Answers from Elena Ornig.
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 monopolisation 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 monopolising, 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.
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:
- increase Australian households’ online participation
- increase Australian business’ and not-for-profit organisations’ online engagement
- smartly manage our environment
- improve health and aged care
- expand online education
- increase teleworking
- improved online government service delivery and engagement
- increase digital engagement in regional Australia.
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,