The changes in publishing– impact of digital technology

Sesh Seshadri, CEO & Co-Founder – Overleaf Books LLP and COO –Pagemajik, shares his views on the impact of digital technology in publishing.

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The question that is being asked is whether digital technology has impacted the publishing industry. Positive impact or otherwise. It is yet to be confirmed or determined whether print books are on a decline and whether digital books are on a growth trajectory. There is no deep dived research paper on this. Having said that, it differs from market to market, meaning different countries and also the genre of publishing; K-12, Higher-Academic, Fiction, Non-fiction and many more. It is not at a point where one size fits all.

More and more stakeholders in the publishing industry are looking at ways of managing this integration process which is complex. Why is it complex? Let us look at four clear paths in the publishing eco-system.

Writer/ Author – We can call them creators. There is traditional writing and now there is assisted writing with the help of generative AI. Surely there is a positive side and flipside to this. Moving on….

Publisher – We can call them curators. This team puts in a lot of effort in editing, copy-editing, proof reading, designing, indexing and many more such project related functions to make the content elegant and readable. I observe that many companies are wasting a lot of their time by not embracing the current technology which is available as a ready buy option. My research estimates shows that what could be achieved and delivered in less than 12 hours is now laboured for over 2 to 4 weeks. Many of them with whom I have had conversations with, are unwilling to give up their current inefficient systems and adapt technology resisting the change.

The curators have to come out of their cocoons, embrace new technology and become efficient and bring in more accuracy in their publishing processes.

What next after this?

Distribution – The most important function in the lifecycle. This has undergone significant changes, and many are unable to understand or foresee the massive evolution taking place in the models of distribution. I began listing the avenues available for publishers and the list was so lengthy that I decided to not list them. Yes, the traditional book shop is still there lurking, but the models, platforms and opportunity have grown immensely both in physical and digital. We should no longer be talking about current systems which has been a major reason for the disruption of supply chain in the publishing sector.

Finally…

Monetisation

This is very complex. However, publishers must study this carefully since the new monetisation avenues are bringing the cash back to the publishers faster than the traditional approach of waiting for a period ranging from 90 – 210 days. There are many platforms that have opened this opportunity for publishers, some of which cannot be achieved by smaller publishers due to affordable issues. Medium and large publishers can thrive and grow with this new medium.

In conclusion…

Publishing industry is not about simply digitizing content but is about forcing businesses to adapt their processes and products to accommodate and reach the new customer.

There is an urgent need for publishers to examine all of their systems and evolve to a more efficient way of handling their business. Evaluating a manuscript, applying technology in the editorial and production process, supply chain management, streamlining and accelerating the monetisation and many more can be managed by? Should I say algorithms?

The market is showing an up-tick in content in genres such as young adult, romance, fantasy, mystery, thriller, historical fiction, science fiction, self-help, and to name a few/amongothers. You have to embrace technology. Content is not regarded as data by the author and publisher but is data for those who drives this via tech.

Human hand/intervention cannot be done away with. But there is a call to minimize it to be efficient, cost-effective which results in better profits and more!!

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