Denmark’s digital library service Ereolen has seen the number of ebook titles in its catalogue soar from 18,000 in September 2017 to 29,000 in September 2018.
The 65% boost is due to Denmark’s biggest publishers embracing the option rather than lose ground to audiobook and ebook subscription services like Storytel.
Denmark’s largest publisher, Gyldendal, returned to Ereolen as 2017 ended, along with the publishing company Modtryk and the children’s publisher Alvilda.
Gads Forlag quickly jumped on the bandwagon and in the spring, Politiken fell into step, leaving only People’s Press, among the Big 6 Danish publishers still defying the logic of digital.
The u-turn is that two years ago these publishers walked out on Ereolen crying that Eroleon’s lending books for free to the public was cannibalising digital sales.
The publishers bargained individual contracts with Eroleon, so we can’t say one new model is responsible for the u-turn, but what is clear is that the publishers who chose to turn their backs on digital quickly lost ground to the rise and rise of the streaming services as consumers voted with their feet.
In September 2017 Eroloen was seeing just 91,231 ebooks loaned. In September 2018 that had risen 34% to 122,465.
Jakob Heide Petersen, Chairman of the Ereolen, said,
In general, interest in especially audio books has risen, which is also reflected in the statistics, but the return of the publishers has of course also contributed to the progress. We have had a very good cooperation and I think some publishers have found that we can something a little different compared to, for example, Mofibo and Storytel (Mofibo is Storytel’s ebook arm). There are some other titles that are loaned through the Ereolen, such as publishers, you get two sources of income that complement each other.
Esthi Kunz, chief buyer of the Danish Digital Library, explained that the feared concentration of downloads around the bestseller list had not materialised.
It is still the case that the 200 most lent titles account for 20 per cent of the total loans through Ereolen. It is impressive that the number has remained constant even after the large publishers have returned. This shows that lending is growing in width and not only because there have been more bestsellers.
According to the latest annual report from Danske Forlag, the (tracked) publishers had a turnover of 86.8 million DKK on digital audio books in 2017, beingf 7.7% of total revenue, compared to just 5.2% (58.6 million DKK) for ebooks.
But the trend is clear. Digital is on the rise.
For context, Denmark has a population of just 5.7 million, and is at 96% internet penetration.