Publishing in the Digital Age - Rancho La Puerta
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Publishing in the Digital Age

One of the main reasons I love going to The Ranch is because it’s such an immense center for education in a multitude of subjects, from wellness to the environment to spirituality to the arts. One topic that is taught often is writing.  We are lucky enough to feature extraordinary writers and editors as presenters.  Their talks are invaluable for novice and experienced writers alike. One recurring theme that writers discuss is publishing in the digital age we are currently living in.

I was lucky enough to attend a talk by one of my favorite Ranch presenters and literary agent, Joëlle Delbourgo on this exact topic.  Being an aspiring writer myself, I was excited to hear what Joëlle had to say.  Here is a quote from her talk:

“Five years ago, the prospect for the future of publishing appeared very bleak. The print book was in jeopardy and booksellers, even chains, were going out of business. Today, the industry continues to face challenges, but it is embracing those challenges in innovative and surprising ways. The desire for information and stories is not going away. Indeed, thanks to the new technologies, more people are reading than ever before. The advent of mobile reading platforms enables us to read anywhere at any time.

We have entered a period of tremendous transformation in terms of how we read, write and disseminate content. Doors are closing but so, too are doors opening, and with that comes growth, change and opportunity. New and existing independent bookstores are thriving and others are experiencing unprecedented growth. Publishers are diversifying their approaches to publishing. Now we have traditional publishers, digital publishers and hybrid publishers, who combine digital and print. The audience for audiobooks is growing. Self-publishing has gained acceptance and become more sophisticated. There are now a myriad paths to publishing and that is truly exciting.”

Here are some the key takeaways from Joëlle’s talk:

  • There are still many people who want to read the printed book.
  • Publishers—and writers–make much less money on e-books because there are hidden costs such as investing in anti-piracy software. E-books still require editing, copyediting, production and packaging. Distribution is costly, as there is no standard for the e-book platform. But the perception on the part of the consumer is that an e-book should be cheap.
  • A printed book has to offer a real value such as being a beautiful photo heavy book.
  • Audiobooks are really taking off.
  • Publishers are interested in books that can be adapted to TV and film.
  • Everything these days is data driven.  For example, Amazon can target and market to specific audiences.
  • Something to think about is, “How are audiences finding books?
  • Readers are looking towards other readers and bloggers for their reviews of books.
  • There are not many independent bookstores left, but the ones that are successful are brilliant at building a community among their customers.
  • Libraries are going digital and are influential in books that succeed.
  • There’s much more emphasis on branding and building franchises.
  • Young adults and children are reading more than ever before.

As you can see there is still opportunity to be published in the digital age, it’s just that traditions of past years are shifting to accommodate consumers’ new buying habits.  I find it extremely encouraging that young people are reading more than ever before and that there is still great interest in new stories.  In fact, the demand seems to be growing!

Joëlle Delbourgo  launched her eponymous literary agency and publishing consultancy in 1999, after spending more than two decades as an editor and senior publishing executive at Random House and HarperCollins.  She has edited and agented more than 2,000 books.  Joëlle has discovered and nurtured new talent, guided published authors in mapping their career paths, brokered hundreds of deals with publishers worldwide, and had literary works adapted for audio and, brought to screen.  For more information about Joëlle and her services, please visit her website at