Many publishers are feeling generally optimistic about the future of the industry. Yet according to Gail Rebuck, chairman and c.e.o. of Random House Group, 2010 will be a year of ‘steady’ rather than stellar results leading towards a ‘tectonic’ shift over the next few years.
She is not alone in her view that the book trade will see the recession through but needs to prepare for continued unprecedented change over the coming years with the increase of interest in all things digital. HarperCollins UK chief executive and publisher Victoria Barnsley agrees, ‘The day when we sold only hardbacks and paperbacks will be looked backed at with wonder.’
One of the big questions about the digital future is whether it will gradually erode the popularity of print books – and ultimately replace certain types of books altogether – or encourage a new audience to enjoy the experience of reading great books?
My own view is that it is likely to be a combination of both.
As younger generations who have grown up with digital content as the norm mature, it makes sense that their focus on entertainment will retain a primarily digital emphasis, just as it currently is with photographs and music.
On the other hand, I don’t see printed books disappearing altogether, certainly not for the foreseeable future, because the tactile experience of enjoying a good read is unlikely to be replaced entirely by e-readers, however sophisticated they end up being.
The excitement for me lies in the new possibilities which digital technology is making available to us, especially when it comes to interactive content and multiple formats for communicating your message and telling your stories.
So in addition to your print book, you can create e-books, podcasts, and now iPhone apps to name just a few. You don’t have to be a technical wizard yourself to take advantage of these new opportunities as there are increasing numbers of tech-savvy individuals who can handle all of that for you.
Yet in a world of increased opportunity for all, the saturation points in individual markets are likely to be reached faster than ever.
Also, the sheer volume of people who are sharing their work internationally means that we already have an extremely crowded marketplace which makes it much harder for each individual voice to be heard. As a result, authors – and publishers – need to be more authentic and creative than ever before.
Formula for Success
The formula for success in the digital age is a combination of high quality, authentic content delivered in multiple formats, with innovative on-line and off-line marketing strategies designed to reach readers around the world.
So what are your views about the future for authors and publishers? Feel free to share your thoughts and comments below …