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Who’s the publisher?

di E. Molinari notizia del 8 giugno 2012

Who’s the publisher? What’s changing in his work? These are the questions which will be discussed at the fifth edition of Editech, the two-days appointment organized by the Italian Publishers Association on June 21st – 22nd . We asked Riccardo Cavallero, General Manager of the Mondadori’s Group Trade Books Division and speaker at the final round table of the conference, what the future of the publishing industry will look like.

Which are the main challenges publishing is dealing with?
The world of books is facing challenges in two fields, creative and publishing. As to the creation of contents, today we have books that are mostly quite perfect transpositions of paper books. I believe that the future of devices will be more tablet- than reader-oriented and that, as a consequence, publishing products and creative processes will have to face several changes.
As far as publishers are concerned, the challenge of digital is for them to be able to keep their role in the process of book creation. To do so, they need to be attentive to readers’ needs, giving up the protection of DRMs and providing good, fairly priced products. To this regard, I think that the prices of digital products must be lower than those of paper products. This is a problem presently influenced by a much too high VAT, especially if compared with the international scenario.

What’s changing in the publishers’ work?
The problem of traditional publishers is increasingly to justify their contribution to the final product. This is - and will be - possible only with the change in the approach within the same publishing houses, that will have to be able to provide a tangible service to both customers and authors. As for the former, the benchmark will be the ability to grant a wide and easily usable catalogue; as for the latter, authors will have to be embraced and supported through targeted promotions. This is what we aimed to do with our recent agreement with Open Road, that will allow us to launch Italian authors translated into English in Anglosaxon markets. In this sense the role of the publisher is more and more similar to that of theatre producers: we build playbills (series) and within them we duly promote our artists (authors).
Anyway the future will belong to integration between paper and digital. I believe that paper will not disappear, even though its weight will be reduced. Digital is only an extension, the main issues remain content and its usability. Today, unfortunately, devices allow no portability from one platform to another and many operators try to bind readers to their store, something unknown in the analogic world. To reach a true integration between paper and digital all constraints must fall because freedom of movement and readers’ choice are fundamental elements to the development of integrated products.

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