Help us find innovation in publishing

Help us find innovation in publishing

I’ll admit: it sometimes feels like there’s no innovation in publishing. In a business of me-too titles and copycat book covers, where mainstream press coverage is still dominated by which celebrity is “writing” a Christmas blockbuster, it can feel like a hard task to find new ideas - and spotlight the people who have them.

But that’s why the FutureBook Awards are more important than ever. Launched in 2010, this specific set of awards was created to celebrate the people and companies at the forefront of the digital transformation. It was an exciting time, full of possibility and daring experiments.

With the traditional books model proving to be surprisingly resilient, it looks like there’s a retrenchment from innovation as publishers concentrate on core business. But behind the high-profile casualties, there’s still lots going on. We just need to find it.

I’ve been tasked with hunting down innovative people and projects worthy of a FutureBook Award - and I want your help. I know there’s inspiring work going on in the sector, within publishers big and small, in startups, and in side hustles. With a month to go before the awards categories are announced, now's the time to take a step back and start seeking it out. However, innovation might not look exactly like you expect. For example...

Innovation is not invention. Transformative new ideas are awe-inspiring, but innovation is mainly about improvements to products, services, processes or business models. Remember, Google didn’t invent the search engine but optimised it.

Innovation is not measured in sales. Investors might demand hockey stick growth, but the slow burner could stick around long enough to transform a sector. Look behind the headlines and bestseller lists to find innovative ideas hiding.

Anyone can innovate. Ideas thrive in a diverse environment. We need to go beyond digital roles to find creators across the sector. And it’s not just those with power and authority – disruptors are more likely to come within the ranks.

You don’t need money or time to innovate. Constraint is the innovators best friend – a tight brief, schedule or budget will force more exciting ideas. The next big thing is as likely to come from a cash-strapped startup or time-poor side hustler.

Innovation is both a process and an outcome. Experimentation is at the heart of making ideas happen. Some ideas are before their time, others are badly executed, but don’t discount them – there’s always something to learn, and improve.

With this in mind, we'd love you to consider:

  • What neat ideas have caught your attention?
  • What campaigns have you seen that made you think, feel or act in a different way?
  • Who has inspired and excited you in the world of books?
  • What tech is changing how you discover, buy, consume and store content?

Send us your thoughts to futurebook.awards@thebookseller.com, or tweet me at @Eva_Bec using the hashtag #FutureBookAwards - and help us show that book trade innovation is still going strong.