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The Impact of Digitization on the Book Industry

September 8, 20088 September 2008

Book publishing and reading

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This report, prepared for the Association of Canadian Publishers by Diane Davy, examines the impact of digitization on Canadian book publishers.

The impact of digitization is characterized as “profound and all encompassing”, despite digitization still being in the early stages. “The digital world is changing the traditional way that book publishers do business”, whether the issue is digital rights ownership, the marketing and sale of digital and physical content or internal workflow processes.

The report provides recommendations about how the Association of Canadian Publishers and its members can stay abreast of the changes and implement best practices in their business activities. These best practices could include acquiring digital rights, digitizing and owning frontlist and backlist content, as well as streamlining and digitizing internal workflow processes. Regarding workflow, the report argues that more attention should be paid to “electronically streamlining and automating the publishing processes that will be fundamental to positioning companies to take advantage of all future opportunities in the digital world”.

A key recommendation concerns enhanced professional development opportunities within the sector, including:

· Rights ownership, contracts and dealing with creators

· Digitization services

· Digital asset distributors and aggregators

· Digital asset management

· Other business skills and best practices

The report also recommends an expansion of mentorship opportunities in these areas.

Further research is recommended into digital rights management. In addition, the report recommends an update of the impact of digitization study in two years.

Given that many Canadian publishers are “resource-strapped, small and mid-sized companies”, many lack the resources to improve “their skills and their corporate capacity to adapt to a rapidly changing environment and new ways of doing business”. Given this, the report recommends that partnerships and federal funding be sought to support publishers’ efforts. “The ACP should lobby for the creation of a fund … that would be designed to support the industry, over a finite period of time, in adapting to these major technological changes.”

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