When people ask me what university program I’m in, “Professional Communications” usually grants a blank face and slightly concerned chuckle from whatever distant relative has asked me.
“I’m hoping to get into book editing,” I reply in the awkward silence that follows. And their reactions are generally something like this: “Oh. Do people still read real books?”
God, I hope so.
However, they aren’t wrong when they think of the book industry and it’s decreasing popularity. Of course, we still see big name companies like Chapters Indigo and Barnes & Noble still selling a great deal of print books, but in recent years the book industry has been on some pretty rocky ground. It’s true that with the rise of digital media, print media’s future has been up in the air.
“It’s a transformation that began with the rise of Amazon as an online bookseller and accelerated with the resulting decline of the physical bookstore,” says Wired magazine. However, the major shift happened when the e-book was introduced, which cut publisher’s production and distribution costs in half, but also made the books’ cover prices much cheaper.
2017 readers are constantly connected online, always on the go, and used to having information exactly when they need it, so it’s not surprising that books and other print media are taking second place to digital media. This poses a huge problem for book publishers as they still have similar costs as they once did to produce books, but print sales (where they make up a lot of the profit) are down. Also, it makes it especially difficult for independent publishers to keep up with the big name publishers like Random House Penguin and Simon & Schuster.
This is a pivotal time for the book industry as the shift from print to digital has begun, and yet, it seems as though it hasn’t quite transformed in a new age of publishing. Book publishers, both independent and corporate, are still clinging on to how things used to be with print media, refusing to adapt to the changing environment. In the years to come, with a new wave of book publishing and editors, it is essential for the industry to find an new and innovative ways to produce and sell books, whether that be by jumping on the digital media train wholeheartedly or revive the print media in a drastic way.