Problem definition and research questionThe e-book is a disruptive innovation that is quickly changing the world of publishing, in addition to accelerating a few other changes such as the transitionto digital sales channels, self publishing, etc. In the USA the revolution is in fullfo
rce while in Flanders it‘s still growing very quietly. Trade publishers in Flanders
will have to deal with this sooner or later though and this will change theirbusiness model. With this thesis I hope to give some insights were the biggestchanges will take place and in what form.2.
Research methodI have used a qualitative multi-approach method by combining data from theBelfirst database with a literature study of the sector and the e-book evolution(in the USA, Netherlands and Flanders) and in-depth interviews with aheterogeneous sample of 4 Flemish (and one Dutch) publishers about thecurrent and future business model.a.
Justification of the research methodThe analysis of the Belfirst database and the literature study on the publishingsector was necessary to gain insights into the business.Research about the evolution in the USA was necessary to get insight on how themarket in Flanders might evolve. The probability that we will see a similarevolution (taking the market size differences into consideration) is high becausewe can see the same in the Netherlands, where they are about a year ahead of Flanders in terms of e-books.Finally, in depth interviews with publishers were conducted to gain personalinsights on their view of the future. This was crucial, because as e-books are still
relatively new, there hasn‘t been done a lot of studies, especially about small
language regions like Flanders. I conducted interviews with experts before Iinterviewed the publishers to make sure that I understood how the businessworks and that my question list was complete.b.
Collection and processing of the dataThe interviews were held with 4 Flemish publishers and 1 Dutch publisher,because Flemish fiction authors often get published by Dutch publishers. Thesample consisted of 2 larger companies and 2 smaller companies. The interviewswere conducted face to face (and in case of the Dutch publisher, by Skype) andcontained a mix of open and specific questions.3.
Findings and conclusionsMy main conclusions were that publishers need to work on their relationshipswith readers, treat them like customers, use more niche and less massmarketing. They should build a real brand (as a publisher, or by their imprints),look into diversification, improve the special sales department and not forgetabout print books.
E-books: a new business model for publishers?