EXTRA! Q&A: An interview with Brian Napack, president of Holtzbrinck Publishers, on publishing’s digital future.
BN: Yes, I just came out of a meeting where we were planning a new product that’s going to be delivered over cell phones in a variety of mobile formats. But I do believe the hype is ahead of the reality in that area. Right now, there’s an enormous amount of interest in putting content over wireless format. Ring tones is a $3 billion business. What I really believe is that the cell phone is terrific and it might end up being a great cross-platform device. What a cell phone is good at right now is being a cell phone. I’m optimistic with the use of mobile technology.
We’re not at the stage with the iPod two years ago. It was that you had this beautiful device and an almost unlimited supply of music at 99 cents a song. We’re not there with cell phones. We’re not yet at a stage where the consumer is going to bring their cell phone into their media habit consumptions. Hype is ahead of the reality. We’re moving in that direction. It’s going to be some time until those markets are as big.
BB—You have a month under your belt at Hotzbrinck. Have you been able to diagnose some of the antiquated ways of doing business? How long do you foresee it taking to really get your digital initiatives prescribed?
BN—The digital movement—the digital transformation is well underway whether we like it or not. (Holtzbrinck has) never been the leaders, nor are we the trailers. We’re fast followers. We’ve very good at that. Each business has their own profile, but each of them is doing terrific, and I was very pleasantly surprised. It’s happening before our eyes. I’m going to add a new perspective and a new spin to it. [As far as] how fast those businesses are going to transform, there is a clear rank of who will transform first.