Sector Study: Book publishing
Sign of a boost in the production of new titles – Market liquidity problems continue to exist
The domestic book publishing sector is the subject of investigation in a recent study conducted by Infobank Hellastat S.A. According to Alexis Nikolaidis, Economic Research & Sectorial Studies Senior Analyst, the recession has significantly reduced domestic demand for books after 2008, since Greek consumers have largely shifted to watching television for information and entertainment. Therefore, the production of new titles showed a decline of over 40% between 2008 and 2014, which had a negative impact on the sales and results of most publishers.
Subsequently, over the last two years, domestic book publishing had shown signs of recovery: in 2015, it rose by 5.6%, reaching the level of 6,500 new titles, while during the following year, the rate of growth accelerated to 10.6%, with the output – according to the database of BIBLIONET – being formed at 7,185 titles.
This rise is considered as encouraging, since it is attributed to several new writers, who are supported by smaller publishing houses and/or independent, regional bookshops, which have been established.
However, the liquidity problems faced by the publishers still remain, due to the low demand, lack of financing from the banks, and increased taxation, which translates into the exit of several publishing houses from the sector, while others have become idle. Other negative parameters are also the: a) accumulated debts of bookshops, even the large ones, b) government debts, in terms of money owed to publishing houses for publishing university textbooks.
Furthermore, the abolition of the single book price has had a negative impact, since, in categories, in which fixed book-pricing does not apply, major discounts have been recorded, especially by the biggest bookshops (reaching up to 40% to 50%, mostly in bestsellers). Bookstores operating on a neighbor level, being unable to offer the discounts offered by their big competitors, watch their customer base gradually fall, which puts their survival at risk.
According to Mr. Nicolas Gouzelos, CEO of Infobank Hellastat, “Operators in the sector are in favor of reinstating the single book price, since, in this way, the phenomenon of high discounts offered by the biggest bookstores will be prevented, and the chances of survival of smaller bookselling enterprises will be enhanced.”
In the study conducted by IBHS, an analysis takes place of the financial statements of 62 publishers. The key conclusions are summarized as follows:
• In 2015, Turnover dropped by 2.8%, at €116.1m.
• EBITDA subsided by 8.3%, at €8.47m, while EBT recorded a decline of 32%, at €2.85m.
• The EBITDA and EBT margins decreased to 8.4% and 4.1, respectively.
• Capital leverage improved to 1 over 1.
• Receivables were collected within a period of 7 months, due to payments in arrears by bookstores.