Package print with digital to thrive, says Schnittman

Package print with digital to thrive, says Schnittman

Publishers should offer "enhanced hardbacks" with print and digital packaged together, The Bookseller's Futurebook conference was told this morning (5th December).

Keynote speaker Evan Schnittman, Bloomsbury's m.d. for group sales and marketing, print and digital, told delegates at the London event that hardback books should be sold alongside a digital copy of the same work for 25% more than the stand-alone print version. The move would work for readers who read digitally but want a physical copy on their bookshelf, he said.

"In this country we have the highest author loyalty rate, but everyone (customers, retailers, publishers, authors, agents) in the process will win if you combine digital with a hardcover," Schnittman added.

Schnittman also warned that the industry's movement towards digital will affect cash flow in publishing companies. "E-books we send on trial and 100 days afterward, if they have sold it to the customer, we get paid."

Fellow keynote speakers Dominique Raccah, c.e.o. of US indie publisher Sourcebooks, and Stephen Page, c.e.o. of Faber, both said their approach to their businesses had fundamentally changed.

Raccah said that according to US data, 66% of the top 85 titles sold on Amazon are by traditional publishers, 16% are by non-traditional and 18% are self-published. "Frankly, we are no longer a book publisher, we are a publisher," she commented.

Page said that his company no longer thought of itself as a publisher, but a business "about reading and writing", adding: "It is a really thriving time to be in this industry . . . and I would say if you are not enjoying it now think about doing something else." He said publishers should invest more in training staff to be ahead of what is coming next in digital publishing while publishers should work with authors to be involved in the creative process from the outset.

Page added that players in the publishing industry should work harder to build a publishing community. "There are 4,000 libraries in the UK, a resource that publishers have fallen asleep on," he said.