The book market is shrinking, but Holmen Paper continues to capture market share. Wood-containing book paper has grown by an impressive 30 per cent since 2010, according to the company’s recent book study.
The study involved 24 leading European book publishers and printing firms. Together, these cover 55 per cent of the Western European market.
“Publishers’ consumption of wood-containing paper has risen since we conducted the corresponding survey four years ago. The main advances have come at the cost of wood-free grades,” says Agnes Nylund, business intelligence manager at Holmen Paper.
The number of hardback books is falling, and is expected to continue to fall over the next 3–5 years. The trend for paperbacks, Holmen Paper’s core market, is however forecast to remain stable over the same period.
The respondents' answers to questions on future needs revealed interesting information about expectations over the next few years: “Further drops in grammage are predicted. Compared with a couple of years ago, the cycles have also become shorter and the first editions smaller. Digital printing, which currently accounts for between 1 and 5 per cent of the market, is thus expected to grow.”
Bulk, opacity, shade and smoothness will continue to be the key properties when choosing paper. However, environmental awareness and sustainable forestry remain important. FSC is seen as the leading certification for the industry, but PEFC and ISO 14001 are also mentioned.
“Based on this study, we also believe that paperbacks and textbooks have a bright future. This is perhaps particularly true of the latter in new markets outside Europe, where education will be in high demand.”
And how big a threat are e-books? “E-books are expected to continue growing in the long term. Commentators believe that e-books have the potential to take a 20–30 per cent share of the total book market, compared with today’s 3–5 per cent,” explains Agnes Nylund, who also stresses that the rise of the e-book is not happening at the cost of printed books, whose numbers are not declining at the same rate as e-book growth.
Holmen Paper’s stance is clear: “We believe in the book segment, as our actions to date will attest. We are prepared to invest and have been more fleet-footed than most of our competitors,” concludes Karolina Svensson, sales and marketing director.