Publishers need to re-think their business claims Literary Agent

Comments from some of the key figures in the publishing world at Publishers Launch London held recently make interesting reading.

John Makinson, chairman and chief executive of Penguin Group, said he felt more confident about the retail side of the business now than he had three months ago and believes that the book market both pyhsical and digital will be 'resilent' and that Amazon will continue to grow. Digital will continue to grow and bricks and mortar booksellers will need to adapt in order to survive.

Jonny Geller, agent at Curtis Brown, meanwhile thinks that the publishers will need to rethink their business models.  Geller said, "We are in a flux, and, people don't know what they are talking about, we should admit it and get together."

Geller said his authors were now starting to ask the question "what are publishers doing?". He said: "If publishers are still offering 25% of net receipts, then authors might just say, I'll do it myself. If my authors create their own website, then what is the publisher doing? If I can't speak to a publicist except during the three weeks of publication, then what is the publisher doing? If the publisher can't get the book into stores, then what is the publisher doing?"

But Makinson and Faber chief executive Stephen Page said the trade still managed to drive huge numbers of bestsellers, with Makinson pointing out that publishers were getting more information about readers than ever before, but sometimes lacked the skills to analyse it.

Makinson said: "The role of the publisher gets bigger and more complicated. The things that go away because of digital are the things that publishers never had to do anyway, print books, store them and freight them. But if we are to monitor piracy, understand global copyright, and understand metadata, then we are performing a larger service than before, but in a much more competitive environment. The role of the publisher becomes more complicated, but not less relevant."

Page added: "We have to explain to authors, for the first time in a long time, the value we offer. We are all running incredibly fast and it's hard to spend the time communicating that and you can forget about the remote position of the author."

Makinson confident as publishers face digital "flux": "