The introduction of the Web to the previously print-centric world of publishing was only the beginning of what has turned out to be a major overhaul of the publishing industry as a whole. Initially, we witnessed close to a complete transition of many publication types, like directories and manuals, from print to the Web, which ultimately affected the other publishing markets in varying degrees and timeframes. This transition has also brought many opportunities.
Changes in book publishing
Book production has gone through its own shifts with the introduction of digitally produced on-demand books through Web-enabled business models. This new production model was primarily driven by online distribution from companies like Amazon and Barnes & Noble, which created an illusion that hid the minimal production times required to print books as needed/ordered. It has also facilitated shorter book runs, as well as the “book of one” concept, allowing for a new level of book customization. Since much of the book publishers’ profits were determined by their ability to manage print runs and inventory, many publishers viewed digital book production as the Holy Grail.
While book publishing has seen a significant benefit from the introduction of digital printing in reducing their cost of inventory, it is now facing another game-changing event: the disappearance of bricks-and-mortar book stores as a direct result of online sales from Amazon and other online retailers. In addition to losing a significant distribution point, many specialty book publishers have been forced to try to use online channels to sell books that would normally be sold in a physical retail location.
Book publishers somewhat shunned the true impact of the Internet on its industry until the introduction of electronic book readers, smartphones and tablet devices that enable ubiquitous access to a virtual library of hundreds of thousands of books. The introduction and adoption of these new devices and channels, however, has accelerated the shift away from printed book production. The introduction of tablet devices has also now started to impact the other publishing markets as well, including magazines and newspapers. Anecdotally, while the Internet and Web browsers offer a “lean forward” experience that is very successful for certain applications, many publishing-based applications are better suited for a “lean back” experience. Reading books and magazines are perfect examples of what the tablets and portable devices will support.
Self-Publishing is the new market segment
Computers and content creation tools have become ever-present. Adding that factor to the viral growth of social media and the online community in general has fostered the democratization of publishing. While “vanity” books have been around for some time, there is now a “reachable” way for a self-publisher to develop content and prepare it into a form that will allow them to create a book, magazine, mobile application, video and more. Distribution for self-publishers is now available through self-promotion or the use of the growing list of production and distribution channel offerings to support these new requirements. As a result, self-publishing is one of the fastest-growing publishing segments, and is a catalyst for transformation across the publication printing industry.
New Cross-Media Content Packaging & Delivery Services
In each of these publishing disciplines, with the significantly increased adoption of mobile and tablet devices, there is requirement to support cross-media content packaging and distribution. In addition to print, cross-media often takes the form of:
- Online browser-based solutions
- Smartphone and tablet app solution development
- Combining content delivery with broad-based cross-media marketing programs
These new requirements are placing a strain on the publishers, and offer many new opportunities for companies offering publishing support services.
Workflow transformation in the publication printing segment will revolve around the ability to handle content delivery across a variety of channels and devices. Though many industry players are finding the transition challenging, the discussion around these hurdles has been extremely active and will continue at events such as ON DEMAND (June 13-14; New York, NY). The show recently shifted focus from traditional print solutions to technologies for integrating social, digital media and print platforms in monetizing and controlling content.
Channel-Agnostic, Cross-Media Content Delivery
Due to the changing market demands and the desire to reduce the time and cost of the production process, there is an increasing need for tighter integration between publishers’ content creation systems and the ultimate packaging and distribution systems that publication printing firms provide.
With the need for cross-media publishing, some magazine, newspaper and even book publishers have now implemented much more automated editorial solutions that can package and distribute content much closer to the final point of output. This has allowed them to move to a workflow that streamlines and automates their editorial process, while also offering them the opportunity of integrating with the premedia process.
Publication printing firms have historically handled premedia functions, although some publishers have brought the premedia process in-house using standard production workflow products, or have even bypassed these types of systems entirely through the use of PDF-centric solutions in conjunction with other homegrown or proprietary systems. If publication printing firms take on more of the cross-media process integration and production roles from publisher clients, premedia may move back into their sphere of responsibility and offer even more opportunities for expanded service offerings.
About the Author:
David Zwang, Principal at Zwang & Co. and Consultant to Questex Media Group for ON DEMAND, travels around the globe helping companies increase their productivity, margins and market reach. He specializes in production optimization, strategic business planning, market analysis, and related services to companies in the vertical media communications market. Clients have included printers, manufacturers, retailers, publishers, premedia and US Government agencies.
He is currently the Chairman of the GWG (Ghent Workgroup), and sits on many national and international standards bodies. Please contact him at: firstname.lastname@example.org
About ON DEMAND
ON DEMAND is the leading North America-based conference and exposition dedicated to the technologies that monetize, optimize, and control content. For more than 15 years, marketing and communications professionals, operations and production managers, IT specialists, and corporate executives have gathered to see the latest solutions and better understand the convergence of communications and digital information so they can communicate effectively and economically.
For nearly 10 years, ON DEMAND has been co-located with info360. Together, ON DEMAND and info360 is the largest enterprise IT event in North America, representing the synergy of content & data throughout the information lifecycle – from creation to delivery and output.