Digital Directions: Tear Down the Silo
While at times painful to acknowledge, digital media is highly disruptive to publishing. It forces us to rethink basic assumptions about the nature of our product offerings, and how to create and deliver them. Most now see that digital cannot be ignored and requires enormous change.
It's one thing to recognize the importance of digital; it's another to actually embrace it. In an effort to insulate core, legacy print-based operations, digital programs often get siloed—shut off in their own program domains—while traditional editorial and production processes continue undisturbed. While this may seem practical in the short-term, in the long-term it is a costly strategic blunder.
Digital and print must be united. Publishers need to see themselves as cross- media content organizations, bound to neither print nor digital, and able to exploit each medium based on its unique attributes, to achieve both product and marketing objectives. The silo must come down.
Here is an outline of ways to better integrate digital and print programs.
1. Publishing Programs. Publishing agendas are often serendipitous, with the decision to publish a title dictated by what comes in the door. This leads to a lack of coherence to the evolution of the list, and creates some challenges. Digital product development is much more efficient when templates, taxonomies and technology components can be reused over a range of related titles within a subject domain.
For example, if a publisher has an especially deep list of cookbooks, it has an opportunity to apply some of the same layout components and meaningful subject categories across the list; that's not the case if the titles are all over the map. One-offs are expensive.
Also, from a market-strategy perspective, digital success often depends upon content depth within subject-matter verticals. If you dominate a particular subject domain, the likelihood of creating a successful digital offering is much higher than if you are a new entrant. Two reasons this is so: First, customers already identify you with that domain. Second, you have the ability to create a digital offering based on a deep collection of content. Prune your list.
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