Digital disruption in publishing

A new report suggests book publishing will face yet more disruption while in the US authors and booksellers are taking on Amazon.

Latest figures suggest that e-book growth is slowing down. But this doesn’t mean that the digital disruption of publishing is over.   In a special report for Digital Book World, experts explore what lessons other ‘disrupted’ industries have for the publishing world.   Steven Sinofsky’s four-stage framework of technology disruption provides some clues as to how the world of book publishing will continue to change.

Stage one: Disruption of an incumbent

During this stage, we see the introduction of a 'limited but different' replacement for an existing and widely used solution.  Incumbents do not view innovations as fundamentally challenging their core business. In book publishing, this was seen in the early days of e-books and e-readers (2007-2009).

Stage two: Rapid linear evolution

The incumbent continues as normal but begins to incorporate some changes into their own business. Between 2010 and 2013 book publishing was publishing effectively the same content but in new, digital formats.

Stage three: Appealing convergence

A widespread acceptance of the disruptive technology as early adopters begin to mature.  This is the current picture.

The fourth stage – Complete re-imagination – is still to happen in the world of book publishing but examples from other industry include the world’s biggest taxi company, Uber, which owns no vehicles or Airbnb, which is the world’s largest accommodation provider, yet owns no real estate.

Another indicator of how book publishing might develop is what happened to the music industry. By 2011 the music industry was in Stage 3 – convergence.  Digital music sales were now forming the majority of music sales and the market was stabilising.  Then the Swedish service Spotify launched and the music industry business model was completely upended.

Calls to investigate Amazon

Meanwhile in the US, groups representing authors and retailers have joined forces to call for the Department of Justice to investigate Amazon for alleged antitrust abuses.  The groups calling for action include the American Booksellers Association, Authors United, the Authors Guild and the Association of Authors’ Representatives.

Surces: endgadget; The digital reader; Digital book world.