Digital Publishing – A Risky Business

Digital Publishing - A Risky BusinessAccording to a recent article on The Bookseller, it is estimated that 40% of the global population own a tablet, while 91% own a smartphone. Mobile devices are here to stay. The same, however, cannot be said for book apps.

So why is that? In the early days of book app innovation, publishers considering the option were faced with high development costs, minimal consumer interest, and unknown territory. For many of those who took the plunge, the resulting (and costly) apps failed to impress the audiences.

Since then, we’ve heard the familiar cries of ‘apps forever vs apps are over’, or ‘ebooks are the way forward vs ebooks have had their day’. It’s hard to know what to believe.

In case you were wondering, the latest version of events is that the ebook is dead. This, we’re told, is because readers are either suffering from screen fatigue or have embraced the ‘shelfie’ interior design craze (i.e. are buying more printed books in an effort to display their personality and intellect via their bookshelves).

Part of the challenge for digital publishers is that we are battling against a wide range of media for readers’ attention. The more users spend on Facebook, Instagram, Netflix and YouTube, the less time they will spend getting stuck into a good book. Another part of the challenge is that there just isn’t the demand for innovative narrative experiences. The solution is how to help consumers experiment and discover new reading experiences.

Consumers may have moved on from Kindles, but there is still a market there. Digital downloads saw a 28% growth last year with readers using computers and mobile devices to access digital books.

Across the industry, book publishers are experimenting with business models and content, working out what works – and what doesn’t. This experimentation needs to be as commercially viable as it is innovative. And while some ventures may fail, if publishers don’t take risks their customers will follow the tech companies that do.

Date Published : 29th of August 2017

Steve Odart

Published by : Steve Odart

About the Author : Steve Odart is the founder of Ixxus, with 28 years experience in the publishing industry. He started life at the London College of Printing, following his grandfather into the printing industry. He spent many years working with Quark through its launch of Quark XPress, and the Quark Publishing System, before setting up a publishing division within one of the UK’s largest Sun Microsystems Resellers. He then joined Oracle, as EMEA Business Development Director – Publishing and Media, prior to founding Ixxus in 2004. Steve has an extensive knowledge of publishing past, present and future, and has worked with the majority of the largest global publishers in his career to date.