Thursday, November 15, 2007

Brave New World; Chapter 2

News is often binary in that it is either good, or bad. Today as we celebrate bringing you our good news - our 250th blog, last night there was also good news when we were honored to be celebrating the 75th birthday of the industry backbone and vital service National Book Tokens. Well done Stuart and team and we look forward to the announced new electronic token.

However, yesterday brought bad news too. After 32 years, Macmillan is to close the iconic Chelsea Pan Bookshop. Pan didn’t resist change and was often first to exploit it. We remember fondly their early adoption of PubEasy, Batch and the larger than life June Formby. Pan Bookshop had been acclaimed by all and duly rewarded a Nibbie.

When we started writing this blog we wondered whether there would be enough to write about and the variety and volume speaks for itself. In the last year the changes within publishing have continues at a pace. The diversity of change is also growing and the convergence of technology increasing, people are now starting to realize that Digital publishing is publishing and this can impact not just what is sold but all the relationships, processes and even the works themselves. There will still be physical books well into the future but they may not be the same as we know them today and may not exist in all genre. The reality is that the only thing we can confidently predict about the future is that it will be different than today and it is about change. The Brave New World report was about defining the future role for bookshops such as Pan in this digital environment its sad that they will not be around to benefit, but we are sure others will be.

We feel that it was timely to again focus our thinking on the impact of these digital changes and are pleased to announce that we intend to produce another report next year, ‘Brave New World: Chapter 2’ Having looked at the issues from the existing channels and retailer perspective the aim this time to review the same landscape but from the author’s perspective.

The author is critical to publishing and is the person who creates the rights, provides the input to the process, is an integral part of its development; helps sell, promote and market the work. The relationships, involvement and processes differ between sectors and markets but are all being increasingly impacted by digitization. At a time when the opportunities to write are exploding through social network, print on demand and long tail economics we are seeing potential changes to the existing author model.

We will keep you abreast of progress and welcome your thoughts and insights and hope this new work will help all.