Is Customization and Personalization the Future of Book Reading?

In Discussion by Edward Nawotka

Maybe, in the future, what publishing may come down to essentially this: one book, one reader.

By Edward Nawotka

name tag personalization

In today’s feature story publishing consultant Javier Celaya advocates the publishers glean as much information as possible from their end user transactions, whether during a direct sale or post-sale, when the reader responds with commentary (satisfied or dissatisfied). Ideally, publishers will be able to use this information to cater more directly to the readers and, ultimately, to personalize the experience — and hopefully leverage that into book purchases. Commercially speaking, this makes sense. But how much can publishers truly customize the experience for individual readers?

Many publishers — in particular, large conglomerates — have a business model based on sustainable economies of scale, meaning they publish books with an eye toward the mass market. Smaller publishers, on the other hand, have a competitive advantage in this particular field because they tend to have identifiable niches. Some even have been able to develop strong brands.

What’s more, as the number of DIY and self-publishers enter the market, the number of “niche” publishers is skyrocketing, meaning competition is all the more fierce. The vast majority of self-publishers cater to a small coterie of family, friends and fans. So maybe, in the future, that is what publishing may come down to essentially this: one book, one reader.

Yes, the public does coalesce around a few dozen titles and authors each year. These are the hits, the stars, that keep the engine of big publishing running. But if the model for the future of reading entails increased personalization and customization, large-scale conglomerate publishing may not be sustainable in its current business model.

Let us know what you think in the comments.

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.