Does Book Scouting Have a Future?

In Discussion by Edward Nawotka

By Edward Nawotka

row of books

As our series on scouting has revealed, having inside information about the hottest books is very valuable to publishers, and scouts have some of the tastiest dish around. That said, digital communication has made the free flow of information about hot books much, well, freer. The risk for scouts is that the wealth and speed of book information — whether via email or the Publishers Marketplace deals database — threatens their livelihood.

Today’s piece by Emily Williams quotes a number of respected publishing figures as saying that scouting has a future, provided scouts can continue to remain in a position to garner information and act on it faster than their constituent publishers. This may be so, but scouting also depends to some extent on the deep pockets of large conglomerate publishers who can afford their not-insignificant fees, as is made clear by Publishing Trends annual list of who’s scouting whom. And the bottom-line expense for scouting is something that may or may not survive the belt tightening that continues at the big houses.

So, the question is: What is the future of scouting and what, in your opinion, does it look like? If you’re a small publisher, let us know if you would use scouts if you could afford them.  If you’re a big publisher, do you continue to find scouts useful?

Tell us what you think in the comments below or via Twitter using hashtag #ppdiscuss.

About the Author

Edward Nawotka

A widely published critic and essayist, Edward Nawotka serves as a speaker, educator and consultant for institutions and businesses involved in the global publishing and content industries. He was also editor-in-chief of Publishing Perspectives since the launch of the publication in 2009 until January 2016.