Digital publishing as an evolving Industry

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Digital publishing is still evolving but some clarity is starting to appear.

Answers from Elena Ornig

"Digital publishing"

Digital publishing is still evolving but some clarity is starting to appear.

Whilst digital publishing is still evolving we are already observing some clear process specifics.

We can now read and analyse deliberately collected data, trends and statistics in order to draw conclusions and therefore build stable systems and establish operational methods. What is becoming clear is that the traditional monopolization of book publishing is gone; at least for now.  Millions of individuals are operating independently, as small flexible business units (individual enterprises), creating new ways of digital publishing.  This includes production and consumption economics.

What is significant in this regard is the ultimate formula – locally owned small digital publishing companies operating globally via the Internet; directly communicating with consumers of their products and at the same time conserving the environment (reducing tree cutting and water wastage) but still providing employment.  How good is that?  And there is more – production, distribution, pricing and even investment decisions are based on customers’ interests and not on the interests of a few traditional print publishing companies, who were monopolizing, controlling and influencing the market.

The production and supply of digital books and its distribution to the consumer, is now operating on true, free market, principles.  Of course, each participant has their own agenda.  The producer is understandably after the highest price where as the consumer is surely after the cheapest price.  A compromise must be reached and this is the best part; there is no one in between “middle man”; the negotiation is directly between the producer/supplier and the consumer.  The consumer demands quantity and quality and so, as it should be, the consumer, basing decisions on their interests, dictates the production outcome.

Another, very significant aspect that digital publishing is able to address is that of accessibility.  The digital world provides almost unlimited opportunity for the better education of society.The production of academically valuable books is fast and cheap; distribution is almost immediate; at minimal coast (or increasingly, in many cases, free), this is therefore widely available and affordable.

"Books and digital books"

Digital Publishing and consumption economics.

So how should a digital publishing company operate?  Based on my observations as a publisher, writer and reader, I believe that three personal interests must be considered. The first is the reader.  As the product user, the reader is in a perfect position to dictate.  Therefore, the writer and publisher must have a prime interest in analysing what the reader would like to read. Writer must have a clear understanding of what is in demand and what capacity and ability he or she has to produce a valuable product.  The publisher must not only understand demand, protect capital investment and copyrights  but also take care of the writer; the product supplier.

Let’s just clarify who is who in this new combination.  The consumer is definitely the reader. The publisher is the investor and in many cases, the marketer and retailer.  The writer is a producer of an idea, a concept and information and also the supplier to the publisher.  But the writer could also be the publisher, the investor, the marketer and the retailer if he or she wants to follow that path. This demonstrates a total rearrangement of the traditional publishing industry.  It is a new, not yet stable, system of operation and management; a very adaptable, flexible system offering real economic benefits.

Another, unavoidable factor for consideration is the regulatory framework how new digital players are operating in; specifically, the government’s rules and regulations for digital trade, including taxation. For example, the Australian government introduced National Digital Economy Strategy.

The National Digital Economy Strategy (NDES) sets out a vision for Australia to realise the benefits of the National Broadband Network (NBN) and position Australia as a leading digital economy by 2020. The Strategy’s eight goals aim to:

Many issues are yet to be resolved; one conclusion is clear, the digital publishing industry is still evolving.  There are ongoing developments, new methods of operating and trading that all need a level of regulation and stability; this, and a very customer focused market, means that the future for us, the publishers, the writers and the readers, pretty good and very exciting – just as it should be!

My warmest regards,
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Written by Elena Ornig

Managing Director of Publishing Company "Julia Sophistique Pty Ltd". Committee member of Australian Computer Association GC Chapter. Member of Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE). Member of the Chamber of Commerce & Industry Queensland. Member of the IT Forum Gold Coast. Sponsor of the Helensvale Writers' Group, Gold Coast. Committee member of the Gold Coast Writers Association Honored VIP Member of STANFORD WHO'S WHO in America. Publisher, writer and blogger.


One comment
  1. Elena, thanks for a thought-provoking article.

    You mention that “[writers] must have a clear understanding of what is in demand and what capacity and ability he or she has to produce a valuable product.”

    Don’t you think that, thanks to the gigantic leap forward that e-publishing represents, more authors will find it easier to target their niches and find a devoted core readership? Obviously, this requires analytic thinking and a knowledge of the market… but what about *creating* your own market? After all, each writer is a brand. Think about this: there was no specific market for Coke before Coke was created.

    What gives me pause is your mention of a “valuable product.” Are we talking about numbers? What constitutes the value of a story? Length? Content? A book, good or bad, is a work of art. (I speak of fiction, of course.) Can you judge a work of art in terms of market acceptance or financial performance? If so, what would the criteria be?

    How do you determine an author’s capacity to produce a valuable product? I’m intrigued. Are we talking about a minimum set of desirable features (professional formatting, editing, appealing cover) or, are we discussing something else which escapes me entirely.

    I agree that the reader comes first. However, readers demand different kinds of quality. Harry Potter fans may not take a liking to Kafka or Samuel Beckett. RA Salvatore collectors may not get Philip K Dick. How do you establish what is quality and what isn’t? Reader demand alone?

    As you can see, I said ‘thought-provoking’ and I meant it. My mind is all aflutter with questions. I needed that. Thanks.

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