CommentaryFebruary 5th, 2021
2021: Digital and Direct
Welcome to our first newsletter of 2021!
Early last year we mentioned that 2020 wouldn’t be without ‘changes and challenges’ – of course no one could have predicted just how accurate this might be. It was a tumultuous year to say the least, but the world of publishing has adapted with impressive speed and ingenuity. We have every reason to believe that this year will present just as much opportunity for innovation – this time across a much more optimistic landscape!
Firsty Group Founder & CEO
We have spoken a lot previously about the ways in which publishing has changed over the years. In particular, these changes have been largely driven by the ways in which readers discover and consume books – going into 2021, we are seeing these changes becoming even more pronounced, and even more nuanced.
This is coming from a burgeoning consumer consciousness, as well as an increasing emphasis on new technologies, as readers are becoming increasingly aware of the processes behind the books that they read, and the implications of these for the industry at large. In a world where the word ‘sustainability’ no longer just applies to recycling, individuals are circumnavigating larger corporations and, with more choice than ever, are investing in alternatives that better serve publishers and authors – as we have seen, from the investment in indie bookshops.
What first began as a drift towards selling direct has become a seismic shift, partly due to growing concerns over existing business models, but also due to necessity – selling direct became pivotal in the year just gone. Enormous obstacles in the forms of lockdowns and closures, meant that the need for access to reading materials and the switch from bricks and mortar stores to online translated into massive digital growth. Sales of eBooks increased by 30% and audiobook sales increased by 28%, according to Bookstat. The success of audiobooks became a key talking point, discussed avidly across online conferences and especially during the Frankfurt book fair.