global data for across all formats, and that is essentially 2014-2015 reportage. But the global book markets have evolved rapidly since then and grown immensely, driven by digital. This is one forecast for 2025: The bad news?
unimaginable ten years ago. The potential of digital is its ability to penetrate with ease where the traditional paper and ink, bricks & mortar stores, pay-per-book model struggle. And to do so globally, anywhere on the planet.
books to get them started and hook them on reading. they were offered a better choice of books. they were offered affordable books. they were offered books in the language they speak at home. they were offered comics and graphic novels. they were offered books they could listen to.
ebook market alone saw 266 million unit sales and was worth $1.02 billion - equivalent to the entire African book market. (3) Statista's 2019 forecast for the entire US ebook market is a valuation of $5.487 billion. (4)
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. (5)
Netherlands, Poland, Russia, Spain, India, United Arab Emirates, Turkey, Italy, Mexico, Bulgaria and Singapore. It will launch in Brazil, Germany and Thailand this year. Storytel expects to have over 1 million subscribers by end 2019. (6)
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. (7) Tencent rival Alibaba Literature added 30 million new readers just in 2018.
opening doors to indie authors, bypassing mainstream publishing. Over the past twelve months Amazon's Kindle Unlimited has paid out more than $179 million to self-published authors. This is just the subscription service, not the main Kindle store.
22 billion minutes each month consuming Wattpad stories. Wattpad is a digital books platform that has partnered with TV and film studios, mainstream publishers and, in 2019, is entering the print markets.
internet-connected in a way unimaginable at the start of this century. This in turn enables telcos to build the infrastructure to deliver mobile connectivity to all parts of the world. It means much of the planet has simply leap-frogged the era of landline and dial-up and gone from no landline telephone service to smartphones and 4G almost overnight.
million in 2019. (19) The Netherlands has 16.1 million people online. (19) Myanmar, Taiwan, Nepal, Venezuela and Iraq all have more. Taiwan 20 million Venezuela 17 million Myanmar 18 million Iraq 19 million Nepal 16.2 million
million in 2019. (22) Canada has 33.2 million people online. (23) South Africa, Poland, Colombia and Saudi Arabia will all soon be bigger. South Africa 30.8 million. Poland 29 million Colombia 31 million Saudi Arabia 30.2 million
America / Caribbean - 438,248,446 North America - 326,561,853 Middle East - 170,039,990 Oceania - 28,437,57 Asia Europe Africa Latin Am erica / C aribbean N orth Am erica M iddle East O ceania 2,500,000,000 2,000,000,000 1,500,000,000 1,000,000,000 500,000,000 0
together it's no surprise Africa and India are each expected to have over 800 million people online by 2025. Globally some forecasts suggest a total of 6 billion people will be online by 2022. 7.5 billion by 2030. (33)
if nobody reads in these countries. And if we rely on historic data based on a handful of sales outlets in a handful of countries, and let urban myths about who does and does not read inform our publishing strategies, little will change. But what if we take a step back and look at the clear evidence that, across the world, people love reading!
Lanka, Guatemala, Bangladesh, Morocco and too many more to count, the biggest cultural event each year is a book fair. (36) When it comes to book fairs pulling in over a half million visitors, or over a quarter million, the list gets crazy.
eleven day flash sales that run 24/7. It buys remaindered English-language books from (mainly) US and UK publishers and takes container-loads of them to sell at discount in countries where English is not the first language. Countries like Sri Lanka, Thailand, Taiwan, the United Arab Emirates, the Philippines, Malaysia, Pakistan and Indonesia.
to 7 countries in South and South East Asia. It attracted over 3 million visitors. (39) The first run of 5.5 million books in Indonesia was so successful Big Bad Wolf had to go back twice more. This year Big Bad Wolf is planning to ship 60 million books to 14 countries. It debuted in Myanmar with 1 million books earlier this year and it took 1 million books to Pakistan last month.
the countries where statistics are collected that count (some of) the sales. Imagine how many more books would be bought and read if they had digital options. Yet ebooks and digital audiobooks are widely unavailable. This is publishing's biggest opportunity and also its biggest obstacle. The message here is clear
Big Bad Wolf countries mentioned. We talk of Amazon as the world's biggest book store but actually it has only 14 global stores. The Kindle store is completely blocked across most of Asia and Africa. Amazon last launched a Kindle store in 2014.
to think. Most global readers are sent to the US international store where books are territorially restricted and US-priced. There are few localised payment options. There is little evidence Rakuten is willing to fund Kobo's global ambitions further.
not much interested in the truly global ebook markets. While OverDrive has grown its global reach (China, UAE, Singapore, Sweden, Rwanda, and most recently Germany) it is mostly passive growth. OverDrive content is too expensive for emerging markets to engage with.
become truly global in a way quite unimaginable under the print-only traditional model. But publishers have to be adaptable. And publishers need to be willing to explore new pricing strategies and new delivery models, sometimes on a market by market basis.
what will define the emerging markets in the next decade. We ask publishers to work with StreetLib to develop an emerging markets subscription and library model whereby they will accept lower royalties per download, in return for ever-growing volume in markets previously inaccessible.
be more. Outdated analogue thinking about what a book is worth has no place in the next stage of the evolution of global publishing. Often the choice will be as simple x% of something against 100% of nothing.
in the emerging markets, and especially short-form audio and podcasts delivered via a subscription model. International content delivered to emerging market consumers. Locally-originated content produced by international publishers. Indigenous language content. Locally produced content with diaspora appeal that can be delivered globally. Locally produced content repackaged for the international markets.
all of its 20+ official languages are viable digital book markets in their own right, yet most publishers are looking the other way. Hindi - 422 million speakers. Bengali - 83 million. Telugu 74 million. Marathi 71 million. Tamil 60 million. Urdu 51 million. Gujarati 46 million. Kannada 38 million. Odia 33 million. Malayalam 33 million.
are viable digital book markets in their own right. In Nigeria: Hausa - 60 million speakers. Igbo - 40 million. Yoruba - 30 million. Fulfulde - 15 million. Ibibio - 10 million. Kanuri - 8 million. In South Africa English is only the 4th most-spoken of 11 official languages.
industries like film and television. Just look at the way books are driving TV and film production globally. Digital is an opportunity not just for publishers but for a raft of industries that revolve around publishing. Digital publishing will not just benefit publishers, but will power the global economy.