How technology is also attacking our consumption of books

Posted on September 20, 2022, 7:01 amUpdated on September 20, 2022 at 2:22 pm

Three hours. This is the time dedicated by 20 to 25 year olds to reading. To choose from, they prefer novels by far, but also manga, comics or even personal development. This is the result of the annual survey “Young French and Reading”, published by Central Nacional do Livro (CNL) and Ipsos last March. Despite the ubiquity of screens in our daily lives, it remains a key pastime, even among younger generations. “We continue to be a nation of readers, as 80% of French people say they have read at least one book a year”, celebrates Régine Hatchondo, president of the CNL, interviewed by our colleagues at France Info.

This attraction can also be seen in the size of the impressive book market. In France, it weighed more than 4.5 billion euros in 2021, with around 400 million copies sold. An important point to understand: we remain strongly attached to the paper object. Digital, if it is progressing little by little, continues to be a minority: according to the National Union of Publishers, it represents about 9% of total publisher sales. This number drops to 5% if we focus only on literature.

A “difficult” universe, with few new entrants

Inevitably, a market of this magnitude, still barely digitized, has something to inspire entrepreneurs. However, they are few to rub shoulders with him. “It’s a difficult universe, where margins are limited. This is the reason why there are few new entrants. In publishing, you have to reach a certain size before you’re considered and heard a little more.” says Samuel Cimamonti. A graduate of Essec in 2015, he quickly threw himself into entrepreneurship to create La Kube, with a desire to get there despite everything.

Its concept: a box dedicated to reading, with works selected by professionals. “To respond to the very specific tastes of each one, we ask Internet users to fill out a questionnaire. From these responses, one of our independent booksellers analyzes the profile and selects a reference that seems to fit. The subscriber receives one per month, accompanied by small surprises. And it is quite possible to modify your profile as soon as you want something else! » details the initiator.

Your tastes substantiated by an algorithm and skip a box with a selection of books in your mailbox. RD

All for 16 euros per month, with little extras in fact: tea, bookmark, postcard, literary discovery, magazine, etc. Kube now has 20,000 subscribers, adults and children. A number that should increase with Christmas, naturally the busiest period of the year.

Recommendations and algorithms

Offering services to letter lovers is also the perspective of Khalil Mouna, founder of the free app Gleeph. Graduated in engineering, he developed a social network focused on literature: “The user recreates their library in the app, adding the books they own and read. Based on this information, our algorithm provides recommendations. He can also chat with other users, discover his favorites, comment on them…” The app consults, if necessary, the bookstores around us, to see where the book is available. Ideal for readers looking for authors to discover.

But how to get paid, knowing that the app is free? A major hurdle to overcome, otherwise difficult to sustain the project. Gleeph contestant Collibris knows something about this that they threw in the towel last June, failing to strike the right financial balance. “For us, it took a while, it’s hard to find your model in the book ecosystem, which is quite hermetic. Our solution is to pay us privately through the huge panel represented by our users, respecting GDPR of course”, says Khalil Mouna.

He describes his start-up Gleeph’s business model as “virtuous”: “For the user, everything is free, without advertising. The data is then used completely anonymously. For the world of books, publishers, this information about the habits of readers and the tastes of Internet users is precious and useful. » Data so far difficult for publishers to understand…

An accessory made in France

In turn, Cédric Le Guern and Lucas Moysan, both engineering students at Insa Rennes, studied reading accessories. “In high school, I read in my room, with a dimly lit lamp. I liked to read sideways, but it’s complicated with both hands. So with my 3D printer, I started imagining small prototypes to solve this problem,” she said. remember Cedric. Your relatives like the idea too. And so, the object that Lizia was.

In the background, Cédric Le Guern and Lucas Moysan with their Lizia, a 3-in-1 accessory, in the foreground.

In the background, Cédric Le Guern and Lucas Moysan with their Lizia, a 3-in-1 accessory, in the foreground.RD

Specifically, this little plastic device fits under the thumb and allows the work to be held open with one hand. The enterprising duo added two features: a light to illuminate the pages and a small rod, which serves as a bookmark. “There are few accessories in this area, few competitors who sell small reading lamps, but they are objects made in China and whose use harms the book”, adds Cédric, who claims a product 100% made in France, made in Brittany and Vendée. In total, around 8,000 Lizia were sold in total (at a unit price of 19 euros). A number he hopes to double next year.

Terminals, to buy books 24 hours a day

And the sale? After a first life in the supply chain, Franck Dalboussière also created his reading services company, Yoteq. His idea: install dedicated book terminals, such as candy dispensers, in public places. “The objective is to make it possible to buy favorites everywhere, to multiply bookstores, such as antennas, and therefore the opportunity for the reader to discover this abundant offer, choose and buy the work of their choice in places of flux and expectation. be a hotel lobby, a hospital, a train station, a departure lounge at an airport…” explains the trained engineer. Currently in an experimental phase, Young Shoot plans distributors with 300 references each, with a selection of best sellers.

Yoteq’s objective is not to oppose bookstores, on the contrary, the company claims. “They will not be our competitors, but our customers! We are offering a new sales format for book readers. The bookstore can, for example, set up a location close to its point of sale, managing this terminal itself, open 24 hours a day, without any time constraints. Ditto for libraries. emphasizes Franck Dalboussière. Which relieves certain sudden literary cravings, and that at any time of day. At the same time, literature enters places where it was previously inaccessible.

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