Håvard Grjotheim is now CEO of Scandbook – a public company within the Scandinavian printing industry, and we got the chance to talk with him at Print Next in Stockholm earlier this year. The exciting thing about the book printing companies is that they seem to have got a renewed interest in the printed book – not only from readers but also from the publishers. See what Håvard Grjotheim thinks about this.

I went from 07 Media, working in a really cross-media field, to ScandBook, to cover as the CEO of ScandBook Falun and the CEO for the entire company. And, yes, you know, ScandBook is a company in the public market.

Absolutely, that’s core business for ScandBook, is book production and have a close and strong relationship with big publishers in the Nordic area, first of all, but also outside the Nordic area.

I see the book as a technology and I used to say to my people that a book is not a book because it depends on the content. That means that there have been very big differences between the development of the different kind of books, based on the content, concerning either ebook, the audiobook, or maybe disappearing like the telephone directory, that’s a book as well. So I would say that it’s really promising in these days. I think we can see that the ebook has a decline in most countries, audio book is growing but still from a rather low level, and I would say that book in the sector of entertainment and novels are very, very strong. [inaudible 00:01:29] novels is probably one of the strongest products for this time being, and in several countries you can see that the novel is, if not growing, it’s not declining. It’s still a very strong product.

I’m very interested in these kind of discussions and I really miss some solid, good evaluations of these kind of things, also about psychological wellness and things like that, about the digital media getting such a strong influence on small children. We have seen, in the United States, a growth of the book as a reading element, and we are also seeing it in Sweden last year, with a rise of approximately 10% for younger children and youth. I still think, even if there’s a lot of activity around the SmartBook and, let’s say, their digital learning in schools, that the textbook is still a rather strong product.

It’s difficult to answer it very clearly because it’s a complicated and a big question, I would say. But I would say that the book had has a very interesting journey for many years now. In the middle of audiobooks and eBooks and things like that, the product is strong, maybe stronger for the older generations than for the younger, but we have seen, as I just mentioned, lately, that also younger generations catch the new interest for the book. But don’t misunderstand me. I really think that the text book in school is also a product and a way of learning that should include digital sources and resources around it to enrich the book. I think that’s part of the development that we will see in front of us now.

I think, if not a grow, the product will be strong in this field. I think that not only the printing industry is undergoing a change, but also the publishers are undergoing a change, so they have also to change their way to handle and to behave into the market. We see newcomers coming up in the publishing industry with few employees, strong branding, and strong authors, and they are taking a part of this market.

I think you have to follow things very closely in these days because everything is changing a little bit, and also, when you come to distribution, and to the business, and to the book selling and everything, they are changing. So we have to be aware and really follow the trends and the human behavior.

I feel it’s fantastic to work with the big publishers, and the small publishers, and the medium sized publishers because I like their way of thinking and also the role they have in the society as a whole. I want to help them to create the values that they are looking for.