It was really interesting attending The Bookseller’s Publishing Conference, FutureBook21 and hearing all the experts in the field discuss how they wish the publishing industry will expand and become more sustainable. One of my favourite talks was between the Bookseller’s editor Philip Jones, the C.E.O. of Bonnier Books, Håkan Rudels, and the C.E.O. and founder of Booktopia, Tony Nash, where they discussed how the pandemic has affected their companies and how they wish to continue in the publishing industry.
When asked how the pandemic has affected the book industry in Sweden, Rudels responded that physical and e-commerce book sales have increased and that books which can be considered more demanding to read have increased in popularity. The trend for more serious topics is continuing. Rudels discusses the importance of books being relevant in people’s lives if the publishing industry is to thrive, they need to be everywhere. When discussing Bonnier’s audiobook subscription, BookBeat, Rudels highlighted that data is showing that they are becoming more successful and if they want to establish themselves as a streaming service, like Spotify, they need the support of other publishing houses. He also discussed how he believes that the publishing scene is shifting but it is unclear what type of book markets are going to emerge. Furthermore, he discusses that BonnierBooks is focusing on growing and looking at new markets while at the same time focusing on their sustainability strategy, which is to decrease their footprint by 25% by 2025. He also mentioned that BonnierBooks was the third publishing company to sign the Paris agreement for companies.
Jones then talked to Tony Nash, the founder of Booktopia, an Australian online retailer. Nash explained that Booktopia’s main purpose was to connect with the reader as an online retailer as there was no other retailer that focused on the customer like they did. Even today, Nash continues to ask himself what customers want to see published and how to give them the best experience. By publishing titles, Booktopia is able to bring products to readers that have been perhaps overlooked by larger companies. When asked about the future of Booktopia and how the pandemic has affected them, Nash explained that he noticed growth in their sales and states that he does not believe that the physical book will be eradicated. He believes that while e-commerce has evolved, people will still choose to buy a physical book over an eBook. Nash finished by discussing how he is hoping to expand Booktopia internationally.
The FutureBook21 conference was really informative and enlightening to see how the pandemic has affected publishers outside of the United Kingdom and seeing that in both Sweden and Australia, the publishing industry has not faltered, rather sales have increased and both publishing companies are wishing to expand into new markets.