The impact of technology on publishing
on Aug 23, 2019
Technology today more than ever has a disruptive impact on publishing. The Internet,
printing-on-demand and the e-book are the main drivers of change, impacting all
aspects of the publishing value chain--from the way books are published (authors
can go direct to the reader), distributed (electronic marketplaces), sold (e-tailers)
and read (electronic books). The author examines the context of the publishing
industry in which these changes are occurring, describes the main drivers and
impacts of these changes and illustrates them with an example from the information
Publishing is not what it once was. The Digital Revolution is in full swing in
some areas of the publishing industry while in others, like STM publishing, it has been a constant feature. There is no doubt that technology has had
and continues to have a dramatic impact on publishing. But in no time has it
been as dramatic as it has been today. A customer has a perception of the
publisher's business that is most likely based on a reality of three to five years
ago--but a manager in the business thinks of the business three to five years
hence. That is a gap of six to ten years between managerial and customer
perception of the same publishing business, created and exacerbated by technology. What is the context in which it is happening? What drives this change?
What is this impact of technology on publishing? And how does technology
create value in publishing?
Publishing has been a low growth business in the last few years. The global
book market has grown from $80 billion in 1997 to around $90 billion in 2000
and is forecast to only grow to $93 billion by 2002 (Figure 1).
Almost in line with sluggish revenue growth, the publishing stock market
index 1 has barely outperformed the market over the last few years. Only some
companies have significantly outperformed the stock market, often driven by
the hype surrounding new media announcements and strategies. But for every
star performer, there are others who have done less well in the market (Figure 2).
It is in this environment of low growth that technology is changing the rules
of the game. A low-growth market implies that technology creates incremental
value for publishers only by redistributing the value in the system. And already there is evidence for that in new forms of distribution and authors
becoming publishers in their own right.
But the global picture is not a true reflection of the diversity in the publishing market. Different sectors of the publishing industry have performed very
differently. Documenting these differences is not easy--it is an irony of the
publishing industry: for an industry that focuses on publishing information on
everything and anything, it publishes very little about itself. However, the
data that is available paints a very dynamic picture for the publishing industry.