Publishers 'Must Wake Up' To Digital Future

Traditional publishing models have been turned on their head by technology and the industry must recognise that, says one author.

Publishers need to “wake up” up to the digital revolution which is happening within the literary world, a successful e-book author has told Sky News.

Polly Courtney said an increasing numbers of authors are choosing to move away from the traditional routes into print and are instead controlling their own digital distribution online.

“This self-publishing model is relatively new but it”s growing so quickly and it”s cannibalising the market.

“Most authors are at least considering, if not doing, most of the publishing themselves,” she explained.

Feral Youth, which focuses on the 2011 London riots, is the author”s latest release. For this book she chose to leave her former publishers, HarperCollins, and instead self-publish.

She added: “I truly believe this is the model of the future – for better or worse – and traditional publishers need to wake up to that and work out how they can get in on it.”

Publishing used to be a fairly straightforward business. You would write a book, pitch the idea to a publisher and if they liked it, it would be sent to the printers and end up on bookshelves.

But nowadays, through sites like Amazon, Apple and Google, authors can publish an e-book in minutes and have it ready to sell in days.

However, with millions more writers coming onto the market, it is a much more challenging process for most authors to get their work noticed.

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E-books are growing in popularity, with many libraries offering them too

Figures for 2012 from the Publishers Association show e-book sales shot up by 134% last year – casino online accounting for £216m worth of sales.

Digital formats, which include audiobook downloads, online subscriptions and e-books, made up 12% of the total invoiced value of books sales in Britain.

Dan Franklin, digital project manager with leading publisher Random House, said most big industry players acknowledge they must diversify.

“We”re now at a point of evolution for media companies over who does what and which companies are responsible for what type of experience,” he told Sky News.

“You have to look at yourself as a total content provider, you can”t look at yourself as print only or even print focused, you have to look at things in the round.”

The Black Crown Project is Random House”s first foray into the gaming industry. It involves online players building their own interactive story.

Rob Sherman, the game”s author and creator, said: “I don”t think books are going anywhere but isn”t it exciting that there are all these possibilities and that publishers are willing to diversify?

“That”s what everyone in this industry needs to do – diversify – and the tools are there so why not?”

As the publishing world moves towards a digital model, the shift has also had a ripple effect on other areas within the literary world.

Richmond Library is one of a number of libraries across Britain now offering electronic version of some of its collection.

It now has hundreds of e-books and e-audiobooks that are free to download for users with a library card.

Councillor Pamela Fleming said it was important that their service evolve to meet changing needs.

“As far as we”re concerned, it is an opportunity for people to get to know our libraries” she said.

“There isn”t a young person or child who isn”t much more internet savvy and up-to-date with technology so our libraries have got to meet that.”

Source: Katie Spencer, Sky News