Meet The Advisers
A publishing veteran with 30 years of operational, management and consulting experience, Brian O’Leary is founder and principal of Magellan Media, a management consulting firm that works with book, magazine and association publishers seeking support in content operations, benchmarking and financial analysis. With Hugh McGuire, O’Leary is co-editor of Book: A Futurist’s Manifesto (O’Reilly Media, 2012).
How would you (briefly) describe your role in the industry?
I work as a consultant to book, magazine and association publishers. Much of my practice involves workflow assessment and improvement—changing processes, technologies or tools, and organizational structures in a planned manner to support cross-platform content dissemination. I also write about broader publishing issues, both on the Magellan blog and in several published reports created for our clients.
What big issues do you see publishers thinking and talking about these days?
You can’t toss a conference program without hitting someone talking about “discovery,” particularly across online platforms. I wish that the conversation was a bit less driven by talk of metadata (although that matters a lot). Institutions like libraries play a critical role in discovering books, but they have been largely shut out of the digital conversation. That needs to change.
I’m also hearing a more coherent discussion of workflow and why it matters. Some of that might reflect my work—we all hear what we are interested in—but I think the growing number of platforms and formats has made most publishers step back and think about how they are going to participate in this new ecosystem.
There’s still talk of piracy and DRM, but I’m happy to hear less talk of whether DRM can stop piracy and more discussion of how it locks customers into specific retail platforms. There’s still a lot of work to be done to assess the true impact of piracy, something an increasing number of publishers understand.