Navigating the Digital Landscape: The Society of New Communications Research's Senior Fellow Danny O. Snow on the Impact of New Digital Formats and Technologies on Publishing
As the recession trudges on, you may have noticed that the bookstore you pass every morning on your way to work has hung the dreaded “Going Out of Business” sign in the front window. Even larger book-selling chains, such as Borders and Barnes & Noble, have reported declining sales, despite their large inventories, events and in-store cafés. Sales are moving online, and e-books and e-readers are growing increasingly popular. What does this mean for the future of traditional book publishers and the print books they produce?
To answer this question, Book Business Extra spoke with Danny O. Snow, senior fellow of The Society for New Communications Research—a nonprofit think tank dedicated to the advanced study of the latest developments in new media and communications—to talk about the impact that new technologies are having on the publishing industry. Snow also will present a related session “Book Publishing in 2009's Digital Landscape,” at this year's Publishing Business Conference & Expo, March 23-25, in New York City.
Book Business Extra: What are some of the first steps smaller and mid-size publishers can take who haven't yet invested heavily in new technologies?
Danny O. Snow: First, recognize that online book-selling is the wave of the future, even if you are still printing and distributing books the traditional way. Consumers are buying more and more books online, while “brick-and-mortar” bookstores struggle. This trend is virtually certain to accelerate in a time of economic crisis and high fuel prices. Why should consumers drive to bookstores when they can browse online from the comfort of their homes or offices—saving time, money and natural resources?
If you are sending PDF files to your printer, you’re already in the e-book business, whether you know it or not. Send the same PDF files to Google [Book Search], and your content can soon start generating revenues in digital form. Find a DAD [digital asset distributor] and your PDFs can be rapidly re-formatted for electronic publication on a variety of platforms with a minimum of investment or technical hassle, wringing more revenue from the work already completed getting the print edition published. Don’t fall prey to the illusion that e-books will erode sales of printed books; that isn’t going to happen for another decade or two.