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31 Jul 2020

Mastering the crisis with creativity – BoD experiences self-publishing boom

Working from home and lockdown drive digitization / online marketplaces in-crease visibility and reach

Business is booming at BoD (Books on Demand): Germany’s largest service provider for self-publishers experienced unexpected mega growth in the first six months of 2020; in May alone, the number of new publications was up by 40 percent on the same month of the previous year. How can this be possible? The answer includes three key factors, namely digitalization, working from home and COVID-19. The global pandemic caused by the novel coronavirus is destroying economic performance around the globe. On the other hand, however, it has triggered a digitalization drive that would previously have been inconceivable in Germany.

For more than 20 years, BoD, headquartered in Norderstedt near Hamburg, has been the first port of call for self-publishers of e-books and books from as little as one copy. What started as a revolution in the book and publishing industry is now firmly established, with some 50,000 authors and almost 3,000 publishers belonging to the partner pool. More than 90,000 printed books and over 70,000 e-books have been self-published in cooperation with BoD and are now available to readers. “We introduced the democratization of book writing and publishing to the publishing world,” says BoD Managing Director Dr. Gerd Robertz. “All of a sudden, every-body had the possibility to become an author and publish their works according to the print-on-demand principle.”

The crisis as an opportunity
In the spring of 2020, in addition to maybe wanting to write, people also suddenly had more time; the social and economic lockdown and the need for more and more people to work from home not only led to a digitalization drive, but in many cases also inspired them to start writ-ing. “If not now, when” seems to be a common thought in the COVID-19 pandemic. “In uncer-tain times, people love to read,” says Dr. Robertz – no matter whether it’s printed or digital. And it is precisely in these coronavirus times of 2020 that people are quite obviously picking up their pens and keyboards themselves and taking advantage of the opportunity that the cri-sis offers them.

Digitalization: Marketplaces become multipliers
While in the COVID-19 crisis many booksellers all of a sudden relied almost exclusively on their digital distribution channels (their own online shops) and some of them started to promote them aggressively for the first time, BoD has always focused on digital procedures: from es-tablishing contacts to production and printing to delivery – everything is based on digital pro-cesses. And even though the traditional book wholesalers and bookstores remain the main distribution channels, online merchants and marketplaces are becoming increasingly im-portant. Thus, the digital connection to the amazon and eBay marketplaces in 2017 was an important step towards increasing reach and internationalization. The “novomind iMARKET” software ensures that the technological marketplace integration is as simple as it is reliable.

“Even though online marketplaces are currently still additions to the main distribution channels for us, we are feeling the effect of the marketplace integration,” reports Dr. Robertz. “They are part of our digital footprint and increase the visibility of our authors’ works.” As a result, the in-formation on the availability of the works published can also be better displayed and con-trolled. “The marketplace integration made sense and has been effective. We will also exam-ine the possibility of expanding to European marketplaces in the coming months.”

In terms of content, BoD’s portfolio covers almost the entire spectrum of publications – from guidebooks, diploma theses and final papers to novels and children’s books to companies’ annual reports; BoD even prints B2B commissioned works. Incidentally, the first book pub-lished through BoD in the print-on-demand process on 1 July 1998 was the Constitution of the Free and Hanseatic City of Hamburg.