden is also a free price market. Lower English language prices will push down Swedish prices and swedish wages.

Robin: Japan much more insular market. They don't read other languages to a great degree. Same VAT for e and print. Publishers manage to fix prices so there is no variation.

(VAT is an issue everywhere really for ebooks.)

Stephen: The massive difference between 0% and 20% VAT is pernicious. Harmonisation would solve a lot, but would probably mean a 20% VAT on print, and not a lower VAT on ebooks.

Rebecca: Sales tax varies wildly in the U.S.

Are governments getting in the way or not.

Lasse: Gov in Sweden working pretty hard on making VAT on physical and ebooks the same. They are lobbying Brussels for this. Some prosecutions taking place wrt piracy.

(Not liking the focus on anti-piracy.)

Jurgen: No fixed pricing in digital but in print, makes bundling difficult. Also VAT issues. Now a discussion on the legitimacy of fixed pricing.

Innovation question.

Robin: Lots of talk and search for alternatives. Some controversy about people scanning books they've bought into digital form. Demand for ebooks partially created by a lack of available floorspace/wallspace. Fascination in english, adding english language passages is an enhancement.

Stephen: Test whether open access works as a business model. Lots of trends and challenges. Lots of frustrations. Now seen as blockers to access to knowledge, not enablers. A volatile external environment.

Rebeccah: Interesting to see that the majors are diversifying into other media. Lots of innovation in the UK