‘Go Digital’ is going to be the mantra for the publishing industry in the coming times’, says Naveen Choudhary, associate marketing director at OUP
As the world finds itself confined indoors, the speculation regarding what’s coming next catches the steam. No matter the industry, new ways and arrangements seem inevitable. In a way, it feels like a course correction. As Bookstores around the world come to a standstill, as they aren’t considered as an essential service, the print book market takes a huge hit. Though communication technology has provided a semblance of respite as people work from home, and also hope to come out of it with some valuable lessons, we bring you some expert insight into what awaits the publishing indusrty and what present changes need to be embraced.
Following is an excerpt from a recent interview Wonderpublish conducted with Naveen Choudhary, the Associate Marketing Director at Oxford University Press:
Q. 1: How do you look at this Corona Pandemic affecting the Publishing landscape?
This is a tough time due to Corona Pandemic and it has certainly impacted the publishing landscape. It has hit not just the internal operations of the publishers but also the stakeholders such as distributors, suppliers, retail, printers and the most important authors. Books are not moving right now anywhere in the market, new releases for the month is on hold at several publication houses.
Saying this, I would say it has not taken the spirit down. The industry is finding ways to engage with all stakeholders, creating new e-offerings for the readers which can be used in this period. Authors are engaged and communication channel is more active than ever before to best utilise the time period.
Q. 2: Can Digital come to the rescue of an industry that still largely remains traditional?
Definitely. Currently no books are being supplied but any reader who wants an eBook can get it immediately. Once this will get over, I am sure the data of this period will show a significant impact on the sales of eBooks and in future, we will see a surge in sales of eBooks.
In academic publishing, a lot of content is available online for consumption but it is not properly utilised in Indian scenario as we are still print savvy. I am hopeful that the usage of these online resources are going to increase as many publishers have already freed up a section of content during this period to consume.
I am also visualising virtual offices of publishing houses which was not in practice in this industry. Many organisations have already started exploring this option.
Q. 3: As a marketing person, what do you think would be the new mantra for the coming times?
A political person was recently seen in a video chanting ‘Go Corona Go’. We are not going to chant that but next mantra is ‘Go Digital’. Marketing in several industries including publishing has already seen a lot of digital shift in marketing. Still I feel publishing has not used the potential of digital completely and it must explore this tool much more considering the cost-effectiveness and ROI. A lot of authors still request offline activities and I see this time as an opportunity to convince them to move digital and get a better response.
I am visualising virtual book events, reducing a number of review copies to media, more focus on video marketing and podcasts. These are few which are happening but not at the fullest. I am hopeful to see a big shift in digital marketing approach.
Q. 4: Indian journals are not very popular when it comes to publishing research papers. Do you think it’s a good time for them to introspect and come out with newer-better strategies?
We do have several good journals but I agree with your point that we are not popular enough or made it to global level. Indian journals need to increase their reach to a wider audience as well as focus on much more quality content. While doing my post-grad in Economics I learnt about various journals published by universities and PG departments which are not even popular in the same university. Two of the reasons I see primarily is good marketing and quality content. I think we need to work out on getting much better research papers and making the journals more popular.
Q. 5: As a bestselling author yourself, you understand the nuances of trade publishing too. On what points are the challenges going to be similar as well as different in non-trade books?
This period is going to hit the bookstores badly. I feel offline distribution and money flow in the cycle is going to be challenging in the coming months. Identifying new and innovative marketing techniques in post corona period will be another bigger challenge as well as opportunity.
Q. 6: How are you keeping busy and reinventing your strategies during these unprecedented times?
This time has given us an opportunity to rethink what we have followed till now. We are looking at this time as an opportunity to make changes in all processes which includes editorial, sales, marketing and production too. We are definitely looking to move to the virtual world where any such situation will not impact the business. We are looking for working virtually, offering digital products and digital marketing.
Also, read Naveen Choudhary’s piece on ‘How to use Social Media Marketing for Brand Recognition?’ here