Crowdfunding Draws on Reader Engagement
The answer to getting published in a crowded marketplace just might be crowdfunding. Crowdfunding raises capital for a business or project via the group efforts of individual investors. Done primarily through social media and crowdfunding platforms, this method of fundraising taps into a person’s network to gain needed funds and exposure.
Crowdfunding turns mainstream business financing on its end. Instead of writing a business plan and presenting it to potential investors, or in the case of publishing, showing a finished manuscript to a publisher who might turn it into a book, crowdfunding gives the entrepreneur or the writer the upper hand. The writer presents his or her concept online and asks for people to help pay for publication by contributing any sum of money.
Does Hearing Trump Reading?
One facet of publishing that is noticeably experiencing strong growth is audiobooks. Even as ebook sales waver, consumers are drawn to books read aloud. According to the American Association of Book Publishers (AAP), audiobook downloads increased by 38.1 percent in 2015.
Confirming that trend, Audible, a service that provides access to a vast library of audiobooks in return for a monthly service fee, has reported strong growth. Audible members across the globe listened to 1.6 billion hours’ worth of audiobooks in 2015, up from 1.2 billion hours in 2014.
This trend seems curious: radio shows long ago faded from the headlines as television’s prominence grew, and the smartphones and tablets that populate our world emphasize seeing, not hearing. Why are consumers returning to listening mode?
Falling Ebook Sales Have Boosted Booksellers
The bookstore business finally heard some good news from the U.S. Census Bureau this month. Instead of continuing its expected nosedive, bookstore sales actually rose in the first half of 2016. Compared with sales in the same time period of 2015, figures in 2016 showed a 6.1 percent gain. Together, large chain stores and small independent bookstores have already yielded $5.44 billion in profit in 2016.
Compared to 2015, bookstore sales climbed every month in 2016. The shining star was June, when sales increased by 5 percent.
Bookstore sales had been dropping steadily since the onset of ebooks and e-readers. Some change was seen in 2015, when a 2.5 percent increase in bookstore sales represented the first annual gain since 2007.
Publishers Say Video is the Next Great Thing
AOL surveyed three hundred publishers in the UK and the United States to identify the effects of data and automation on their businesses. Most of the respondents chose video as the top revenue driver for 2017. Fifty six percent of the US publishers, and more than 50 percent of the UK respondents, named better-quality creative videos as the primary reason for this expected change.
Other explanations publisher gave for the increased status of video were better load times, improved user experience, and interactive ads. Of those surveyed, 53 percent thought that improved personalization and targeting of video ads will contribute to their growth.
Digital Ads are Largely Ignored
The widespread disdain of ads was demonstrated by British research firm Lumen. Lumen mounted eye-tracking cameras on the laptops of 300 consumers. These cameras collected visual data that revealed what online users looked at. Over a six-month period, Lumen recorded some 30,000 minutes of data, during which time about 15,000 digital ads appeared on the screen.
In total, users noticed only 35 percent of digital display ads, and of that small percentage, only 9 percent earned more than one second’s worth of the users’ attention! Ads barely registered as more than a blip on the screen.
Native Ads are Well Suited to the Digital Age
Time Inc. has announced its intention to double down on its native advertising. In a July 2016 announcement, the media company declared its intentions to restructure its editorial and advertising system, including an uptick in the use of native advertising. Native advertising is a type of disguised advertising, in which paid promotional messages mimic the style of the publication where they are placed.
The CEO of Time Inc., Joe Ripp, explained that native branding solutions have provided a large revenue stream for the company. Time has been producing native advertising since 2014 in an effort to improve profits. Print magazines have been suffering circulation and profit loss for many years, as readers turn to online content, and advertisers distribute the greatest share of their budget to online ads.
Time Inc. is not alone. Major newspapers such as the New York Times, the Boston Globe, and The Washington Post have been using native advertising as well.
The Changing Publishing Business Has Lost Masses of Jobs
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics recently published a snapshot of publishing industry jobs. According to the BLS’s graph, the industry has taken a beating over the past twenty-five years. The sectors hit the hardest were books, newspapers, and periodicals.
Book publishing, an industry that saw numerous consolidations in recent years, lost a considerable amount of jobs. In 1990, there were 85,900 jobs in book publishing. By 2016, only 61,500 jobs remained. Periodical publishing jobs also suffered because of poor sales. The industry boasted 146,800 jobs in 1990, but by 2016, that number had dipped to 93,600.
Comics Are Immune to Publishing’s Sales Dip
Comics are proving impervious to the sales problems endemic to the publishing business. While publishing overall showed slipping sales revenue from 2014 to 2015, the comics’ periodical, book format comics, and graphic novel market has been going strong in the United States. According to a joint report by Comichron and trade news site ICv2, the 2015 market was worth more than a billion dollars. That represents a 10 percent increase in sales since 2014.
Graphic novels jumped the most in sales revenue, showing 23 percent year-over-year growth. Sales of print comics also took a leap, growing by 13 percent. Only digital comics saw a drop in sales, showing a 10 percent decline in sales from 2014 to 2015.
Even though Americans appear to be reading fewer novels and works of non-fiction, they are clearly grabbing hold of the comics’ trend. Several aspects of the comics’ experience are attracting them.
Poor Book Sales Have Led Publishers to Reinvent the Book
The Association of American Publishers (AAP) has released its 2015 final sales estimates, disappointing book publishers. Total industry sales dropped by .6 percent between 2014 and 2015, showing another year-over-year drop. Even though unit sales rose, overall profits have dropped.
Ebooks showed sharply declining revenue, down to $2.84 billion in 2015 compared with $3.20 billion in 2014. Overall, print books’ revenue rose, with paperbacks forming the basis of that revenue. Downloadable audiobooks continued their stratospheric climb, with sales that rose by more than 37 percent since 2014.
The AAP derives its figures by combining sales figures of more than one thousand reporting publishing companies. AAP claims that its estimates reflect sales from other publishers as well. Indie book publishers might paint a different picture of the industry, but these figures denote the climate for major publishers’ book sales.
Automatically Produced Videos are a Boon to News Publishers
The unceasing popularity of YouTube has proven consumers’ appreciation for videos of all sorts. Videos are popular in virtually all arenas, from business to education to religion. News publishers have found a way to feed their clients’ endless hunger for more videos: automated video services.
Automated video services are backed by computer algorithms that peruse news stories for information and then produce matching images and words. The two main companies producing this type of video, Wochit and Wibbitz, are both based in Tel Aviv and New York City. Major news publishers such as Gannett and Time Inc. have availed themselves of these time-saving and money-saving services.