With Random House’s announcement last week that it is officially dropping its print catalogues in favor of digital, the country’s biggest publisher joins the growing ranks of houses that have done away with the traditional catalogue. While digital catalogues are nothing new—HarperCollins went all digital back in 2009 and many publishers, large and small, have been transitioning away from print for years—the print versions have remained a mainstay of the business. A number of sources PW spoke to acknowledged that not everyone is pleased to see print catalogues go the way of the eight-track—many sales reps, especially, will now have to print out catalogues on their own to use in presentations to booksellers—there are undeniable advantages.
Digital catalogues are certainly cheaper, offering savings on production and shipping, and many argue that they are environmentally friendlier than print. The digital catalogues are also, as many in the industry have noted, easier to keep up-to-date.
At Macmillan, which will be all digital by spring 2012, president of sales Alison Lazarus said the widespread use of Edelweiss (which PW uses to capture its seasonal listings and which offers online access to catalogue information), has made the transition easier; she added that digital catalogues also provide benefits by way of social networking opportunities.
To see where most publishers are on the digital catalogues front, PW checked in with the major trade adult houses. Here is where they stand:
Hachette: still using print catalogues (in addition to pdfs); does not have a timeline for going all digital
HarperCollins: went all digital in 2009
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt: still using print catalogues (along with pdfs). HMH spokesperson Lori Glazer said that, after the spring 2012 season, the publisher will “take it season by season with the assumption that we will migrate to all digital”
Hyperion: went all digital with summer 2010 catalogue
Macmillan: will be all digital as of spring 2012
Penguin: still using print catalogues (along with pdfs); does not have a timeline for going all digital
Random House: will be all digital by summer 2012
Simon & Schuster: will be all digital by spring 2012