The Future of the Printed Book
In the face of rapidly changing reading habits what does the future hold for printed books? Will they still be around in ten years? And if so, how might they be made?
Our publishing initiative, the Book Chain Project, helps publishers to better understand how, where and from what their books are made. It’s been ten years since the first part of the Project began by gathering data on the tree species used in paper. We wrote this report to reflect on that past decade, to better understand our current reading habits, and finally to gaze into the crystal ball to see what books of the future might look like, and how and where they might be made.
Based on current trends we’ve identified four underlying stories of the book:
- Digital print: New printing technology is significantly affecting how books are made. It’s allowing print-on-demand, local production, and personalised content, and allowing publishers to revive their archived titles, and take opportunities to trial new authors.
- Digital conversion: In some cases digital clearly offers benefits over print when we look at connectivity and interactivity. Where the changes are happening, they’re happening quickly.
- Digital interaction: Print and digital can complement one another in blended approaches where digital interactivity can help to bring print to life.
- Digital distraction: In our desire to avoid digital overload from the ever-present screens and devices in our lives, are books one of our last remaining bastions of escapism?
We go on to predict three possible futures for the book and ultimately what this means for our future work on the Book Chain Project.
The report’s findings are informed by our desk research, in-depth interviews with the Project’s publishers, and guest presentations from our 2016 seminars in London and New York.
With a foreword by Dr Steve Waygood, Chief Responsible Investment Officer at Aviva Investors, this report takes the temperature of the environmental, social and governance issues facing the media sector.
Our analysis prioritises issues - from fake news to environmental management - into three categories: material, strategic and operational, based on the financial risk posed by each issue. It replaces and builds on previous materiality assessments conducted in 2004, 2009 and 2013.
With a plethora of organisations now evaluating media companies for a living, the aim of the report is to support a conversation between the sector and its stakeholders – particularly those evaluating companies on behalf of investors – leading to more constructive discussions and ultimately better long-term planning.
Obviously, all companies have a desire to stay alive and be profitable. But above and beyond mere survival, increasingly we expect businesses to play a positive role in society or at least reduce their negative social and environmental impacts as much as possible.
How do such concerns apply to the media sector? What are the key impacts of media companies? How will society hold them to account in the future?
In our newest report, The Future of Responsible Media, we articulate four interrelated challenges, the management of which, we believe, will set ‘good’ companies apart from the ‘bad’ over the next 10 years. We summarise these four challenges as follows:
- The future of privacy – getting serious about understanding users’ appetite for
personalised content vs privacy;
- Coming to grips with being movers – owning up to the fact that media content doesn’t just mirror society, it moves it;
- Becoming organisations without walls – finding ways of managing impacts in an
increasingly splintered media landscape; and
- Managing the workplace of the future – rethinking existing notions of ‘purpose’,
‘progression’ and ‘hierarchy’ as the competition for critical talent heats up.
Further to this, we identify eight social and technological forces that are likely to transform society generally and the world of media more specifically.
The report is based on rigorous desk-research, the collective insights of the 25 companies participating in the Responsible Media Forum as well as input from some of the brightest sparks in business, politics and academia.
On 9th July, Carnstone helped launch the Institute of Corporate Responsibility and Sustainability (ICRS) in the historic setting of the Guildhall. The packed event brought together over 200 people from business, academia, government and the third sector, to celebrate this landmark day in the history of our profession. Images from the event and more details about the ICRS can be found by visiting the article below.