Frankfurt a. M., 4 February 2021 – In 2020 the coronavirus pandemic shaped developments across the entire world and touched every aspect of life. The steps taken to control the pandemic acted as an enormous catalyst for digital content, resulting in increased demand, new target groups and new demands on production, distribution, value chains and marketing. At the same time, 2020 was also a year of challenges for publishers. That’s why Frankfurt-based Bookwire GmbH sees 2020 as a year of learning and cohesion, but also innovation.
“The past year has posed challenges for the entire world, in terms of the economy, health and also organising work. These challenges have touched every single aspect, including the lives of individuals. We too are looking back on an eventful and moving year that can be summed up as a year of learning and support: what do we really need, what matters, what we can contribute and how we can give support to those who need it in these challenging times. Another major realization was that digital publishing is more important now than ever before,” summarises Jens Klingelhöfer, CEO of Bookwire GmbH.
Analyse, interpret and apply: “Covid-19 Special” reports and “Listen & Read”
Throughout 2020, Bookwire – together with various different partners – carried out an in-depth analysis of the situation on the digital publishing market and the wishes of the users of the various offers in the eBook and audiobook area. The findings yielded by this analysis give publishing clients a foundation for adapting their distribution and marketing strategies to the situation on the market:
The effects of the coronavirus pandemic were investigated back in spring 2020 – in parallel to the first lockdown on the German market – together with Rüdiger Wischenbart, and the findings were published in a “Covid-19 Special” report. An analysis of the Brazilian market using the same methodology followed in August.
In October 2020, the first extensive market research on end consumers commissioned by Bookwire, “Listen & Read: The Battle for Attention”, gave direct insights into the use of eBooks, audiobooks and podcasts on the German market.
“The extensive analyses conducted in 2020 have confirmed our forecasts for the digital market: it is more important than ever before for publishers to make the essence of their digital strategy for all formats about establishing an efficient digital distribution structure and appealing appropriately to different target groups. The trends or niches of twelve to eighteen months ago have since become mainstream. This development has definitely gathered pace because of the coronavirus pandemic, and we are keeping up: we want to deliver publishers in all of our markets the best technical solutions and tailored service to give them access to these sources of income”, says John Ruhrmann, Managing Director of Bookwire GmbH.
More titles, more services, more sales: Bookwire records global growth
The business figures themselves also confirm the findings of the analyses: by the end of 2020, Bookwire had globally commercialised around 600,000 titles for publishing clients – 11 % more than in the previous year. The number of audiobooks increased by 46 % to around 90,000 titles, eBooks increased by 6 % to around 500,000 and Print-on-Demand by 18 % to over 4,500 titles.
The growth in the total number of titles is also reflected in the sales: as an aggregator for publishers, Bookwire was able to globally increase sales by 46 %, with audio consistently the driving force: 123 % growth outshines the positive 32 % growth for eBooks. Bookwire’s audiobook production service “Bookwire WAY” recorded increased demand. In 2020, publishers produced a three-figure number of German-language audiobooks using WAY.
In parallel, Bookwire Brasil and Bookwire Spain & Latin America also contributed positive developments to these growth figures in 2020: sales doubled on both markets, with the number of titles commercialized increasing by around 20 % for each.
The number of publishing clients also grew: around 1,900 publishers (2019: 1,600) now commercialize their catalogues through Bookwire. In 2020, Bookwire was able to win global players like Bonnier Group, SAGA, Sony and StorySide, and numerous existing cooperation agreements, such as the agreement with dtv, were extended: the traditional business now also manages digital distribution in the DACH region using Bookwire OS.
New technology, more services and expert know-how: new developments at Bookwire
The merger of Bookwire GmbH and readbox GmbH came as a forward-looking milestone in the 11-year history of the business. It was preceded in April by the opening of its own digital hub for technology development in Dortmund. Bookwire clients will benefit from an extended range of services as a result of the merger.
As 2020 unfolded, the growth of the business to 100 team members across the world and the further developments in the range of offers were also reflected in organisational management – and in new management roles: Astrid Böhmisch joined the business as General Manager DACH Region and Eric González Canova as General Manager Spanish Markets.
Last year saw the comprehensive expansion of the heart of Bookwire’s digital publishing technology, Bookwire OS – and more direct shop connections, including Amazon Music, Audiobooks.com and Read Joy. More than 300 shops across the world, including all relevant players, are available to Bookwire publishing clients.
The services in Bookwire OS have been further developed and optimised in line with this, including in the Print-on-Demand area. This area is benefitting from an extensive relaunch and is now connected to four print and distribution partners, as well as being rolled out to Spain. In addition to production of accessible EPUBs, a new quality check was also introduced to directly check titles for accessibility.
Since 2010, Bookwire OS Analytics has given publishers detailed analysis options that make transparent and individually adaptable monitoring possible. This includes Audio Analytics for including streaming sales in a publisher’s total sales of audio titles or Audience Analytics for analysing the growing target group of audio users.
After the year of learning comes the year of useful innovations: outlook for 2021
“2020 was a feat of strength for many players in the publishing industry. Like everybody, we are hoping for more stability this year. For that reason, we have a very clear plan for 2021 – a year that will certainly pose further challenges for all of us. We intend to keep developing our services so that our customers can get the most out of them for their very individual requirements and successfully shape their business. In Bookwire OS, the keywords are analytics and marketing services, but it’s also about technical innovations. We will focus on getting them ready for market, together with the expert teams from the readbox departments. Our team’s activities in 2021 will concentrate on added value for publishers”, says Jens Klingelhöfer, looking ahead.
Bookwire & “Bookwire OS – One Solution”
Bookwire GmbH was founded in Frankfurt in 2009 as a service provider for publisher distribution of eBooks and digital content. Since then, it has become one of the leading international businesses in digital publishing technology. Bookwire currently employs 100 members of staff in Germany, the UK, Spain, Brazil and Mexico, who take care of more than 1,900 publishers in the fields of eBooks, audiobooks and Print-on-Demand. The pioneering software “Bookwire OS – One Solution”, launched in 2019, has delivered, analysed and marketed around 500,000 eBooks and 90,000 audiobooks in all relevant distribution channels. In addition to the latest customer analytics and pricing technology, publishing clients of Bookwire GmbH also have access to individual support from account & marketing managers who continually look after the clients. The audiobook product solution “We Audiobook You” (WAY) bagged the business the first “Digital Publishing Award” in the field of B2B solutions, in 2019. Bookwire GmbH is managed by its founders Jens Klingelhöfer and John Ruhrmann, and has branches in Barcelona (Spain), London (UK), Mexico City (Mexico) and São Paulo (Brazil), in addition to the company headquarters in Frankfurt am Main.
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