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经济学人:售书业前景

2014-02-17    来源:网络    【      美国外教 在线口语培训

Business 商业

Bookselling 售书业前景

Spine chilling 令人胆战心惊

Mass-market retailing changed publishing before the e-book
E书时代近在眼前,纸书商改出版策略

SNAZZY technology is a twist in a narrative already several chapters long. Mass-market retailing has changed the publishing industry: these days books are as likely to be found beside steaks and saucepans as they are to be bought in specialist stores. The story turns on whether broader changes in bookselling will stifle literature. Dan Brown will survive. Would Dante?
先进科技已经在小说故事中纠结了好几个章回。图书市场零售业改变了自己的出版业策略:现如今,人们在牛排、炖锅旁找到售书点的概率就如在专门店买到书的概率一样小。故事发展成售书业的变化日益扩大,它是否会扼杀文学这一问题。丹布朗能够幸免于难,但丁也会么?

For most of the past century, governments across Europe protected book prices; many still do. Even in America, apart from dime-store romances, few titles were sold outside bookshops. But in the 1970s stores like Borders and Barnes & Noble applied a supermarket maxim to print: pile them high and watch them fly. Waterstones did the same thing in Britain and top titles started selling in the hundreds of thousands, even millions.
在前一世纪大部分的时间里,欧洲的政府都在保护图书的价格,很多国家依然这么做。甚至在美国,除了小商品店里的言情小说,其他种类的图书在书店以外的地方几乎绝迹了。但在20世纪70年代,诸如鲍德斯、巴诺这样的书店却都奉行着超市售书箴言:只要把书摞高,人们就会抢光它。英国的华特史东书店也这样做,这使得畅销书开始了以成百上千甚至是百万册的数量销售的历史。

Just as book superstores forced out many independents, so supermarkets and other mass retailers have since crowded the book chains (see chart). In Britain, when price regulation was disbanded in 1997, supermarkets rushed in and now sell a quarter of all books, according to the way that Nielsen, a market-research outfit, calculates it. Belgium and Finland mimicked this trend.
就像超级书店独立出来很多自立门户的店铺一样。超市还有其他的零售商业也开了很多图书连锁店。(见图),根据市场调研机构Nielsen的统计,在英国,97年价格管制被撤消的时候,超市蜂拥而入并开始销售市场1/4的图书。比利时以及芬兰也纷纷效仿这一趋势。

This has been good for readers: in Britain the average price of a book has fallen by 15% since 2003, reckons BML Bowker, a book-marketing consultancy. And demand has grown: consumers spend the same amount on books, so they must be buying more. Those independent bookshops that survived the chain war in America and Britain have held sales and prices steady. Meanwhile, mass retailers find books such a draw that they lure in customers by selling some titles at a loss.
这对于读者来说是个好消息。图书市场顾问鲍克出版社的数据显示,03年英国图书的平均售价下降了15%。而图书需求量也上升了:消费者在图书上花费同样多的钱,图书的价格降了,这样他们购买的书更多了。那些在美国、英国连锁店之战中幸存的个体书店,久维持着图书的销量还有价格的稳定。同时,销售商发现一个赚钱的方法,他们以亏本地销售一些图书来吸引顾客购书。

Higher turnover should also be positive for publishers. But mass retailers demand discounts of up to 60% for bulk orders, shrinking margins. All sides prosper when books sell quickly. But, unlike groceries, if books don't sell, retailers return them to the publisher—and do not pay. So, when a book with a large print run flops, publishers end up with an expensive pile of recycling. That is why some publishers have stopped doing new deals with the likes of Costco, an American warehouse retailer, which likes to order very large print runs.
按理说出版商应该也得到更高的利润。但大批订货的商家向出版商索要高达60%的数量折扣,这反而使得利润减少了。只要书卖得快,各家都会得利。但是,与日常用品不同,如果书籍卖不出去的话,零售商就把书返回给出版商——并且不付返回的书费。这样,当一本大量印刷的书籍不好买,出版商就得最终以高价来回收它。这就是为什么一些出版商停止与类似于美国的科思科这样的连锁店做生意的原因。因为这些商店喜欢订购大宗的货物。

Few people will mourn publishers' losses from increased price competition and new technology like e-readers. The question is whether these trends undermine the quality of books which are being published, by breaking a business model that has let firms focus on variety and range. Publishers have good reason to shiver at the decline of traditional bookshops. To fund the discovery and promotion of new authors, they have relied on books that sell steadily over a number of years. Yet mass retailers stock a few hundred new blockbusters.
像e书读者一样,很少有人来吊唁出版商因日趋激烈的价格竞争以及日益发达的科技而导致的损失。问题是,这些趋势会不会扰乱商业模式——使出版商不再专注于扩大图书规模增加图书种类,从而降低出版的书籍的质量。在传统书店数量减少的情况下,出版商感到害怕是正常的。为了资助发掘和宣传新作家,出版商们依靠那些很多年来都销售平稳的书籍来维持运营。但是,零售书商们也储存着几百个新的畅销巨作。

At first sight there is no reason for concern. New works are abundant—40% more titles came out in Britain in 2010 than in 2001. But this obscures a starker trend: "mid-list" titles are selling in smaller numbers in America and Britain. This matters for cultural life, because most literary fiction and serious non-fiction falls into that bracket and much of it could become uneconomical to publish.
乍一看,图书业没什么让人担心的问题——新作品很多——英国10年出版的新作品数量比01年高出了40%,但是它掩盖了一个严峻的趋势:"销售量居中"的图书,在美国和英国的销售量少了。这会影响到人们的文化生活,因为大部分的文学小说还有严肃类非小说作品都属于这一范畴,以至于很多这种书出版起来可能毫无利益可言。



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