A recent study predicted 10 billion dollars in sales of print books today would move to eBook sales in about five years. This represents zero growth for the industry, and when you take into account inflation, it is a move in the wrong direction. Does this mean there’s a limit to how much content for a fee people are willing or able to consume?
Look at newspapers. The decline in print circulation and single-issue sales has been steady over the years. The industry was slow—and readers were slow—to shift to read the paper online. Thus, digital readership, combined with print, is still below prior print levels.
Further, advertising dollars have declined, in part, due to competing options, declining readership and the lower fees charged for digital ads.
Magazines are also challenged to retain their paid readers. The more profitable circulation generator—single-copy sales on newsstands—dropped almost 12% over the last year. Only four of the 25 top-selling newsstand titles showed gains. There is readership growth in digital—13%--but digital only represents 3.8% of total circulation. Combined, digital and print circulation is down 1.9%.
So the questions this raises are:
1. What will it take to see growth in the paid-content industries?
2. If consumer numbers are down and revenue is flat or in decline, what else can content providers do to make money from other ventures?
3. Will we see more consolidation within each industry—and then more mergers of content providers crossing industries?
4. Will bloggers, streamers, and others be limited in what they can charge as well?
Some digital sales of content go unaccounted for, and thus, no one really knows how vibrant the field is. For instance, no one is counting up how much money is coming from individuals charging for webinars, for instance. Further, many seminars or events combine the sale of digital media with other things. How is that counted?
So money can still be made in content—and it’s increasingly moving from standard big-company institutions to upstarts, individuals, and small companies. As long as people pay for content—and make time to consume it—writers will still have an opportunity to make money and be heard.
Brian Feinblum’s views, opinions, and ideas expressed in this blog are his alone and not that of his employer, Media Connect, the nation’s largest book promoter. You can follow him on Twitter @theprexpert and email him at firstname.lastname@example.org. He feels more important when discussed in the third-person. This is copyrighted by BookMarketingBuzzBlog © 2014
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