Penguin Random House COO on What Has Changed in Book Publishing and What Has Stayed the Same
Nihar Malaviya, EVP and COO of Penguin Random House U.S., argues that despite the rapid evolution of digital technology and the rise of ebooks, publishers’ core role as content curators has not changed. What digital technology has transformed is how publishers interact with and market to consumers. It is an area of massive opportunity, says Malaviya in the following interview, and one that PRH is eager to explore. In particular, Malaviya wants to foster greater dialogue between PRH and consumers in order to better understand their needs. It’s a strategy that would have been nearly impossible prior to digital technology.
Next month at the Yale Publishing Course (YPC), Malaviya will discuss these topics at length and share how PRH has repositioned its marketing efforts to target consumers more explicitly and learn more about them.
YPC is a week-long educational program that assembles a faculty of book industry leaders to share forward-looking strategies. The seminar setting is also ideal for networking and idea exchange among industry peers. Additional program details and registration information can be found here.
How must publishers reinvent themselves as a result of the digital revolution?
At the heart of publishing is the curating and telling of great stories. This concept is as relevant today as it was fifty years ago, whereas the ways we connect with readers and increase awareness of books is always evolving within the industry. Publishers will continuously reinvent themselves as readers use different mediums to learn about books. This isn’t solely a result of the digital revolution — it’s simply an aspect of the business that changes over time.
What are some of the biggest opportunities digital has provided publishers?
Digital has enabled publishers to connect directly and more efficiently with consumers. We can now engage in more of a dialogue with readers instead of the monologue that has existed in the past. This new dialogue isn’t necessarily to sell consumers books directly but rather to learn more about what matters to them as readers.
How has product development changed at Penguin Random House?
There are aspects of product development that remain the same — among the most essential: the author-editor relationship and how we support the shaping of our authors’ narrative and vision to resonate with the reader; the creation of the book’s cover art and packaging. What has changed is that we now think about consumers and how to motivate them to purchase our books more explicitly and in a broader scope than we have in the past. We went from thinking implicitly to thinking explicitly about readers as a book goes through the development process. We now incorporate consumer information to shape everything from a marketing program to design and packaging.
What are you most excited about for the future of book publishing?
I’m most excited about us having the continuous ability to improve how we reach our readers. We strive to connect our authors’ books with as many readers as possible. So, I’m also excited about the ability to learn from our experiences and use that knowledge to improve and better serve our authors.