Hachette Book Group chief executive Michael Pietsch has predicted "huge growth" in writing and reading in the years to come, as a generation nurtured on Harry Potter, The Hunger Games and The Fault in Our Stars reaches maturity.
Writing in the Wall Street Journal, Pietsch said today's young people have "had books as a huge part of their lives, and have watched those books become excellent movies expanding their imaginative hold. Having grown up online, they are all of necessity writers and readers. As this generation comes to the market over the next decades, their demand for great and exciting books will fuel a huge growth in writing and reading."
The prediction was among several in the piece, taking an optimistic view of the future of publishing.
Pietsch said he had been hearing about the demise of book publishing "since the first day I stepped through the doors of a publisher back in 1978", with "the most recent variant of the death watch" being the idea that the digital revolution would replace printed books with e-books, while authors would overwhelmingly choose self-publishing.
"After several years of rapid e-book growth, their sales topped out at about one-quarter of publishers' revenues and have declined for a year. Print books have proved durable because, as a format, they're simply hard to improve on," he noted.
Meanwhile, though self-publishing has grown hugely, "writers like to be paid, in advance, for their work," he said. "Publishers are investors and risk takers. And a publishing company with longstanding media and marketing relationships is far more capable of getting attention for a new book than a writer working alone."
Pietsch predicted that publishers' work would remain the same: identifying, investing in, nurturing and marketing great writers, with more publishing for children, but continued conglomeration among the retailers and wholesalers.
"As runaway books sell ever-larger numbers, publishers will earn more on their biggest sellers‹which will keep driving up the advances they pay for potential hits," he opined.