Hachette COO: Investment in Publishing Tech to Continue as Industry Standards Splinter

By Jeremy Greenfield, Editorial Director, Digital Book World, @JDGsaid

Outside investments in publishing technologies will continue to grow as publishers grapple with how to serve the expanding appetite among consumers for e-books.

“We will continue to see huge investments changing the publishing ecosystem,” said Ken Michaels, chief operating officer of New York-based publisher Hachette at the Publishers Launch conference at Book Expo America in New York.

In the past several years, venture capital firms like Silicon Valley kingmaker Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers have been pouring money into technology start-ups in the publishing space – a new trend for an industry traditionally associated with slow growth. There are now dozens of firms offering self-publishing and distribution tools, e-book production and distribution services and new e-book marketing technologies.

While this new investment in book publishing is exciting for many publishing players, there is a downside, Michaels said.

“At the very time our publishing system should be coming together to up with best practices and industry standards…we are finding a lack of participation…splintering and rival players invading each others’ spaces in the value chain,” said Michaels.

There are several different file standards for e-books, several different digital rights managements technologies in use and something as simple as digital metadata (i.e., the information that book publishers send to booksellers so their books are sold and marketed properly) is still being puzzled over by the industry.

The problem, said Michaels, is that readers want one, seamless, simple reading experience. As the number of e-book readers continues to grow, the problems of digital content creation, distribution and sales and marketing will only grow.

Write to Jeremy Greenfield

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