Past Program / 2020 Program / Kim Chongsatitwatana
|We have about 3,000 active titles. A lot of them are licensed, about 79%, and among them 33% are from Korea! And you could see from this picture that our concept is to create a lifelong journey of learning. So we have books for parents, for children aged 0-2, up to young adults, up to adults, up to aging society. We do various kinds of books like we do picture books, parenting, reference books, workbooks. This target contributes to 28%.|
We have about 3,000 active titles. A lot of them are licensed, about 79%, and among them 33% are from Korea! And you could see from this picture that our concept is to create a lifelong journey of learning. So we have books for parents, for children aged 0-2, up to young adults, up to adults, up to aging society. We do various kinds of books like we do picture books, parenting, reference books, workbooks. This target contributes to 28%.
And we also do adult books. That contributes to about 15% to our portfolio. We do all these categories as you could see. We are also in teachers guides and professional development for teachers. And we do Early Childhood, STEM Education, Chinese, etc.
How COVID-19 Affects Publishing Business in THAILAND: Nanmeebooks as a Case Study
COVID-19 has deeply affected the publishing industry across the world. In Thailand, the publishing industry revenue has been dropping from 20,000 million baht to 18,000 million baht to the estimation of 12,000 million baht since 2018 to 2019 and to 2020 respectively.
Although the first COVID-19 case was found in Thailand on 13th January, Thailand declared a state of emergency from COVID-19 on 26th March 2020. It means that all stores were closed and our bookfairs (both international and regional) were cancelled. The Publishers and Booksellers Association of Thailand (PUBAT) estimated the loss resulted from the COVID-19 crisis to be:
200,000 million baht loss of revenue from the whole industry
6,000 million baht loss of revenue from book sales (from 18,000 million baht to 12,000 million baht)
15,000 businesses affected
200,000 people unemployed
50,000 authors, translators, poets, illustrators and comic artists affected
There are 4 big chain bookstores in Thailand. They shared that their revenue after the reopening is about 80 % of 2019, with the children category suffering more than others. Although the government subsidized part of the bookstores staffs’ salary, fixed cost has been hurting all of us. Over 500 bookstore staffs were laid off. Over 50 bookstores were closed because of COVID, excluding a big bookstore-in-convenient-store chain that closed down 90% of its outlet from more than 10,000 store to just over a thousand.
Thailand has 2 main bookfairs per year. The biggest one being Bangkok International Book Fair, which takes place in March every year. Due to this year cancellation, PUBAT moved swiftly and organized an online book fair. Although the revenue dropped 93% (from 500 million baht to 36 million baht), the number of visitors dropped by 65% (from 1.8 million people to 0.65 million people) and the number of exhibitors dropped by 51% (from 374 to 182 exhibitors), Thai publishers and booksellers were grateful and satisfied. This online bookfair platform remains until today, with different campaigns and promotions.
If we take Nanmeebooks in 2019 as an example, 60% of our revenue comes from chain and trade bookstores, and 25% comes from schools. Our revenue dropped by 50% in bookstores and 10% in schools. These bookstores have web shops as well. Some are more active and others. Since COVID, we have increased our online marketing efforts, resulting in some revenue in this troubled time. Since bookstores started to reopened on 17th May 2020, and schools started on 1st July 2020 (instead of 15th May), our revenue started to pick up, but is still at 80% of 2019.
Our online sales have increased by 300%. Interestingly the big jump did not come from web shops of bookstores, but from eCommerce marketplace like Shopee, as well as from Social Commerce through networks of mommy-sellers. We have also noticed that our bestselling books during COVID-19 from online sales are not the same as the ones from bookstores. For example, our Ghost comics were bestsellers pre-COVID, but less so during-COVID. We believe that it is because kids bought ghost comics at the shops, but parents, who are the one doing the shopping, tend to choose more knowledge-based comics like Survival and Why? Series.
COVID-19 forces us to rethink about what business do we really want to do, and how. We have developed a strategy of Lean & Focus. It includes how we want to reorganize our team, how to shape our future product portfolio and marketing activities.
We need to be sharper and on point in terms of our program curation. We would definitely publish less number of titles with less print run, and would have to increase our direct marketing efforts to our target groups.
The balance between survival and quality is crucial. Publishers like Nanmeebooks would have to rethink on what to publish, for whom, and when.
One example is the creation of a Direct Sales and Marketing Team, which is organized by target groups. This team thinks about how to reach the different target groups, to create awareness, sales and engagement.
My company had to change a lot during COVID-19. We are a company of almost 300 people with a revenue of about $16 million. So we have a big overhead cost. We had to cut down our publishing program by 40%. We have a few departments who had no work in all of the sudden, including book fair team, camp & teacher training team, hotel team, etc. So we had to reorganize our team, and reallocate resources.
The focus was direct sales & marketing through online channels. Our editorial team revised our products meta-data, so that we could do better targeted marketing, as well as having better data online. We created a lot of videos to promote our books and campaigns.
For the consumer channel, we launched “Family Fun Learning” campaign, where our “Book Advisors” recommended books for each customer personally based on the age, lifestyle, interest, budget of customers/readers. We also packaged book sets for each age group under various themes, combined it with videos for parents on how to use them. We also tried to organize online camps, but it did not work out so well.
For the education channel, we launched “Play & Learn” campaign. The idea started when a school owner called me to ask for a recommendation on how her teachers can facilitate online learning via zoom. What kind of activities can they do, etc. So we created “Play & Learn” for K1-G6. It consists of book sets, lesson plans, assessment tool, video tutorial on what activities can they do with these books. We had 2 tracks for kindergartens, which are Executive Function (EF) sets, and STEAM sets. For primary schools, we had STEM sets and literacy sets.
We also had to develop a new business very quickly. Although Nanmeebooks has been providing Maths-Whizz, an online tutoring service in Maths, to Thai schools for many years. We realized that schools need much help to digitalise their processes in both administration and academia. We launched “Edupage”, a school management system from Slovakia, and got very good feedback.
COVID-19 has impacted all of us. I believe that we are facing very similar GLOCAL (global + local) challenges. The goal is how to survive this crisis, making sure that business can still operate, staffs are getting paid and safe. This is a time where international partners have to help each other, by exchanging best practices and new business models. Through this kind of dialogue and compassion, we can work together to overcome this crisis
BOOK INTRODUCTION VIDEO
|A Dragon who never joined a school Prapas Cholsaranon / Nanmeebooks||DEAFENING CHAOS Prapt (Chairat Pipitpattanaprap) / Praew Publishing||The Dusk of Buddhist Era and Memory of BlackRoseCat Veeraporn Nitiprapha / Matichon Book|