In this week's Self-Publishing News, ALLi News Editor Dan Holloway fills us in on the latest with a look at the opportunities for indies form educational publishing.
As a writer, I am very lucky to have a day job working in a university Linguistics Faculty. I was thinking that especially this week as we interview applicants for a post in Semantics. I basically get to spend my whole day listening to people talking about how remarkable language is. Many of us write by drawing on what we hear and see around us. I am very lucky that for me that means discussion of words themselves.
How We Read
What is reading is a question we ask a lot at the moment? The debate that started with ebooks has moved to audio, to gaming. And for indies it has meant new possibilities, but also challenges. What is reading is a question that goes to the heart of our identity. It has been clear for some time that fewer people are reading on dedicated ereaders. A startling figure from Nate over at the Digital Reader is that the reader market looks set to shrink by half in the next 5 years.
We are reading more on smartphones. And it is showing in publishing opportunities. Tapas, backed by Tencent, is a platform of mobile publishing that allows smartphone readers to read chunks of text in return for micropayments. It's very similar to the old cell phone novel of the Noughties. But with a modern twist. How we read might be changing. But we will always have the opportunity to tell stories.
The Future of Barnes & Noble
I talked last week about James Daunt’s utterly underwhelming Futurebook talk about his plans for Barnes and Noble. Google grew on the back of “don’t be evil.” B & N, it seems, will come back to life through “don’t be boring.” Last week we got a first look at what that would actually mean. Daunt had already said to Futurebook that he didn't foresee major changes until 2021. That, at least, offers some hope. The store's new owners have deep enough pockets to keep the doors open long enough to give it a fighting chance to turn around. The initial strategy is to eliminate scripted sales (wow! I had no idea that was a thing in bookselling – it shouldn't be); better stock control to reduce returns. And a book of the year award.
If Waterstones in the UK is anything to go by it is the middle of these that will matter for indies. In theory, better stock control means giving more control to local booksellers who know their public. At Futurebook, Daunt made it clear he thinks the opposite. He believe local sellers having autonomy leads to higher returns. ALLi may have an opening up campaign coming.
Educational publishing is an interesting outlier in the publishing world. Unlike much of publishing, profits in (parts of) the sector can be eye watering. Those profits are built on many things, but one of them is the captive market, and eyebrow-raising price of textbooks to accompany it. And that has, like an isolated microclimate, had some interesting evolutionary effects on the sector. We recently looked at Amazon’s new Ignite, which gives indies who produce educational material a platform for publishing all kinds of resources. And Rakuten's app Sora has now won the 2019 Academics' Choice smart app award. Sora enables students to access textbooks through local libraries. It does this using the underlying technology of Overdrive – the same thing that enables us as indies to get our books to libraries. A great chance for us to get our works to students.
The other effect of educational publishing's microclimate is piracy. In India there is a whole industry in photocopied textbooks. It's the only way many can afford to study. Now US educational publishers have filed a suit to stop piracy of ebook textbooks. This feels like a part of the industry where the doors are opening for us and the market is crying out for us.
Talking of the consequences of publishers’ pricing, it’s time to return to their battle with libraries. This week one story in particular caught my eye. As it becomes harder and harder to borrow books, readers are finding new ways. One hacker had obtained log-ins to every library in California to find a way to short circuit publishers' restricted access.
Educational publishing's opportunities for writers, how Barnes & Noble is changing & other top #selfpub news stories for #indieauthors, in one quick read, by #ALLi News Editor Dan Holloway @agnieszkasshoes #digitaleconomy… Click To Tweet
Over to You
What opportunities do you anticipate from the changing way in which people are reading? Let us know in the comments below.
Upcoming Conferences and Events
Authors' Book Fair, 14 Dec [Brighton]
San Francisco Writers' Conference, 13-16 Feb [San Francisco]
London Book Fair, 10-12 Mar [London]
Self-publishing Conference, 25 Apr [University of Leicester]