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Challenges Facing The Publishing Industry & Opportunities In 2020

1. Keeping your readers

If a publisher has an e-commerce site, a big challenge is keeping readers on the site. However, if a publisher distributes its books to online and brick-and-mortar bookstores, the challenge is getting the book to stand out. If the book does not stand out, it will not attract any readers at all. One of the best ways for publishers to attract readers is to incorporate personalization.

Personalization utilizes data on customer behavior, and it is implemented via technology that automatically collects and analyzes user input and online behavior.
Personalization is important in that it provides publishers insights about what customers are reading, and these insights help publishers conduct targeted ad campaigns and build e-mail marketing lists.

2. Fake reviews

It has become glaringly clear that fake reviews are a global problem. Reviews are easily manipulated to the point publishers can no longer trust them. For instance, a study conducted in 2013 found that one in five reviews on the well-known review site Yelp are actually fake. Unfortunately, the problem will only continue to get worse. In fact, researchers have found that software programs capable of writing fake reviews produce high-quality output that is undetectable and deemed reliable by users.

Even Amazon is forced to deal with fake reviews. It is estimated that between nine percent and 40 percent of Amazon reviews are fake. A notable example is Hillary Clinton’s memoir. Within 24 hours of publishing the book, there were over 1,500 reviews. Within 48 hours, Amazon deleted over 900 reviews that were determined to be fake.

Clearly, fake reviews can have a detrimental impact on a business. If customers do not trust your reviews, they will not purchase your product. For a publisher, this can be devastating. Fortunately, there are steps a publisher can take to address fake reviews.

Utilizing a variety of marketplaces is a good strategy. Targeting multiple marketplaces helps to increase your customer base, and it provides more opportunities for real reviews. However, one of the best ways to fight back against fake reviews is to use a reputation system connecting each review to an actual transaction. Tying reviews to purchases can significantly reduce the number of fake reviews because this method blocks bots and attempts by competitors to discredit your work.

3. Referral marketing

Publishers must understand the effect that utilizing social media can have on retaining and acquiring loyal customers. For instance, via a shareable link, referral marketing can rather easily take the opportunity to transform a simple share into an actual purchase. Publishers can use this common practice of sharing information with friends and family on social media to reach customers they might not ever reach otherwise.

Interestingly, Harris Poll conducted an online survey regarding purchasing behaviors. The results showed 67 percent of people were at least a little more likely to purchase an item that a friend or family member suggested via email or social media. Referral marketing is just one more way that a publisher can quickly and rather easily reach new customers by simply encouraging their readers to refer friends.

4. Demographics

Advertisers are interested in one thing: your demographics. They are not interested in the product you are selling. They are interested in who you are selling to. As a publisher, it can be difficult to gain access to this type of information. However, it is becoming clear that this type of data will have an impact on the survival of a publisher. In fact, simple demographics are starting to be inadequate to secure advertisers. For instance, publishers need to also collect data regarding the specific items their audience engages with in relation to the specific demographic a user belongs to. Perhaps the best way to look at this new way of obtaining advertisers is that advertisers are buying audiences, not publications.

Information such as income segment, purchase intent, and age are among some of the important pieces of information publishers need to gather in order to entice audience-seeking advertisers.

5. Print versus digital

Although it is common to assume that print is obsolete as digital publishing continues to grow, it is, for the time being, incorrect. For instance, 58 percent of online subscribers identify as primarily interested in reading print. Additionally, publishing revenues are generated from 60 to 80 percent of print sales.

It is extremely important for publishers to utilize the available information regarding their readers preferences and the way in which these readers interact with their site and product line on a daily basis. Current technology allows publishers to understand what their customers want as well as to provide what they want. For instance, print-first subscribers are also interested in digital texts while digital-first subscribers are also interested in print.

In fact, due to this crossover between print and digital, many digital publishers have begun to include print magazines. Surprisingly, Facebook launched Grow, a print magazine. It is becoming apparent that it is not necessary to choose between print or digital and that, in fact, a combination of both medias can best serve customers and help to support loyalty. In terms of loyalty, print-first subscribers tend to be the most engaged and the most loyal type of customers. Finally, although digital will ultimately be the only choice, for now, it is more prudent for publishers to continue to serve print-first customers rather than losing them to a competitor.

6. Consumption modes

In addition to translating written texts into audio books, publishers should be creating content for other modes of consumption. Publishers need to think of their products in ways that go beyond the content or format. Determining how people enjoy the delivery of content and stories is fundamental to the success of any publisher. For instance, most people spend about eight minutes reading each day versus just under six hours a day on digital media. It is clear that publishers face quite a challenge in the face of these statistics. However, providing the choice between audio, video, or text is an initial strategy to meet this challenge. Additionally, it is important to understand that some individuals enjoy a quick synopsis while others prefer to delve into a topic.

7. Indie publishing

With book stores being shuttered and readers drifting to other forms of entertainment, writers, themselves, are also abandoning the previously prestigious goal of being published. Foregoing publication by traditional publishing firms, writers are striking out on their own as self publishers, a practice otherwise known as indie publishing. This is a problem because as writers avoid seeking publication, publishers lose their product supply.

This shift provides self publishers the ability to maintain rights to their own works and potentially reap a much higher financial benefit than they would receive through a traditional contract. Although many self publishers see little to no financial reward, such success stories as Andy Weir’s “The Martian” keep the dream alive. Although this dream might seem like a mirage, the self-publishing industry boasts enough successful self publishers that traditional publishers have started holding contests for the best self-published novels. These contests and other tactics help siphon off the best up-and-coming authors and renew a publisher with fresh content. In doing so, traditional publication companies are able to secure the profits that accompany proven talent. Additionally, successful self publishers often already have a following, making such acquisitions less risky than publishing a completely new and unknown author.

Thanks for reading "Challenges Facing The Publishing Industry & Opportunities In 2020", by the Linchpin Team in Chicago, Raleigh, and Wake Forest.

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