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The next 5 years of publishing: Alison Jones interview

On the 8th June we’re launching the third title in the Snapshots series, BookMachine on publishing: the next 5 years, with a free event in four cities. Here Allison Williams interviews one of our speakers from the London event, Alison Jones on current publishing trends and predictions.

1) What are current trends and predictions that excite you most about the future of the publishing industry?

I’m enjoying the social reading developments from players such as GoodReads and Wattpad, which empower authors and readers (and to a lesser extend publishers) to build excitement and engagement around books. I expect to see this model extend beyond its home in genre fiction into other areas, particularly non-fiction. For publishers specifically, I think the trend of partnering intelligently, bringing the content and publishing expertise that brands so desperately need to partners who have the reach and funds the publishers in turn need, is exciting: in the attention economy, we’re stronger when we work together.

2) What is the trend or prediction that scares you most about the future of the publishing industry?

Amazon’s dominance, particularly in the UK where it controls c.90% of the ebook market, still worries me, and as I write Waterstones has just followed most of the other players out of the arena leaving Kobo the last challenger standing. I don’t think many publishers are comfortable with the fact that the ebook market in effectively owned by secretive company for which books aren’t even a main source of revenue any more.

3) How do you think we can best combat that trend or prediction?

There are many interesting experiments going on with direct and social selling (I love Aer.io), new subscription models for libraries and individuals (particularly digital audio), so I don’t think the game’s over yet. For publishers, I think it’s essential to build a direct-to-consumer stream and find the right partners or activities to help build that – your customer’s data is more valuable than any one sale to that customer.

4) What is one thing you’d like to see the publishing industry start doing in the next 5 years?

Some have already started, but I’d love to see more publishers getting into events. These are a great way to support direct sales, they facilitate the direct relationship between author and reader that publishers are in a prime position to nurture, they can be a profitable additional source of revenue as well as helping upsell books themselves, and they’re so versatile – from festivals to workshops, readings to conferences, there’s something to suit every type of publisher.

5) Can you give us a sneak peek of the ‘snapshot’ of the industry that you will be sharing with us at the launch?

Let’s just say it’s all about connections!

Alison Jones, future of publishing, Snapshots

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