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The main threats to the pubishing industry

16 July 2012

I don’t like to talk about threats; I like to talk about opportunities, which is a big difference. I think everyone spending time talking about threats is wasting a lot of time and a lot of goodwill. The publishing industry is undergoing epochal changes because of the digital technology, but the digital technology is also affording the publishing world many opportunities that are unprecedented. You will see that, in the not too distant future, the profitability of these publishing companies will increase because of the digital technologies: no printing, no binding, no paper investment, no shrinkage, no returns, no inventory obsolescence…

You can see already now that in the best publishing houses the profits are going up even in the face of a very difficult marketplace. And in the future it is going to be much more like that. So I look at the digital technologies and the internet as liberating factors that will allow publishers to make a lot of money.

I told a group of Fulbright students recently: "You take Italy, you have 60 million Italians living outside their country, not necessarily Italian by birth, but of Italian extraction, who still speak the language. These people cannot buy an Italian book, but with the internet, through Amazon, they will have access not only to front list but also to the backlist of Italian publishers that before was mostly unavailable. So that should be a bonanza for Italian publishers and, of course, not only for Italian publishers."

Alberto Vitale, former CEO of Random House Inc, in an interview with Publishing Perspectives