Dei'ah veDibur - Information & Insight

A Window into the Chareidi World

25 Sivan 5766 - June 21, 2006 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly










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Shema Yisrael Torah Network
Shema Yisrael Torah Network











Hebrew Books: Chareidim are Reading More But Buying Less

by Yated Ne'eman Staff

The chareidi reading-book market mirrors the population increase. In recent years the number of Hebrew reading books has nearly tripled, with a large gap between the percentage of readers and the percentage of buyers.

The industry used to be considered a gold mine for new authors. But today, due to the many interested parties, typically book ventures require high investment and yield relatively low returns. Gitler Publishing speaks of an unprecedented inundation of authors, reaching record proportions with 30-40 new books appearing last Chanukah, primary due to the proliferation of periodicals which make publishing easier and more accessible to writers. A book based on a story that has appeared as a serial in a publication is already ready and can be published, almost, with just one click.

Abramovitz Publishing believes that the rise in the book market is related to rise in the numbers of the chareidi community, the growing consciousness surrounding reading and peak sales before Pesach and other holidays when consumers are shopping for gifts.

Yeffeih Nof Publishers notes the inundation of reading books in the market is apparent in the shift from private consumption to general consumption through libraries. Except for a few authors who can be counted on one hand, most sell very little even though they are sometimes widely read. Yoni Posen of Yeffeih Nof draws a distinction between the Torah book market, which maintains regular sales and demand in accordance with the number of bar mitzvas and grooms, and the reading book market, which was once thriving but now sales are on the back burner. Today over 50 percent of books published in Israel are sifrei kodesh, Posen says.

Abramovitz Publishing notes that seasonal sales of sifrei kodesh are on the rise: haggodos before Pesach, megillos before Purim, etc.

Dovid Gitler of Gitler Publishing provides a quantitative comparison. An average of ten sifrei kodesh (especially halochoh lema'aseh books) come out every month, whereas only 4-5 new reading books reach the bookstores every month. The main difference in the case of reading books is the pressure on the markets: horizontal rather than vertical distribution, i.e. more books with fewer copies. A successful reading book sells somewhere between 1,000 and 2,000 copies whereas a new halochoh book can sell 10,000-20,000 copies.

All agree that advertising is essential. According to Ifat Advertising Monitoring the majority of book publications earmark a portion of the budget for advertising. Sometimes the ad campaigns are operated independently, sometimes through an ad agency. Since the beginning of the year, Mesivta Torah Study Books has led their ad rankings with a total of 69 spots in ten ad campaigns in the chareidi press. Mesivta also spent the most on advertising with a $58,985- campaign for Maseches Shekolim ("Lo poschim al Shekalim"), a $34,926-campaign for Maseches Pesochim ("Keneged arba banim dibrah Torah") and a $20,733- campaign for the Mesivta Shas in general ("Hashanah kulanu lomdim beMesivta").


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