Whit the surge of new digital tools discoverability has become the key challenge.
The brick & mortar bookshops are key to take the challenge by using both physical and digital tools.
There is the chance to reinvent the book professionals’ community itself.
The 8th International Digital Distributors Meeting is organised once more by IPDA in collaboration with GSR Foundation within the umbrella of Readmagine. In this occasion the challenge proposed to the participants was to discuss how to ensure the positive pattern in book markets continues throughout the next few years. This idea was linked to the European approach of this edition and focused on the means to overcome some threatening trends that underlie those good results (namely, the bigger role of huge platforms such as Amazon).
One of the key issues when we think about the future of a European publishing business that is likely to succeed is dealing with the new behaviours of the audiences and the building or nurturing of communities as part of the business strategy. Usually when we talk about audiences and communities these elements are considered exclusively from the perspective of a marketing tool, but this session of Readmagine was designed to talk about the business opportunities and a way to better understand the market.
This session was moderated by Javier Celaya, a person who has an extensive experience in this publishing industry from the digital perspective. In this video you can follow the presentation by one of the three panellists: Fabrice Piault, editor-in-chief of Livres Hebdo, the most prestigious publishing magazine in French.
Piault wanted to share three main points for the discussion, from his perspective as an analyst.
The first one was that Digital gives rise to multiple private initiatives from bloggers, youtubers or instagrammers which contribute to structure a new kind of book readers community and a wide range of tools and networks has emerged during this last 15 years.
The traditional press critic steps back, but thousands of personal book channels on Youtube, Instagram, Pinterest, FB, TikTok had gained presence and relevance. In the case of France there are readers’ Apps such as Babelio (founded 2007, 1,2 M registered, 5 to 6 M visitors/month, 1200 critics/day); Lecteurs.com (Orange 2009, 240 000 registered) or Gleeph (2019, 400 000 registered). This networks allow virtual personal libraries and sharing reading experience through critics, comments or additional information.
Under these circumstances discoverability has become the key challenge.
Secondly, Piault said that digital spreading raises the challenge of discoverability, but physical bookstores may be the only ones to fully take it. The algorithms are important (and mysterious) but have a lot of limits and platforms such as Amazon are aware of that. Otherwise, the bookseller’s experience (direct and online advice, meetings with authors, organizing bookshop’s friends network) gives them legitimacy and credibility.
The challenge is how to improve their discoverability ability using both physical and digital tools and how to combine the strength of both platforms and booksellers.
In third place he mentioned that an essential means to take the best from the expansion of digital book lovers communities is to reinvent the bookprofessionals’ community itself; through a «re-imagination» of the book trade media, creating new information channels as Livres Hebdo has done during the last years with new meeting places both online and offline, specialized Awards for publishers, booksellers and librarians combining digital and physical events, digital webinars as “speed dating among professionals” which have been hugely successful and «B2B2C» tools (for example: Que lire? by their magazine). Linked to this issue of the professional communities he also referred to the role of the book fairs and made some remarks about the importance for the future of events such as the Frankfurt Book Fair.
Fabrice Piault, born 1959, is the Editor in Chief of the French Book Trade media Livres Hebdo, and a co-founder of the international Book Trade magazines network PubMagNet.
Graduated in History and Political Sciences from the Panthéon-Sorbonne University, and in Journalism from the Centre de Formation des Journalistes (Paris), he started his career as a journalist at the Agency France Presse (AFP). Since he joined in 1987 Livres Hebdo, where he has been successively editor, Chief of Informations, Deputy Editor in Chief and, from 2015, Editor in Chief, he has been particularly committed to the economic and international challenges in the Book Industry, initiating in 2007 the « Global 50 », the Annual World Ranking of the Publishing Industry researched by Rüdiger Wischenbart Content and Consulting. In 2019-2020, he has achieved a full transformation of Livres Hebdo to a global online and offline media producing news, charts and data, a large selection of features and many sorts of digital and physical events and services, including successful Trade Awards for Publishers, Booksellers and Librarians.