The book market
The economic sector of books can be considered as the first of the cultural industries. Like other cultural industries, it is a prototype activity that is subject to great uncertainty in terms of the public’s reception of its products.
Each year, thousands of new titles are marketed in France, future successes or much less successes. Such diversity in the editorial offer requires a work of sorting and selection carried out, for the readers, by mediators to the recognized authority: critics, librarians, booksellers. It is also based on the existence of a highly developed retail network. The diversity of the editorial offer and the density of the booksellers' network are two closely related issues.
The book sector in its broadest sense (publishing, distribution, retail trade and libraries) has more than 80,000 jobsa little less than 0.4% of the labour force but almost 20% of all jobs in the cultural sector (430,000).
The creation, publishing, manufacturing or marketing of a book is the result of many stages involving multiple actors in what is commonly called the book chain. The diagram above shows the main actors involved in this chain and most of the physical flows that may exist between them.
The profession of author covers extremely diverse situations. It is estimated that there are more than 55,000 authors of books in France, whether writers, illustrators or translators. However, only about 2,500 of them are affiliated with the AGESSA (Association pour la gestion de la sécurité sociale des auteurs) and therefore mostly live on the income from royalties collected under literary and artistic property. The others generally have a different occupation as their main occupation.
While the first two publishing groups now account for about 35% of book sales and the first twelve publishers for nearly 80%, the French edition is also characterised by the existence of a large number of independent players of varying sizes, whose production contributes to the diversity of the editorial offer.
There are more than 8,000 editorial structures, 4,000 of which are primarily publishing and 1,000 of which are economically significant. It is estimated that nearly 17,000 people are employed in book publishing.
Books for young people, comics and practical books have for several years been experiencing the most favourable developments in the retail market, while dictionaries and encyclopedias, school books and scientific works, On the other hand, technical and legal developments are less favourable. The general literature and the humanities, depending on the discipline, maintain relative stability.
The book accounts for 8-9% of the turnover of print production and 7% of the consumption of graphic end products (about 300 kilotonnes). About a quarter of the enterprises in this sector (pre-press, printing, bookbinding) work for publishing, some 300 companies with more than 10 employees. Some printers have even dedicated all or most of their presses to books.
Dissemination and distribution
The distribution of the book All the operations designed to make books known to booksellers and, more generally, to all retailers. It relies mainly on the sales force consisting of one or more representatives. Dissemination can be carried out internally by the publisher or subcontracted to a commercial structure working for several publishers, the most important dissemination structures usually belonging to publishing groups.
The book distribution groups together all the tasks related to the physical circulation of books (storage, transport...) and the management of flows between the publisher or its distributor and the retailer: processing of orders, invoicing, recovery, processing of returns...
Brokerage, mail order and book clubs
In addition to the direct sales that can be made by publishers who are most often specialists with a limited audience of specialists or professionals, there are companies that specialize in direct sales and target a wider market.
Selling by brokerage, which is probably one of the oldest forms of commerce, brings together several marketing techniques based on door-to-door sales. This form of marketing, widely used for the sale of encyclopedias, has practically died out in recent years.
Mail-order sales (VPC) stands out from the simple subscription to a periodical publication, or from the subscription offer for a work often monumental yet to be published, by the quality and originality of the presentation of the proposed books.
Book clubs differ from other VPC establishments in that they are required to join and purchase a minimum number of works during the year.
Internet sales In recent years there has been a massive increase in consumption patterns. Some major traditional bookstores have also supplemented their in-store offerings with online sales sites and the sale of e-books.
The places of purchase
The total number of places of sale of the book (bookshops, cultural supermarkets, hypermarkets, supermarkets and popular stores) is in France around 20,000 to 25,000. Of this total, 15,000 have a truly regular book sales activity and only 3,500 to 4,500 of them have this activity as their main activity or make a significant share of their turnover from books. In terms of employment, they represent about 15,000 people (employees, managers or individual entrepreneurs).
If the bookshop’s place in the book market remains dominant, if its added value (assortments, qualified personnel...) is recognized, its financial situation often remains fragile. The profitability of bookshops is low, the level of wages is low and the burden on its income, the rent and the costs of shipping books tend to increase; this is worrying in view of the weakness of profitability and therefore of the capacity to assume a deterioration of the economic situation.
While the largest bookstores were generally in a more favourable position, the situation became worrying from 2009 for small local bookstores and has tended to increase strongly since 2011 for all bookstores. The importance of bookshop networks on the book market and in particular that of the network of second-level bookshops has in fact known a erosion regular since the middle des years 1990, a direct consequence of the development of networks of large specialized or food retailers, then, in recent times, of internet sales, which have been experiencing double-digit growth rates for several years.
In view of their cultural role (indeed, thanks to their advice and selections, they play a major role in the dissemination of the book, the promotion of editorial diversity, as well as in spatial planning and cultural animation), the maintenance and development of bookshops is one of the priorities of the book policy. In view of the short-term and structural difficulties encountered by booksellers, the action of the Ministry of Culture and Communication in favour of bookshops is now being strengthened.
The price of a book
The distribution percentages of the sale price to the public presented below are averages observed for a work of contemporary literature, marketed according to a classical distribution scheme. They can naturally vary according to the editorial category (art, comics, humanities, encyclopedias...) and the format of the book (beautiful book, pocket...), but also according to the methods of dissemination and distribution of the book.