With the end of a pretty rough year behind us and the first few weeks of 2017 under our belts, it’s a good time to take a deep breathe and take stock of the state of publishing. There’s perhaps no more comprehensive analysis of the current trends than the annual Smashwords Book Industry Predictions, written each year by founder and CEO Mark Coker.
Companies such as Doubleday and Scribner once led the way in combining bookselling and publishing. Now, a new generation of booksellers is getting in touch with its publishing side, including such booksellers-cum-publishers as Cleveland’s Guide to Kulchur, which publishes marginalized writers, and Las Vegas’s the Writer’s Block, which is about to launch a literary journal.
Digital publishing has drastically changed the landscape of the publishing industry, opening up new paths to success. Once upon a time, the only way for an author to get their books into the hands of readers was to land a deal with a publisher and allow them to distribute your title. This took a lot of time, and many authors were turned away time and time again.
"Publishers need to think beyond the book" to other media such as YouTube and Snapchat, and ensure everything they do has "the consumer at its heart”, m.d. of Penguin Random House Children’s Francesca Dow has said.
The debate about the true size of the self-published market continues. Traditional publishers and advocates for independent works have each tried to position the market as more or less tilting their way. To date, we’ve not seen much of a discussion about why knowing the size of the book market matters.
Here’s one reason it matters: mobile content discovery and consumption.
Adobe Digital Editions is a free software that allows you to add eBooks from online stores and libraries that are protected by Digital Rights Management (DRM). Digital Rights Management prevents eBooks from being copied and/or redistributed. This ensures the protection of authors and publishers.
“Page-swipers” conveys the notion of motion - the reader’s finger gliding on a glowing screen - but as a locution, it will never catch on. And here on the F train, he was in the digital universe, trying out something called Subway Reads - a web platform that can be reached from a subway platform.
It didn’t take long for the digital reading revolution to evolve to enhanced, interactive ebooks. These fully immersive reading experiences were at once hailed as the bells-and-whistles answer to getting high-interest results from even the most reluctant of readers. Plenty of startups came and went under the model of incorporating video, audio, sound effects, moving graphics, and more into a simple book, but many of those interactive experiences failed to lure readers away from the quiet simplicity of letting their imaginations fill in the multimedia blanks.
Since 2005, multiple business models have been flourishing in the Scandinavian ebook market. With Storytel’s acquisition of its Danish rival subscription service provider Mofibo earlier this year, the large Northern European player is leading the way for the next generation of subscription services in the book industry.
One of the hottest fiction titles at Baror is Cory Doctorow’s novel Walkaway (Tor, Apr. 2017), which the shingle bills as “an epic tale of revolution, love, post-scarcity, and the end of death.” The sci-fi thriller follows a man who lives through the breakdown of society as he knows it. Another fiction biggie for the agency is Omega Canyon by Dan Simmons (Little, Brown, Mar. 2017). This work of historical fiction follows two Viennese brothers who flee Europe on the eve of World War II—one, a physicist, goes to work on the atomic bomb at Los Alamos, while the other becomes a commando in England’s Special Operations Executive program. Newcomer Megan Bannen, a librarian by trade, retells an epic poem from ancient Persia in her debut, The Nameless Prince (HC/Balzer + Bray, fall 2018). Another debut, this one nonfiction, is Sarah Robb O’Hagan’s Extreme You: Step Up. Stand Out. Kick Ass. Repeat. (HarperBusiness, Apr. 2017). The former president of Gatorade and Equinox, O’Hagan is a fitness guru, and her book lays out an intense training program.
“I think if you looked back a decade ago, certainly five or six years ago when e-books were taking off, there were folks who thought the days of the printed book were numbered,” Pew’s Lee Rainie told the Times, “and it’s just not so in our data.”
Amazon reviews are both a blessing to authors and the bane of their existence. Whether it’s poor reviews, vindictive reviews, or lack of reviews altogether, authors struggle to get the word out about their work through positive and numerous reader reviews.
If you want to manage your content assets for evolving digital products and services, you may need to think differently. And you may require transformative tools and new models that assume modularity, portability and the ability to repurpose content with a global reach—a strategy based on the conjunction of technology and rights.
Matthew Cody began his new book ReMade with a premise sure to be a hit with fans of dystopian YA fiction: In a post-apocalyptic future, 23 teenagers wake up to look for answers in the wreckage of human civilization, all while being hunted by machines. But beyond its initial chapter, he didn’t write the details of the rest of the book. He didn’t have to—he’s just the showrunner.
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