Expert publishing blog opinions are solely those of the blogger and not necessarily endorsed by DBW.
The Digital Book World Conference + Expo, kicking off on January 13, 2015 is packed with an incredible amount of information and ideas about the digital publishing landscape at a time of remarkable transformations. To help attendees make the most out of those three days, Digital Book World is sitting down with conference speakers to help lay the groundwork for conversations that will take place at the conference and continue for many weeks and months afterward.
What do you think has been the most newsworthy event in the past year around publishing and digital change?
Amazon’s commitment to the subscription model via Kindle Unlimited and Amazon Prime has been fascinating to watch. Certainly that’s not to say the dispute with Hachette wasn’t also interesting and very telling. Watching the giants force their positions out to the public in such a way was embarrassing and uncomfortable. Everywhere I went, non-publishing folks asked my opinion on it. But it’s certainly nothing new in terms of retailer and supplier disputes, so maybe I wasn’t as surprised by the conflict as others seemed to be.
I think we’re likely to see a consolidation of ebook subscription services or one clear market leader in 2015–2016.
We should also keep an eye out for Barnes & Noble, which seems to be breathing new life into its channels via printing for self-published authors as well as its partnership for Nook with Samsung, making the Nook a full-featured tablet.
What are you anticipating as the big change we will see in 2015?
I’m really looking forward to seeing traditional distributors embrace and give equal and adequate weight to digital releases. I would like to see more control over and regulation of data/metadata delivery and dissemination. I’m also looking forward to seeing what Kobo has up its sleeve and whether it can gain more market share in the U.S.; it’s going to take a lot more than new devices, though they do seem to be stepping up their promotion game.
What is the most important thing publishers need to accomplish in 2015?
It would serve us all well to gain a better understanding of the advantages and disadvantages of all-in traditional vs. hybrid self-digital distribution. Not exploring these options can be the difference between a big digital release and one that fails to meet expectations–especially for small to mid-sized presses.
Will Amazon’s ebook market share grow in 2015, or will this be the year that Apple, Kobo, Google and Nook (or someone else) push them back?
Google in particular is making some significant strides in this arena, but I do believe they have a long way to go. I am still hopeful that Nook may regain some market share due to its partnership with Samsung, but I don’t think that alone will reestablish Nook as a true Kindle competitor/alternative.
I do believe Amazon’s ebook market share will continue to increase unless or until a competitor can match or beat their prices, shipping and virtual inventory. When competitors make up such a small percentage of sales compared with Amazon, publishers and self-published writers are forced to choose an Amazon-only or Amazon-centric approach to pushing their ebooks into the market. This is what makes KDP Select so attractive to many.
Are there any companies (start-up or otherwise) now flying below the radar that you think may break out in 2015?
There are so many book start-ups, from publishers to agencies to digital folks. It’s an exciting time in the publishing business. I would rather not name names, but I’m excited about companies that provide services to small or medium publishers and self-published authors, enabling them to compete on the same level as the big houses. These companies are poised to make great strides as the number of small presses and self-published authors grows.
Georgia McBride is the Founder of Georgia McBride Media Group, home of Month9Books, Swoon Romance and Tantrum Books. She’ll be speaking on a panel at Digital Book World 2015 called “New Innovative Publishers,” focusing on a rising crop of start-ups and independent publishers that are challenging traditional models and ways of thinking about the digital book market.