Anna Nicolau (Nimera): “We cannot have a successful education system without a deep reform of the system, which no government would dare do”

Anna Nicolau, Managing Director of Nymera Publishing, estimates that readers will be more selective in buying books this year and are being improved for the future of the book because there are still opportunities for growth in the market.

Pictured: Andrea Mitterrand

Forbes: What does 2021 mean for your publishing house: a year of recovery from the shock of 2020, a normal year or a year that portends a new crisis? (Variation of business volume compared to 2020, special launches, events, business decisions, strategy, etc.)

Anna Nikolaou: Although it was a difficult and challenging year, 2021 was a very good year for Nemira Publishing, with CA increasing by 41.25%.

However, this increase has been associated with a decrease in profit as a result of continued pressure on production costs and long-term investments in digital products.

It was the year we launched two new development trends, with the non-fiction imprint ORION (coordinated by Laura Câlțea) and our audiobook division (coordinated by Marianne Koeman).

We can say that 2021 was the year of audiobooks in Romania – in August AudioTribe was launched on the market, the first audiobook platform in Romania, which aims to make friends among local readers with audiobooks, which are very popular in the European and US markets.

A project in which I co-founded with my brother, Radu Nicolau, CEO of the platform, in which Cărturești Libraries is a strategic partner.

With the launch of ORION, we aim to constantly bring to Romania the latest titles in many areas of interest, from political news to pop science and memoirs, as well as Romanian projects commissioned by authors we believe in.

Forbes: Is the Romanian publishing market currently in crisis? What are the causes of the crisis and its impact on the consumer?

Anna Nikolaou: Yes, of course. Since the end of 2021, there has been a double crisis, materials of production on the one hand, and consumption on the other.

Due to supply chain problems and rising energy costs, paper prices and printing costs have increased by 50%-100%, and printing houses are struggling to get enough paper stock to meet demand.

Unfortunately, this was just the beginning; Gradually, we saw an increase in all categories of business spending, which clearly led to a sharp rise in book prices.

However, the price of books is still relatively low compared to other European markets.

Unfortunately, we do not see a way out of this problem – books will continue to rise, in line with inflation, and a general rise in prices globally is not something specific to our industry.

Forbes: What exactly do you answer the reader who finds it with blame: Books are getting more expensive, and I can’t bear to buy them anymore!

Anna Nikolaou: I think the reader who wants to read has many options in the market. Most novelties can be found in a digital format, such as an e-book or audiobook – with prices starting from 3 or 4 euros and going up to 13 euros for bestsellers.

Many online retailers enjoy big, occasional year-round discounts that those on a tight budget can take advantage of. Libraries are free!

So there are solutions and options – some of which are more convenient and easily accessible for those who want to try digital books.

Forbes: What are your concerns about this year’s publishing market? But what are the reasons for optimism?

Anna Nikolaou: We are concerned about the accelerated growth rate of real inflation and the significant increase in production costs.

This effect is already felt in the market, we note a slight decrease in sales. We expect readers to be more selective in their purchases this year, but we are optimistic that there are still opportunities for growth in the market — and we are preparing new editorial projects in the fall.

Forbes: A national report, recently published by the BRIO (Digital Platform to Improve School Performance), shows that 42% of students in Romania are functionally illiterate. How are you attached? Who is responsible and who is to blame for this situation? How can this percentage decrease in the coming years?

Anna Nikolaou: We cannot have a successful education system without deep reform of the system, which no government would dare to do.

who is in Charge? We are all with the political choices made in the past thirty years. Because despite the fact that we want “educated Romania”, we cannot build a medium and long-term strategy when the education ministers change annually and if we do not allocate budgets in this regard.

Forbes: Idea: fixing the prices of books. Crazy idea or a decision to be taken into account by the government to revitalize the Romanian publishing market?

Anna Nikolaou: I don’t think we should be talking about a book price cap, but a fixed book price law. This can protect the entire publishing ecosystem and support libraries, which will be the first to be affected in the event of a new crisis.

It can also encourage the opening of new libraries in small towns and lead to the revitalization of cultural life in urban and rural areas.

Libraries are a vital part of the cultural world’s ecosystem and are under threat of extinction due to high costs and unequal competition with massive online discounts.

(May 31, 2022)

Leave a Comment