Friday, February 03, 2012

e-books enable a small publishers to compete with big publishing houses

Adventures in e-publishing Part Four – interview with Kate Lyall Grant

From the blog of writer R.N.Morris

KATE LYALL GRANT has worked in mainstream trade publishing for over twenty years. In the past she’s been a senior commissioning editor at Hodder & Stoughton and Simon & Schuster UK, specialising in crime, thrillers and commercial women’s fiction, before joining independent publisher Severn House in 2010. Kate is publisher of Creme de la Crime, a new imprint designed to showcase the best of British crime fiction.
There’s no doubt the advent of e-publishing has shaken things up in the publishing industry. I used an analogy in my interview with Lee Jackson, of conventional publishers being a bit like sail-makers in the age of steam. Playing devil’s advocate, you understand! Of course, people still buy sail boats. But it’s a tiny market and they’re all millionaires or men going through the mid-life crisis. Is this the future for print books? Are conventional publishers worried? Should they be?
This is obviously a time of huge innovation and change within the publishing industry – and I think it’s up to publishers to make the most of the new opportunities available, rather than worry about and shy away from the changed technological landscape. These are certainly exciting and interesting times to be working in publishing: e-books and everything that goes with them have the potential to bring enormous benefits as well as challenges for conventional publishers, who must be ready to adapt, embracing the opportunities to reach new readers while not losing sight of their regular, longstanding customers and core market. There are still a great many people (like me) who prefer to read print books and I think they will be safe for the next generation at least. After that, who knows? Yes, there’s no question that e-books do detract from print sales but, for the next few years at least, it’s a finite market. There is endless discussion within the publishing industry at the moment as to the future of the e-book, but the truth is that no one has the definitive answer at this stage.
I think I’m right in saying that you publish all Severn House books as e-books as well as in hardback and paperback editions. How significant a part of the business are e-book sales?
The Severn House e-book list was launched in June last year, so it’s still very early days for us to ascertain sales patterns etc. As an independent hardcover publisher, our core business remains the libraries and we have no intention of neglecting our key customers who are the wholesalers and library suppliers. Having said that, e-books is where we see our growth area in years to come and we are planning for a future where e-books will eventually make up the majority of our revenue. The great thing is that, for the first time, e-books enable a small publishing company like us to compete on a level playing field with the big publishing houses – and I’m looking forward to doing exactly that!
Read the full interview.

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