Another year passed and once again book related businessmen and women alike, as well as traders gather around in the gigantic halls of the Frankfurt Messe to witness the glorious exhibition and demonstration of strength from renown publishers of the world. The glossy and glittery image of each exhibitor’s pavilion furnished with refreshments and well groomed personnel signifies years of heritage, pedigree, exclusivity, and old money. In a way, everyone has to keep up with the appearances no matter how bad reality is.

At the hall’s cafes and smoking areas, one could start to read between the lines…this is a very stricken and poorly industry.

The publishing world although excluding Malaysia, has taken its toll with the new media revolution. It is a turning point that even the biggest and best publishers cannot cope with. All that has changed is the medium – from shops to online.


But does the story just stop there? Definitely not. Well, not long than a year ago, the mind set of publishers were still very skeptical and protective over digital matters. Publishers were afraid of entering an arena that they were not familiar with and as a reaction, they deploy army of lawyers to draft out very difficult contracts to comply to, especially for the digital world. It made matters worst, because whilst their verbatim digital contents are hard to distribute, this occurrence actually opened up the gate to independent and self-publishers who are not too fuss about control and digital boundaries.

Now it seems that everyone can publish, and publishers have another thing to compete for.

What is amazing is that although publishers are admitting to a sudden shift towards new media, not many are actually doing anything about it. Many assume that it is another series of false alarms which has occurred before in the late 90’s and the turn of the century. Many more have not noticed that the digital content demand is shifting fast towards interactive contents rather than flat style static image verbatim ebooks. With this, you then see many publishers still boasting about their “thousands title” verbatim ebook catalogue, but still struggling to produce a single interactive book.

The demand for user experience amongst the young are not of those verbatim stuff any more. They have shorter attention span, and prefer items to be straight to the point. This sentiment will leave out many big publishers to be dinosaurs. Whilst jumping to verbatim ebooks seems rather easy for many because of the outsourcing activities with the mushrooming digital conversion houses in India, the interactive book arena is still left to be a clean slate.

It is evident that publishers are clueless and struggling to understand the trend today, but what is more worrying is that publishers believe that by outsourcing the digital process, they could overcome this problem.

Contents are always crucial in today’s lifestyle, be it television, radio, news, story etc, and to make it interactive as well as impressive and good reading is a melting pot of challenges that is still on the table for anyone to resolve.