It’s safe to say that the future of publishing is going to be different than it was five years ago, and even radically different from today. Traditional publishers are no longer holding the proverbial conch—they have no more say in what sells. Readers are the ones who determine what sells and what doesn’t. They want cheap, good stories. And they want them now. They don’t care how they get them.
With the growth of ereaders and tablets—which is projected to outsell PC sales by Q2 2014—the consumption of ebooks will rise exponentially. The format of a book is no longer an issue. In fact, print may just seem just a bit too bulky, too awkward. Tangibility has lost its competitive edge in this new publishing world. Consumers aren’t fools. They know that once something is produced in digital format, there is no reason to seek out alternative formats. In the future of publishing, digital is the new black.
Even now, the publishing industry is still shedding skin, evolving into a new creature that shuns the old traditional publishers in their author-catered world. The future of publishing instead wants publishers to focus on readers, on interacting and building relationships with readers through their authors, with their authors. This isn’t to invalidate the hard work of the author—there is much to be said for supply and demand. But as Nick Morgan says, traditional publishers really only have one chance to salvage their spot in the future of publishing, and that’s to form a relationship with readers.
“Traditional publishers [will] become increasingly irrelevant and gradually fade away, unless they can form real bonds with readers,” says Morgan.
Publishers also have to let go of the idea of exclusivity because with the onset of self-publishing, they’ve lost. That’s why Amazon is winning—non-exclusivity and innovation that feeds right into a direct bond with readers. As Morgan states, Amazon knows “all about the books customers buy and forms close relationships with them, recommending further purchases, notifying them when a new book by a favorite author comes out, and so on.”
The future of publishing still has room for traditional publishers, as long as they are willing to let go of old ways. This is why publishers need to remain innovative by keeping up with technology capabilities.
As Evan Hughes says, “what publishers have to fear the most may not be Amazon but an idea it has helped engender—that the only truly necessary players in the game are the author and the reader.”
Hughes doesn’t think it’s clear if traditional publishers are in a position to own the digital future. As long as they remain in denial about the change happening to the future of publishing, they will continue to be saddled with, as Hughes says, the “costs of getting dead trees to customers—paper, printing, binding, warehousing, and shipping.”
Authors already have the ability to be successful in self-publishing on their own, so publishers need to be able to recognize someone who has potential so they don’t miss out. What many fledgling self-published authors lack though, traditional publishers can provide: a plethora of experience and an in-house network of the aforementioned editors, graphic designers, and so on. And without losing authority in their own kingdom, publishers can offer these services to authors through services like Pubsoft. Using software like Pubsoft, you can understand and gauge the success of the author. You don’t have to guess what will be successful and what won’t be successful. And the ability to connect with readers on more intimate immediate levels will help cement a place in the future of publishing for traditional publishers.
As it is, the publishing company of the future has a very low threshold for submission. It will need to be more author-services oriented, employing more editors, graphic designers, and agents or marketing teams that oversee author accounts. Developing an imprint specifically for self-published authors by utilizing cloud-based software like Pubsoft will work. By letting go of the idea of digital rights and DRM, and by implementing a direct sales channel, publishers can change the future of publishing to a more efficient hybrid model that works for authors and publishers alike.
If publishers can set aside the notion that a work is less commercially viable just because authors don’t go through the traditional means of publishing to bring a work to market, it will be the first step to gaining credibility in the future of publishing.
It’s been proven time and time again that the unknowns can stand toe to toe with professionals. The idea that they did it all on their own is more credit to authors who took the initiative to do it right. By being a partner to these authors, rather than a gatekeeper and keymaster, publishers level the playing field in publishing again.