Cover Story : Publishers' Outlook 2012: The Industry's Next Bold Move
Is digital the future, or simply a growing piece of the evolving publishing landscape? Eight book executives weigh in on the path forward.January 2012 By Brian Howard
The year 2011 may well go down as the annum of the e-reader. Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Apple, Sony and Kobo went all-in for holidays to get their e-readers, tablets and apps into as many hands, purses and briefcases as possible. In 2012, we'll see the results of that push, as publishers anticipate the next step in the digital evolution. Book Business interviewed executives across a wide swath of the industry, from giant trade publishers to university presses, educational outfits and upstart indies. We found that while digital is on the march, print is far from dead, and the next bold move in the industry may be maximizing the synergies between the two.
Chairman and CEO • Hachette Book Group (HBG)
David Young oversees HBG's massive operation that includes imprints such as Grand Central, Yen Press, and Little, Brown and Co., and third-party services for other publishers. Young, a Hachette vet of seven years, spoke with Book Business from his New York office about growing digital sales, the library/e-book conundrum and the need for more standardization.
Brian Howard: How does the knock-down/drag-out going on between Amazon and Barnes & Noble for the e-reader market affect Hachette?
David Young: Well, it affects it in a very positive way. The manner in which new devices have appeared this year, and at lower prices, have meant far more competition. I think it's quite clear that they're all trying to leapfrog the other in terms of price and technical ability, and that's just a good thing for the consumer and for us.
Howard: What is your current mix of digital and print, and how do you see that changing in 2012?
Young: I think we'll end up this year at about 23 percent digital net revenues. I see that increasing next year to around 30 percent. … Some of our franchise authors, particularly in the thriller area, are already way ahead of that. Some areas—illustrated titles—are completely unaffected. The exciting thing that's happened right at the end of the year is that children's book publishing is beginning to benefit from the Nook Color, the Kindle Fire and the Nook Tablet. And I'm excited about our [Yen Press] Manga editions. I know from talking to librarians that they're seeing pick-up from reluctant readers … teenage boys who wouldn't otherwise think of reading a book.