How Printers Can Capitalize on Book Publishing Trends in 2019
As technology continues to disrupt and transform the book market, publishers are responding by changing business models that affect how media is produced, distributed and consumed in the book publishing industry. As dramatic technology shifts continue, book publishers, authors and printers need to adapt to benefit from new opportunities.
With the start of another year, book publishers and manufacturers are evaluating what the future might hold. During a recent Book Business Webinar, I interviewed three book industry experts to uncover the critical trends that will likely have the greatest impact in 2019. They included David Walter, executive director client development at the NDP Group, Inc.; Brian O’Leary, executive director for the Book Industry Study Group (BISG); and Angela Bole, CEO for the Independent Book Publishers Association (IBPA).
Here is a summary of the key book publishing trends for 2019 offered by each expert.
The NPD Group is viewed as a leading authority on market size and trends in the book industry. It tracks and measures all sales dynamics surrounding the book market including print and e-book analytics, sales of specific genres and forecasts of specific trends. For those in the printing industry, Walter highlighted that there was modest growth in print book sales in 2018 with volume climbing 1.3% — in a year where there were no major blockbuster bestsellers like "Fifty Shades of Grey" or "Harry Potter." Walter expects the market to remain relatively flat but stable. The key is the migration to more and more digitally printed books.
The Book Industry Study Group (BISG) is a leading book industry trade association that offers standardized industry best practices, research and information. O’Leary said one of the biggest issues facing the book market is the management of the supply chain and shared results of BISG’s year-end “State of the Supply Chain” survey. O’Leary highlighted that the three top priorities respondents were focused on in 2019 when it came to supply chain management were:
- Making data-driven decisions
- Timely, high-quality metadata to improve discovery and sales (At its most basic level, metadata is how people find your book. This includes the ISBN, keywords, the author name, pub date, BISAC code, reviews, author bios and more. )
- Keeping up with new technologies to improve workflow and supply chain management
The Independent Book Publishers Association (IBPA) is a not-for-profit membership organization serving and leading the independent publishing community through advocacy, education and tools for success. IBPA CEO Angela Bole explained that three publishing models continue to exist: traditional publishing; self-publishing, where authors can be assisted or unassisted by vanity press organizations; and hybrid or partner publishing.
Bole says that in 2019, the industry will experience the rise in hybrid publishing — a gray zone between traditional publishing and self-publishing that is still being defined. Bole described hybrid publishing as publishing companies behaving like traditional publishing companies in all respects, except that they publish books using an author-subsidized business model, as opposed to financing all costs themselves, and in exchange return, a higher-than-standard share of sales proceeds to the author. In other words, a hybrid publisher makes income from a combination of publishing services and book sales. Hybrid publishers provide a range of services for the author such as:
- Vet submissions.
- Publish under its own imprint(s) and ISBN(s).
- Publish to industry standards.
- Ensure editorial, design and production quality.
- Pursue and manage a range of publishing rights.
- Provide distribution services.
- Demonstrate respectable sales.
- Pay authors
These industry experts are optimistic about the coming year and acknowledge that publishing industry will continue to transform to meet the demand for content in a range of new formats via new online channels such as the web and mobile devices. Traditional supply chains are also being shaken up as the lines between content providers, publishers, retailers and consumers become blurred. The challenge for the industry is to capitalize on new business models and to re-engineer processes and workflows for a digital business, even while supporting their traditional print business.
Barbara Pellow is the owner and founder of Pellow and Partners. With her long history focusing on digital communications and print technology, she works with both print service providers and equipment and software manufacturers on the development of strategies to improve revenue and profitability and grow market share.