On Monday evening we attended September’s Byte the Book event at the beautiful Ivy Club in Soho where the topic of the night was how print is adapting to the shifting consumer market in the digital age. Chairing the panel this time was Lisa Edwards, Publisher at Carlton with the panel consisting of Andrew Davies, Publisher at Immediate Media, formerly BBC Magazines, Laila Dickson, Key Accounts Manager at Scholastic, Martin Spear, Reprints Controller at Osprey Books and Maggie Calmels, Creative Global Development Director at Eaglemoss Publishing Group. This was a lively and jovial night, with the audience engaging with the key ideas well in the follow up questions.
The topics of the night included Bookazines, Partworks, Print on Demand and Special Sales as different forms of successful Print in the digital age. Martin Spear of Osprey publishing kicked off by talking about how Osprey, specialist producer of Military History books, is currently in the process of converting 2000 books to print on demand. He explained that in the past some products wouldn’t have been print published due to little interest but now with Print on Demand, it is possible to print these products for the small numbers of interested consumers. This in turn is not only beneficial for sales but also for boosting Osprey’s brand identity and consumer loyalty, as their customers know that they can get hold of their more obscure products.
Andrew Davies of Immediate Media spoke of the problems facing magazines with the advent of digital magazine content and it’s cost effectiveness, and explained the print option of Bookazines. These tend to be special-edition enhanced magazines that are on sale for up to 8 weeks and act as a brand extensions of other magazines such as Country Life. These products target existing consumers so are inexpensive to launch but enhance the brand with their collectable quality.
Laila Dickinson explained how different outlets like supermarkets, The Works and newsagents has meant that print can now target different audiences and so the print has to adapt to target those audiences. Products such as specialised boxsets or bookazine-type products mean that print options are still bringing in new consumers.
Collectively, the panel discussed and agreed that although the digital era and the digitalisation of print is beneficial for the industry, it is not ‘dinosaur’ to still champion print as print is still popular as a consumer product, especially niche high quality collectable products. Design and understanding your consumer is key, and that does not necessarily mean going entirely digital. Laila offered the example of children’s books which has had a huge growth in the last year, especially with authors such as Julia Donaldson who currently refuses to digitalise her products on principle and yet is still a highly successful author, showing how print is definitely not going anywhere.
It was fascinating to listen to the debate and to find out about all the different avenues that print is going down whilst adapting to this digital era, which just shows how the publishing industry is growing and expanding into new and exciting ventures. I think perhaps most interesting was to learn how digital has actually opened up and enabled these different avenues for print – particularly in the example of POD thus showing that maybe, just maybe, the future is print and digital co-existing side by side.