The book publishing industry has been riding a rising wave of digital disruption for a number of years now, and the previously accepted revenue stream from Reader – Bookshop – Publisher – Author is now being completely restructured. New entrants to the book trade, including tech start-ups, online retailers and self-publishing services, not to mention Amazon, Google and Apple, are rapidly changing how readers consume books and where they go to discover and buy them. Publishers (and authors and retailers) who want to stay relevant in the changing marketplace need to innovate in two directions, summed up nicely by Chris McVeigh on Future Book:
The Digital Bookworld Conference took place last week in New York and as usual produced some fascinating discussion and ideas about the future of digital publishing. Front and centre this year was issue of online book discoverability and sales and the challenges publishers now face in promoting their books to readers. One of the more disturbing undercurrents of the conference, however, was the implicit acceptance of what Quarto CEO Marcus Leaver referred to as “post-bookstore book world”. While speculation about the demise of the bookshop is nothing new, the bluntness with which publishers are now openly discussing and planning for life after bookstores is particularly ominous. But is a post-bookstore world inevitable? Do bookshops offer enough value to the community of readers, publisher and authors to be worth protecting? And what can bookshops do to regain their relevance?
As any regular reader of Digireado will know, it’s an exciting time to be an author. Yet, as the ranks of independent authors rapidly grow, very few self-publishers are bothering with brick and mortar bookshops anymore. It’s not difficult to see why—sales and distribution into bookstores has always been a notoriously difficult and costly task, while the closures of large chains and cherished independents alike have led to widespread speculation that high street bookselling is obsolete.