Rekindled love of reading to keep the Publishing Industry buoyant

David Taylor, CEO HB Prime Advantage says that Changing lifestyles, new technologies, and increasingly engaging advertising are just some of the factors that have attributed to the changing nature of the modern day publishing industry.

This movement has challenged the publishing industry, especially SMEs as they struggle to adapt to the ever-evolving world of digital media. Despite declining revenues and increased competition, the new digitalised landscape also presents new opportunities for many publishers.

High returns and stimulated growth is obtainable but publishing SMEs must be willing to re-strategize and be innovative if they are to remain competitive and prosperous.

Publishing is not the only industry to be disrupted by the modern digital world. Music and television broadcasting first experienced the drawbacks digitalisation can bring at the turn of the 21st century, and with recent developments in new technologies, such as 3D printing, more industries may soon face similar woes.

It could be argued that the publishing industry has been advantageous in observing those that have gone before it, learning from the errors that other business models have encountered. As a result book piracy is lower, online pricing has been easily defined and legal digital platforms were established at an early stage.

Furthermore, unlike the music industry, which has witnessed a steady decline in sales over the past thirteen years, the book publishing market is growing with the Publishers Association reporting an overall increase in physical and digital sales of 6 per cent between 2011 and 2012. Consumers’ enjoyment of reading has been rekindled as e-readers and tablets have spurred a mini renaissance of book lovers.

The speed and convenience of purchasing eBooks online has driven the book publishing market in recent years, increasing the market value to £4.3bn (Companies & Markets).

People are now consuming books more than ever before proving that demand for books still exists, however this growth has largely been in eBooks (a rise of 188 per cent between January and June 2012) as opposed to traditional print, indicating a distinct shift in how users are consuming information.

There is no doubt that the publishing industry will have to re-strategize in order to increase revenues and stimulate growth. Companies should focus on the following areas:

  • Technical capabilities – Publishing is delivered over a wide range of digital platforms and as new platforms are constantly created and developed, it is imperative that publishers have the technical knowhow to develop and build the tools needed to support these new products and services.
  • Reduced Skill Gap – A whole new set of skills are required as a result of the digital revolution. Management need to focus on training staff in online design, sales and marketing, and technical abilities to align employee capabilities with industry.
  • Consumer preference – Publishers must focus on facilitating the ever changing needs and choices of the consumer. Consumers hold more power than ever before with the ability to comment, engage and share content, and publishers must facilitate innovation through consumer centric models.
  • Investing in R&D – Digital publishing encompasses an immersive multimedia experience that could not be achieved through traditional print. Publishers need to be innovative and provide a platform for readers, which is up to speed with modern day consumer requirements.
  • New revenue streams – New model’s such as the “freemium” model allow users to access a basic amount of content or level of functionality for free but then having to pay for additional content and function. This is often used through “in-app purchases” where users can download the app for free but must pay for additional content. Publishers really need to capitalize on these types of subscription models.

Home to some of the oldest publishing houses in the world, the UK is steeped in a long history of printing and distributing. A blend of optimism, innovation, and cost saving initiatives will save this stagnating industry and maintain Britain’s undefeated reputation as the biggest exporter of books in the world.

SMEs must embrace industry changes, exploit new opportunities and explore the seemingly unlimited opportunities that the multimedia print experience can offer.