digital book world conferenceNEW YORK – While traditional publishers look for ways to compete in the digital marketplace, one of the biggest problems they face still has to do with physical stores.

Traditional publishers are losing out on shelf space with the loss of Borders or smaller outlets getting rid of books, making it difficult for consumers to discover new titles.

A panel of CEOs in the digital space discussed challenges at the 2014 Digital Book World Conference + Expo with Simon & Schuster CEO Carolyn Reidy looking at this unique problem for traditional publishers.

“The loss of shelf space and that whole discovery mechanism — how do you replace it and how do you replace it in a way that will keep consumers going to books?” said Reidy, at the Digital Book World conference.

When it comes to physical bookstores, it may be that places like Simon & Schuster and the other traditional publishers could be in some trouble. More and more stores are closing, but this only means that they and other have to search for new marketing techniques.

Tim O’Reilly, CEO of O’Reilly Media, looks at authors to do a lot of the discovery work, and to get those that are good at social media to help those that aren’t as good.

“It’s authors showing the way far more than the publishers how readers discover new books,” O’Reilly said. ”If you have a superstar author who is good on social media, have them show it to another author. You should help them in any way you can and then take what they do that works and apply it to other authors.”

However, as Reidy points out, not all authors are superstars on social media nor do they want to be.

“Some authors want to focus on writing and not on social media,” Reidy said. “There are those who are not John Green.”

The key is finding new ways at marketing, which doesn’t seem to be moving as quickly as the market is changing.

And yet that falls into another problem. The rate of change has been difficult for companies to keep up with even with surveys and studies saying the rate of e-book sales is slowing down.

“We keep hearing that the rate of change is slowing down, that e-books are plateauing,” Sourcebooks CEO Dominique Raccah said. “For me, it’s moving much faster and the data-gathering time is narrowing, so you’re making decisions without the data you’d like to have.”


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