The Shadow of Digitization Falls Upon the Publishing Industry

By Cori Cagide, Associate Publicist


I recently read an article in The Guardian that discussed the impact changes in the publishing industry is having on both large and small publishing houses. For those working within the publishing industry, “’The Big 6” always comes to mind as the leaders in the publishing world and seem to reign supreme in the industry.  However, while this is still the case, and will most likely be the case for some time, with the advent of digital publishing and the industry’s transition to ebook production, it’s the smaller houses that are reaping the benefits.

e-book in typescript close-upThis doesn’t necessarily mean these smaller houses are ready to play ball with the larger publishers, but it does give them the opportunity to be on the same playing field for now. A lot of the smaller houses were responsible for spearheading digital movements, with larger houses clutching onto the role of traditional publishing in the industry.  These smaller/mid-sized houses, also known as indie or niche publishers, are now being given the competitive advantage. While many of the smaller houses already have the same capabilities as larger houses when it comes to publishing, digital downloading has led to the elimination of many of the costs that come with traditional book publishing and distribution.

The advent of digital publishing has also led to an increase in self-publishing, which hasn’t fared well for large or small houses. Due to the low cost and easy-to-use software and formulas that have now become available to the public, publishing houses are being pressured to prove their worth to authors. Not only has competition increased for them, but they’re also forcing them to come up with cheaper, user-friendly platforms for their authors to be more involved in the publishing process.

Amazon3A great example of how newcomers are paving the way for publishing is the milestones made by Amazon in the last decade, which, has made them a leader in the publishing space. With CreateSpace, Amazon offers a fast and free platform for independently publishing your book. They continue to bring their services to the forefront and prove themselves to come out on top in the publishing industry time and time again – and even have The Big Six getting nervous.

George Packer of The New Yorker put it well when describing Amazon: “Amazon is a global superstore, like Walmart. It’s also a hardware manufacturer, like Apple, and a utility, like Con Edison, and a video distributor, like Netflix, and a book publisher, like Random House, and a production studio, like Paramount, and a literary magazine, like The Paris Review, and a grocery deliverer, like FreshDirect, and someday it might be a package service, like U.P.S.”

Amazon2We’ve yet to see the full brunt of Amazon’s impact on the publishing industry or where digital publishing will bring traditional publishing, but it’s something that every author and publisher should be thinking about. If anything, this is a blessing in disguise, forcing big and small houses alike to go outside of their comfort zone and push themselves to the brink of creativity when it comes to improving their capabilities and consistently advancing the services they offer.





Related: Query Letters: How to Catch a Literary Agent’s Eye


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