As 2014 is inching its way out the door, the year in publishing has highlighted one standout truth: change is the only constant. With 2015 galloping in on its white horse of innovation, it’s time for publishers—and everyone else, because aren’t we all publishers?—to grab life by the reigns and go confidently in the direction of our dreams.
And our dreams are mighty, aren’t they? To live in a world where everyone can publish and create a platform, where everyone can intimately engage with clients and customers, where everyone can see the fruit of their impact through data analytics. Oh, what a wonderful world this would be…
Wait, this IS our world—if you’re forward-thinking, if you’re hungry and foolish and willing to do whatever it takes to survive. Because you’ve got to innovate or die, baby.
The yearly reviews and predictions for the publishing industry will tell us that most of the trends are plateauing, and quite frankly, they mirror the predictions of yesteryear. If the Amazon-Hachette dispute has taught us anything, it’s that we need to reevaluate and refocus our energies and efforts. So it’s now or never, survival of the fittest. No more hokey pokey…you either put your whole self ALL IN, or you step back and be a wallflower for the rest of your life. Your choice.
Stop and look…the proof is all around you that NOW is the time to do it…to disrupt the status quo.
Data, data, data…that’s where it’s at. As a publisher, if you don’t embrace the data—and learn to use it to your ability—you’re just playing dress up. You want discoverability, customer engagement, brand loyalty? Data. BOOM. And that’s not a new trend, my friends. Back in 2012, David Nussbaum told us that data = discoverability. Guess what? It still does.
Got mobile? The ability to understand and use technology to integrate your content for the mobile market is key to leveraging the playing field. Why? According to ITU’s (International Telecomm’s Union) 2013 statistics fact sheet, at the end of 2012, an estimated 6.8 billion people were mobile users. That number is going to grow exponentially in 2015. Everyone is mobile—literally, figuratively, and technologically. If you’re not mobile, you’ll never move forward.
Content marketing. Ugh, another buzz word you can’t stand, right? That’s fine, but content marketing IS publishing. Everything you put out there on the world wide web—with the intention of getting attention—is content marketing. And as Justin Pearse said, the most successful content engages its audience from a digital publishing mindset. So yeah, everyone is a publisher if they’ve got something to say and something to gain from it. And that makes everyone a content marketer. Drink it in, folks, or die of thirst in this ever-changing industry.
Communities are where it’s at. One of the key focuses of DBW15 is how dynamic communities, built around content, equal supercharged discoverability for books. In a white paper on the 11 uppermost trends and opportunities in publishing, Digital Book World and Thad McIlroy made reference to a statement by Brett Sandusky that, “the book publishing industry has a history of creating product for a “customer” that they never speak to, speak of, see, interact with, or consider.” Publishers have forgotten who their customers really are—readers. And some would even say that this new digital publishing world has allowed readers to be the new gatekeepers. So it’s even more reason for publishers to create and support their reader communities and maximize their efforts to reach out to and interact with their audience.
Other opportunities that the Digital World Book Conference will focus on are “edtech,” navigating international markets, the beauty of collaboration, and more. None of these concepts are new. They’re all recurring trends that some publishers just haven’t taken notice of yet.
But this is it, kids…the publishing industry might still be in its infancy but it’s about to grow up. So you can sit here and play with your toys or you can go out there with the adults and build the world you want.