When is the last time you read a book? A book that you actually wanted to read…not for school.
I have always been a fan of reading. Whether I am at the beach, on a train, or just happen to have free time before bed, I usually pick up a book to read. Recently, however, I have noticed that my time perusing social media has taken away a lot of opportunities for reading. I tell myself I don’t have enough time to read during the school year, however I spend hours mindlessly scrolling through Facebook, Instagram, and Snapchat.
This got me thinking about social media and digital business’ effects on the book/publishing industry. Everyone knows that bookstores such as Borders have gone out of business because of digital books and online companies such as Amazon. We know that the ways books are bought and read have changed, but has our increasingly digital world led to less reading and fewer books being published?
Despite my initial thoughts that digital and social were having adverse effects on the book industry, my research proved otherwise. In 2011, Fast Company published an article in which they discussed similar concerns that social and digital would kill the industry. They feared that people would turn to blogs, social media platforms, and e-books, and therefore destroy the publishing/book industry. However, articles currently being published on this topic speak highly of the advantages social media has created for the industry. A study conducted by the Pew Research Center found that millennials, who are criticized for their use of social media and internet, are actually reading more than people over 30.
The publishing/book industry can attribute much of its current and continued success to its adaptation to social and digital. The industry has been able to successfully leverage these tools to increase reader engagement and interest. The following discusses three ways in which they are using these tools.
Social media allows for the creation of online communities of people with similar interests. Publishers and authors can target these communities with content they know is relevant to that group. This improved targeting means a reduction in advertising dollars that are wasted on uninterested audiences. Additionally, this is a great way to raise awareness of new books. The members of the communities will be able to engage with one another to share reviews or other content about a book. This use of online word of mouth can be very beneficial to authors or publishers who are trying to bring attention to their works.
Similar to any other company or industry, publishers and authors can use social media to build strong brands. If readers and consumers are aware of this positive brand image, it can create more loyal readers. This ensures future purchases, positive word of mouth, and more engagement. It also allows for smaller publishing companies or self-published authors to build their brand without needing to pay for expensive marketing budgets. Social media gives them the opportunity to inexpensively build their brands and promote their work.
Social media has opened paths of communication between parties who were not able to communicate in the past. Fans can now feel a closer connection to their favorite authors through social media accounts. Whereas book discussions typically took place orally, they can now be done on social platforms, and even include the authors. Additionally, publishers can connect with readers online. This is beneficial because publishers can see what readers are saying, what they are interested in, and popular trends that are being discussed among readers.
Although my research did not give exact statistics on the number of books read, it seems that the rise of social and digital is not having a detrimental effect on the industry. The industry is definitely changing; however, so far they have been able to use these changes to their advantage. As a book lover, it is comforting to know that authors and publishers are not being intimidated by book substitutes such as blogs or social media sites.
Do you think they will continue to survive in our increasingly digital and social world?