Content Crossroads & Distribution Junction
It is important for publishing companies to not think in terms of books vs. Internet, but to realize that their value is their content, in whatever form it is distributed.
“I think this is a time of unprecedented change for instructional-materials publishing in general ... books, periodicals and digital learning products,” says Charlene Gaynor, executive director of The Association of Educational Publishers (AEP). “The urgency for publishers to move away from thinking of their book as their asset to thinking of their content as their asset is intensifying.”
One of the challenges in the educational sector seems to be seeing the value in technology. “It’s not that they fear technology, but for some it’s seen as a sinkhole they throw money into. They don’t yet know how to make money from their investments in technology,” Gaynor says.
According to Michael Healy, executive director of the Book Industry Study Group (BISG), these are early days in a period of transformation for digital distribution. “As we move through 2007, I think we will see several large publishers and service providers investing significant sums of money in the development of digital asset distribution systems,” Healy says. “We have seen already mass digitization of the backlist titles, and these ‘electronic warehouses’ are increasingly being integrated into digital workflow systems for frontlist books. I suspect this will transform the distribution of content in the value chain and prompt many businesses to re-examine traditional distribution and business models.”
Improving your online-content value seems second nature to most these days. However, when a publisher feels it is losing money and sales because of the Internet, it is a different story.
Patricia Schroeder, president and CEO of the Association of American Publishers (AAP), says, “Overall the industry is stable and growing, but the problems and challenges cluster around the digital world.” For the AAP, those challenges in the digital world continue to focus on Google.