A research report “Creative UK: Overview of the digital transformation of the UK creative economy,” co-produced by Enders Analysis and Bain & Company, has concluded, in terms that The Bookseller has chosen to highlight, that “in volume terms, we expect e-books to become about 35% of the total market in the next two years, and then continue to rise only very slowly.” Unless I’m not reading this report in enough detail, I’m not clear what data this conclusion is based on. The tone of the entire report is very anecdotal, rather than detail-driven, and there’s no clear indication whether, for instance, that 35 percent is a percentage of total sales, actual books read, or what. But given the pedigree of the report, I’m inclined to believe that it’s talking about proportion of sales by traditional publishers, as the magic word “self-publishing” doesn’t appear anywhere in it.
Then there’s the pedigree of the report itself. It has been produced “to support the Creative UK event organised by Enders Analysis and held at the BT Centre on 18 March 2104. The event is sponsored by BT, Enders Analysis, Bain & Company, Powerscourt and Shine Group.” The Creative UK event describes itself as “promoting the UK’s creative economy.” Headline speakers at the event include Dame Gail Rebuck, Chair of Penguin Random House UK, Sir Martin Sorrell, founder of the marketing giant WPP, Josh Berger, President & MD of Warner Bros. UK, Ireland and Spain, and Ed Vaizey, Minister of Culture – precisely the figure singled out for damning criticism for his failure to support UK libraries.
Also speaking is Claire Enders, founder of Enders Analysis. “Claire is one of the most experienced analysts and forecasters in UK and European media and telecoms, with more than 25 years in strategy development and market research in these sectors,” says her bio. “Claire is particularly valued for her independent views and insights regarding cyclical and structural impacts on companies in the media, telecoms, technology and retail sectors.”
All in all, Creative UK appears to be a self-celebratory gathering of the UK Big Media great and good, with a report tailor-made to support it. It’s very down on piracy, for instance. “Piracy is a huge problem in books,” the report claims.”Piracy is particularly problematic in some genres, such as student textbooks, but it damages creative incentives across the sector as a whole.”
The report does have some more interesting points to share: “We don’t believe book pricing has been ‘disintermediated’ by digital options, as albums have been in music. And, while curated services may evolve … publishers should be able to maintain control over this process.” But I wouldn’t take its conclusions about the growth of the UK ebook market too seriously. Not with the chair of one of the companies that has most to lose from the self-publishing revolution heading up its associated event.