Page 4 - The ground beneath our feet
Ask Australian science fiction and fantasy author Kim Falconer what she thinks of eBooks, and you get a pretty straight answer.
Many in the industry complain about large publishers’ attitude towards eBooks. But one thing is clear: The giants of the sector are aware of the digital revolution going on, and are actively engaged in a dialogue about it.
Sometimes that dialogue is combative — such as the struggle between Macmillan and Amazon in the US. But much of the time — as it was in Australia just last week — it can also be constructive.
Last week the Australia Council for the Arts and the Australian Publisher’s Association hosted one day symposiums in Sydney and Melbourne that brought together over 400 members of the nation’s publishing industry — publishers, editors, booksellers, literary agencies, libraries and so on — to discuss the eBook revolution.
APA chief executive Maree McCaskill laid out the future for publishers in plain speak. “They’re basically going to have to be prepared and geared for a very fast transition in publishing over the next 12 months,” she said.
However she also noted the future wasn’t as bleak as some might have believed. “With the recent release of a number of dedicated delivery services, we can now see the outlines of a future business model that is digital all the way to the consumer,” she said. “What this means for Australian publishers and Australian authors is being worked out right now.”
Publishers such as Faber and Faber, Bloomsbury Publishing, Allen & Unwin, Macmillan and Spinifex Press spoke at the events. A good summary of the proceedings and the issues discussed can be found online at Bookseller and Publisher.
At the event, the Government also accepted the need for change. “This industry — like every Australian industry — will only prosper in a cut-throat global marketplace if it is prepared to innovate,” said Federal Minister for Innovation, Industry, Science and Research Kim Carr (pictured) at the event, referring to the eBook phenomenon.
“In a situation like this, there is no point circling the wagons. You have to go on the attack.That means becoming more competitive and more responsive.”
“Whether we like it or not, the technology is changing.If we want the Australian book industry to survive, we have to change with it.”
At the event Carr announced the Government would establish a book industry strategy group to tackle online sales and the eBook market. “I want to see book printers, publishers, distributors and retailers together in one room collaborating with each other and taking responsibility for transforming their industry in a way that ensures its future sustainability,” he said.