“Today, we are stronger than before the crisis” – turnaround strategies and experiences in harsh market conditions

Information from Jesús Badenes:

“The crisis, whose origin is widely attributed to the fall of Lehman Brothers in summer 2008, due to the subprime mortgage bubble in USA, did not arrive to the Spanish book market until 2010. But when it arrived, it was in the form of a perfect storm: market decrease above 30% in 3 years,worsened by a strong illegal consumption of contents due to “technological revolution” (e-book), coupled with lack of legislation enforcement. Despite this negative scenario, the book industry in Spain has managed to survive quite successfully, both at the publishers end and at the booksellers’s. Main drivers of this healthy industry evolution have been: industry consolidation, both at the publishing, wholesale distribution and at the retail end of the value chain; industry transformation, locating the reader/consumer at the center, both taking into account its new purchasing and reading habits; improved operations, due to optimized use of consumer information and company reorganization; development of new business models: e-commerce, e-books (à-la-carte and subscription), audiobooks….; and, finally, redefinition of the Spain’s book industry boundaries, with increased coordination and exports to Latam markets, and deepening in the concept of “transmedia storytelling”, which has led Planeta –industry leader also in this axis- to conquer new consumers for the stories embedded in our books through audiovisual means: TV series, movie industry, …

On the publishers’ axis, substantial changes have occurred resulting from customers change in purchasing behaviour: strong internet impact drove down sales in reference books, travel guides and other non-fiction categories; but, at the same time, gave rise to new publishing lines, such as youtubers and urban poets, responsible for market growth in recent years. In terms of headcount, we have been able to provide new professional opportunities linked to digital publishing and marketing, renovating professional profiles. Better use of market information has allowed cost reductions in returns and stocks; and improved coordination with Latam has benefited print runs. In general terms, market consolidation has occurred, having as main actors Planeta and Bertelsmann which, together with Hachette/Anaya, SM and RBA, are the main actors in the Spanish publishing industry.

On the retail axis, bookseller transformation has occurred as well, driven by technological changes impacting on consumer’s behaviour. E-commerce has been the main driving force, and today represents 12% of Spanish book sales. The rise of Amazon has been accompanied by the reduction of independent bookstores, and has also had a negative impact on the books sales in hypermarkets. Bookshop chains have gone through a consolidation process, which has led to a market still capable of accessing in good condition to book readers. E-books, still representing less than 5% of the market value, are growing steadily, combining all business models based on digital archives. Planeta has created, together with Movistar –main telco in Spain and Latam- a promising digital subscription model –similar to Kindle Unlimited- that is experiencing a solid growth. Nubico, which is the name of the company, offers a catalogue of 40.000 e-books for a monthly subscription price around 8 euros.

As a general conclusion, we can claim that we are stronger than a decade ago, not only because we have managed to drive value creation levers to the best registers of our history, but also because we have adapted our organization, skills and market to our customers and to the new technological scenario, and we have prepared ourselves to keep adapting to the new economy.”