Embracing change and discussing the future of books – cheerfully! Publishers’ Forum Berlin 2014

Back from two days of rich – and entertaining! – debates on the digital transformation of books and reading at Publishers’ Forum 2014 in Berlin, one little remark still resonate particularly strongly in my memory. “Noone was discussing how many percent of revenues come from ebooks”, someone observed at one point. Instead it was all on how to think the future, or how to carefully organize a transition that allows to sustain quality, diversity, and new options. We even had a good laugh, like in this session:


The orange is the ‘new thing’ that the old tower needs to support – and we had to form teams in order to build a solid tower to do that job. (Session run by Béa Beste of Tollabox)

But of course, this fun exercise was well orchestrated between thoughtful key notes and good panel debates on a wide range of topics. I counted almost 40 sessions for the 280 delegates, and frankly, still need to digest what I have heard and seen, bit by bit.

I was really intrigued by the new model for a Social Book, as introduced by Bob Stein, the perhaps best humored visionary I’ve ever met. When you hear the argument that reading is a solidary exercise, by definition – then better think again, and check it out.

Or when you assume that the current consolidation of publishers into huge giants (like the Random Penguin, or more recently Harper’s Harlequin – I realize there is a clear name pattern involved in this buying spree!) comes as a kind of The-End-of-History with regard to publishing and good reading, again, open your eyes, as we were told – by analyst Brian O’Leary, for instance, who gently and smilingly suggested to review copyright, so that meaningful professional publishing can be sustained (!); or by deGruyter’s Sven Fund who simply stated: “We (as publishers; rw) are not on a mission, we are in a service industry.”

What I particularly liked, aside from the fun of tower building (our team came in second, topped by an investor – that’s how it is), was how the long shots were well founded in the practical, how strong ideas were backed up by practical experience, clear information, and common sense.


I will go back to many of the talks, and watch some of the presentations again – slides and videos will be posted soon at the Forum’s website.

I will do so by personal interest and pleasure, but also because I can report an exciting news: From 2015 on, I have been invited to curate the the Publishers’ Forum, following up on what Helmut von Berg has created as the conference’s founding director in over a decade.

He was cheered by everybody for this endeavor in standing ovations. I was moved, really, when some time ago, he had asked me if I would continue in what he had started. I’ll do it as good as I can.

The Global eBook report (update spring 2014) downloaded 1000+ times in just 3 weeks

The spring 2014 update of the Global eBook report has been downloaded over one thousand times within just three weeks of its launch at the London Book Fair on April 8, 2014.

For one more weeks, downloads are free of charge. From May 10, 2014, customers can contribute €9.99 by downloading the Global eBook report in PDF, ePub and Mobi/Kindle format from major retail sites, including Amazon and Apple’s iBookstore, as well as www.thalia.de and www.ebook.de .

Ebook market developments for the US, UK, Europe, Brazil and India, comparative key data on overall publishing, and the new eBook Yellow Pages: The Global eBook report spring 2014 is ready for download.

The Spring 2014 Release of the Global eBook Report Is Out: Full coverage of recent ebook market developments for the US, UK, Europe, Brazil and India, comparative key data on overall publishing, and the new eBook Yellow Pages included.

The Global eBook report update spring 2014 brings for the first time direct comparative data across markets and players on the evolution of international ebook markets.

The report

Maps, with the best available data, the significant differences, and their root causes, of how major European countries are embracing digital reading;

Highlights earnings from ebooks of the Big Five – the 5 largest trade publishing companies worldwide -, and market shares of Amazon, as compared to local retail platforms.

Shows how emerging markets, led by Brazil and India, engage in approaches of their own, with domestic platforms leading the way in India, while partnerships as well as Apple have gained a lead in the distribution of ebooks – as opposed to Europe and North America, where Amazon clearly dwarfs competition.

The Global eBook report presents a wide selection of case studies, on

The hugely diverging strategies of publishers across Europe in their pricing of ebooks,

The most dynamic expansion of selfpublishing as one by now truly global phenomenon, and

The emergence of new subscription offers – or “Netflix for ebooks” – models as the perhaps next disruptive handle for digital change.

The report can be downloaded from www.global-ebook.com and from major online book platforms, in the formats pdf, ePub and Kindle/mobi.

The next update of the Global eBook report will be due for release in October 2014 at the Frankfurt Book Fair.

The Global eBook report has been started in 2011, and is updated every half year, tracking international market evolution as well as controversies and debates. It is co-promoted by a global network of leading publishing trade magazines and book fairs, including Book Dao (PRChina), Book Industry Magazine (Russia), buchreport (Germany), DosDoce.com (Spain), Livres Hebdo (France), Informazioni Editoriali (Italy), PublishNews (Brazil), Publishers Weekly (US), Svensk Boekhandel (Sweden), The Bookseller (UK), the London Book Fair and BookExpo America.

A report by Rüdiger Wischenbart Content and Consulting www.wischenbart.com

“Books in Translation: Wanderlust for the Written Word.” Join us for BookExpo America in New York.

BookExpo America announces speaker list for Global Market Forum 2014: Books in Translation; Wanderlust for the Written Word

The most ambitious and most senior line up of industry voices from the US and the international community that we have ever welcomed to our global event”, says BEA show director Steve Rosato

 Norwalk, CT, April 2, 2014:  The digital revolution and the new global dynamics in the book trade have re-invented and re-invigorated the translation market.   Authors like Scandinavian crime writers Stieg Larsson or Jo Nesbo have become global brands.  Established US publishers, as well as many new companies and ventures, build their profiles and programs around translations, bringing literature from around the world and across many languages to American readers. With the help of digital distribution and Internet based social communities of readers, innovative bridges are being be built, creating a new connected environment.   For example, English and Spanish speaking audiences are sharing books, readers and authors as never before.

In a world summit focused on the professional issues and opportunities related to books in translation, BEA’s Global Market Forum 2014: Books in Translation; Wanderlust for the Written Word will open a one day conference on Wednesday, May 28, 2014, to explore how these new opportunities can be turned into new business for authors, agents, publishers and translators.  In addition, a dedicated Translation Market pavilion and stage on the BEA show floor will be open during the exhibit show days (Thursday, May 29 – Saturday, May 31), offering publishers a new and low priced format for matchmaking and promoting translated books as well as grants and sponsorships for translations.

“This is the most ambitious and most senior line up of industry voices from the US and international community that we have ever welcomed to our global event”, says BEA show director Steve Rosato.  “The fact that so many leaders are contributing their time and talent not only validates our efforts but it underscores how rapidly and significantly the translation business is developing.”

Speakers will include executives from the US Big Five publishers, including Carol Brown Janeway of the Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group; John Siciliano of Penguin; as well as representatives from independent presses, including Michael Reynolds of Europa Editions, and Sal Robinson of Melville House.

Several successfully translated authors will be adding their perspective, including internationally acclaimed bestselling writer Joel Dicker, whose The Truth about the Harry Quebert Affair will be released in the US at the time of BEA.  Additionally, Marcos Giralt Torrente, the preeminent Spanish author of many books, most notably The End of Love, will also be participating in this year’s forum.  Mr. Giralt Torrente will have three of his books released in English to the US market from three different publishing ventures within a span of 18 months including books from Farrar, Straus & Giroux, McSweeney’s, and Hispabook.      

New opportunities for translations will be discussed, including ways to reach into the huge Spanish language market; significant new translation grants and awards will also be examined and discussed, such as the Russian initiative ReadRussia and its new “Read Russia English-language Prize”, which will be awarded at the time of BEA in New York.  New publishing ventures which specialize in translation, such as the New Vessel Press, will also be the subjects of analysis and discussion.   

The topics and speakers for the Global Market Forum 2014: Books in Translation; Wanderlust for the Written Word will be further extended and broadened by members of its own advisory board which includes:  Esther Allen, translator and Associate Professor at the Baruch College, City University of New York; Maria Campbell of Maria B. Campbell Associates; Susan Bernofsky of the Columbia University School of the Arts; Susan Harris of Words Without Borders; Susie Nicklin of the British Marsh Agency; and Ricky Stock of the German Book Office in New York.

The GMF Books in Translation; Wanderlust for the Written Word program has been curated by Rüdiger Wischenbart, director of foreign affairs for BookExpo America.  BEA’s initiative on behalf of the Translation Market pavilion will be a permanent feature following the Global Market Forum of 2014, where players from Austria, Germany, Hungary, Poland, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Sharjah (UAE), Spain and the US have signed up as exhibitors.

The Spring 2014 update of the Global eBook report will be released on April 8, 2014

The Spring 2014 update of the Global eBook report will be released on April 8, 2014, with a presentation at the London Book Fair.



The new version will include notably:

  • Latest data, comparisons and analysis on the evolution of ebook markets across Europe and in the US;
  • A comparative analysis of surprisingly diverse strategies of ebook pricing in various markets across Europe;
  • Market updates for Brazil and India;
  • An overview of key activities of global players, notably Amazon, with regard to ebooks, and estimates of market shares in main markets;
  • The newly introduced eBook Yellow Pages (beta), as a listing of companies relevant to ebook developments.

Links to download the report in PDF, ePub and Kindle formats will be available at www.global-ebook.com .

Join us at the London Book Fair for a panel debate, with Javier Celaya of DosDoce.com (Spain) and Jens Klingelhöfer of Bookwire (Germany) to discuss current trends and debates.

London Book Fair
April 8, 2014, from 10:00 to 11:00 am
Earls Court, Room Wellington

Support the Global eBook report by booking your advertisement in the eBook Yellow Pages (find details at www.global-ebook.com ) or become a sponsor.

Questionnaire for the Global eBook report update spring 2014: Share your insights, now.

The Global eBook report is updated every half year, to map and analyze the evolution of international ebook markets.

As data are still difficult to find, and ever harder to consolidate, we have built an online questionnaire, for asking industry insiders – publishers, distributors, authors, agents, experts, academics – to share their assessment and their insights, as one key ingredient to the report.

The results from this international survey is critical for the quality of our study.

We therefore ask for your help by both sharing your insights by completing your personal questionnaire , and by forwarding the questionnaires to your colleagues, to widen the contributing community.

Please submit questionnaires before March 7, 2014.

Many thanks for your kind help!

PS: And check out our new feature, the eBook Yellow Pages. Make sure that your company is listed, or even consider buying a personalized advertisement. All details at www.global-ebook.com .

Who does what in international ebooks? We start an Ebook Yellow Pages. Join us. Help us getting it started.

As ebooks go international, it is ever more relevant – and more difficult – to understand who does what, practically and professionally, on a global scale.

By launching an Ebook Yellow Pages, as a new section in the Global eBook report, we want to create a professional listing of dedicated service providers, distributors and aggregators, specialized publishers / imprints, reading platforms and communities, professional educational, et al.

Please help us in this effort by
– Making us aware of companies, services, platform that should be listed;
– Consider listing your own company;
– Buy an advertisement, to highlight your company’s competences and offer.

You find all details, incl. sample pages, and booking details at http://www.global-ebook.com (or http://www.wischenbart.com/page-4 )

We kick it off with the next update in April 2014 (deadline for submissions is March 10, 2014).

Looking very much forward to your feedback and input!

Ruediger Wischenbart

PS: Apologies for cross posting, but we need to spread the invitation on the broadest relevant scale. Thank you for your understanding and indulgence.

Who does what in global ebooks? Introducing eBook Yellow Pages.

Ebooks are currently re-inventing book publishing on a global scale. But not everything about ebooks is the same everywhere. Not at all!

This is why we introduce eBook Yellow Pages as new section to the Global eBook report, to highlight and organize B2B references to relevant companies and organizations.

Become a part of the grid, by having, like in a dedicated business listing, your company name, a short profile, a link, and a flashy ad in the Global eBook report, for just € 250.


The Global eBook report, updated every half year since 2011, is mapping and analyzing how ebooks evolve, with country close ups for most European countries, North America, as well as key emerging markets, in Brazil, China, Russia or India. Thematic articles summarize the expansion of global players like Amazon, Apple, or Kobo, compare ebook pricing strategies and ebook bestsellers for European main markets, and summarize controversial debates on piracy or DRM.

The new eBook Yellow Pages will be integrated in the April and October 2014 updates, listing specialized distributors and aggregators, dedicated ebook service providers, ebook-only publishing startups and sub-divisions as well as educational programs.

For only € 250 (instead of the regular € 300), the introductory offer includes your personal company ad (in PNG format), together with 3 lines of text and a link to your website, organized along main categories of company activities. In addition, the company name, short description and link will also appear at the bottom of one country close up. An index will display featured companies in alphabetical order.

Book your entry now, and have your company featured in both the April and in the October 2014 update.

Convenient payment by credit card. Submission of your wording and ad (in PNG) by email.

Register by email today with Sabine Stalujanis (sabine.stalujanis (at) wischenbart.com) , or check for more details and a few sample pages at www.global-ebook.com

Get the ideas for tomorrow’s publishing, in Germany, and globally: Join us for Publishers’ Forum 2014 in Berlin

Getting a concrete reading of how the book industry changes ain’t an easy exercise.

We saw the dramatic rise of ebooks, first in the English language, now also in German. But most book markets in continental Europe are strained. We witness deep trouble in bookselling, as in France the book chain Chapitre was closed, and Weltbild in Germany filed for insolvency. We marvel at globalization – and new giants emerging, like in the merger of Penguin and Random House. But we also welcome so many new ventures, be it small book shops, or highly ambituous innovators in the digital environment, be it hugely ambituous new reading communities, or simply old houses that undergo radical change in their internal organization, their business model and their revenue streams.

At this year’s “Publishers’ Forum“, on May 5 and 6, 2014, in Berlin, a gathering of leading book professionals from both Germany as well as international players, will review trends, and discuss consequences resulting from these developments. And I feel honored to have been asked to help in programming the event, together with its long time director and mastermind, Helmut von Berg.

After a few months of preparations, we can proudly reveal a growing line up of speakers and topics:

Speakers will include Richard Charkin, executive director, and Nigel Newton, founder of Bloomesbury Publishing and Johann Kempe, CIO of the Holtzbrinck Publishing Group; Brian O’Leary, consultant and educational expert Margret Ruep, Francis Bennet of Yale University Press, David Klett of Klett Publishing  and Stephan Schierke, President and CEO of arvato; selfpublished author  Hugh Howey, moderators David Warlock and Jörg Pfuhl, and distributors Jens Klingelhöfer of Bookwire and Thomas Raff of KNO VA.

The debate will focus on key topics such as reorganizing the value chain, the digitization of educational publishing, and new strategies for collaboration, discoverability and data analysis. Media partners include buchreport and Börsenblatt.

We can promise two exciting days packed with insights and hands-on expertise. And we keep you posted, as more details will be released.

Follow the Publishers’ Forum website, this blog or our updates on twitter. See you in Berlin on 5 and 6 May, 2014!

The Weltbild insolvency – Germany is living through its Borders incident

Serious shock waves have been triggered by the announcement of Weltbild filing for insolveny a week ago. The company is one of the largest retailers of books and other media in Europe. Together with Munich based Hugendubel, Weltbild controls Germany’s second largest book chain (behind Thalia), and operates the second largest online platform for books, behind Amazon, and it is a key partner, together with its rival Thalia, of the anti-Amazon ebook Alliance Tolino.

While details of the insolvency and rescue plan may not be clear before March of this year, many observers bet on the heterogenous group’s assets being striped, with the online business forming the core of the valuable pieces to be offered for sale to an investor, while many of the 300 brick and mortar outlets may be doomed.

While initial comments had a tendency to downplay the overall impact on Germany’s book and publishing market, I would disagree, and rather expect this to be the “Borders incident” for what used to be Europe’s most stable book market. It will shake the Tolino alliance, and thus other initiatives aiming at building local alternatives to the expansion of global players, while Amazon is the likely winner, grabbing much of the market share that Weltbild has grown over the past years, much of it coming from new customer groups rather than from the traditionally conservative book buyers. Also the Weltbild crash must be viewed in line with similar havoc among big book (and media) chains in France (Chapitre, Virgin) or the Netherlands (Selexyz,  Polare).

Find my analysis with more detail at Publishers Weekly here.

Receive the latest news

Subscribe To Our Newsletter

Get notified about new reports, blogposts and events