Rüdiger Wischenbart participated in Readmagine 22 as he has been doing during the last annual conferences. You can follow his presentation this video. Wischenbart begun with a recalling of his participation last November, in which he took a tour of the dynamics of children’s literature, and confesses that he was tempted to reuse the same documents for this occasion, since many things remain the same However there has been slight changes since then, so he finally did not.
He points to the need to adopt innovative thinking in the face of the new landscapes that are ahead in the publishing sector.
Before going into these new dynamics, Wischenbart mentions that the achievements of 2021 outperformed those of 2019 in some areas, and that in 2020, during the pandemic, the publishing sector was not as affected as might be expected and that the fall observed responded to a downward trend that had been going on during previous years. According to the statistics he works with, the book market in general has had good figures with the exception of bookstores, which have suffered, especially during the lock-down period, which leads us to think that the digital field has gained strength enough to compensate for the losses that could derive from the bookstores.
For Rüdiger Wischenbart, the media have not covered enough the impact that recent events have had on bookshops.
He comments that when publishers make statistics they focus on benefits obtained, on the economic revenue. However, Wischenbart prefers to attend to the volume: the number of copies that have been successfully distributed, since it gives us a broader and more accurate perspective of what is going on in the sector, in the reader’s behaviour, since the figures in euros are conditioned by the kind of products that are sold (a hardcover copy can be worth the same as two and sometimes even three paperbacks).
In this industry, things are somewhat more complicated than what can be seen with the naked eye, which is why Rüdiger Wischenbart recommends that we ask ourselves some questions:
-What do we see, really?
-What is our perspective?
-What are our assumptions
-What do we miss to see? Is there anything in the publishing sector that we are overlooking?
Regarding this, the lists provided by Amazon, for instance, can give us clues about what is happening. Today the book industry is not a single, homogeneous universe, but rather an amalgam of different things.
Currently, going to the digital scope, downloads are not the only mode of consumption, but there are subscription and streaming models. These new forms of consumption imply new distribution models. In terms of trends, we observe that the genres that were most successful in the print market retain its success in the digital market, although in the digital market new genres and themes stand out in comparison to the print market.
Audiobooks represent the fastest growing publishing factor in recent years.
So what has happened?
-A new level of digital normality.
-Similar trends in various markets.