With Low Barriers to Entry, Creative Economy Will Continue to Grow Over Next Ten Years

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

The creative economy worldwide will continue to grow at 5% to 6% a year, driven by low barriers to entry for creators, who are growing in both number and the kinds of things they are creating.

The number of people and the scope of the things they are doing that are being included in the creative economy is exploding, according to John Howkins, author of the book The Creative Economy: How People Make Money From Ideas, who was speaking at the On Copyright 2012 conference in New York this morning.

This may be most pronounced in the book publishing industry, where free and cheap e-book creation and distribution tools have turned many aspiring authors into published authors – and has turned some of those into best-selling authors.

Some 300,000 books are published in the U.S. every year, and that number is almost certainly growing.

Bowker, an organization that administers the ISBN book-numbering system, tracks such things, but the latest available figures are from 2009. A call to Bowker for comment has not yet been returned.

Since 2009, Amanda Hocking and J.A. Konrath have self-published dozens of books and have sold millions of copies, sparking a self-publishing gold rush. Thousands of authors have followed them, publishing their own works on Kindle Direct, PubIt! and myriad other services in the hopes of replicating the success.

The scope of the kinds of work joining the creative economy is also increasing. Companies like the Atavist and Amazon, with its Kindle Singles program, is finding a market for content that five years ago would have been condemned as too long for a magazine but too short for a book. And transmedia, using multiple platforms (blogs, online videos and real-world interactions, for instance) to tell stories, has grown in popularity and commercial viability in recent years.

Underpinning this growth are copyright laws, according to Howkins, a veteran of the television and film industries and the namesake of Shanghai’s John Howkins Research Center on the Creative Economy.

For this new level of creativity, or any creativity, fair and open markets are needed, he said, adding that they need to be free of players who use their dominance unfairly.

“It’s up to us as an industry to create the content and distribute the content and get it into consumers’ hands in whatever way they want,” he said. “If you get that right, and the get right the copyright that supports that, then the laws will allow us to protect our rights and we will get paid the money we think we need.”

Write to Jeremy Greenfield

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