Technology Trends in Publishing

By Arturo Pardavila III from Hoboken, NJ, USA (Lucas Giolito tries out virtual reality) [CC BY 2.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons
By Arturo Pardavila III from Hoboken, NJ, USA (Lucas Giolito tries out virtual reality) [CC BY 2.0 (, via Wikimedia Commons
It seems like as we progress, all digital technologies are slowly converging, and it’s really cool to witness. Joe Wikert wrote on DBW about 2016 trends, which included bots and automation, augmented reality, and vying for attention. 

Last month, The Bookseller reported on the first deal for a YA trilogy in virtual reality. The Fallow Trilogy by Amy Lankester-Owen is the first book series licensed specifically for VR. Game developers like Ubisoft are now getting into book publishing. Pearson is now working with IBM Watson Education to embed “adaptive learning technology to offer a “virtual tutor” that has the ability to engage in “natural” conversation with students to help them with coursework,” according to The Bookseller.

In ebook land, IEEE Spectrum wrote about plasmonic nanostructures, which can be used to create a thin LED display that uses “one-tenth the energy needed to run a Kindle.” Companies are still working on enhanced ebooks, such as Neoglyphic Entertainment, a company that is using motion graphics and music to enhance stories, according to Publisher’s Weekly. Publisher’s Perspectives reported on the project Ambient Literature, which uses technology to deliver location-based reading experiences.

In terms for working to get people’s attention, Penguin Random House is now offering retreats and open houses for readers to be more engaging, according to Publisher’s Weekly. The Bookseller talks about the personalized reading revolution, and how reading is now more interactive. Several platforms help suggest titles for people to read, such as Literary Hub, which shares the best stories in their newsletter, and Buried Books, which identifies deals.

Self-publishing authors have been taking more of the ebook market share, up to 42 percent in 2015, according to Publishing Perspectives. And there continue to be success stories about self published authors, such as Catherynne Valente’s five Fairyland novels which started as a crowdfunded project and became a best seller, according to New York Times. Self publishing is also getting more mainstream, and even biologists have published their reports online for anyone to access, according to the New York Times. And sites like Wattpad now offer new potential revenue streams for writers.

As a side note, self publishing has led to an increase in piracy, according to The Atlantic, though there are lots of advice articles on how to deal with it. Google also makes it easy to request removal of content.

Platforms keep popping up to help with content discovery, such as Bibblio, which uses AI to provide better recommendations, according to ProductHunt. There’s also Lost My Name, which pulls in data to personalize books, and Stencila, which allows for open data science.

Intelligent Personal Assistants are also gaining a foothold in publishing. According to DBW, Siri and Alexa could potentially take information from books and websites and other sources and teach tutorials. There’s also Viv, which can “allow consumers to perform different activities without having to toggle between services,” according to the Washington Post. AI could potentially help with publishing tasks such as editing, though there are other things to consider, according to Publishing Perspectives.

We’ve come a long way. Open Culture has a video of the oldest functioning Gutenberg Press.TED Ed has a video about the evolution of the book, and how our definitions are changing. If you’d like to keep tabs on how books are changing, check out Paged Media.


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