Bookwire, line value and Co: service providers want to open e-books for small publishers

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As the Börsenverein des Deutschen Buchhandels recently ascertained, e-books are part of the fixed program of every second publisher, with 90 percent aiming for it. But small and medium-sized publishers in particular lack the know-how and resources to do so. For them, service providers such as Bookwire or the company, which has only just been active in the market for a short time, are jumping in line from Rudolstadt.

For many publishers, who were previously focused entirely on print, the new developments are a "culture shock", explains the e-book expert of the Börsenverein, Peter Schmid-Meil. They face a multitude of new challenges: starting with converting the text data into e-book formats, through online marketing to negotiating with the large number of trading platforms. This gap has been discovered by service providers who are contracting with vendors such as Amazon, Apple, Weltbild and Libri. The publishers use these platforms to access these platforms and have only one contact person.

Die Zeilenwert GmbH is still young in this field, and on Thursday officially opened its office in the Rudolstadt incubator. "Above all, we want to give small and medium-sized publishers access to the digital market, " said Managing Director Thorsten Schreiber. The company with eleven employees already works for 70 publishers. By the end of the year, the number of employees should rise to 20; For 2013, according to the words of Schreiber, a seven-figure turnover is planned.

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While some competitors do not make the conversion of the text files into e-book formats themselves, but rather hand them over to partners, Rowwert wants to provide this service for the publishers on their own, as well as marketing and setting them in different platforms - so to speak as an all-round carefree package, In return, the company will participate in the turnover. Schreiber: "We take over the entire risk for the publisher." Another advantage for the publishers is that the line value does not appear to the outside. "The small publisher can pretend that he does it all himself."

Bookwire - since the end of 2009 on the market and now claims to partner of 300 publishers in Europe with about 15, 000 titles - currently requires a fee in addition to the participation in sales of about 20 percent. Thus, with ten employees, the company has increased its sales tenfold in 2011 and, according to Managing Director Jens Klingelhöfer, has now exceeded the breakeven point. Meanwhile, it extends its feelers to other European countries such as Spain, the Benelux countries, Poland and Italy. "The sales channels are the same everywhere, the model works globally, " says Klingelhöfer.

In his estimation, the growth is not just because more and more publishers open up the field of e-books. Also, the number of titles per publisher increase. In addition, according to Klingelhöfer, there is another advantage: "Publishers can make out-of-print titles available again without having to have them printed in stock."

Meanwhile, Schmid-Meil leaves no doubt that publishers are well advised to open up the field of the digital book. Although the share of revenue in the shrinking book market in 2011 was just one percent. But the demand will grow, the more smartphones, tablet PCs and e-book readers are becoming more widespread.

"Fiction is currently the driver, " states the expert. He estimates that in two to three years the conversion with e-books with many publishing houses could amount to ten to 15 per cent. "In the United States, the proportion of large publishers today is 30 percent, " adds his colleague Tim Maicher from Grin-Verlag. "It can be assumed that this is similar in Germany."

However, according to experts, it will not remain true that print titles are mapped one-to-one digitally. Especially in the field of non-fiction authors and editors would have to rethink. "In the future authors will write special e-books", Schmid-Meil is sure. Then, for example, the function of the circulatory system could be presented interactively in medical books, or the correct cut of fruit trees per video sequence could be explained in the garden book. (Dpa / tc)