Publishers have always relied on booksellers to display, promote and recommend their titles. Today's technology, though, means the business is no longer about the physical book. According to Faber CEO, Stephen Page, it is instead about reading and writing. And the new task is to narrow the gap between the reader and the story.
Most book purchases have been mediated through another person, says Anobii CEO Matteo Berlucchi. The content is something people want to talk about and now publishers need to harness the conversation.
A recent conference on e-publishing speculated on what form this conversation will take. Perhaps the future will see readers offered rewards for finishing a book, it was suggested. And the big brand authors will be exploited to an unprecedented level. Publishers will need to work across every platform to reach the reader and to make the writer into something much more than they could be by themselves.
The possibilities are endless and, while exciting, also rather overwhelming. Where will we go for trusted recommendations? How will publishers overcome their commercial goals to enter into a valued relationship with the reader? What more do we want from the author and book? How will all this 'noise' of conversation sit with the personal, private and solitary act of engaging with a text, a story?