Throsby, Zwar and Morgan (2018)
|Throsby, Zwar and Morgan (2018)|
|Title:||Australian book publishers in the global industry: survey method and results|
|Author(s):||David Throsby, Jan Zwar, Callum Morgan|
|Citation:||Throsby, D., Zwar, J. And Morgan, C. (2018) Australian book publishers in the global industry: survey method and results. Research paper 1/2018 (February 2018).|
|Key Related Studies:|
|About the Data|
|Data Description:||Data were obtained via an online survey of a random sample of specialist book publishers, resulting in a total of 44 valid responses.|
|Data Type:||Primary data|
|Secondary Data Sources:|
|Data Collection Methods:|
|Data Analysis Methods:|
|Cross Country Study?:||No|
|Government or policy study?:||No|
|Time Period(s) of Collection:||
“The book publishing landscape has changed considerably in recent years with a rise in the popularity of self-publishing, the entry and growth of new fee-for-service presses, and the availability of self-publishing platforms on booksellers’ online sites. The present survey of specialist trade book publishers and their responses to global changes in the industry forms part of the second stage of a major study of Australia’s changing book industry, funded by the Australian Research Council (DP140101479) and Macquarie University. The first stage was a survey of more than one thousand book authors, and the final stage has been a survey of book readers. The present Report discusses the background and objectives of the publishers survey, describes the sampling process and survey implementation, and presents the principal results. Aspects covered in this Report include changes in the number of titles published, changes in the proportions of Australian authors, constraints affecting publishers’ response to change, and the overall impact of changes over the last five years. Data are presented on publishers’ response strategies, including changes in strategies in the following areas: relationships with authors; workflow planning; product range; release date timing; use of market research; staffing; book promotion; and strategic links. The survey results contain mixed findings for the Australian book industry. The data show noticeable variation in different publishers’ assessments as to whether changes in the industry over the last five years have been positive or negative for them. Overall, about one-third of trade publishers report that changes in the industry have been mostly positive for them, one-third say they are neither positive nor negative, and one-third assess that the changes are mostly negative. Nevertheless the survey data show that trade publishers across the board are innovating and responding to global changes in the industry by making significant changes to their workflow planning and management, organisational roles, market research, products and strategies for promotion.”
Main Results of the Study
Overall, small publishers are most likely to be negatively effected by changes in the book industry, with over half (54%) reporting a deterioration in their condition over the past 5 years. The study suggests that this may be due to difficulties in competing with e.g. online booksellers, and a cultural shift to favour blockbuster titles. By contrast, “born modern” micro-publishers are most likely (50%) to have experienced positive changes over the past 5 years (however noting that most micro-publishers are in themselves less than 5 years old). Larger publishers demonstrate abilities to be better resourced to respond to changes in the industry, and are the most active in implementing new strategies and reforms (e.g. in offering multi-format deals). Nonetheless, and overall, one third of all publishers report a deterioration in their financial position over the past 5 years.
In regards relationships with authors, despite years of substantial changes the study finds that this relationship has somewhat stabilised, though perhaps not to the benefit of authors. 57% of publishers report no significant changes in their dealing with authors, and three quarters confirm no changes in the size of advances or royalties offered.
Policy Implications as Stated By Author
The study does not offer any explicit policy recommendations.