Should writers be discouraged about the digital age? They shouldn’t; instead, they should embrace it. Pete Hamill, the author of the bestselling memoir A Drinking Life, said, “I’m generally optimistic since there will be more places for writers to publish. I do believe that cream always comes to the top. Well, not always, but I also think that every writer needs editing, which will have to be considered as the Internet process becomes more professional.”
Long incised in clay and stone tablets, inked with a quill, and printed on presses, the written word has now moved to handheld mobile devices such as smartphones, tablets, and e-readers (like Amazon’s Kindle, Barnes & Noble’s Nook, and Kobo). The written word has even become the spoken word due to the increasing popularity of audiobooks.
What spurs such development? Other than innovation and convenience, technology, mobility, and opportunity – all these have helped spark new trends in content creation and trigger profound changes in a changing book publishing landscape.
It was not long ago that book publishers and retailers had reservations about the emergence of e-books and e-readers, and authors were quailing about the publication of e-books due to copyright infringement. Now they are embracing and leveraging the technology to their advantage.
Most authors are now open to publishing their books in digital format, either in e-book or audiobook; some authors even decide to release their book only in digital format – without a paper counterpart. Digital publishing offers new authors the most cost-effective way to publish their book as well as reach out to potential readers.
Traditional and self-publishing book companies, on the other hand, have turned to digital marketing to reduce production costs, provide authors more options, and above all, become more relevant in today’s digital climate.
Digital publishing will not be the only publishing path available to authors, though, but chances are that it will reign over other publishing paths in the future. Moreover, authors, publishers, and retailers need not give up on printed books at the moment, especially when readers still prefer physical books to digital.
Data from the Publishers Association revealed sales of physical books went up by 7% in 2016 while sales of e-books plunged 17% in the U.K. in 2016. The Association of American Publishers also reported paperback and hardback sales increased 7.5% and 4.1%, respectively, in 2016 while e-book sales declined 18.7%.
The figures, however, came out in the year adults attempted a “digital detox” by limiting their use of mobile devices, so technophobes should not celebrate yet. Plus, magazines and newspapers have reported a readership surge due to the growth in digital subscriptions.
Amidst challenges, the publishing industry will survive and thrive in the digital age, provided it allows itself to undergo a digital transformation. Readers’ demand for new stories and fresh content brings the industry along a digital path due to:
- Increased awareness of reading: The emergence of e-books and audiobooks make reading popular again. For some people, the only way to love reading and to develop a habit for it is digital – even if it could lead readers to drop e-books for physical books in some instances.
- Technologically-influenced lifestyle changes: Walk around the mall or sit in a café, and you will see people tapping at their screens, consuming the information shown to them as quickly as they ask for it. Digital publishing allows new authors to create content for readers who seek content right when they need it, especially when they are on the go.
- Better broadband connectivity: More airlines plan better in-flight Internet access on airplanes. Telecoms pledge to provide broadband internet to rural communities. Every place is now connected.
- Increasing use of e-books: Schools create a big requirement for e-books as they adapt online content into the curriculum. A growing e-learning market also creates a demand for more e-books. What about influencers and companies giving away free e-books for free in exchange for email subscription?
- Vast options for mobile reading: Internet users own at least 2-3 mobile devices: a laptop, a smartphone, and a tablet.
- Multiple advantages: Through certain features on mobile devices, digital publishing indirectly offers readers lots of advantages such as foreign language learning, capacity, and portability.
The digital publishing industry will grow in importance in the coming years, especially with rising production costs, diminishing paper stocks, the rise of print-on-demand publishing, and the advancement of technologies used to create feature-rich e-books and audiobooks.
Future generations of readers will obviously be born into digital media, and digital publishing can help authors and publishers grow and secure their future.
Self-publishing your own book? Let ReadersMagnet help you achieve your self-publishing goals. Talk with a publishing consultant. Call us at 1-800-805-0762 or email us at [email protected]