From Publishing Perspectives:
Almost a bit shell-shocked, the tone of this year’s Digital Book World Conference + Expo (DBW) in New York City has an air both of resignation and of bafflement to it.
That’s not to say that the official two days of the event haven’t opened with plenty of expertise onstage and in the audience, far from it. As ever, the grand ballroom at the Midtown Hilton is busy with key players, promising startup entrepreneurs, observant media watchers, and resilient business people.
But conference director Mike Shatzkin’s theme of “transformation”—of an industry now long upended by the digital dynamic—is apt in a curiously palpable sense. Brightly lit glowing panels form the stage backdrop this year, placing speakers in a considerably lower light and immersing the program in a gleaming, backlit conference aquarium.
. . . .
“This is a conference that’s not just about digital books, but about how our entire industry is interacting with a digital world.”
. . . .
It’s worth listing some of his inflection points in a fast constellation of change. Since 2010, Shatzkin told the audience:
- Borders has closed
- Barnes & Noble has fewer stores, fewer books
- Half of bookstore shelf space is gone
- Apple has launched the iBookstore
- We’ve seen the start of “agency pricing”
- Barnes & Noble’s Nook has gained market share
- The DoJ has intervened
- Barnes & Noble’s Nook has lost market share
- Amazon’s Kindle has lost share, and then has come back
By contrast, some of the current market’s highlights Shatzkin pointed to include:
- A massive indie writer community exists, perhaps hundreds making a living [at writing]
- Possibly half of ebooks are indie
- Indie prices are inching up, but still push overall prices downward
- Publishers are trying to push ebook prices up
- The erosion of print sales appears to have slowed
- Big publishers’ ebook sales have declined; but overall ebooks are up
. . . .
We paddled on to the challenges that Shatzkin tells us are facing the industry now:
- Publishers need to create platforms for engagement
- Author brands need more publisher collaboration efforts
- Will any publisher ever routinely offer a “digital audit”?
- Do publishers have the “complete” list of marketing opportunities?
- A need to understand the indie author sales profile and share
- Developing sophisticated email marketing
- Grasping strategies of The Four Horsemen
- Can anti-trust “save” publishers from big players?
. . . .
Rodale’s Naples was there to recommend that publishers embrace failure for what they can learn from it . . . try, try again, adding:
“I’ve been shocked at how little has changed over the years inside a publishing house…One thing that shocked me when I worked with a startup was the culture…20 times faster than in publishing.”
Link to the rest at Publishing Perspectives and thanks to Dana for the tip.