The fifth installment in Vista Computer Services' Publishing in the 21st Century series heard guest speaker AAP president Pat Schroeder describe the rationale behind AAP's "Get Caught Reading" campaign, which was held in May.
According to Schroeder, competition for consumer attention and dollars among entertainment and information sources is fierce, and publishing is not winning. "We are losing market share," Schroeder stated. "Parents in the 18 to 35 age bracket are buying fewer books than any other market segment."
As parents' habits strongly influence children's later behavior, this trend portends disaster, Schroeder warned, but it needn't happen. She noted that the "Get Caught Reading" campaign was mostly produced pro bono, jibing, "If the industry would spend half as much [time] working together to promote reading as it does fighting one another, we would have no problem with market share." Also at the meeting, Mike Shatzkin, head of the Idea Logical Company and vice-chairman of Vista's editorial board, disturbed listeners with a discussion of practical problems from contemporary life. Understanding the importance of electronic files and the metadata that describes them is critical to the 21st-century publisher, he asserted, pointing out that database correction is the single largest category of discussion between Amazon.com and book publishers.
"The time of the digital content repository has come," Shatzkin announced. "Yesterday, not having electronic files was a failure of foresight. Today, it is a failure of a publisher's core competency."
Concerning the importance of deliverability of electronic files, Shatzkin described the dilemma in the e-book market. "Agents are reluctant to let big-name authors sign long-term contracts," he noted the market is small right now, but it appears so volatile that agents are considering 90-day licenses, subject to renegotiation if markets shift toward electronic delivery.