September 16th, 2009

Keynote

I was asked if my keynote speech from the Heritage Book Festival would be available anywhere for people to revisit.  At the time, I thought I might use the information for an article or save the speech for another event, but since technology moves so quickly, by the time I could do that, a lot of my info could very well be obsolete!  So, for those of you who missed or or simply want some of the information you missed while I was speaking at NY speed, I give you "New Publishing Paradigms."

NEW PUBLISHING PARADIGMS

We’re living in a strange and exciting time in publishing, where technology is advancing so quickly, we’re all moving at light speed just trying to keep up with it.  You may worry about what this means for writers and readers.  Will we get left behind?  Will texting, Twittering, web-based gaming and alternate worlds take over for the more gentle comfort of curling up with a good book?

You’ll be happy to know that far from this being the case, technology companies, publishers and booksellers alike already looking ahead, designing new paradigms to embrace this brave new world.  Contrary to what we might fear – raising a generation completely taken with the immediacy of cyberspace and the brevity of texting – the National Endowment for the Arts’ shows an increase in literacy for the first time in the history of their survey conducted five times since 1982.  And the increases aren’t insignificant!  7% among adults and 9% among young adults.  They found that fiction accounts for most of the new growth among adult readers and that 84% of adults who read literature downloaded from the Internet also read books.  How does this mesh with the tougher trends we’ve been seeing in the market?  Remember that there are more new titles published each year (recently as many as 275,000 books according to the July 20, 2009 Publishers Weekly), which means that there are more books out there competing for an audience.  Even though that audience is growing, this translates to a heck of a lot of competition.  I’ll talk about some innovative ways publishers are reaching out to their readers, but first I want to discuss some of the new means we have of getting books into the readers’ hands.

Like me, I’m sure you’ve been hearing a lot about e-books and DRM (Digital Rights Management).  Electronic books are still a small fraction of the total market but they are growing. 

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