“There is no going back! There is no turning back!” (John Ingram at yesterday’s “ReBoot: Books, Business and Reading” virtual conference in the run up of Frankfurt.
October 14, 2020 by ruediger

With 200 participants from 28 countries, the virtual conference “ReBoot: Books, Business and Reading” had its premiere yesterday, Tuesday, October 13, 2020 in the run-up to the Frankfurt Book Fair.

The aim of the conference with top-class contributions from publishers, book retailers and service providers, in a broad mix of international corporations and small local players, was an international exchange of experiences on book markets in times of pandemic.

The basic tone of the contributions was one of confidence but also of realism. There will be no “return” to market conditions in the book trade from times before the pandemic, but clear outlines for innovative and promising approaches of a new, hybrid publishing business emerged from the crisis in the past six months.

In the remarkable consonance between large and small players from such different markets as Germany, Italy, Spain, Sweden, Great Britain, Mexico, Argentina, Brazil, the USA or India, very similar basic experiences with new approaches were reported.

  • Approaches in which publishers and retailers are redefining end customer business via communities and digital marketing are pioneering;
  • There is significant growth in a wide range of digital offers, such as audio books in streaming, subscription models and – especially local – cooperation platforms;
  • In Covid-19 times, logistics became the predetermined breaking point, when supply and delivery chains were interrupted and now urgently need to be strategically rethought;
  • Thematically, the backlist came to the fore over – often postponed – new releases, which, however, also requires much more precise target group marketing and corresponding data analysis;
  • In the book trade, it is smaller units with less than 500 square meters of retail space in smaller cities that are best able to counter the crisis and the fears of customers.

There is no going back!”said John Ingram from the world’s largest book logistics company Ingram (US), summarizing the assessments.

“However, we are only halfway through the crisis,” warned digital expert David Worlock (UK). The “diversity on the market, between physical and digital offers” is the most important support for stabilization, summed up Jenny Bjuhr Berggren from the Swedish publishing houses Bonnier. Publishers are too attached to their internal perspective, said Nitasha Devasar, CEO India at the science publisher Taylor & Francis, but it is important to bring customers to the center of attention. Nathan Hull of Norwegian Beat Technology proposed concrete strategies and tools for such Business-2-consumer approaches. Michael Busch also followed suit, with reference to the “omnichannel” strategy of his Thalia bookstores, which sell books to customers in every form and through all sales channels.

With the new virtual teamwork, “worldwide collaboration in working groups will become a matter of course,” reported Carmen Ospina, who coordinates business development in the Spanish and Latin American publishers of Penguin Random House. For those who understand how to use these innovations, there is therefore great development potential, Knut Nicholas Krause from the software service provider KNK and Jens Klingelhöfer from the digital aggregator Bookwire were optimistic.

Recordings of the ReBoot virtual conference, four preparatory workshops and detailed documentation will also be available online at www.rebootbooks.org from the middle of next week (October 20).

The event “ReBoot: Books, Business and Reading” is an initiative by Rüdiger Wischenbart Content and Consulting (Austria), Carlo Carrenho (Sweden and Brazil) and Klaus-Peter Stegen (Germany.

ReBoot is supported as sponsors by KNK, Bookwire and Beat Technology.

Further ReBoot activities are in preparation.

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