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«A Report Prepared for the Association of Canadian Publishers By Diane Davy President Castledale Inc. Association of Canadian Publishers 174 Spadina ...»

-- [ Page 1 ] --

The Impact of Digitization

on the Book Industry

A Report Prepared for the Association of Canadian Publishers

By Diane Davy


Castledale Inc.

Association of Canadian Publishers

174 Spadina Avenue

Suite 306

Toronto, Ontario

M5T 2C2

(416) 487-6116


Copyright © 2007, Association of Canadian Publishers. All rights reserved. No part of this report may be reproduced,

stored in a retrieval system or transmitted, in any form or by any means, without the prior written consent of the Association of Canadian Publishers or a licence from Access Copyright.

Report prepared by:

Diane Davy Castledale Inc.

108-360 Bloor Street East Toronto, Ontario M4W 3M3 We acknowledge the financial support of the Government of Canada through the Book Publishing Industry Development Program (BPIDP) for this project. We also acknowledge the support of the Ontario Media Development Corporation for this study.

Final Report/May 31, 2007

The Impact of Digitization on the Book Industry:

A Report Prepared for the Association of Canadian Publishers


The objective of this report is to examine the impact of digitization on all aspects of the Canadian book publishing industry and to suggest ways that the Association of Canadian Publishers and its individual members can best meet the challenge of dealing with that impact. Specifically the recommendations are focussed on helping publishers to get up to speed on and to keep on top of rapid change and evolving best business practices through a variety of professional development opportunities. The report also addresses possible funding initiatives that the ACP might undertake to help accomplish this.

First things first. The impact of digitization on the industry is profound and all encompassing – and it is still in the early stages! Although clear best practices are emerging in some areas, other areas are still at an evolutionary stage.

From ownership of rights, through digitization of internal workflow processes, to sales and marketing of both physical and electronic content, the digital world is changing the traditional way that book publishers do business. The opportunities and challenges this reality presents are discussed throughout this report.

The Canadian publishing industry is made up, in large part, of resourcestrapped, small and mid-sized companies. Without additional resources, most will find it difficult to ramp up their skills and their corporate capacity to adapt to a rapidly changing environment and new ways of doing business.

The following recommendations are made to help the industry move forward as rapidly as possible so it is ready and able to take advantage of opportunities as they emerge.


1) The ACP should encourage and help enable members to adopt the following best practices where they are compatible with members own

business models:

• Wherever possible, publishers should acquire digital rights to content to exploit on behalf of themselves and their creators.

–  –  –

• Publishers should digitize and own their own digital files for both front and backlist in order to maintain the fullest degree of control and to ensure that the digitization is of high quality.

• Publishers should work toward streamlining and digitizing their internal workflow processes in order to position themselves to be able to effectively manage, market and exploit their digital assets.

2) The ACP should develop a series of professional development sessions

that explore the following issues:

• Rights ownership, contracts, dealing with creators

• Best practices in producing high quality, widely usable PDFs, including streamlining the digital interface with printers

• Digitization services -- seminars with panels of suppliers, focus on costs, streamlining the process, also partner with BookNet and Access to communicate the outcome of their existing or on-going research to members

• Digital asset distributors/aggregators – who they are, what they do, publisher examples of what works/what doesn’t; special attention to Google and copyright issues

• Digital asset management – internal and external solutions

• eMarketing – using the technology to get directly to your target market (blogs, e-mail, web, mobile, etc), latest developments (e.g. widgets)

• General business skills/best business practices – this might be a more formal program, possibly developed in partnership with the Organization of Book Publishers of Ontario and an academic institution like Humber In that the digital world is evolving and changing constantly, many of these seminars should be offered on an on-going basis.

3) The ACP should develop a core of mentors in the areas outlined above, as a special focus of its existing mentorship program. This specialized group should include lawyers, technical experts, emarketing experts, etc. In some cases, the mentorship might be through a team approach with more than one expert participating and, in those cases, might run longer than the current one-day maximum.

4) The ACP should pursue further research in the following areas:

• Digital rights management (in partnership with others – see Recommendation 5) – internal systems and external services (options/costs), case studies of companies who are doing their own Prepared by: 2 Diane Davy Castledale Inc.

416.861.1334 diane.davy@castledale.ca Final Report/May 31, 2007

The Impact of Digitization on the Book Industry:

A Report Prepared for the Association of Canadian Publishers

• Impact of digitization – update of this study in two years

–  –  –

b) Federal Funding – The ACP should lobby for the creation of a fund, modelled on the Supply Chain fund, that would be designed to support the industry, over a finite period of time, in adapting to these major technological changes.

–  –  –


To explore the question of how Canadian book publishers can acquire, retain, manage and exploit ownership/control of the digital rights to the content contained in their titles. While it is understood that definitive answers may not be fully available at this point, the Consultant shall provide a sense of emerging directions.


The consultant will:

1. Conduct an overview environmental scan that will look at what others in the field are doing, both in Canada and internationally. This will concentrate on looking at initiatives that the ACP might partner with, imitate or use as a resource (e.g. Library and Archives). The research will be guided in part by the areas of inquiry brought forth by the ACP Task Force at their May 10/06 meeting and subsequent discussions at the ACP 2006 AGM.

2. Conduct 8 to 10 interviews with Canadian and multinational publishers and others working in the field to find out what is working, emerging and not working.

3. In the course of the research, explore the possible effectiveness of designing a number of pilot professional development educational seminars that would give publishers a fast backgrounder on the current environment, emerging business models and evolving best practices.

4. In the course of the research, explore the possible effectiveness of a follow-up mentoring program that would allow individual companies to access expert help at a subsidized cost.

5. Maintain regular communication with the consulting firm retained to undertake the French-language portion of the project.

–  –  –


The consultant has done extensive research, conducted interviews with industry professionals and attended several professional development seminars featuring presentations relevant to the project.

From this research there is emerging a sense of how the industry is shaping itself in response to the impact of digitization. There are few definitive answers but rather evolving standards and, of course, lots of questions. What is certain is that the impact is profound and that it affects all aspects of the publishing continuum.

A very general observation is that members of the industry are far more engaged than they were even a few years ago in examining what is happening, what are the opportunities and challenges and what to do to prepare for an increasingly electronic future.

For the sake of providing structure and order to this report, I have grouped the areas of inquiry into broad categories, which are similar to those in the ACP’s Joint Task Force May 30 notes. Where possible I have tried to directly answer the questions posed by the Task Force or at least provide guidelines to emerging best practices.

The Task Force specifically wanted to consider:

• Ownership

• Exploitation

• Warehousing and Sales

• Technical Considerations and Standards

• Google

• Business Models

• Duplication (meaning - are there others who would be logical partners)

• Funding

I have modified, reordered and expanded on these as follows:

• Ownership – from acquisition to exploitation

• Workflow Management – how is digitization impacting internal day to day operations from editorial/production processes to financial management through marketing and sales. Includes discussion of technical considerations and standards relevant to these processes.

Also includes POD.

• Digital Asset Management – internal and external options

–  –  –

• Exploitation – what are the new opportunities, who are the players and how can publishers best exploit the distribution of books in digital form either directly or through evolving sales channels. Includes examination of Digital Asset Distributors (Google, NetLibrary, Canadian Electronic Library, etc.) Includes discussion of sales and marketing opportunities, relevant technical considerations and standards. Includes a separate discussion of Google.

• Business Models – some examples of what larger publishers are doing, evolving marketing opportunities

• Possible Partners

• Funding The Task Force also asked specific questions within their category groupings.

I have introduced some of these at relevant points throughout the report and attempted to provide answers or, at least, emerging direction or best practices.

I have also included throughout the report initial suggestions on ongoing professional development/educational opportunities designed to help keep ACP members on top of this ever-evolving field.


In this section I will explore the ownership of rights, from acquisition to exploitation, and the ownership of the actual digitized version of the book.


The emerging wisdom is for publishers to acquire and retain electronic rights wherever possible from the moment of acquisition, by means of the publisher/creator contract, right through to the sale or licensing of the electronic rights to a completed work.

As with all negotiations, the publishers’ ability to prevail is related to the power balance between buyer and seller and to how much each party wants to make a deal.

Several publishers interviewed stated that, with decreases in retail sales and shrinking margins, they must have all rights possible in order to make a project financially viable. Thus, unwillingness on the part of a creator or agent to include electronic rights can be a deal breaker.

Others, particularly when dealing with an author with an established reputation and a known sales record, realize that they must compromise or

–  –  –

even just settle for limited rights with some latitude for electronic promotion. It really is, like all other negotiations, the art of the possible.

Acquisition (Publisher/Creator Contracts):

The traditional contract is evolving and most publishers include language addressing electronic rights. This language is becoming more standardized as the areas addressed become clearer in concept and practice. (Two experts in the industry, Marilyn Biderman and Grace Westcott, have prepared a guideline for ACP publishers who are looking for help in this area. A copy is attached as Appendix A.) Most publishers interviewed are treating electronic rights both as primary rights (ones which the publishers will exploit directly) and as subsidiary or secondary rights (ones passed along through sale or license to a third party to exploit).

When asked about the response from authors with whom they deal, the publishers interviewed felt was that creators have a growing understanding of the changing marketplace and a more realistic appreciation about what the financial opportunities are and what they aren’t and how they can best be exploited and by whom.

That said, this remains a controversial area and many author/creator advice sites urge their community to retain electronic rights where possible.

An example of a particular area of concern is the reversion of rights. With the emergence of Print on Demand technology (POD), the creator concern has been that publishers would hold on to rights in perpetuity with very little in the way of return to the author. This concern has been addressed by some publishers by instituting a minimum payment per royalty period for as long as the publisher wishes to retain the rights. This appears to be emerging as a best practice and may become a standard way of doing business.

Many publishers want to make sure they have electronic rights that will allow them to promote the book, e.g. right to put a first or selected chapter on-line.

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