Expanding Global Channels, Not Book Formats, Is Key to The Quarto Group’s Success
While some publishers are most concerned with perfecting the ebook, or experimenting with new book formats, Marcus Leaver, CEO of The Quarto Group, is more interested in meeting readers where they are. "Putting books in the customers' hands is the most important thing," says Leaver, and Quarto, a global illustrated book publisher, is working to do that by partnering with distributors in its most underserved markets. It may not be as flashy as enhanced ebooks, but it's proven to be a profitable model, says Leaver.
Leaver will expand on this strategy at the Yale Publishing Course, which will be held on July 19-24. The course gathers book industry leaders to discuss critical publishing issues with their peers. You can learn more about the program here. Following Leaver explains how Quarto picks new markets in which to sell its titles and offers his insights on the most important trends in the industry.
What advice do you have for other book publishers to achieve success in today's changing market?
Very broadly my advice is to sell in as many markets and languages as you can around the world. We try to sell our books in as many formats and in as many countries and languages as we possibly can. And we keep an eye on any digital developments that can help us to do that.
We think as an illustrated publisher that it's channel rather than format that is most important. Making the channels really sing and making partnerships around the world in both English and foreign languages is key. Whether it's an ebook or print book, our company mission statement is to put books in customers' hands however and wherever they choose.
Have you partnered with any subscription platforms?
How do I make any money from subscription channels? No, I'm selling books in a traditional way and making good money out of it because I don't understand how to make money out of the subscription model. They all sound really good, but in reality, I can't make money out of it.
In the meantime I would rather pursue things that I'm doing like setting up a joint venture in Brazil to sell more of my books because we were undersold in Brazil. I'm exploring other territories. That is perhaps not very interesting because it sounds old-fangled as opposed to new-fangled. It's just finding new ways to sell the same sort of things I've been selling for a long time. It may not sound as big as Oyster, but on the other hand it does pay the bills.
What is the process for evaluating a new market and deciding to sell books there?
Whenever I look at a new channel or market the most important question is always: Have we got the right partner?
What are some qualities you're looking for in your partners?
Well, first it's nice to be paid. That's key. But we also want our partners to have the same worldview as Quarto. How do we sell books and look after authors, illustrators, and customers. Are they a company that cares mainly about putting books in customers' hands? If they are then I want to do business with them. If they aren't then I don't.
Are there any other publishing trends that you're keeping an eye on?
We've launched a web to print business. We're using our intellectual property so that readers can print their own books. For example, you can personalize your own cookbook. This is the first time we're dong personalization and we think it's a very interesting field.