19.12.10 | Damian Horner
Years ago I worked on a famous campaign for Lunn Poly travel agents. (Maybe some older readers remember them—they were the people who sold holidays before the internet completely destroyed their industry.)
One Christmas we changed the face of the holiday market by bringing forward the early booking discount from the spring to Boxing Day. That year we cleaned up and from then on the post-Christmas market became the most important of the year.
I suggest that next month we will witness a comparable sea change in the way the Christmas book market works.
For years, everyone has been obsessed with celebrity autobiographies and the "big gift” books for Christmas. Most of which are dead and buried in sales terms by Christmas Eve.
This year, things will be very different. That's because this Christmas, two of the biggest presents in the world will be the iPad and the Kindle.
Think about it . . . on Christmas Day, hundreds of thousands of people are going to receive one of these two products. Wonderful. Except for the fact that they will be empty of content . . . What are people going to do? Buy something of course. The 25th is already one of the biggest online shopping days of the year. Over the past two years more than five million shoppers have logged on and spent well over £100m on 25th December.
Obviously, this is spread across all sorts of retail sectors but this year, more than ever before, a greater proportion of that spend will go on books. Quite simply because consumers will want to read something on their shiny new gadgets.
This is going to be a massive new market—at least over the next two or three years as more and more advanced readers are launched. The most interesting aspect of all this for the book trade is that people who are buying content for their new iPads and Kindles are buying for themselves.
This could mean that fiction titles suddenly take on a whole new importance. Christmas Day itself could become a significant launch date for new books and I believe that super-enhanced e-books will also find a great Christmas Day market. People who have just opened their new iPads will want products that really show off the capabilities of the hardware. An author interview won't cut it—people will be buying e-books that have integrated games, film and interactivity. If only to see what is possible.
The new Christmas Day market is going to be awful for the high street but a huge showcase for the e-book industry. This year will be the biggest opportunity to make a difference because the latest e-readers have truly gripped the nation's imagination. I wonder how many publishers have developed product (and marketing) that takes advantage of this window and gives them a competitive edge?