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Publishers call for BA action

Publishers have welcomed the Booksellers Association's report into digitisation—but warned that action rather than words needed to be taken. Among the recommendations of the Embracing the Digital Age report, published last week, was that a new cross-industry group be set up to carry forward digitisation issues; universal digital marketing and content standards be derived; and a conference be held next year to further debate the implications of digital issues.

Sara Lloyd, head of digital publishing at Pan Macmillan, said the report was "full of really positive and really practicable steps that the trade can take". Peter Bowron, Random House Group m.d., welcomed the report and added that the industry needed to consult more widely. "We need to work with new partners like Microsoft and Google as well as existing partners," he said. "We can't bury our heads in the sand. We, as publishers, aren't as close to the consumer as booksellers are."

Genevieve Shore, Penguin global digital director, said the report's warning that an outside party could capitalise on digital content had been born out in the US. "Look at Sony and Audible with their ebook services," she said. "It's extremely likely an outside party could come into the digital book trade in the UK unless retailers raise their game."

But publishers were concerned that the report might not lead to action. "Talking about what might come is all well and good but digitisation is here now," said one publisher. "It's not just up to publishers to deliver upon these issues," added another. "It's up to the BA to take this forward. If I was a BA member I would be asking them 'what exactly are you going to do now?'"