The challenge of the channel, for the publishing market

If there was an editorial product closely linked to a format, it is that of the book, one of the few markets in which the “continent” acquired an almost religious aura, sometimes to the detriment of the content. Jorge Scarfi He is a manager who has been in the industry for more than four decades. He is the founder and runs Publishing Group Themes, specialized in textbooks, essays and management. “For many years there has been talk that the book disappears and that seems not to come true. Perhaps because the physical book took on a symbolic force and became a hierarchical element”, he explains.

finite numbers. Due to the characteristics of its collection, the theme of business management is global and Spanish facilitates the regionalization of its dissemination. But short runs make it difficult to take advantage of the scale, another Achilles heel of an industry that, in addition, saw as the price of its main input, paper, grew 150% in the last year: more than the dollar and second only to clothing. However, Scarfi saw that technology that seemed like a threat to the sector soon became a close ally, with the appearance of the print-on-demand system, whereby the book in question it is sent to the digital printer to make one to several copies on request. Freight or customs barriers no longer matter. The client only asks for a text in a bookstore or online and picks it up, an ideal formula for runs that are out of print or with low circulation. And, furthermore, in which the content matters almost exclusively, as is the case with university texts. “Thus, it is possible to supply the demand where it exists regardless of inventory or distribution” underlines. In their case, they have distribution agreements with Amazon, in the United States, and an agreement with a distributor that supplies 75 portals to sell electronic books in Spanish.

Perspectives. trinidad vergara she grew up in a publishing environment, her family was the owner of Javier Vergara Editores and she is already in her third company to start in the field: Trini Vergara Editions. Marks as the beginning of the digital era the appearance of the Lightthe device for downloading and reading electronic books that popularized Amazon, in 2007 with 90,000 titles loaded and that in English became a sales boom. Until 2013, the e-book was gaining on the printed book market, but from then on the growth curve stabilized, reaching up to 20% of the total in mature markets (USA, Germany, Nordic countries) but not subtracted, but pleased the total. En español it is estimated that during the pandemic this format reached 10% but then returned to its previous cause: 5% of the total. “Another platform that has great potential for growth is audio books, which, in some particular markets, such as Sweden, were extremely successful and catapulted the specialized publisher Storytel to digital stardom.” explains Vergara points out that if the Spanish-speaking industry wants to venture into this vein, it should consider the “neutral” accent so as not to duplicate each edition (which costs about US$3,000) and thus produce more titles, opening the possibilities of smaller companies (between Planeta and Penguin shares almost two thirds of the market). Another opportunity is the content formatted for the device already installed in our market: the cell phone (1.5 devices per person on average) that should be distinguished from other types of circumstances that mean that the market does not exclude some consumptions from others. “In Spain there are four times more bookstores per inhabitant than in Latin America, which is a space full of people, but empty of stores”synthesize.

forms and contents. Parachute Daniel Benchimolfounder of project 451, an agency specialized in the digital transformation of the sector, until now the publishing industry conceived of the electronic book as just another platform. “That has its ceiling: 20% in some specific markets and between 5% and 10% at most in Argentina because the publishing industry is stuck on a traditional format and distribution.. But in order to grow, it should reconsider adapting other business models and exploring other platforms”, he remarks. For example, the emergence of a kind of hybrid reader who consumes digital and physical books, depending on the type of content and the circumstances of consumption, calls his attention. “There is neither an end of the printed book so many times announced nor is technology the number one enemy. It is a matter of realistically incorporating his progress and, as painting did with the appearance of photography, moving away from the axis to look for roe and creative facets ”concludes.

An open ending to a story that is being rewritten.

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