Publishers more content with digital transition than authors

Publishers more content with digital transition than authors

Publishers are more content about how the book business is weathering the digital transition than authors, early results of the FutureBook Digital Census have found.

The Digital Census, the annual tracker of the book business’ digital evolution, was launched two weeks ago and so far more than 400 respondents have completed the survey.

When asked to rate how their business was faring at this point in the digital transition, 20% of publisher respondents replied “excellent”, while a further 41% said “good, but could do better”. Close to 34% said there were still too many missed opportunities, and 6% rated progress as “poor”.

The view of author respondents was more nuanced, with more discontent evident. While many traditionally published authors were broadly happy with their publisher, a number questioned the pricing and marketing strategies for their digital titles. One noted: “They've made my e-books very cheap and/or free to try and get me up the bestseller charts, but it's not worked.”  

When asked which authors would benefit most from the changes to the marketplace, traditionally published authors rank the lowest, behind brand-name authors, hybrid writers and self-published authors. And one noted: “I am hybrid. My publisher does very little to promote my books. Me as publisher I am developing strategies every day.”

The survey has also captured views on the current debate about the reasons behind the slow down in publisher e-book growth over the past 18 months. One respondent stated: “It's part of the natural ebb and flow of innovation adoption. E-books will continue to grow and evolve.” Another added: “Overcrowded market, poor quality self published books - probably resulting in general reader disappointment.” However, many answers also pointed to the high prices of e-books, with a number of authors reporting a downswing in income from digital books.

To take part in the survey, follow this link to Survey Monkey. To encourage others to take the survey, the link is: surveymonkey.com/r/FBCensus15.

The Bookseller has unveiled a week of events in the run-up to FutureBook 2015, the largest digital conference in Europe. These include an Author Day on 30th November, a BIC Training Seminar, and a cocktail reception for The Bookseller's Rising Stars. Keynote speakers at the FutureBook Conference, 4th December, include Pottermore chief executive Susan Jurevics, Faber c.e.o. Stephen Page, and Annette Thomas, chief scientific officer at Springer Nature. For more details on The FutureBook Conference, visit the conference website.