Thursday, June 9, 2011
The Future of Publishing
A lot of people claim that traditional publishing is broken and will eventually die. I disagree. Much like the changes that have occurred in the past in publishing, the big six will survive and so will agents. I do not have any insider knowledge or hidden agenda, nor do I profess to know everything about publishing. Not by a longshot. But I do know how to read the signs of this evolution or revolution, depending on which side of the fence you are on. I believe there have been many signs. Here is how I foresee they will do it.
Self-publishing: In the very near future, all of the houses will spend some of their equity on self-publishing. In order to survive, they are going to have to reinvent the way they do business. This means digging into the self-publishing arena. It's rumored that two major houses are already doing this, and there are likely more to come.
Hay House, for example, has already lent their name to Balboa Press which is their self-publishing arm. I have no experience with Balboa so I can't speak to their process, but I do know that part of their sales pitch to authors is that a successful book published with Balboa will be considered by Hay House for republication. Does this actually happen? I don't know, Balboa hasn't been around long enough to show a track record. If publishers get into self-publishing, does that mean they won't be publishing traditionally? Not at all. The traditional model won't go away, but with publishers becoming more and more risk-averse, the model has to change if they're going to survive. And, let's face it, while the number of bookstores is declining, opportunities to sell books and flood the market with books continue to increase.
Direct to consumer: While some publishers are dabbling in this, I'm not clear how successful they will be. Consumer engagement on e-commerce sites such as Amazon, etc. will significantly change the way we buy. What does this mean? I think you're going to see a lot more social buying in the future. Social engagement, consumer recommendations, etc.
We're already seeing a lot of this, but I believe we'll see much more of it. Can publishers offer this? Yes, they certainly can, but first they have to overcome the hurdle of consumer awareness. Consumers don't know publishers, they know authors and they know the big e-commerce sites like Amazon, et al. Direct to consumer is great, but when you've been a behind-the-scenes entity for so long, the awareness process can take a while.
Reprinted from "The Book Marketing Expert newsletter," a free ezine offering book promotion and publicity tips and techniques. http://www.amarketingexpert.com