Monday, June 1, 2009

What IS the Future of Publishing in the Age of Kindle?

The CEO Roundatable at BookExpo America, the old ABA convention, is the topic of Books and Such Literary Agency bloggers tonight. There is a tremendous amount of unnecessary anxiety over the Kindle and other electronic book delivery systems.
Janet Kobel Grant says this:

HarperCollins’s Brian Murray, Macmillan’s John Sargent, Simon & Schuster’s Carolyn Reidy, and Perseus’s David Steinberger. Tina started out the discussion by describing the media as being “in the middle of an industrial revolution,” with a reimagining of an industry taking place, with fewer and fewer places to talk about books (referring to the demise of magazines, newspapers, and book reviews).

One of the questions weighing on John Sargent’s mind was: “Amazon shows Kindle readers buy much more, but do Kindle reader continue to buy long-term?” (My personal experience is, oh, yes. I find I’ve increased my reading–and buying–threefold since purchasing my Kindle last July. Wendy would agree with that.)

David Steinberger said, “The danger is the development of monopolies because there’s someone who has come between the publisher and the reader.” (Referring to Amazon, Google, and Yahoo.)

Brian Murray’s concern was: “Consumers are used to paying for books. What are the ways to make the migration to electronic publishing profitable?”

Carolyn Reidy wanted “thinking electronically to be in everyone’s DNA at the publisher’s. The true explosion happens when people can read on devices they bought for other purposes. How do we step into this world and take control of it?”

The publishers talked about crashing books and how that will become the norm in the future. Carolyn Reidy observed that S&S crashed 150 books last year “and they did well.” Rapid response, David pointed out, is the future of publishing.

Each CEO also weighed in on thoughts regarding marketing, and while each gave a nod to viral marketing, they all agreed that, as Reidy said, “The Internet has not replaced The Today Show yet.” In other words, national publicity still is the way, in the CEOs’ opinion, to generate word of mouth.

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