We welcomed an audience of over 200 people from more than 25 countries at Chapter 1 of our event: Shaping the Future of Books. Webinar participants heard the latest economic data, as well as the perspectives of a printer and a publisher on the state of Europe’s book market and its future in a post-pandemic world. Many important topics were covered – from the importance of automation, shorter run length, and reducing inventories, to sustainability, deep reading, and subscriptions.
The webinar was opened by Cees Verweij, President of Intergraf, who explained that “Books occupy a special place in our lives and culture. Even in today’s virtual workplaces, printed books proudly appear in the background of many of our digital conversations. Books have also kept us entertained and informed throughout today’s challenges – allowing us to travel to other worlds and continue learning from the safety of home. With life shifting more and more online, it is noteworthy that books are still loved best in print. E-readers opened new doors, but they did not develop as predicted.”
The first presenter was Adam Page, Global Director of Research and Reports at Smithers, Intergraf’s chosen market research partner and supporter of this event series. Adam gave an overview of the latest book printing trends, clarifying that in the context of the pandemic books saw “short-term positive impacts” in most countries – for example, opportunities for education and activity titles (e.g. baking, gardening, DIY). In Western Europe, the book market is projected to grow from €5.7 billion in 2020 to €6.5 billion in 2025 (2.6% CAGR).
Next, panel moderator Håvard Grjotheim, book industry expert and former Intergraf President, joined the stage to introduce our two panellists. He highlighted that what we should really be focusing on is “re-shaping” the book market for the future, because although books have been around for many years, they continue to “add dimensions to one’s life like learning, empathy, and psychological development”. He added: “Books are good for your health and are here to stay; paper-based books are something for the future”.
The panellist giving the print perspective was Rupert Smith, CEO of Halstan Printing. In his opening presentation, Rupert was interviewed by Charles Jarrold, CEO of the BPIF, who noted that the pandemic has not only accelerated external trends, but also internal business decisions and investments for many companies. Rupert explained that future developments will take place in areas like automation and workflow integration, which fall into the wider trend of enhancing digital and technological capabilities. He elaborated that “publishers invest in AR; we now employ more coders and workflow specialists than print technicians”. For 2021, Rupert sees the outlook for book printers as good because “the market has been strong” – especially for mainstream books; “this year can now be for sales and growth”.
Giving the publishing perspective was Peter Kraus vom Cleff, Managing Director of Rowohlt Verlag GmbH and President of the Federation of European Publishers. Underlining the importance of books for the future, Peter clarified that “we need to convince people to do deep reading again” – deep reading is like a sport which must be practiced, and future generations need to develop this skill for better empathy and education outcomes.
The importance of print for developing deep reading skills has been well-documented by Intergraf. Reading printed materials (as opposed to reading in digital environments) is scientifically proven to be better for deeper comprehension, concentration, and retention – especially for digital natives. Such findings make it clear that books will play an important role in European society for the foreseeable future.
Watch the webinar replay here: www.intergraf.eu/events/shaping-the-future-of-print/book-conference-2021
Like books, the 2021 edition of our Shaping the Future of Print event consists of multiple chapters. This webinar was Chapter 1. Chapter 2 is due to take place in-person at the Frankfurt Book Fair on 21 October 2021.
Chapter 2 of Shaping the Future of Books will showcase a larger collection of speakers and topics – including a more in-depth presentation on the European book market from Smithers. Delegates will also receive a copy of Smithers' exclusive European Book Market Report, presenting the latest data about current and future trends.
Registrations for Chapter 2 will open later in the year. Contact Annie Scanlan ([email protected]) to notify us of your interest in this event and be the first to hear when registrations open.