Date of Award

5-2-2021

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Doctor of Business Administration (DBA)

Department

Business

First Advisor

Naveen Donthu

Second Advisor

Denish Shah

Third Advisor

Bruce Pilling

Abstract

Consumer Preferences Towards Book Formats:

How to Address Technological Disruption in the Publishing Industry

By

Felipe Cotrino

April 2021

Chair: Naveen Donthu

The digital era has disrupted the publishing industry in many fronts during the last two decades. The way people consume media content has evolved dramatically, creating alternative platforms to the traditional printed material. Specifically for the book segment, publishing companies have developed new formats in order to capture some of the new digital trends, offering to the public not only the traditional paper-based book, but also an electronic and audio version. These new formats have helped the companies in the industry to partially keep the pace of the market dynamics, but on the other hand have severely increased the cost of production and commercialization for each title, limiting their ability to increase the product offer and consequently to maintain a sustainable and profitable growth on the mid and long term.

Additionally, the providers of the publishing industry, specifically, the printing suppliers have been severely affected by these new megatrends and uncertainty on the publishing houses. Historically, the printing industry has been a solid driver of the whole value chain of books production; providers of ink, paper, other supplies as well as printing equipment and technology have faced similar impact, significantly threatening their stability.

One of the main gaps, is the lack of a solid knowledge about consumer preferences regarding available formats. A better understanding of consumers’ influencing factors, will significantly help the publishing companies to do a better match between book formats and customer preference, providing business leaders in the industry a useful guidance for addressing their production and marketing efforts and consequently the definition of their business strategy and tactical approach to the market.

Combining three main theories: individual difference, involvement theory, and product attributes in consumer theory, this quantitative study identifies which book format between paper-based and electronic, will consumers prefer given certain demographics, involvement level and specific attributes of each book format. As there are not many studies on consumer’s preference towards book formats, the hypotheses were formulated from two sources, reading comprehension theory and discussion with industry leaders.

The evidence suggests that across all demographics there is a higher preference for print books rather than electronic, and despite of not all hypotheses being statistically significant, there are good indications to business leaders in the publishing industry on how to address their marketing and production resources.

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