Posted by: bluesyemre | February 18, 2018

‘The #ebook is a stupid product: no #creativity, no enhancement,’ says the Hachette Group CEO


An interview with Arnaud Nourry about the future of digital publishing, why he took on Amazon as an opponent and the market potential in India.

With over 17,000 new titles each year and sales of $2,826 million in 2016, the Hachette Livre Group of companies comfortably sits among the Big Five English language publishers, alongside Penguin Random House, Simon & Schuster, HarperCollins and MacMillan Publishers. Headquartered in France, its authors include John Grisham, Enid Blyton, James Patterson, Robert Ludlum and Stephen King. While its India subsidiary just completed 10 years of operations in India, the parent company has been in business for almost two centuries. Supported by an ambitious global acquisition plan, the publishing behemoth has a presence in all forms of trade (non-academic) publishing. The Chairman and CEO of the Hachette Live Group since 2003, Arnaud Nourry, was in India recently to celebrate a decade of Hachette India and spoke to about their strategy and the future of publishing. Excerpts from the interview:

Hachette has over 150 imprints worldwide and comes out with more than 17,000 new titles a year. How does the group maintain a consistent ethos across imprints and geographies? Is that even necessary when the markets and readers are so different in these different regions?
We don’t maintain one ethos. We share values of course – culture, education, freedom of speech, services to authors, creativity, innovation. But beyond that, each and every imprint has its own positioning, spirit, ethos, development and freedom. This is the only way we can be good publishers in India, in Mexico, in Japan, in Spain, or in the UK or the US. These markets are entirely different from one another. That doesn’t mean that some books do not travel, there are successes everywhere. But the local dimension of markets is so huge that we don’t try to be the same everywhere.

Is Europe still your largest market? Which are the emerging markets with the most potential that you see right now?
One-third of our business is in the French language across France, Belgium, Switzerland, Canada and other French-speaking countries, 25% in the US and English-speaking Canada, 20% in the UK, India, Australia, New Zealand and Ireland, 10% in Spanish, and another 10% in the rest of the world.

Our focus and strategy has been to publish in French, English and Spanish and as a second stage of development, we decided to investigate other languages like Chinese, Russian and Arabic. I have to say, China is a difficult country so I’m not 100% pleased with our successes there. The Arabic language is fascinating because there’s such a huge population of readers. Although I have to say that the political and military environment is not of great help to sell books. Russia is quite interesting and we are successful. And of course, India is one of the most exciting markets for us right now.

What potential do you see in the Indian market particularly? We have millions of English speakers but English language readership is still very low as a percentage of that population. What do you think can spur an increase in this readership?
I’m not sure the percentage is that low if you consider all the children reading textbooks. The rate of scholarship in India is one of the highest in the world, so this is promising for the future. I think there’s significant potential for growth in readership in India. We have quadrupled our turnover in the last few years and that does not come from prices, it’s from selling more books. With passing time, people will realise the value and personal developments opportunities that reading gives them.

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