Are You Ready for the Future
Patricia Schroeder is president and chief executive officer of the Association of American Publishers (www.Publishers.org). The trade group, based in Washington, D.C., represents more than 300 members, comprising most major commercial book publishers, and smaller and medium-sized houses, nonprofit publishers, university presses and scholarly societies.
What’s the biggest challenge facing the book publishing industry in 2006?
Schroeder: The Internet challenge is a huge one …. We currently have a lawsuit against Google. Google claims it can make two full digital copies of any book in any library without the copyright holder’s permission. If Google is not stopped, publishers can only sell the paper product, not a digital one. Publishers and authors don’t own paper and print companies; the business is providing content and intellectual property. … It would be devastating for the book community to be locked out of any other form of delivery of their writings than delivery by print on paper.
If Google is able to change the law, everyone can … make full copies of books without permission …. Since publishers and authors are basically investment bankers in intellectual property, if Google can change the laws, the business model crashes. This lawsuit’s success is critical to the book publishing industry as a whole for the future.
What other challenges does the industry face beyond 2006?
Schroeder: The trends in the market are always changing. Book publishers eagerly embraced e-books … way before the public was ready. Now the public seems more accepting, so gradually the market will adjust. Publishers’ announcements that they will sell books by the page are an interesting new idea. I think there will be a lot more creative ideas coming to the market.
Brian R. Hook is a St. Louis-based freelance journalist. He has written for dozens of publishers, including Dow Jones, U.S. News & World Report, and Kiplinger’s. Contact him by e-mail at BRHook@msn.com.