Publishers who didn’t care about digital are putting a lot of money into that now

From The New Publishing Standard:

Arts Council England is, for those unfamiliar with the UK’s troubled political divisions, the government-funded arts body for the southern part of the UK, England, as opposed to Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

This week the Council’s literature director Sarah Crown has been warning that despite spring 2020 financial support from the Council and from government furloughs, many independent publishers are struggling, and with the imminent threat of renewed lockdowns as autumn and winter loom, small publishers are “not out of the woods” yet.

The comments came in the UK trade journal The Bookseller’s webinar on the future of small presses where Crown stressed that while the literature sector of the arts scene was faring better than the performing arts, with theatres and cinemas closed, the survival of small presses was essential to the overall health of England’s arts.

. . . .

As summarised by The Bookseller, Crown said:

A priority for the literature sector of ACE is to help small presses move from “the fragile business models they are operating in currently”, and emerge from the pandemic with more sustainable structures that are not dependent on the next book sale.

At which point one might expect that digital-first publishers would be faring better than those who placed too much reliance on print and were hardest hit by the lockdown, but digitally-focussed publishers like Hera Books were finding that’s not the case, not because demand was low, but because competition was fierce.

Hera Books’ Lindsey Mooney explained the company was experiencing a plateau in sales:

This month, the trajectory we’re on is not great, we’re not doubling sales every month like we were (in part due to) big name authors discounting heavily” (but also because) publishers who didn’t care about digital are now putting a lot of money into that.

Cherise Lopes-Baker, commissioning fiction editor at Jacaranda Books, said that Jacaranda was commissioning fewer titles because of the uncertain future for bricks & mortar sales and consequently had,

pivoted to digital,

meaning investing in an online bookstore as well as digital books.

Link to the rest at The New Publishing Standard

5 thoughts on “Publishers who didn’t care about digital are putting a lot of money into that now”

  1. but digitally-focussed publishers like Hera Books were finding that’s not the case, not because demand was low, but because competition was fierce.

    The Dismal Science roars again. When all your employees are sitting home in their underwear pushing out eBooks, and all those independents are sitting home in their underwear pushing out eBooks, what is the competitive advantage of the publisher? What does the publisher do better than anyone else?

        • Talk up the importance of publishing contracts as validation you’re a real author, of course. Somebody has to maintain the façade to keep drawing in dreamers.
          They’re pilot fish.

          As already noted all over, the pandemic is amplifying already existing trends. It’s not bringing anything new. What we’re seeing in minor. The real changes are still to come as the weak channels fade.

  2. digitally-focussed publishers like Hera Books were finding that’s not the case, not because demand was low, but because competition was fierce.

    Digital bookstores stock everything. You can’t hope that your books are there and your competitors aren’t because they are temporarily out of stock, or missing because of ‘curation’.

    The Kindle bookstore just grows and grows, and every book competes with every other book.

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