Today we are running FutureBook's Innovation Workshop, in association with my own website The Literary Platform.
It’s been an extraordinary year for book publishers. Every day we seem to witness a new twist or turn of events – many are calling it the Wild West and you can understand why – as these are challenging times for publishers.
While the debate surrounding piracy, royalties and the future of publishing rolls on and on – there is a dedicated and enthusiastic group of ‘doers’ who are consistently looking at how they might be able to push the boundaries of publishing, from within the publishing industry.
In Craig Mod’s essay ‘Post Artifact Books and Publishing’, published this week, he says that publishers too often ask the question, “How do we change books to make them digital?” and suggests that what publishers should be asking is, “How does digital change books?” A subtle but important difference.
But the shift in thinking is not straight forward - our first speaker today, Dan Franklin, suggested at a London Book Fair that there is a risk that publishers are creating projects that could be perceived as being 'ahead of the reader' .
This is the challenge for publishers – how can publishers be truly innovative while at the same time concentrating on the bottom line – and how are publishers able to anticipate what readers are willing to accept in terms of fundamental changes in the way that they consume books?
Mod says in his essay: “Like many things inevitable in the evolution of entrenched methodologies – you can either bemoan and lament and eulogize the old, or become an active participant in the shaping of the future.”
I think all our publishers in our Workshop today have demonstrated that they are active participants in the shaping of the future - and we’re grateful that they are happy to share their stories.