Publisher’s Weekly posted an article on its blog that allowed various publishing industry professionals from a variety of outlets to expand on the generally accepted prediction that ebooks will make up 50% of total trade book sales within five years.
Each of the executives spoke to how the shift to digital reading is having an impact not only on the publishing business, but also specifically to their individual companies. The overwhelming attitude that has been adopted by the industry is that ebook sales are already significant in their numbers and are only expected to grow; the publishing industry must be ready to adapt to whatever format books are selling in.
David Young of Hachette Group made what was possibly the most profound statement of the piece by beginning his explanation with the importance of readers and authors to the industry. In so much of the finger pointing and scandal mongering involving pricing and digital rights, it often feels like the customers are the overlooked participants in publishing, but Young placed a supremely high importance on the industry’s need to reach its consumers on any platform.
Dominique Raccah, president of Sourcebooks and a sought-after panelist at many of the digital publishing events that GoodEReader attends, was very open in her excitement about where digital publishing is taking the entire industry as a whole.
“I’m incredibly excited about what the book and storytelling itself will look like in five years, and how broad readership might be by then. That’s probably the thing that excites me the most. We (the publishing industry) are at the center of a remarkable conversation. This is in some ways a glorious time for books—with more readers, more writers, and more outlets than ever before.”
Unfortunately, the attitudes expressed by some of the publishing professionals weren’t all as eager to embrace digital reading. Robert Gottlieb, chairman of Trident Media Group, mentioned Amazon and its efforts to deteriorate the industry five times in as many paragraphs before going on to explain about Trident’s own digital publishing platform for indie authors. Jed Lyons of Rowman & Littlefield actually compared e-reading devices to the “brown paper bags” that customers used to hide their soft-core porn material in, despite his announcement that Rowman & Littlefield is currently working to digitize every backlist title that the publishing group has sold since it opened its doors in 1975.
One key point that the article brings up is the shift in attitudes towards digital. Where publishers were once afraid of ebooks as the end of paper, or scorned the popularity of digital reading as a flash in the pan, more publishers than ever are working towards a happy medium within the two halves of the industry in order to bring quality book, in whatever format that may be, to the readers.