Applying Smart Customization to Publishing
If a publisher determines that its custom publishing activities are under-performing, the publisher should look at the types of customization offered, and eliminate publications and services of little value to customers.
Many custom publishing offerings are added over time. Once the initial need is addressed or replaced with lower-cost offerings, these offerings should be eliminated. A common example: cutting apart and rebinding existing books to make a derivative work.
This is labor intensive, expensive work that adds new cost to the title, and usually results in a book that looks worse than the original, yet sells for the same amount. Database-driven custom publishing can eliminate most of the need for cutting and rebinding books, and yields margins at or near those of the original title.
Secondly, the publisher should review its custom publishing program to understand which customers they can profitably offer custom publications and services. Again, over time and to meet competitive threats, publishers often roll-out custom publishing services to low-volume, low-margin customers, as well as high-volume customers.
By aligning their custom publishing offerings and services to their customer base, publishers can ensure more profitable custom publishing activities.
Lastly, publishers should align editorial, marketing, production, and distribution activities to provide customers the highest value at the lowest cost.
Custom publishing is often seen as a sales or marketing activity. Sales or marketing, therefore, ends up with the responsibility for custom publishing. What often happens is production managers get involved too late in the sales process, adding costs to what could be an otherwise profitable sale.
Making custom publishing an integral part of the publisher's editorial, design, and production processes, makes it a value-added product and service.
- Tom Delano
Tom Delano is a business development executive at Ames On-Demand, Somerville, Mass. He can be reached at TDelano@AmesOnDemand.com.