The term “landscape” refers to everything that affects how books are sold, advertised, and read. It includes trends and big-picture things happening in the book world.
Digital technology has changed how we write, sell, and buy books. You can now get a novel as an e-book or audiobook. People read more online than they used to. This change is ongoing – it’s always moving forward fast – so publishers must be quick on their feet.
Book publishing is also changing because there are new ways for authors to publish their books, like self-publish or doing some of the work, but not all like a hybrid. Because of this kind of publishing, people who wouldn’t have made it through traditional gatekeepers – let’s say “people who would never normally have got into print” instead- do make it through. The same goes for niche genres – types of stories that few people like reading about.
There’s lots more competition, too: traditional publishers aren’t simply competing with other traditional publishers; indie authors don’t just compete with other indie writers; self-published authors don’t compete only against other writers who’ve paid someone else to put out their book; Amazon doesn’t compete solely with bricks-and-mortar stores – everyone competes against everyone else for readers’ attention and loyalty.
Understanding what’s happening right now gives you an advantage if you work in the book industry.
That means anyone involved in putting out books needs a clear idea of what’s going on at any given moment, whether you’re a publisher or agent trying to decide what kinds of books your company should be making next year, an author deciding whether he should put his next book out himself again after having done well doing that once before; even someone thinking about opening up her bookstore.
In short, when we talk about the publishing landscape, we mean everything that shapes how books are sold, advertised, and read. That includes technological change, what people want to buy, how people discover and decide what to buy, competition between different ways of publishing, and even wider cultural change.