The Open Access Movement in publishing began in the 1990s. Professional journals in print and archived materials began to become digitized. Accessing information online began “free of charge and free of most usage restrictions” by 2002, according to Peter Suber in the SPARC Open Access Newsletter of August 2008. However, “gratis” and “libre” proved a financially unsustainable model.
Scientific information spreads across the globe with Internet speed. For example, the spread of information about food technologies aids in growing more food in agriculturally depressed countries. On the flip side, when nuclear and chemical warfare technology reaches the hands of extremists, it leads to unbearable disaster.
The means of spreading scientific publication is changing too. Reporting research techniques and findings is no longer limited to publishing in scientific journals. Peers no longer wait weeks and months to review scientific papers. New policies like Open Access across compatible mobile devices are driving information sharing. The information is available in real time, anywhere in the world.
Until recently, creative publishers dominated the nascent digital storytelling trend. They use digitized audio/visual, animation and interactive technology to teach skills and explore subjects and causes. In the past two years, many more articles and books about using digital storytelling to relay their messages have been directed at marketers, financial analysts, and sales managers. Concomitantly, engaging the audience interactively is trending.
Engaging the audience stimulates audience interests and senses and the creative expression of authors and marketers. Publishing across compatible social media devices is critical for the process to succeed in communicating pivotal points the author and business want the audience to take away or actions they want the audience to take.
The digital age in content and publishing is changing the rules for communicating the pivotal points that authors and businesses want readers to understand. The best process for effectively communicating with readers is data storytelling. It is most frequently referred to as data visualization, but also known as infographics, dashboards, or data presentations.
Professional associations are digitizing their collections of journals and articles. They post them on the Internet making study reports, new conclusions, medical and scientific discoveries, and techniques available to academics and practitioners globally.
Public and university libraries began offering digital content for little or no cost two decades ago. For example, Yale University‘s libraries’ collections are digitized on a regular basis following guidelines established by a special task force.
Digital publishing is minimizing the brand value of name publishers and star power of authors. The strategic question in 2016 is how to garner enough advertising dollars to publish over the long haul? One important method is to increase audience engagement: learn everything about your audience, know what it wants, and listen to its feedback.
Major publishers have been facing dropping sales. According to the Association of American Publishers (AAP), sales of adult books, ebooks, and children’s books dropped in the first quarter of 2016, compared to the first period of 2015. Ebooks accounted for a bit more than 27 percent of adult book sales in 2016, showing a drop from the same period in 2015. Sales of children’s and young adult ebooks fell even more drastically.
Amazingly, Amazon continues to succeed as the publishing industry struggles. Part of its secret of success is its DIY print business, Create Space. According to Bowker, the company that issues ISBN numbers to mark new books, self-publishing has taken off in a major way. The number of ISBNs created for self-published books grew by 375 percent between 2010 and 2015. CreateSpace is at the top of the list of most-used self-publishing platforms.
It’s no secret that magazine and newspaper publishers have been facing tough times. In the past year, digital ad revenues have fallen by 2 percent, and overall revenue for magazine publishers dropped by 4.5 percent. Plus, the lion’s share of digital advertising dollars has been going toward Google and Facebook, and not to publishers. Increasing digital revenue is a difficult challenge for publishers.
Worldwide spending on advertising is expected to grow in 2016 and 2017, according to Carat, the global media network. Carat collected data from fifty-nine markets, including the Americas, EMEA, and Asia Pacific. Advertising spending will grow to more than $548 billion in 2016, buoyed by the Rio Olympics and the US presidential elections.
While advertising forecasts remain strong in North America, Latin America, Russia, and Asia Pacific, spending on print advertising is expected to decline. In contrast, spending on digital media advertising is expected to reach more than a 30 percent share of total spending on global media in 2017.
The high demand for mobile, social media, and online video is driving the move toward online ads. As interest in online advertising swells, print media shrinks in prominence.
Book publishers have been mining deep data to decide which books to publish. Extensive amounts of data about readers’ likes and dislikes are available, thanks to the ubiquitous tracking of our digital usage, and publishers have been using that data to choose potential best sellers. With ebooks, publishers can ascertain when and where a book is read, how quickly the reader consumes it, and whether and when the reader abandons the book before reaching the end.
Typically, only about 3 percent of the books chosen by acquisitions editors hit the bestseller list, so using data to direct choices is a move in a positive direction.
Data Show Reading Preferences
Inkitt, a Berlin-based start-up, also takes advantage of reader data, but from an entirely different angle. Inkitt’s website provides a platform where writers can post their novels for a vast reading audience. Its software scrutinizes engagement levels and reading patterns of the website’s visitors and then offers to help publish the best-performing books. Instead of actually publishing the books, Inkitt serves as an agent by pitching the books of its choice to traditional publishers.
Creating Books that Readers Want
Callisto Media, a California-based company, takes the data analysis model even further. This publisher, which Publishers Weekly deemed one of the most swiftly growing independent publishers in 2015 and 2016, first figures out what readers want to read, and then finds someone to write those books.
Thanks to big data, Callisto can figure out quite accurately which type of information people are seeking. It has created proprietary algorithms to research big data and uncover topics of interest to consumers. It then finds experts on those topics and hires them to write corresponding books.
For example, Callisto looks at which Amazon searches for books end in frustration. Based on the topics sought by those fruitless searches, Callisto hires writers to write niche books, such as DIY Fermentation, that cover new topics that have not yet been written about.
Individuals still own the choice of what and how to read, but, as in so many other areas of our lives, big data is steering the way.