Analysis of South African general trade book sales : exploring opportunites for SA publishers and authors

Van Wyk, W. A. (2006-12)

Thesis (MBA)--Stellenbosch University, 2006.

Thesis

ENGLISH ABSTRACT: Mhlongo (2004) observes that the South African bestseller charts are dominated by imported titles and that it appears that the public prefer foreign titles above books published in South Africa (SA). By analysing data of South African general trade book sales, it has been possible to establish to what extent Mhlongho’s statement is true for all Nielsen BookScan South Africa (NBS-SA) Product Class genres. An analysis of the weekly Top 50 bestseller charts produced by NBS-SA proved that local authors face strong competition from frequently read foreign authors. The aim of this report is to assist South African authors to identify niche markets where, though South African published titles do not compete well against imported titles, there is a definite buyer interest. Only product classes that have the potential to yield relatively high returns for the author were considered. An investigation into the number of SA published books within each of the product classes revealed that South African authors and publishers are indeed under-servicing these identified product classes. Further analysis pointed out that South African titles that sell well are mainly on non-fiction topics; and in the young adult group SA title sales are mainly obtained through educational product. Most identified publishing opportunities were within genres requiring very specific or at least some prior knowledge about the subject matter, thereby restricting the possibilities to authors knowledgeable on those subjects. Fiction, however, is a generalist genre and most generalist areas were found to be completely dominated by imported titles. The analysis resulted in the extraction of the most viable publishing opportunities for South African authors in the general book trade market of South Africa. The findings of this research report empower the South African general trade book industry by exposing publishing opportunities in this country. By targeting these genres, local authors increase their probability of earning good returns and reclaiming market share from imported titles, provided that they are capable of producing competitive titles. It was concluded that poor book-buying figures are a consequence of the financial status of South African inhabitants. The outcome hereof is a very distinct buyer group that tends to buy books for application purposes and which focuses on acknowledged bestsellers when it comes to leisure reading. This is not very different from what is seen internationally. The small size of the South African market however does not create enough depth to ensure good sales on average titles.

AFRIKAANSE OPSOMMING: Mhlongho (2004) het beweer dat Suid-Afrikaanse beste verkopelyste gedomineer word deur ingevoerde publikasies en dat dit blyk dat die publiek ingevoerde titels verkies bo Suid-Afrikaans gepubliseerde boeke. Deur middel van ’n analise van algemene boekverkope in Suid-Afrika was dit moontlik om te bepaal hoe waar Mhlongho se bewering is ten opsigte van alle Nielsen BookScan-produkklasse. ’n Analise van die weeklikse Top 50 verkopelyste, gepubliseer deur Nielsen BookScan Suid-Afrika, het bevestig dat outeurs sterk kompetisie kry van welbekende internasionale outeurs. Die doel van hierdie verslag is om Suid-Afrikaanse outeurs te help om markte te identifiseer waarin Suid-Afrikaanse titels nie goed opweeg teen ingevoerde titels nie, maar waar daar nog steeds ’n besliste kopersaanvraag is. Slegs produkklasse wat ’n potensiaal vir relatiewe hoë opbrengste getoon het is oorweeg. ’n Studie na die hoeveelheid Suid-Afrikaans gepubliseerde boeke wat beskikbaar gemaak word in elk van hierdie produkklasse het getoon dat hierdie genres inderdaad nie deur Suid-Afrikaanse outeurs en uitgewers bedien word nie. ‘n Verdere analise het getoon dat Suid-Afrikaanse titels wat goed verkoop merendeels uit nie-fiksie bestaan. In die jong adolessente groep word SA-verkope gekenmerk deur studiemateriaal. Die meeste van die geïdentifiseerde gapings was in genres wat spesifieke kennis of insig tot ’n sekere vakgebied vereis en sodoende die gebruiklikheid daarvan beperk tot outeurs met hierdie vakkennis. Fiksie is egter ’n algemene genre en oor die algemeen word hierdie produkklasse geheel en al gedomineer deur ingevoerde publikasies. Die analise het moontlike geleenthede vir Suid-Afrikaanse outeurs in die algemene boeksektor bloot gelê. Die eindproduk van hierdie navorsingsprojek bemagtig die Suid-Afrikaanse algemene boekbedryf deur uitgeegeleenthede te identifiseer. Deur hierdie geleenthede op te neem staan opkomende outeurs die kans tot goeie verdienste en om markaandeel te wen ten midde van ingevoerde publikasies, mits hulle ’n meedingende produk kan lewer. Die verslag sluit af met die bevinding dat swak boekverkope die resultaat is van die finansiële beslag van Suid-Afrika se inwoners. Die netto effek is ’n baie eiesoortige kopersgroep wat geneig is tot boeke geskik vir toepassings. Verder spits hulle hulle toe op beste verkopers wanneer dit kom by aankope vir ontspanning. Dit is nie aansienlik verskillend van wat die internasionale tendens is nie, maar die grootte van die Suid-Afrikaanse mark laat egter nie genoeg diepte om goeie verkope vir gemiddelde titels te verseker nie.

Please refer to this item in SUNScholar by using the following persistent URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10019.1/85172
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