Brian Tibbetts

April 29, 2015

Digital Publishing Trends and Opportunities


Publishing & Technology: Digital Publishing Trends and Opportunities

brt-headshotBrian Tibbetts is a literary agent with MacGregor Literary. Every Wednesday, Brian posts about trends in the publishing industry and developments in technology that impact the industry. You can find him on Twitter @BRIANRTIBBETTS
This week in Publishing & Technology we’ll be talking about three of the trends still effecting the ongoing evolution of digital publishing as reported by industry analyst Thad McIlroy of The Future of Publishing in December of last year in a white paper commissioned by Digital Book World. For the full white paper click here.

Ebook formatting is still a work in progress. The existing formats worked just fine for text-only books but are still sadly lacking both for illustrated books and for interactive books.

This continues to be a source of frustration to many in the publishing business. While ebook formatting for text-only is so simple that a trained middle schooler should have little to no trouble with it, adding images continues to be beyond approachable from a generalist’s perspective, and when digital audio, animation, or interactive content is thrown into the mix, you might as well start shopping for app developers. It remains to be seen if interactive text is a viable opportunity for the publishing industry, and with the bar to entry so high it may remain to be seen for some time yet.

Subscription models are much in vogue these days, although their business model remains unproven.

If publishers can get consumers to go along with discounted bundling within series and imprints, than subscription-based models as viable additional revenue streams don’t seem to be too far out in the realm of fantasy. But, if my experience running a literary magazine in the digital age taught me anything, it’s that subscription-based models are increasingly less attractive from a consumer’s perspective.

Ebook pricing is only starting to be understood, with publishers trying to find the right balance between maximizing unit sales and maximizing profitability.

If you feel like you have no real handle on how to effectively leverage a pricing strategy for e-books you are not alone. The entire industry is continuing to struggle to understand how price points affect both online purchasing behavior and the purchase of digital content. For an in-depth analysis of contemporary pricing strategies for book sales, I recommend Todd Sattersten’s 2011 title (that he continually updates),

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