E-book market to triple through 2017

Oct 15

Books publishing is usually outside the remit of JapanConsuming but magazines remain an essential A&P tool for most consumer goods companies. According to the latest research, e-publishing will expand to a ¥300 billion market by 2018 and e-magazines alone will increase eight-fold to ¥55 billion.

The e-book market expanded 19.7% last year to ¥85 billion according to Yano Research. As in the printed book market, the bulk of sales were of comics, accounting for ¥65 billion or 80%, with long series comics especially popular. Unlike in the printed market, sales of back numbers of comics is proving a lucrative business. Yano expects the market to expand by another 23.5% this year and reach close to ¥200 billion in 2017. On the other hand, other surveys such as that by Impress Research, a specialist in this market, suggests the market grew 29% last year to just under ¥100 billion and will triple to ¥300 billion through 2018. Given the momentum of e-reader device and app sales, Impress’s forecasts look more accurate.

This is in stark contrast to the publishing market overall. According to the Japan Publishers Association, the market peaked in 1996 at ¥2.65 trillion and fell to just ¥1.68 trillion in 2013. Books accounted for ¥785 billion of this and magazines, ¥897 billion. Assuming the same rate of decline for the printed market over the next five years, the e-publishing market will grow its share to close to 25% through 2018. The e-magazine market alone is expected to grow to ¥55 billion through 2018 from just ¥7 billion last year.

While the launch of Kindle, Kobo, Sony’s various readers and the iPad Mini have been crucial to encourage readers to switch to digital reading, another key to expansion has been the proliferation of e-book and magazine platforms such as Toppan’s BookLive, NTT Docoomo’s dMagazine and Softbank’s Viewn for smartphones. These platforms also make it easy for publishers to sell e-books and magazines without losing control of the channel, a reason for their reluctance to work with Amazon. Other innovations in the market include Papyless Plus, a service from leading electronic publisher Papyless which offers 10,000 articles from magazines purchasable for as little as ¥10 an article. Partners include business publishers like Toyo Keizai and PHP.