In the US and other Anglophone markets the much-anticipated battle for dominance between print and digital came to nothing this decade as publishers took control, raising ebook prices to slow digital adoption.
It was a move driven not by Luddite antipathy towards the new – Big Pub fully understands the opportunities and possibilities digital brings – but because the US and UK ebook markets are dominated by a certain company.
Vox had a decade-wide overview here.
But where Amazon is not a serious player, or indeed a player at all, the history of publishing has taken different directions, and nowhere more so than in the Nordics, where publishers have discovered that embracing digital isn’t such a bad thing.
Except, maybe when it comes to libraries, where borrowing digital books for free at the point of use raises the ugly spectre of print and digital sales and streaming downloads being cannibalised.
In Denmark this has for some years been a bone of contention between Danish publishers and Denmark’s leading digital library supplier Ereolen, with major players like Gyldendal, People’s Press, Lonely Planet and Modtryk withdrawing cooperation.
The details of the new agreement, if made public at all, are behind a paywall, but what we do know is lending of physical books from Danish libraries is in steady decline while digital lending is more than balancing the print decline.
3.8 million ebooks and audiobooks were read and listened through Denmark’s public libraries in 2018, and digital book lending rose 26 percent from 2017 to 2018.
To put those numbers in context, Denmark is a small country of just 5.7 million people, but with almost 98% – 5.6 million online.
Interestingly attendance at libraries in person, which is not needed to access the digital catalogue, is also rising.
Those figures of course are just for Danish public libraries. On top of which we need to factor in the digital books streaming services operating in Denmark – not least Storytel, which of course acquired the Danish ebook service Mofibo – but also Nextory –
and domestic players like Saxo.
Visit the Ereolen Denmark site.
Visit the Ereolen Global site (run by OverDrive).