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Thoughts from Digital Book World 2013

The prelude to DBW was the "Children's Books Go Digital" event at the Publishers Launch conference. This was perhaps the most inspiring part of the conference. Children's books have come a long way when it comes to digitisation. Interactive solutions are close at hand, there are many creative players, and educational publishers have begun to exploit the opportunities. Optimism abounds.

At the main DBW conference, the crisis was still an important discussion point. Nevertheless people are beginning to know what they are talking about, they are trying some of the new things, and in general people accept the situation in the industry. Professionals are getting used to the fact that insecurity is the name of the game. Change has come to stay.

Insecurity badly affects confidence. Forrester has asked large and medium-sized publishers in the US, covering approximately two thirds of the turnover in the US. 95 % of publishers are optimistic in relation to digitisation. Still, only 55 % believe that their own efforts within the digitisation area will bring success! Are they asking their staff to execute a plan they, if truth be told, do not believe in themselves? Here is a sound piece of advice: GET HELP! – Get help either to make a plan, or get someone to test that the existing plan works.

And what about the remaining 45 %? Have they got no plan at all – are they waiting for their own "Borders sentence"?

You have to consider the authors too. No way around it. Writer's Digest and F+W Media have gathered answers from 5000 American authors. It is perhaps not surprising that authors who have published their books themselves feel that self-publishing is the right way to go, or that authors who are used to publish via a publisher feel that publishers play an important role. But the survey clearly shows that authors who have tried both - and therefore should know what they are talking about, say that the performance of publishers is unsatisfactory when it comes to all the well-known areas of editorial processes, production, marketing and sales. It is fair to assume that publishers will grant author care even more consideration after this.

As ebook sales are growing, discoverability will become an even greater challenge. If the publishing industry loses bookstores as their product display window, how will they make their publications visible?

It was foggy in New York this week. Fortunately the discussions and debates during DBW were quite clear.


- Kenneth Jes Juliussen


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