Content Crossroads & Distribution Junction
The hot-button issues in the book industry today surround an increased focus on content and alternative forms of distribution. Publishers are still keeping a watchful eye on the Internet and the fear that it may replace the print-based distribution business in the future. But there appears to be a greater acceptance and realization that “content” is a publisher’s real asset, and that the delivery method means nothing if the content isn’t outstanding.
An increased focus on content, book search tools, digital distribution, a declining print readership, increased used-book sales, rising fuel and paper costs, and decreasing bookshelf space in retail superstores are all factors that are leading publishers to take a closer look at how they distribute their product in 2007. As the year begins, it is important to look toward industry leaders for insight on these issues.
Increased Focus on Content
Contrary to what some may believe, e-reader devices and the complete switch to digital content delivery is far from replacing printed books. People still love to hold books, collect them and give them as gifts. Digital technology, however, has given the industry a boost, like a can of Red Bull before an afternoon meeting.
“Although the pessimists have been saying for some time now that electronic media and the Internet will put an end to the printed book, the U.S. book industry continues to do just fine,” says Bruce W. Smith, executive vice president of the Book Manufacturers’ Institute, a trade association for the book manufacturing industry. “Certainly not a large-percentage-growth industry in any sense, but the book manufacturers continue, overall, to grow their business, and suppliers of materials and equipment are doing the same. The year 2006 has proven to be an OK year for the manufacturers,” he says. “While overall publisher book sales are down compared to 2005, last year showed an overall gain [in book sales] of 6.5 percent compared to 2004.”