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
[Lastly], unless you’re fortunate enough to publish nothing but brisk sellers, look very carefully at print-on-demand [POD] as a way to keep your backlist in print, and revive out-of-print titles. POD also affords publishers a better way to “incubate” new books and test their actual public appeal before the publisher invests more heavily in bulk printing, trade distribution and promotion.
Extra: If a publisher only has the time and resources to invest in one or two new areas, which ones should it take advantage of?
Snow: POD … . [Also look into] methods for selling books beyond conventional publishing trade channels (bookstores and libraries) that are more closely related to the subject matter. For example, a travel guide may sell more briskly at a travel agency than a bookstore. Books are now sold almost everywhere: in supermarkets, truck stops, doctors’ offices, etc. A landmark study by the Book Industry Study Group in 2005, titled “Under the Radar,” documents that these “non-traditional” outlets now represent an annual market of at least $11.5 billion. Savvy publishers will increasingly move more books through specialty and niche marketing channels.
Extra: Which technology or technologies do you think will have the biggest impact on the publishing industry this year?
Snow: Watch for widespread bookstore closures in 2009, with a greater share of book sales moving online, especially through non-traditional outlets. Technologies that promote e-commerce for publishers will flourish as a result.
Extra: What do you think the Google Book Search settlement will mean for publishers and authors?
Snow: Out-of-print and backlist titles will return with a vengeance, capturing a greater share of total book sales. And this revival may not just be online, but also in print because it seems likely that Google will be smart enough to find a way to make millions of older books available in print as POD books in addition to their digital counterparts.