Stephen Page: Publishers need 'permanent conversation with consumers'

Stephen Page: Publishers need 'permanent conversation with consumers'

"There are a lot of people doing a lot of things we used to do," Stephen Page told the Independent Publishers Guild conference today (27th February), but added that publishers should not "surrender the ground we know".

In a keynote address, Page shared his thoughts on the state and future of publishing, saying that publishers needed to build fan bases for authors and readers, do things faster, and blur and re-imagine old roles in the future.

Other players, such as Amazon and self-published authors, were starting to enter the publishing space, Page said. "I would beg you to get out of any conversation, any hysterical conversation, about self-publishing is one thing and we are another," he said. "We're not, we're part of the contingent called publishing."

Page said the publishing industry had to stop looking at e-books as an outcome of print, and to look at it as a "different garden". "What we have discovered is there are a huge number of readers for whom what is in the Kindle store is hugely attractive," he said, and publishers could not "bolt" e-books on to what publishers did already. Publishers needed to think about e-books as separate products, with separate marketing and pricing.

Faber was looking at "superfans" and niches, and building fan bases in the future, investing more in writers and readers and conversations with them. He said publishers needed to have a "permanent conversation" with consumers.

Page also said publishers should also look to build more imaginative digital products, spend less time discussing subscriptions and stop talking about prices as relevant to each other. "Lets make £100 books for people who want them, and let's make 99p books for people who want them," he said.

Despite the more crowded marketplace, Page said: "We are not going to surrender the ground we know. "We must continue to challenge ourselves."