Upgrade to Pro — share decks privately, control downloads, hide ads and more …

The Global Digital Book Market 2019-2025

May 07, 2019

The Global Digital Book Market 2019-2025

Conflicting narratives disguise unparalleled opportunities ahead.

Thessaloniki 2019 - Integral version

Giacomo D'Angelo - CEO at StreetLib
Mark Williams - Director of Communications at StreetLib - Editor-in-Chief at TNPS.world


May 07, 2019


  1. The Global Digital Book Market 2019 - 2025 Conflicting narratives

    disguise unparalleled opportunities ahead. Thessaloniki 2019
  2. Global Book Market 2016 (1) The Global Book Market was

    worth $143 billion in 2016. The good news? 71% of that was outside the USA. Rest of the World 71% USA 29%
  3. 2016. That's the most recent year we have any meaningful

    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?
  4. 2016 2025 400 300 200 100 0 Global Book Market

    Growth 2016-2025 $bn (2) 143 356
  5. But digital is our focus here. A new report specifically

    about the global digital markets offers us a 2017 value of $16,1 billion. But far more exciting is a 2023 forecast of a global digital books market worth $35 billion.
  6. That figure will surprise many who have fallen for the

    faux narrative that interest in digital books is waning. But actually we think the numbers are quite conservative. Why?
  7. Because digital opens up potential sales and revenue streams simply

    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.
  8. Most obviously, digital can bring the reading opportunity to people

    around the world who currently don't read. It's not that people in some parts of the world don't want to read.
  9. But people would read more if they were offered free

    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.
  10. Under the traditional publishing model none of those are viable

    options at scale across the entire world. But all those options are viable pretty much anywhere on the planet with the digital model. Digital changes everything.
  11. Statista reports that in 2017 in the USA the trade

    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)
  12. 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. (5)
  13. 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.
  14. In 2019 Storytel operates in Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Finland, Iceland,

    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)
  15. Scribd annouced earlier this year it had reached 1 million

    subscribers. With half its users outside the USA, Scribd is bringing in recurring annual revenue of over $100 million.
  16. In China ebooks and online literature are 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. (7) Tencent rival Alibaba Literature added 30 million new readers just in 2018.
  17. In South Africa the digital education sector is forecast to

    be worth $490 million by 2023. Publishers are central to this sector.
  18. In North America alone the digital comics sector was valued

    at $100 million in 2018. e-Comics are popular across the globe - from superheroes to Manga to educational digital makes comics available 24/7 anywhere in the world.
  19. Amazon's Kindle Unlimited is an example of the subscription model

    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.
  20. There are countless more examples and many more business models

    than just regular one-book retail and regular subscription. Mobile reading apps like Radish, Lady Victoria Howard, Dreame, FicFun, ThePigeonHole... The list is endless. And then there's Wattpad.
  21. Based in Canada, Wattpad has 70 million users that spend

    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.
  22. There are countless more examples, but let's address the BIG

    problem with all this. We're talking about the whole world. There's hardly anyone online in some places. Global internet penetration is only at 56%! Why bother?
  23. This map of submarine cables shows how the world is

    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.
  24. Publishing has yet to wake up to this fact. Here's

    the reality of internet connectivity in 2019 that many in publishing are oblivious to.
  25. Statista forecasts the New Zealand ebook market will be worth

    $37 million in 2019. (9) New Zealand has a population of just 4.1 million. (10)
  26. All these African nations have more people online than New

    Zealand.(11) Angola 5.9 million Cameroon 6.1 million Côte d’Ivoire 6.3 million D.R. Congo 5 million Mozambique 5.3 million Tunisia 7.9 million Zambia 7.2 million Zimbabwe 6.8 million
  27. All these Middle East nations have more people online than

    New Zealand. (12) Syria 6 million Israel 6.7 million Yemen 7 million Jordan 8.7 million UAE 9.3 million Kuwait 4.1 million Lebanon 5.5 million
  28. All these Asian nations have more people online than New

    Zealand. (13) Sri Lanka 6.7 million Cambodia 8 million Azerbaijan 8 million Singapore 4.8 million Afghanstan 6.5 million
  29. All these Americas nations have more people online than New

    Zealand. (14) Costa Rica 4.2 million Bolivia 8 million Guatemala 7.2 million Paraguay 6.1 million Dominican Rep. 6.6 million Cuba 4.6 million
  30. All these European nations have more people online than New

    Zealand. (15) Ireland 4.4 million Portugal 8 million Belarus 6.7 million Finland 5.2 million Serbia. 6.3 million Austria 7.7 million
  31. And all these European nations have more people online than

    New Zealand. (16) Hungary 8.5 million Denmark 5.5 million Slovakia 4.6 million Norway 5.3 million Bulgaria 4.6 million Greece 7.8 million
  32. Kazahkstan, Uzbekistan, Chile and Ecuador all have more people online

    than Sweden (17), the home of Storytel. 9.6 million 14 million 15 million 14.1 million 13 million
  33. Belgium, Romania and the Czech Republic also have more people

    online than Sweden (18), the home of Storytel. 10.8 million 14 million 9.3 million 9.6 million
  34. Statista predicts the Netherlands ebook market will be worth $94

    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
  35. Statista forecasts the Australia ebook market will be worth $89

    million in 2019. (20) Australia has 21.7 million people online. (21) Malaysia and Peru both have more. Malaysia 25 million Peru 22 million
  36. Statista predicts the Canada ebook market will be worth $521

    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
  37. Statista predicts the Spain ebook market will be worth $135

    million in 2019. (24) Spain has 42 million people online. See how these countries compare. Kenya 43.3 million Pakistan 44 million Argentina 41 million South Korea 47 million Ukraine 40 million
  38. Statista predicts the Italy ebook market will be worth $128

    million in 2019. (25) Italy has 54 million people online. Now look at Thailand, Egypt, Iran and Turkey. Egypt 49.2 million Turkey 56 million Thailand 57 million Iran 62 million
  39. Statista ebook market value predictions for 2019 France $533 m

    (22) France has 60 million online UK $820 m (24) UK has 63 million online (26) (27)
  40. The Philippines is already level with France and Vietnam has

    caught up with the UK. Philippines 60 million online Vietnam 63 million online (28
  41. Statista forecasts a $294 million valuation for the 2019 Germany

    ebook market. (29) Bangladesh 92 million online Mexico 85 million online Germany 79 million online
  42. At 8th and 6th place in the global internet league

    tables come Russia and Japan. (30) Russia 109 million online Japan 118 million online
  43. At #7? Nigeria now has more people online than Russia

    and will exceed Japan this year. (30) Nigeria has 111 million people online. It is the 7th largest country by internet users. And it's still only at 55% internet penetration.
  44. If Russian, Nigeria and Japan hold 8th, 7th and 6th

    places, what are the top 5 countries by internet users in 2019? Here's the top 5 countdown as of March 2019
  45. The 5th largest country by internet users is... Indonesia has

    143 million people online. That's more than twice the UK. And it's still only at 53% internet penetration. (30) Indonesia
  46. The 4th largest country by internet users is... Brazil has

    149 million people online. It will likely be double Germany by the end of the year. Brazil is only at 70% internet penetration. (30) Brazil
  47. The 3rd largest country by internet users is... With 312

    million people online the USA will hold 3rd place for the foreseeable future. But at 95% internet penetration there's little room to grow. (30) USA
  48. The 2rd largest country by internet users is... With 560

    million people online as of March 2019, India is adding new internet users at the rate of 10 million each month. But India is still only at 41% internet penetration. (30) India
  49. The largest country by internet users is... With 829 million

    people online as of March 2019, China is a huge internet market, yet still only at 58% internet penetration. China could reach 1 billion people online by 2025. (30) China
  50. With those numbers from China and India its no surprise

    Asia is the largest continent by online users. Here's how the continents stack up by internet population in March 2019. (31)
  51. Asia - 2,190,981,318 Europe - 718,172,106 Africa - 474,120,563 Latin

    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
  52. Today 56% of the world is online. 4.3 billion people.

    Slice: 4346561853 56.1% Slice: 3406921356 43.9% Online Not yet connected
  53. Taking smartphone growth, improved telecom infrastructure and falling internet prices

    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)
  54. Year 2000: 393.5 million people online Year 2019: 4.3 billion

    people online. Year 2030: 7.5 billion people online. Year 2000: Year 2019: Year 2030: 7,500,000,000 5,000,000,000 2,500,000,000 0
  55. Of course, it doesn't matter how many people are online

    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!
  56. In a 2018 study of global reading habits (34) the

    USA came in at # 22. The top five? India Thailand China Philippines Egypt
  57. And most of the others in the top twenty might

    raise eyebrows in the international publishing community. Saudi Arabia? Venezuela? Indonesia? Argentina? Aren't these publishing graveyards?
  58. We shouldn't be surprised. In many of these nations the

    biggest cultural event in the country is a book fair. Algeria's Algiers International Book Fair attracted 2.2 million visitors in 2018. (35)
  59. All these countries have annual book fairs that regularly attract

    over 2 million visitors. (36) Malaysia UAE Cuba Egypt Spain Thailand India Iran
  60. This year Saudi Arabia's Riyadh International Book Fair drew a

    crowd of 1 million visitors for the first time. (37) Saudi Arabia One million visitors is nothing unusual at many international book fairs around the world.
  61. All these countries have international book fairs that draw a

    crowd of over 1 million. (36) Hong Kong Oman Vietnam Argentina
  62. In countries as unlikely as Peru, Colombia, Venezuela, Pakistan, Sri

    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.
  63. All told TNPS tracked over 50 million visitors to book

    fairs and festivals outside the US and UK in 2018, buying millions and millions of books untracked by the industry stats counters. (38) The true figure will be much higher.
  64. Big Bad Wolf operates out of Malaysia. It specialises in

    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.
  65. In 2018 Big Bad Wolf shipped 30 million English-language books

    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.
  66. People are devouring books the world over, not just in

    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
  67. Can we rely on the big ebook retailers to help

    us embrace this global opportunity?
  68. The Amazon Kindle store available in none of the nine

    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.
  69. Apple has 51 global stores, but many are just placeholders.

    Apple's ebook expansion ground to a halt years ago. There is no evidence Apple plans to re-ignite its global ebook strategy.
  70. Google Play has 75 global stores but again, many are

    placeholders. There is no evidence Google Play plans to re-ignite its global ebook strategy.
  71. Kobo is global, but not as global as it likes

    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.
  72. Rakuten OverDrive is cause for hope, but again Rakuten is

    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.
  73. Yet as Storytel, Scribd and others have shown, when audiobooks

    and ebooks are made available in countries Amazon and co. deems not worthwhile, and when content is offered at affordable prices, consumers are eager to partake.
  74. With digital the international book market has the potential to

    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.
  75. The subscription model, digital libraries and telco-enabled digital reading are

    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.
  76. Storytel has shown that with the subscription model less can

    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.
  77. Publishers need to embrace the gateway audio and translations opportunity

    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.
  78. India will have 800 million people online by 2025, and

    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.
  79. Across Africa there are thousands of languages, many of which

    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.
  80. 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 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.
  81. 14 https://www.internetworldstats.com/stats2.htm 15 https://www.internetworldstats.com/stats4.htm 16 https://www.internetworldstats.com/stats4.htm 17 https://www.internetworldstats.com/stats4.htm 18 https://www.internetworldstats.com/stats4.htm

    19 https://www.statista.com/outlook/213/144/ebooks/netherlands 20 https://www.statista.com/outlook/213/107/ebooks/australia 21 https://www.internetworldstats.com/stats6.htm 22 https://www.statista.com/outlook/213/108/ebooks/canada 23 https://www.internetworldstats.com/stats2.htmrecord-falls-saudi-arabias-riyadh- international-book-fair-clocks-1-million-visitors/olf-tnps-story-year-2018/ References & sources
  82. 24 https://www.statista.com/outlook/213/153/ebooks/spain 25 https://www.statista.com/outlook/213/141/ebooks/italy 26 https://www.statista.com/outlook/213/136/ebooks/france 27 https://www.statista.com/outlook/213/156/ebooks/united-kingdom 28 https://www.internetworldstats.com/stats3.htm

    29 https://www.statista.com/outlook/213/137/ebooks/germany 30 https://www.internetworldstats.com/top20.htm 31 https://www.internetworldstats.com/stats.htm 32 https://infographic.statista.com/normal/chartoftheday_17148_smartphone_adoption_ by_world_region_n.jpg References & sources
  83. 33 https://cybersecurityventures.com/how-many-internet-users-will-the-world-have-in- 2022-and-in-2030/ 34 https://geediting.com/world-reading-habits-2018/ 35 https://thenewpublishingstandard.com/95-6-algerians-like-reading-52-read-fiction- arabic-french-english-preferred-languages-90-prefer-print-ebooks/ 36 See

    numerous TNPS posts. 37 https://thenewpublishingstandard.com/another-book-fair-record-falls-saudi- arabias-riyadh-international-book-fair-clocks-1-million-visitors/ 38 TNPS analysis and data collection. 39 https://thenewpublishingstandard.com/big-bad-wolf-tnps-story-year-2018/ References & sources