Big Data & Books: Part 2



Big Data & Books: Part 2


An interview with Tom Chalmers, Managing Director of IPR License.


Premise: Publishing business models are changing. The information age is in full effect. Almost every machine in our life will soon become smart. The question therefore becomes, how will this affect the book publishing industry?

Below is part two of our digital publishing interview series with digital rights mastermind, Tom Chalmers.


Tom Chalmers is the founder and Managing Director of the recently launched online platform, IPR License, which allows people around the world to post and discover literary rights on a global, instant access scale.


Tom is charting new waters with his company and in my opinion has some of the best insight into these new digital frontiers we find our selves in. He is paving the future for how literary rights will be browsed, accessed and ultimately sold forever.


Here are some of the highlights from that Q & A session for your perusal:


Q.) How would you currently describe the average reader relationship with technology? 


In terms of delivery technology has become key to readers, in particular in the fiction market where most books are now read on digital devices. This is also true in academic and many other markets where digitalization has changed the way readers view content. Content itself hasn’t changed dramatically – readers still want to read a good book – but the way content is delivered has changed greatly.


Q.) In your opinion how have smart phones effected the US publishing industry the most since 2007?


Book reading on phones hasn’t changed as much as may have been expected. Devices such as Kindle and iPads have quickly taken over and led the market. But I can foresee further development from smart phones in this sector over the next couple of years with some interesting new business models already being suggested.


Q.) Where do you see book publishing in the US headed in the next 3 – 5 years?


I think the market is now beginning to settle with a boutique model developing in traditional publishing whereby the market will be split between smaller number of higher priced physical books with high production values and huge number of low cost digital editions.  Self-publishing is also settling into a pattern with better understanding and clearer routes and expectations for self-published authors. Large publishers will have the resources to grow and it is an exciting time for independent publishers with lots of opportunities. It is the companies in the middle that face the biggest challenge, to grow or to break up into smaller parts.


Q.) What is the next major issue US publishers will have to face and adapt to in regards to digital content consumption?


Prices will be lowered despite efforts from publishers to keep them higher and so the challenge will be to sell enough units to create sizable enough revenues. There will also be a great deal of trial and error as new companies and business models arrive, with some then failing and some being proven and staying around for the future.


Q.) What companies have most successfully adapted digital into their core so far that you have seen?


I think until recently it has been the independent publishers that have used their creativity combined with speed of implementation that have made most of the exciting moves in digitalization. Though recently, larger publishers such as HarperCollins and Penguin Random House has started to roll out some dynamic new initiatives.


Q.) How has big data transformed the role of a publisher?


Data has become absolutely vital – publishers are slowly realizing that it is an absolutely key asset to their businesses and can make or break titles being published. There is still the issue of the most junior members of staff being given data as a role within the company but hopefully there can be more outside recruitment to widen the skills-sets within the industry in this area.


Q.) In regards to Amazon, how do you think US publishers should be reacting right now?


The same as they always should be – Amazon is a great product seller but publishers should be aware of their aims and how the operate, the same as with any business. So they should be working with them to maximize sales while retaining a view of the bigger picture to ensure they don’t give away more than they should.


Q.) Do you think Amazon will expand successfully outside of the US?


It already has and a recent push in India will soon see affordable Kindles launched in that market. They are very good at implementing medium and long terms plans and stick to their model. They will face increasing challenges but expect them to launch in lots of additional markets soon.


Q.) How much progress has e-reading made in the US?

It has come a long way – from being talked about for a long time as on the horizon, it is now a central part of the majority of readers’ interaction with books. From being an extra market, digital books is now a core and vital market for nearly all publishers.


Q.) Who are the key players in digital publishing driving change?


Like them or not, Amazon has been the biggest driver of digital publishing. Hopefully its competitors will increase in size and ability as well as strong new retailers emerging as a full and competitive online retail marketplace can only be a good thing for the customer and the industry. Outside of retail there are also a number of exciting new technology platforms delivering content and there is an exciting few years of industry evolution ahead.



We love a good discussion and hope to hear your thoughts and opinions on digital publishing. Please feel free to comment or answer some of these questions yourself and let us know what your predictions are.

Where do you see book publishing in the US headed in the next 3 – 5 years? What is the next major issue US publishers will have to face and adapt to in regards to digital content consumption? What companies have most successfully adapted digital into their core so far that you have seen?

Looking forward to your comments.



12022014-TomChalmbers-Headshot-LinkedInSizeTom Chalmers has been shortlisted for UK Young Entrepreneur of the Year, UK Young Publisher of the Year, UK Young Publishing Entrepreneur of the Year, and long listed for the Enterprising Young Brit Awards.  He also speaks regularly on publishing and business and is an Enterprise Ambassador for the Prince’s Trust. Twitter: @Tom_Chalmers




12022014-KaitNeese-Headshot-LinkedInSizeKait Neese has worked in the digital publishing sector of the book industry since 2009, Ms. Neese is one of the foremost experts on Print-on-Demand (POD), eBook and Self-Publishing technologies. Additionally she has attended over 39 International book fairs since 2010 and was recently a featured speaker at the First World Digital Publishing Conference held in Beijing, China. Twitter: @KaitNeese