« Discussion

Poll: Who is Driving the Digital Transition in Publishing?

amazon kindle on beach towel

By Hannah Johnson

Brian Wafawarowa, Executive Director of Publishers’ Association of South Africa, told Publishing Perspectives:

I do not think that the e-book shift is being proactively driven by publishers, but by consumer demand. The shift to or inclusion of e-books is still something publishers begrudge. Publishers are comfortable with the analog book and would like to continue that way. However, they are forced to respond to the reality of readers who have access to suitable e-readers and are demanding e-content. They are also driven by fear of becoming irrelevant or being left behind.

Do you think this is a fair assessment of the publishing industry? Are consumer demands pressuring publishers into the digital future, or did publishers recognize a new opportunity in digital content? Or perhaps, it was a technology company like Apple or Google that fundamentally changed the way people consume media. Take the survey below and tell us what you think!

[poll id=20]

This entry was posted in Discussion and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Both comments and trackbacks are currently closed.


  1. Posted June 7, 2011 at 11:38 am | Permalink

    We began Rainbow Disks specifically to create ebooks. We saw the digital option as an opportunity to create specialist books that were seen as too risky and niche for the print publishers.

  2. Posted June 7, 2011 at 2:25 pm | Permalink

    As a small publishing house I believe the demand foir ebooks is being driven by the technology companies and Amazon. However publishers are now positively responding to the increase in demand and in our case plan the Ebook at the same time as the physical book. We look at it as another channel for the content. I disagree that all publishers want to stay with physical books.

  3. Posted June 7, 2011 at 4:45 pm | Permalink

    Just follow the money trail. Sure tech companies lead the way by marketing and promoting their digital devices, but ultimately, it’s consumers who steer these markets into what’s turning into a global phenomenon, and much sooner than we thought since the Kindle.

    Publishers win either way, even after mass market paperback sales drop, they’ll easily make up for it in digital sales and hardcover collectibles. Not such a stretch for them after all. Best thing about ebooks is that reputable self-pubs can also cash in. Gotta go digital folks because pulp is taking a dive and not coming up for air anytime soon.

  4. Posted June 7, 2011 at 11:48 pm | Permalink

    It’s a little corny to say but it all derived from users’ demand at start, not necessarily consumer’s, which triggered increasing piracy. Manga comics are the most selling genre of publications in Japan, and that has been scanned, digitalized and uploaded on internet. Publishers are now forced to step in to digitalizing contents otherwise they would be making much more loss.

  5. Posted June 8, 2011 at 8:22 am | Permalink

    Amazon created the digital market. Without Amazon’s insistence on digital, the market would never be where it is now. It’s still the retailers (Amazon, Apple, B&N) that are pushing the envelope. They all want more content – to the point if creating it themselves.

  6. Posted June 8, 2011 at 5:13 pm | Permalink

    Jack is right that Amazon generated the spark the industry needed. And quite a few publishers weren’t too interested in participating during the first year or two of the Kindle’s life. So I agree that the “technology companies”, specifically Amazon, started things off, but it’s consumer demand that’s driving the surge now. My first Kindle cost almost $300 but the one I bought a couple of months ago was only $139. Thanks to that lower price the technology company (Amazon) is helping fan the flames the consumers are largely behind today. It’s hard to separate the two factors, but consumers are playing a much more important role in the growth today than they ever have.

  7. Ute Spath
    Posted June 9, 2011 at 5:37 am | Permalink

    In South Africa some publishing houses are developing interactive educational e-books for academic courses despite most higher education institutions not being ready for these, as there are just not enough computer labs available as yet. So publishers are also spreading thenadoption of r-books by developing pilots and trial projects.

  • Get Publishing Perspectives in your inbox each day and stay up-to-date on international publishing.