Digital Trends in the Book Industry

NYU School of Professional Studies
8 Sessions, In-Person Course

New digital technology has changed the face of the book publishing industry, bringing with it new language, processes, issues, and opportunities. Learn about digital formats (ebooks, apps, and more), search engines, aggregators, and the importance of the web in marketing and promotion, particularly through social media sites and blogs. Explore the ways digital technology can improve content acquisition; sales and marketing; and asset management. This course is for industry professionals interested in expanding their knowledge of digital platforms and strategies, as well as for those who are exploring a career in digital media.

Some further insights on the course.

If you successfully complete this course, you will have an understanding of:

  • The digital transition taking place in the book publishing industry (editorial, production, marketing, distribution, sales).
  • The current state of the ebook — how it is created, distributed, and sold.
  • The current state of devices and reading apps — how ebooks are purchased and read.
  • New digital products (eshorts, enhanced ebooks, serials).
  • Author platform — websites, social media, and newsletters.
  • The rise of self-publishing.
  • Publisher platform — websites, social media, newsletters, and the importance of mobile.
  • The imperative of connecting directly with customers/readers.
  • Discoverability in the digital age, both the consumer perspective and the publisher perspective.
  • Leveraging digital assets — video, audio, photos, text.
  • The importance of metadata and SEO.
  • Digital merchandising vs bookstore merchandising.
  • Epub, DRM and the major ebook ecosystems.
  • Apps as they relate to book publishing, with insight into the challenges faced by publishers.
  • The different types of digital products.
  • Emerging business models.
  • Digital skill sets and opportunities in the publishing industry.


Class 1

  • Instructor introduction
  • Student introductions, conversation about their interests/focus in publishing.
  • Course overview — review syllabus and discuss class goals.
  • Publishing industry snapshot, physical vs digital, touching on editorial, production, marketing, sales, and distribution.
  • Discussion about the devices we use and how we read.
  • Overview of digital products, ecosystems, new business models and publishing start-ups.

Class 2

  • Personal digital platforms.
  • Overview on how an ebook gets made.
  • Tutorial using We will take a text, use the Pressbooks platform to create an ebook, and then show how it gets on a device.

Class 3
New Digital Products – eshorts, enhanced ebooks, serials.

  • Case study analysis: Robert Reich enhanced eshort Beyond Outrage, AG Howard’s The Moth in the Mirror.

Class 4
App Overview

  • Development, ecosystems, marketplace.
  • The challenges for publishers.
  • Case Study: Julia Child App.

Class 5
Author Platform

  • Website and social media.
  • Leveraging digital assets — video, audio, photos and text.
  • Case studies: look at various author platforms and the different approaches.
  • The rise of self-publishing.
  • Case studies: TBD

Class 6
Publisher Platform

  • Leveraging digital assets, maximizing SEO, and the importance of metadata.
  • How to leverage the platform to market a title, how to leverage a title to build and grow the platform.
  • The discoverability “issue.”
  • Case studies: TBD

Class 7
New paradigms, new business models, emerging trends in how book publishers are approaching digital products.

  • Case studies: (no-drm, pay-what-you-want ebook bundles); e-first imprints (created by established publishers); Atavist (eshorts publisher/content platform) and more.
  • Final projects from class — focusing on a single project or role, how will you be leveraging your new knowledge and interest in digital publishing to pursue an opportunity.

Class 8

  • Final projects from class — focusing on a single project or role, how will you be leveraging your new knowledge and interest in digital publishing to pursue an opportunity.
  • General job search / professional advice and insights.
  • Strategies for engaging the digital space in the publishing industry.

Disclaimer: Syllabus is subject to change due to current events, guest speaker schedule changes, and/or level and interests of students. The official syllabus for the course, which includes information on grades and other school policies is published within the NYU course platform.


The Book Publishing Digital Skillset

Digital Platform Resources

Publishing Digital Collection

Amazon, Publishers, and Readers by Clay Shirky

Post-Artifact Books and Publishing by Craig Mod

Start Here: How to Self-Publishing Your Book by Jane Friedman

Starting Up in Publishing by Liza Daly

The Digital Physical by Craig Mod

Hubspot’s Marketing Blog
Bookbub’s Blog
Gumroad’s Blog
Publishing Perspectives
Digital Book World
Jane Friedman’s blog
David Gaughran’s blog
Publishers Weekly
We Grow Media
Fast Company
Silicon Alley Insider
The Bookseller