The retail market for books on economics and management, which easily fall into the best-selling category, has become one of the most rapidly-developing and competitive markets in China. During the first half of 2016, this market experienced slower growth compared to the same period in 2015 and was outperformed by the book market in general.
Reduced market scale for books on economics and management
In OpenBook’s classification system, economics and management belongs to the social science category which also includes psychological self-help, law, education, etc. According to OpenBook’s monitoring data on the national book retail market, in recent years books on economics and management made up less than a tenth of the aggregate fixed price of books on the market. Its share during the first half of 2016 has dropped by 7.21% compared to the same period of 2015 and is well below the overall levels of 2014 and 2015. For three years in a row, its ratio of the aggregate fixed price to total number of titles is lower than the book market average (1.00), an indication of weak profitability.
An analysis based on the division between online and bricka n d - m o r ta r b o o k re t a i l e r s revealed that sales of books on economics and management followed a pattern similar to the retail market in general in terms of the aggregate fixed price and number of titles available on the market. Online sales channels outperformed physical book stores in both variety and total value of books being sold. During the first half of 2016, the aggregate fixed price of books sold by online book retailers was 4.7% higher than that of physical stores.
Slow growth in the number of new books and declining fixed price contribution rate
According to OpenBook’s market monitor, 8411 new titles on economics and management were published during the first half of 2016, increasing by 375 over the same period in 2015. Its fixed price contribution rate rose by more than 1 percentage compared to the first half of the previous year. More than two fifths of the books on sale were published within three years but they have altogether contributed to nearly 70% of the aggregate fixed price. Books in this category often try to convey ideas in a timely fashion and their success usually relies on its ability to capture the social zeitgeist, which may also serve as a guiding principle for aspiring writers. For books on economics and management, sales is primarily driven by new publications and best sellers tend to constitute a greater share of sales in the market.
New titles constitute 7.36% of the market for books on economics and management during the first half of 2016, slightly higher than the market in general (6.85%). The contribution of new titles to the aggregate fixed price is 17.42% and its ratio of the aggregate fixed price to total number of titles is 2.37, which is indicative of its higher-thanaverage (1.00) profitability and reveals the extent to which this market is dependent on new publications.
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