Technology is pushing and elbowing its way to the forefront of the publishing industry. EBook sales are rising dramatically, and technology is making it possible for books to be discovered online and promises that offshore markets can be reached efficiently.
Leonie Tyle of Tyle and Bateson Publishing yesterday gave my Writing and Publishing class a lecture about the publishing industry and the technology that is growing within that industry.
So, technology is growing, but does this spell the certain demise of bricks and mortar publishing houses?
Potential Problems for Publishers
Leonie says Amazon is pressuring publishers to allow them to manufacture more stock, which would effectively cut out the publisher.
You can imagine why publishers aren’t too happy with Amazon, since if the company succeeds in printing its own books, the bricks and mortar publishers are at risk of becoming completely obsolete.
Technology changes the way in which we purchase books.
eBooks and subscriptions
Growing eBook numbers and numbers of subscription services for eBooks also pose a problem for publishers.
This will essentially force down retail prices and add further pressure to publishers’ profit margins, which already has pressures from several sources, including the amount of print books that get pulped if they don’t sell.
Demand for transmedia stories is growing. Lenoie says it is increasingly common for readers to want books turned into games or movies.
The question “have you read the book?” at movie premieres might in the future give way to the question “have you read the eBook?”.
Lenoie says that even in the face of these technological innovations, the death of long-form reading is a long way off.
Studies show that millennials are not much different from the generation before them when it comes to reading habits.
A complete switch to eReaders and eBooks in the face of bricks and mortar publishers dying is probably not going to happen in my lifetime, because this kind of technological shift takes time.
Even so, Lenoie says that things will eventually change in the publishing industry in big ways, because forces are already eroding publishers’ profit margins. She predicts that there might only be two to three big publishers 10 years from now, but a stack of little independent publishers will be doing a whole lot of creative things we’ve never seen before.
I have never owned an eReader, and although I have read textbooks online in PDF format that have been provided by unit coordinators at uni, I have never read a fiction book as an eBook. And I don’t want to.
I love the smell of a bookshop, of old books and new books.
I love the feel of flicking through pages, and staying up late at night reading.
I love being able to see your progress as you devour an amazing book, and feeling a pang of sadness as you realise you’re only a few chapters away from the end of the story.
Being a traditionalist reader, I realise the sad realities of the eventual future of publishing are just that – sad and real. But until then, I am going to snuggle up under a blanket with a hot chocolate and smell my books.