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Ghana International Book Fair 2019 - exploring the digital opportunity

August 31, 2019

Ghana International Book Fair 2019 - exploring the digital opportunity

Ghana International Book Fair 2019 - exploring the digital opportunity

- 11.7 million people online
- 39% internet penetration

By StreetLib.com and TheNewPublishingStandard.com


August 31, 2019

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  1. Ghana International Book Fair 2019 - exploring the digital opportunity

    - 11.7 million people online 39% internet penetration
  2. The Global Book Market was worth $143 billion in 2016.

    The good news? 71% of that was outside the USA. USA 29% Rest of the World 71% Global Book Market 2016 (1)
  3. The bad news? Less than 1% of that was Africa.

    Global Book Market 2016 (2) Rest of the World 99% AFRICA 1%
  4. It's not that a $1 billion Africa book market is

    unimpressive. But it's less than 1% of the global book market, despite Africa having around 20% of the world's population. The good news is, both the global book market and the Africa book market are growing fast. Let's take a closer look.
  5. (3)

  6. Predicting book market growth is not an exact science, so

    while we cannot take these forecasts as gospel, we can take them as indicative. Most of the growth will be happening outside the USA. China and India will account for much of it, as will the rest of the world. Including Africa. But digital will be the main driver of that growth. So where does that leave Africa?
  7. But it's 2019, not 2009. Carrying on as we are

    while the rest of the global publishing industry embraces digital and leaves us behind is not an option. Africa's children deserve better. Ghana's children deserve better. Here's what might happen if the African publishing industry actively embraced the digital opportunity.
  8. To understand why such growth is possible with digital we

    need first to understand why the Africa book market is so under-developed today. For brevity, and to distinguish it from the digital opportunity, I'll refer to the current model as the analogue model. It's not strictly scientific but will help keep the two models clear in our mind.
  9. The "analogue publishing model" is the one we all know

    and love. Beautiful printed books on paper. We all love printed books! Don't see this as an anti-print diatribe! But... Printed books are expensive to produce, expensive to distribute, and expensive to store. And if that's true of mature, wealthy book markets like the USA, how much more so in Africa?
  10. Why is the Africa book market so under-developed? History is

    partly to blame. Colonialism and the post-colonial legacy, of course. And many missed opportunities since. But we can't rewrite history, so let's move on.
  11. Africa is massive. Truly massive. Africa is as big as

    the USA, China, India, Japan and all of Europe combined.
  12. It's such a vast continent that it's no wonder it's

    not been possible to develop a pan-African publishing industry. The cold reality is that it's easier for a publisher in Kenya or Benin to sell a book in the USA or France than it is to sell the same book in neighbouring Tanzania or Togo. Or even to different parts of the same country. But we can't change the size of Africa, so let's move on.
  13. Low literacy levels across the African continent have held back

    the publishing industry, of course. Low literacy equals low book sales. More books in schools will encourage children to read. But many schools only have text books. Very few children have books at home. Many people who can read do not do so. Books are expensive and the few books that are available do not excite them.
  14. But people would read more if: a) they were offered

    free books to get them started and hook them on reading b) they were offered a better choice of books c) they were offered affordable books d) they were offered books in the language they speak at home e) they were offered comics and graphic novels f) they were offered books they could listen to Under the analogue publishing model none of those are viable options at scale across Africa.
  15. But all those options are viable across Africa with the

    digital model. Digital changes everything.
  16. Digital changes everything? That's a bold statement. But true. While

    African publishers have (mostly) been looking the other way, publishers in the rest of the world have been enjoying the benefits of digital books for over a decade.
  17. Statista reports that in 2017 in the USA the trade

    ebook market alone saw 266 million sales and was worth $1.02 billion - equivalent to the entire African book market. (6) Statista's 2019 forecast for the entire US ebook market is a valuation of $5.487 billion. (7)
  18. Digital library supplier Rakuten OverDrive delivers ebooks and digital audiobooks

    to consumers in the US and globally. In 2018 OverDrive handled 277 million digital book downloads. That's 750,000 every day. 185 million ebooks and 88 million audiobooks were borrowed from OverDrive libraries in 2018. (8)
  19. Tiny Singapore - population 5.6 million - was among 65

    libraries worldwide that saw over 1 million digital book downloads. In Canada - population 33 million - over 5.6 million digital books were borrowed from the Toronto library in 2018.
  20. In 2019 Storytel operates in Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Finland, Iceland,

    Netherlands, Poland, Russia, Spain, India, United Arab Emirates, Turkey, Italy, Mexico, Bulgaria, Singapore, Germany and Colombia. It will launch in Brazil, South Korea and likely Thailand this year. Storytel has over 1 million subscribers. (9) Storytel is a digital audiobook and ebook subscription service based in Sweden.
  21. In China ebooks and online literature is big business. In

    2017 the Chinese media giant Tencent spun off its ebook arm China Literature in an IPO worth $1 billion - equivalent to the entire African book market. (10)
  22. There are countless more examples, but let's address the BIG

    problem with all this. We're talking about Africa. There's hardly anyone online here! Internet penetration is less than 40%! Why bother?
  23. Here's why: This is the 2018 map of submarine internet

    cables connecting Africa with the world. (11)
  24. Nana Gyan Apenteng, President of the Ghana Writers Association, famously

    said in 2018, "Of course, we would all claim that we are reading on our phones but that is largely untrue…unless reading WhatsApp messages can be described as reading." Yet in the rest of the world readers are lapping up digital books alongside WhatsApp messages and, yes, alongside print books.
  25. China Literature understands the potential of Africa and has partnered

    with smartphone-maker Transsion. Transsion said: “The circulation of digital reading in Africa is still in its early days and presents huge opportunities. We have noticed increasing demand for online reading content from our African mobile users."
  26. Okay, now to look at some real numbers to put

    Africa's potential in perspective.
  27. Statista predicts the New Zealand ebook market will be worth

    $37 million in 2019. (12) New Zealand's online population? 4.2 million. (13)
  28. All these African nations have more people online than New

    Zealand. (14) Angola 7.0 million Cameroon 6.1 million Côte d’Ivoire 11.1 million D.R. Congo 5.3 million Mozambique 6.5 million Tunisia 7.9 million Zambia 7.2 million Zimbabwe 8.4 million
  29. Ghana, Mali, Senegal and Sudan (14) all have more people

    online than Sweden (15), the home of Storytel. 9.7 million 11.7 million 12.5 million 9.7 million 13.7 million
  30. Statista predicts the Netherlands ebook market will be worth $94

    million in 2019. (16) The Netherlands has 16.4 million people online. (15) Algeria and Ethiopia both have more. (14) Algeria 21.0 million Ethiopia 20.5 million
  31. Statista predicts the Australia ebook market will be worth $89

    million in 2019. (17) Australia has 21.7 million people online.(13) Here's how Morocco and Uganda compare. (14) Morocco 22.6 million Uganda 19 million
  32. Statista predicts the Canada ebook market will be worth $521

    million in 2019. (18) Canada has 33.2 million people online. (19) South Africa is now ahead of Canada with 33.6 million people online. South Africa is only at 56.2% internet penetration. (14)
  33. Statista predicts the Spain ebook market will be worth $135

    million in 2019. (20) Spain has 42.9 million people online. (15) Kenya 43.3 million (14) Tanzania 43.6 million (14)
  34. Statista predicts the Italy ebook market will be worth $128

    million in 2019. (21) Italy has 54.8 million people online. (15) Egypt 49.2 million. (14)
  35. Statista ebook market value predictions for 2019 France $533 m

    (22) France has 60.4 million online Germany $294 m (23) Germany has 72.3 million online UK $820 m (24) UK has 63 million online (15)
  36. Nigeria has more people online than France, Germany, the UK

    or Russia! Nigeria has 119 million people online. Nigeria is the 6th largest country in the world by internet users. And it's still only at 59.5% internet penetration. (25)
  37. Now let's take a step back and see the bigger

    picture. In the Year 2000 there were just 4.5 million Africans online. Today there are 525 million. (14) Over half a billion Africans are online!!!
  38. And Africa is still only at 39.5% internet penetration. Which

    means there's still plenty of room to grow. The question is, by how much? Internet take-up is closely correlated to smartphone use. (And smartphones are great for ebooks and digital audiobooks!) Here's how Africa's smartphone future looks.
  39. Taking smartphone growth, improved telecom infrastructure and falling internet prices

    together it's reasonable to predict the growth (10,000% between the year 2000-2018) will not stop soon. Given the close correlation of smartphone growth to date it's reasonable to assume that by 2025 we could be looking at 800 million Africans online. (28)
  40. In this brief overview I've had to leave out much

    more than I've been able to include. No mention here of Amazon's ebook subscription service Kindle Unlimited, or Scribd (which earlier this year topped 1 million subscribers) or 24Symbols or Legimi or.... I touched on Storytel but didn't mention other audiobook services like Audible, Ubook, Booklava, Kitab Sawti, and Ghana's very own AkooBooks. There are countless more.
  41. Nor is digital limited to text and audio. Digital comics

    are big business around the world. Then there's cookery books, photography... And there are countless new digital variants emerging that give publishers more reach, more revenue and more possibilities.
  42. It's not an either / or debate. Printed books and

    comics and their digital counterparts can comfortably co-exist. And best of all, digital is language agnostic. Digital books, comics and audio can be created in all Africa's myriad and beautiful languages, and distributed to eager readers in huge cities, suburban townships and, just as easily, in the remotest villages. No minimum print runs. No expensive printing. No costly distribution to a handful of bookstores. No remainders.
  43. Just easy and virtually free potential reach to the 525

    million Africans online today (800 million by 2025). And globally to more than 4.3 billion potential customers (over 7 billion by 2025) who are going online daily around the world.
  44. Digital is an opportunity not just for publishers but for

    a raft of industries that revolve around publishing. From content creators to librarians to educationalists to the creative industries like film and television. Just look at the way books are driving TV and film production globally. Digital publishing will not just benefit publishers, but will power the African economy.
  45. A reminder: Statista forecasts the New Zealand ebook market will

    be worth $37 million in 2019. (12) New Zealand's online population? 4.2 million. (13) With 11.7 million internet users Ghana has almost three times the online population of New Zealand.
  46. A reminder: Sweden the home of digital audiobook company Storytel,

    has just 9.7 million people online. Yet is has 400,000 subscribers in Sweden and over one million worldwide. With 11.7 million internet users Ghana already has two million more people online than Sweden, and is only at 39% internet penetration.
  47. Imagine where Ama Dadson's AkooBooks Audio might be in ten

    years time if Ghana's and Africa's publishers were to embrace the digital opportunity.
  48. It's not an either/or choice. A hybrid print and digital

    model is the preferred option for most publishers, letting them enjoy the best of both worlds. Check out our bi-weekly newsletter Publish Africa to see how publishers around the world are benefitting.
  49. https://www.streetlib.com Can we help? Based in Italy, StreetLib is a

    global digital content aggregator and publishing facilitator working with publishers large and small around the world. We can help you get started with digital or help you expand your existing digital reach. Visit our website or email us to explore the possibilities.
  50. Sources. 1 https://thenewpublishingstandard.com/global-book-market-valued-at-143bn/ 2 https://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/global-publishing-market-2018-2022-market-will- register-a-revenue-of-approx-usd-356-billion---rise-in-number-of-independent-and-self-published- authors-300665770.html 3 https://thenewpublishingstandard.com/africas-book-industry-worth-1-billion-growing-6-despite- piracy-challenges/

    4 TNPS analysis 5 TNPS analysis 6 https://www.statista.com/topics/1474/e-books/ 7 https://www.statista.com/outlook/213/109/ebooks/united-states 8 https://thenewpublishingstandard.com/2018-750000-digital-book-downloads-day-went- uncounted-nielsen-bookscan-data-guys-bookstat-fuelling-nonsense-people-reading-less/
  51. 9 https://thenewpublishingstandard.com/storytel-q4-report-subscribers-up-44-yy- streaming-sales-up-38-targets-1-1-million-subscribers-by-end-2019/ 10 https://thenewpublishingstandard.com/tencents-china-literature-ipo-the-biggest-in-a- decade/ 11 https://manypossibilities.net/african-undersea-cables/ 12 https://www.statista.com/outlook/213/161/ebooks/new-zealand

    13 https://www.internetworldstats.com/stats6.htm 14 https://www.internetworldstats.com/stats1.htm 15 https://www.internetworldstats.com/stats9.htm 16 https://www.statista.com/outlook/213/144/ebooks/netherlands 17 https://www.statista.com/outlook/213/107/ebooks/australia 18 https://www.statista.com/outlook/213/108/ebooks/canada 19 https://www.internetworldstats.com/stats2.htm 20 https://www.statista.com/outlook/213/153/ebooks/spain