From format war to sustainability fight

History is repeating itself. The developments we currently see with e-books, are in fact not new. In the early eighties there was a battle between the image carriers Betamax, VHS and Video 2000. VHS won, reportedly because the porn industry embraced this format, even though Betamax had a much better quality. Not long after that, there was a similar battle in the computer world: between the CD-ROM and CD-i. The CD-i lost the battle, because it was too expensive (both the player and the discs), but also because there was a lot more content available on CD-ROM’s. Read more »


It's crisis. Yes, still. When it will end? Nobody knows. Although, according to Bernard Wientjes of the Dutch labour union VNO-NCW, the crisis will end on 1 January 2016. Right… From previous crises, or attenuated variants thereof, the book world experienced little to no problems. Books are traditionally sold mostly to people who have a bit more to spend. You can at least clearly state that the largest group of book buyers is not on the lower end of the income level. Read more »

Publishers: go hybrid!

People who know me, know that I like to draw comparisons with other industries to clarify where the book world is heading to. Usually, I do this with the music industry, simply because it has the most direct parallels, and at some other occasions the game industry and film world. The reason I do this, is not only because I’m convinced that they’ve already dealt with all the issues we are facing right now (meaning the digitization of our products and the introduction and implementation new business models), but also because I strongly believe in learning from other’s mistakes. Read more »

The fight you will have to fight

As I wrote earlier, the book world is facing a series of unmatched challenges. Never before did we had to deal with so many changes in such a short time. And never before was the industry as we all knew it for so many decades, forced into a 180 degree turn in no time. Read more »

Survival of the entrepreneur

We would all not survive the year 2012. But, since you're reading this, the opposite is true. Of course, The Mayan calendar with its predictions inflated to mythical proportions, was pure nonsense. That I use this moment however to prelude my plea, is because I did expect last year to be the beginning of the end for the book as we knew it. That was however not quite the case. It has no doubt that our industry suffered a severe blow by the bankruptcy of one of the big Dutch distributors: Libridis. One that has had (or will have) a huge impact on some of the Dutch publishers. Read more »

Adoption of e-books in the Netherlands grows faster than in the US

When I talk with people about e-books, and especially about the growth (in percentages) and the expectations, I always state that we Dutch are three years behind on the US. This has two reasons. The first is the simple fact that we started selling e-books three years later than the US did (they started in 2006, we in 2009), the other is that we seem to follow the exact same trend (market share in percentages) as the US did in their first years. In fact, we are probably doing a better job.  Read more »


The story nobody tells

That we are experiencing turbulent times in the book world, is common knowledge to us all. The financial crisis, digitisation of our titles, foreign companies entering our markets and the growing trend of self-publishing, makes that the world as we knew it, will never be the same again. But besides all these external elements, there is a far more important one you seriously have to think about in these times. Because if you want to survive, you will have to be of value. Added value.  Read more »

The swerve effect: digital momentum for your apps and e-books

Less than a year ago, every publisher wanted to make apps. Because tablets were (and still are, in fact: they are even more) hot, and people with tablets use apps. Apps for books as well. So there lay golden opportunities, they thought. But, not even one year further, many publishers now will think twice (and hard) about going into the app business. Because, if they made one (or more), it was most often not successful, and if it actually did manage to be successful, it was either very expensive in terms of investment or it was just one of a kind (and therefore not reproducible). Read more »

What nobody sees and what ensures that publishers remain: added value

Every now and again there are stories in the media (mainly traditional media: newspapers, TV, radio) that doubt the capabilities of the publishing world coping with the shift to digital. That there is truth to be found in this subject is clear, but what stings me (and many others in the publishing world), is that almost all of these stories are poorly justified, blunt and only seem to be made to cause a stir. And none of these traditional media seems to be interested in the side of the publishers. What about hearing both sides? Isn’t that what journalism is all about? Read more »

No fixed price for e-books in The Netherlands

There will be no fixed price for electronic books in The Netherlands. Secretary Halbe Zijlstra from the Department of Culture wrote this to the House of Representatives on Wednesday.

Early last year, former Minister Ronald Plasterk announced a study on the impact of the e-book on the book market. According to him, the e-book could develop into a serious alternative to the physical book, and therefore it had to be seen whether a fixed price would be desirable. Read more »

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