Research Outline

Publishing Industry Challenges & Innovations


To identify challenges and innovations that could affect the US publishing industry in the next few years, along with identifying industry players that are dealing with these innovations and challenges effectively.

Early Findings

Challenges & Innovations

Keeping Readers

  • Keeping readers on the publishers site has become a big challenge to the industry. Not only does the book have to stand out, readers need to be attracted to the website to purchase either a print or audio edition. One of the best ways to combat this issue is to use personalization on the website.
  • Personalization utilizes data on customer behavior, and it is implemented via technology that automatically collects and analyzes user input and online behavior.
  • Personalization is important in that it provides publishers insights about what customers are reading, and these insights help publishers conduct targeted ad campaigns and build e-mail marketing lists.
  • Analytics can be helpful if they are used correctly. One should then use engagement data to drive content strategy. Remember: an engaged reader is the most valuable reader. Analytics products that provide publishers with transparent audience engagement scores for each article on a site by leveraging various data points will succeed where existing analytics products can’t. By allowing publishers to see how engaged its audience was with an article and then have the ability to dive deeper into the data that makes up that engagement score, the easier it will be for publishers to determine how different types of content perform on their site.

Fake Reviews On Websites

  • Reviews can be easily manipulated to the point that they are ineffective. A study found that 20% of reviews on Yelp were actually fake. There are software programs that can actually write fake reviews that have a high-quality output that can be undetectable by readers, thus deemed as reliable.
  • Even Amazon is forced to deal with fake reviews. It is estimated that between nine percent and 40% of Amazon reviews are fake. A notable example is Hillary Clinton’s memoir. Within 24 hours of publishing the book, there were over 1,500 reviews. Within 48 hours, Amazon deleted over 900 reviews that were determined to be fake.
  • To combat this it is recommended to use a variety of marketplaces. Targeting multiple marketplaces helps to increase your customer base, and it provides more opportunities for real reviews. The more marketplaces you offer your services on, the more opportunity you have to be seen. You grow your potential customer base with more exposure, and you have opportunity to get many more reviews.
  • Another way to fight back is to use a reputation system connecting each review to an actual transaction. Tying reviews to purchases can significantly reduce the number of fake reviews because this method blocks bots and attempts by competitors to discredit your work.

Using Social Media Effectively To Increase Sales

  • Facebook has changed to drastically in the last few years that it is not as effective when it comes to really reaching your reader.
  • With that being said, social media can have a great effect on retaining and acquiring loyal customers. So, how does one make social media work?
  • Harris Poll conducted an online survey regarding purchasing behaviors. The results showed 67% of people were at least a little more likely to purchase an item that a friend or family member suggested via email or social media. Referral marketing is just one more way that a publisher can quickly and rather easily reach new customers by simply encouraging their readers to refer friends.
  • For instance, via a shareable link, referral marketing can rather easily take the opportunity to transform a simple share into an actual purchase. Publishers can use this common practice of sharing information with friends and family on social media to reach customers they might not ever reach otherwise.
  • Automated Referral software makes it easy for readers to share their favorites. As readers refer publications to their friends, the customer journey becomes a little faster and much easier to monitor. By developing a clear way to link new subscribers to existing readers, referral marketing programs can provide data to help marketing teams make more sound decisions.

Print Versus Digital- Print Is Not Necessarily Dead

  • Although it is common to assume that print is obsolete as digital publishing continues to grow, it is, for the time being, incorrect. For instance, 58% of online subscribers identify as primarily interested in reading print. Additionally, publishing revenues are generated from 60 to 80% of print sales.
  • Print-first subscribers are also interested in digital texts while digital-first subscribers are also interested in print.
  • It is becoming apparent that it is not necessary to choose between print or digital and that, in fact, a combination of both medias can best serve customers and help to support loyalty. In terms of loyalty, print-first subscribers tend to be the most engaged and the most loyal type of customers. Finally, although digital will ultimately be the only choice, for now, it is more prudent for publishers to continue to serve print-first customers rather than losing them to a competitor.

Consumption Modes

  • Publishers should be creating content for other modes of consumption. Publishers need to think of their products in ways that go beyond the content or format.
  • Determining how people enjoy the delivery of content and stories is fundamental to the success of any publisher. For instance, most people spend about eight minutes reading each day versus just under six hours a day on digital media. It is clear that publishers face quite a challenge in the face of these statistics.
  • Providing the choice between audio, video, or text is an initial strategy to meet this challenge. Additionally, it is important to understand that some individuals enjoy a quick synopsis while others prefer to delve into a topic.
  • Publishers should continue to maximize their opportunity in audiobooks. At the same time, they must respond by designing content for listening and other modes of digital consumption rather than pursuing a direct translation from books.