Consumer Takes Center Stage at This Year's 'Making Information Pay'
Opening his presentation with an image of a woman sitting on a beach with an e-reader, Kelly Gallagher told the crowd of book publishing professionals gathered at the seventh-annual Book Industry Study Group's "Making Information Pay" event last week, "She doesn't care about this meeting today," making the point that the issues and challenges now facing the industry are publishers' responsibilities to solve for the consumer. Gallagher, vice president of publishing services for bibliographic information provider RR Bowker, was one of about a dozen speakers to address the audience at the McGraw-Hill Auditorium in New York City.
While presenting recent data on consumer book-buying habits and the impact of digital technologies on how books are discovered, purchased and read, Gallagher was quick to point out that publishers need to understand their consumer even better than they understand sales data.
Speaking within the event's overall theme of "Points of No Return," Gallagher identified significant impacts affecting consumer points of no return, including the proliferation of choice and access to content now enjoyed by consumers. A second impact, as noted by Gallagher, is a new model he termed the "book demand chain," as opposed to the traditional book supply chain, in which the consumer rather than the publisher drives the process and defines the marketplace. "We are now living in a 24/7/365 supply chain," Gallagher said.
Gallagher also addressed the shifting of communication mediums from print to digital as a third impact affecting consumers, specifically noting the growth of book buyers engaged in online social networks. "Sixty-nine percent engage in some form of [social networking] activity," he said, noting that this activity is not only driven by the younger generation. Eighty-nine percent of the surveyed book buyers who are 55-plus years of age said they have a Facebook page.