Mike Doherty writes about Andrew Wylie in an article What is the future of book publishing? ‘Chances are things are going to work out,’ super-agent says for Postmedia News, accessible on Vancouver Sun. Wylie expresses optimism toward printed publishing in spite of the wave of digitalisation in publishing industry worldwide, saying that the world will “return to good old-fashioned books” because “the printed word lasts and lasts and lasts.”
What is so special about printed publications that makes Wylie claim it will come back into fashion? For me, printed books do have their distinctive attraction for being physical, lasting, and symbolically valuable as gifts. However, it remains uncertain whether our next generation’s reading habits will be completely overhauled by the popularisation of portable devices, leading to an irreversible overturn of publishing conventions.
Image Credit: Matthew Sherwood for National Post
Maggie Brown reports in her article The Fifty Shades effect: women dominate self-publishing on the Guardian that “middle-aged and well-educated women […] dominate the growing e-publishing market”. However, the article does not really give any satisfactory explanation to the finding, but rather goes on discussing self-publishing and how it causes change in the publishing industry. My personal postulation comes from Alison Baverstock’s comment that lots of self-publishers have been very collaborative and share information with each other; sociology and linguistics studies have revealed that prototypically, women are considered stronger at building interpersonal relationships and attending emotional connection, while men are considered more keen on establishing hierarchy and seeking power. Although these claims can be quite overgeneralised and may not apply to every aspect of human behaviour, they might still offers a perspective into examining why women, presumably to be stronger at collaborating, outperform men in self-publishing.
My favourite quote in this article comes from Michael Tamblyn’s “how people engage with books has been an undiscovered country”. If publishers cannot get timely feedback about (the change of) readers’ interests through marketing research, most publishing endeavours are likely to end in vain.
Image Credit: Ohio University
Pearson releases news in a recent article Pearson Collaborates With Saddleback Educational Publishing to Close Gap in Adolescent Literacy, signifying the company’s embarkment on an endeavour with Saddleback Educational Publishing to improve the literacy level of struggling young readers.
Having worked in an educational publishing house myself, I sometimes wonder if the decline in adolescent literacy is not just due to a lack of educational resources (or the unequal distribution thereof) as a result of economic recession, but also because of the increasing distractions for adolescents growing up in a digital era. Educational publishing is a unique field in the publishing industry, because it carries the responsibility of nurturing the young generation’s literacy skills. I myself had been an adolescent until recently, but stepping into twenty-something has soon stirred my thinking about how can we possibly grab adolescents’ attention, and more importantly, maintain their attention to reading and writing, not only to gain knowledge but also to imagine, to get inspired, and to enjoy exploring the realms that they might not be privileged to visit in person.
Image Credit: ProjectLiteracy, Pearson
Growing up as a bookworm, I have gone completely crazy about the spin-off products of Penguin Books — and I’m pretty sure that I am not the only one. Penguin Books was one of the first foreign publishers who introduced western classical literature into China, and as a teenager I was privileged to indulge myself with English language and literature, thanks to this little Penguin.
Postcards featuring iconic Penguin book jackets, Book Bag with an image of Jack Kerouac’s On the Road (which I could no longer resist and finally purchased one from HKU Bookstore at 166HKD, on 21st January 2015), Water Bottle based on the cover of The Lost Girl, Notebook coming with Jane Austin’s Pride and Prejudice…… I see the production of book spin-off as an innovative marketing strategy to increase sales and allow the publishing house to transition from relying on the sales of books (including hard copies and e-books) to attracting the readers with more creative products. Rather than limiting ourselves to the traditional ways of running a publishing business, we might find it the right time to re-examine the old saying of “judging a book by its cover”!
Image Credit: Penguin Books, UK
Andrew Losowsky delivers an informative and entertaining talk The Power of Publishing Platforms at TEDxAtlanta (I have transcribed this video into English for TED, but the subtitle is still pending approval).
From a journalist at leading publications to an independent journalist/editor, Losowsky wants to change who we listen to, and how we listen by helping people understand their own world and get their own voice through publishing. I have kept this talk on my favorite list to remind myself why I aspire to become a publisher in the first place.
Video Credit: TEDxAtlanta
In the article Why You Need to Become an Independent Publisher, Geoff Livingston advocates writers to consider self-publishing; he also shares the valuable things that he has learned in the process. Livingston states that the trend of independent publishing is mainly due to “retaining artistic direction, a higher percentage of profits, and the increasing lack of editorial and marketing support offered by traditional publishing houses”. He offers suggestions on producing an outstanding manuscript and marketing the book after it has been published.
Meanwhile, Joe Belanger discusses the potential disadvantages of self-publishing in his article Self-publishing risks and rewards explored. He points out that independent publishing not only means that authors must be involved in the “creative aspect” of production, but they must also make “a series of business decisions”, which possibly takes up the time that could be spent writing and even leads to unwise decision making without seeking professional guide, which could make authors suffer financially. Self-publishing seems to become more and more popular these days and has certainly presents a challenge to the traditional publishing industry, but as an author, you do need to think twice before taking this path.
Image credit: Copyblogger Media
In a recent article Uprising: Less prestigious journals publishing greater share of high-impact papers, John Bohannon points out that “the dominance of the elite journals is eroding”, because relevant papers has become more accessible for scientists nowadays.
Indeed, the digitalisation of scientific resources has given rise to an evolution in academic publishing, redefining the way scientific papers are accessed, cited, and published. A paper published in a less known journal does not entail lower quality, and the significance of an academic journal (or its contribution to the field) cannot be evaluated solely on the impact factor that it receives. While the credibility of a journal still weighs a lot when researchers look for references, more and more are realising the importance of “relevance” rather than “reputation” when citing previous studies. Meanwhile, the scientific community anticipates (with much hope) any potential benefit when the world of academic publishing goes egalitarian.
Image Credit: Vilseskogen/Flickr, Science