Digital Directions: Addressing The Human Element of Digital Change
Andrew Brenneman, founder of Finitiv.
● Mastering digital design. Designers and art directors within publishing houses have a high-level of sophistication and expertise when it comes to the nuances of designing for the page. Many publishers feel that the visual experience of the product is a point of competitive differentiation. However, this level of design sophistication often does not extend to digital delivery models. In order to have the same competitive differentiation of their digital books as they enjoy in print, art directors and designers in publishing houses need to ramp up their knowledge and toolset in design for the digital domain.
● Born-digital product models. Most publishers create offerings that for the most part fit a print product footprint: a certain page range, trim size, price and development cycle. There are some good reasons for print titles to fall within these bounds in order to efficiently enter distribution. However digital books need not be so restricted: page and illustration count are less critical factors in ebooks, and trim size is moot. There may be wonderful digital product opportunities outside the range of typical print titles, such as the 50-page essay. Yet standard business processes are often unable to accommodate these born-digital opportunities.
All of these challenges must be addressed through the human element of publishing: changing assumptions, skill-sets and practices.
So what's the hold up? After all, most of these issues are familiar to publishers. So why is there often a lack of traction in changing skills and practices? Perhaps the answers lie within the human failings that we are all heir to:
● Fear. From a macroeconomic perspective, there is no lack of career anxiety today, no matter what the industry. This anxiety is magnified when an industry, such as publishing, faces unprecedented change. "Will my company survive this digital transformation?" "Will my job continue to exist?" and "Will I be able to learn new skills?" are some of the concerns that are widely shared.