Our challenge is to move beyond the fear of cannibalisation [by ebooks] by courageously accepting the opportunity presented to us. The central tenet is to be aggressively and remorselessly customer-centric.
So writes Peter Donoughue, respected academic and experienced publisher, on the future of publishing in Australia. He has posted his recent presentation delivered at The University of Queensland ‘Will the Book Publishing Industry Survive the Digital Revolution‘. It is a lengthy, easy and informative read to bring you up-to-date with the business issues that are shaping the future for Australian writers and readers.
Donoughue walks us through the potential disaster of ebooks to the bottom-line for traditional publishers, then examines industry responses, making a good case when he challenges the anti-competitiveness of the Agency model for ebook sales. He addresses territorial rights, consumer access, and the importance of independent booksellers to literary culture, to explore a way forward for the Australian publishing industry.
Donoughue ends by encouraging Australia to embrace the digital publishing revolution – arguing that while some publishers may fall by the wayside, there are some great opportunities as well:
I would prefer to see a publishing community characterised by boldness, not by fear; by a sense of opportunity, not of threat; by openness, not protectionism… Today publishing is surely at the beginning of a profound and positive change to the very structure of the industry. It’s best to be in favour of it.
I have spent this year consciously engaging as a reader with a range of digital publishing projects: ebooks, enhanced editions, even audio books. After going through a bumpy adjustment period to digital immersive books, followed by a swooning honeymoon, I have now come to place where I want to have my cake and eat it, too: readers and writers want to engage with text in their preferred formats, which will vary not only depending on whether they are on the bus or in the bathtub, but on the type of project. Donoughue’s analysis gives hope to lovers of both traditional and digital books.