Publishing Optimism Reigns: The PW Interview

By Maria Giordano
Killer Nashville Staff

Not all the numbers are in yet for 2014, but all points indicate that it was a good year for the publishing industry.

In short, print sales appear to be coming back from their downward spiral when eBooks exploded onto the market in 2010-2011, says Jim Milliot, editorial director of Publishers Weekly.

“There are a lot of reasons to keep bookstores in business,” Milliot said. PW is a weekly news magazine focused on the international book publishing business.

Kindle Paperwhite“Nobody wants Barnes & Noble and Books-A-Million to go out of business. Both companies have talked about a good holiday season.”

And how did digital books do? Milliot says eBooks enjoyed slight growth, but preliminary numbers are viewed as being roughly flat, which seems to be the same as compared to revenue numbers for eBooks in 2013.

It appears with the advent of digital books that publishing – particularly in relation to print sales – continues to stabilize. Specifically in the mystery genre, the category is considered solid and is also the most digital-friendly, Milliot said. About 20 to 30 percent of sales of mystery books are digital, he added.

Last year, children’s books, including Young Adult literature, did very well. Some of the titles that fared well include The Fault in Our Stars by John Green, the Divergent trilogy by Veronica Roth, and the Frozen franchise, all of which had accompanying film releases. Ten to 12 titles associated with the video game, Minecraft, also did really well.

“Things are more optimistic than it’s been since the recession,” Milliot said. “Print is here to stay, for now.”

This is to not say that the industry isn’t adapting to digital; however, where bookstores were once crazed and fearful about the advent of electronic reading, there seems to be less urgency now, Milliot said.

Many have taken a strategic approach and have incorporated the medium as just another platform.

“(eBooks) certainly were disruptive, and will be going forward, but not in the same way,” Milliot said. “People seem to be experimenting with ways to deliver content.”