Book Publishing Industry: Revealing the maze
Education is the most basic investment for economic development, and books the tools. A knowledge-based society means a reading society which depends upon a library of books from which it can refer.
A developed book publishing industry depends upon a developed reading society. A developed reading society rises on the basis of a developed publishing industry. Thus, we can infer that book publishing is the key to the educational, social and economic development of a nation.
The variety of books demanded by the reading public is infinite. The marketer needs to keep pace with changes in customer needs and preferences. As a result, book publishing is a competitive industry with high risk.
Teamwork is essential to produce a book and put it in a reader’s hand. Each member of the team has a vital part to play and none of them can be eliminated.
These five basic elements must exist if there is to be a book publishing industry:
- The author who writes the manuscript.
- The printer who turns the manuscript into an edition of book.
- The publisher who publishes the book.
- The bookseller who sells the book.
- The reader who reads the book.
India’s print book market that grew at a rate of 20.4 percent, compounded annually between 2012 and 2015, and is estimated to be worth Rs. 26,060 crores.
India is the sixth-largest book market in the world, and currently the second largest for books in English, after the United States.
Demographic trends of India support the high growth rate of the industry. The adult literacy level in India, now at 74.04 percent, is projected to hit 90 percent in 2020, and is expected to continue feeding demand for books. Moreover, the government’s expenditure on education and educational resources boosts the demand for books even further.
Youth and children constitute a strong readership base. The National Youth Readership Survey 2009 showed that one-third of the country’s people are between the ages of 13 and 35, and 25 percent of them—83 million—are book readers. 53 percent of these live in rural areas and 58 percent are either at or below matriculation level. Curriculum-based reading, studying for competitive exams, and reading to gain professional skills dominates youth readership patterns.
The main function of a book marketing department in a traditional publishing house is to get your book in front of bookstore buyers, book distributors and other channels. The next task is to make sure your book is available, displayed, and promoted through them to the consumer public. Book marketers may also oversee online consumer promotion (in some houses this falls to the publicity department).
Generally, in a traditional publishing house, each book is assigned a "marketing manager" or "marketing director." This marketer would work on dozens of titles at one point of time. For self-published books, some or all of the traditional book marketing functions are performed by a self-publishing service, or from other book publishing consultants at a cost.
Book Marketing Strategy
The marketer must determine the potential readers for an individual book, the size of the market for the book, and formulate a strategy for how best to reach the readers who might be interested in the book. Based on the strategy, the marketer creates a tactical marketing plan.
As many elements of the marketing plan – such as special advance sales materials, advance reader copies in return for an unbiased review on various web portals, point-of-sale displays, advertising, etc. – cost money. The marketing plan is always created in the context of the estimated marketing budget for the book.
For major book acquisitions that require large investments on the part of the publisher, the book marketing department is sometimes brought in to strategize even before the book is acquired. The more the publisher has paid to acquire the book, the greater will be the marketing budget.
Before the book is published, the book marketing department works with the promotion department to develop the standard sales tools for each book, such as the description within the seasonal catalogue of the publisher's list.
The sales departments then use these to present the book to booksellers, wholesale distributors, gift stores, libraries, etc. This support also extends to any book presence at an industry trade show.
The book marketing department is in charge of managing the design and creation of in-store signage, bookmarks, and other materials that promote the books to the consumer at the store level.
It’s important to keep in mind that with the rise of the online book sales channels, these expensive-to-print point-of-sale items are less prevalent today.
Tips for increasing awareness
The publishing world has changed drastically. Apart from self-publishing, ePublishing, and audiobooks, let’s see what else is new.
Some tips for modern-day publishing:
• Crowdsource Your Book
Publishers usually make decisions based on their experience and knowledge in book publishing. But, there are risks of losses as markets can be unpredictable.
Today, with the availability of various online social platforms, “crowdsourcing” is being used by publishers and authors to gather new ideas and innovations.
Publishers or authors also need to understand which platform is relevant and how to use those platforms as a marketing communication tool.
• Try eBooks
Given the lower financial and physical commitment of publishing an eBook, many first-time authors use that process as a springboard into the world of writing.
Readers are increasingly turning to reading on devices as they find it to be far more convenient than lugging around a lot of books. Another reason why readers may get swayed towards reading e-books is the affordability factor. Many e-books are less expensive than traditional books.
Therefore, the benefits of publishing an e-book are manifold:
It helps self-published authors to get their work out there while building up a readership and garnering name recognition. After this, when they are ready to publish their second book, the readers can anticipate a digital along with the hard copy.
For a book publishing company, it opens up another revenue stream altogether, which is always advantageous. Sales are bound to increase when more people become aware of the work. They are also saved from having to carry physical inventory, and most importantly, there is an opportunity to earn more money from what is essentially another iteration of the same product.
Self-publishing authors: let us take a step back. If this is your very first book being published, and you have to write a precise piece of work to attract an audience, it may be more realistic to start with a blog.
Blogging is completely risk-free as well as cost-free. It attracts a significant readership if the content is unique and interesting. It also generates a following via email and social media. Once you generate enough attention from your audience, then you can dive into writing a book.
For a book publishing company, the importance of blogging cannot be overstated. The authors you’ve signed on will know that they will get the best PR money can buy. At the same time, you will generate buzz about every new activity or release constantly. This will help diversify your marketing strategy and also expand your reach significantly, adding to more potential sales.
• Look Local
Just like coffee shops love supporting local farmers, and art galleries love supporting local artists, indie and independent bookstores love supporting local authors. Publishing and selling books written by local authors attract local customers and celebrates the community that the shop is a part of.
Local bookstores, just like coffee shops, are community hotspots — they support the community, sponsor local programs, sell unique content, and host events.
When pitching to a local bookstore, consider how the book can use the local flavour as an advantage at said hotspot, and how selling the book might bring other locals there, too.
The publishing industry of a country that devotes its expertise and energy to the production, as well as marketing of indigenous books, can have a far-reaching influence on every aspect of the national developmental activities.