Growth on Demand
When the industry's final results are in, 2002 won't rank as one of publishing's best years. With few bright spots to point to, publishers across every segment are wondering what catalysts will reignite growth?
Publishers used to know the answer to that question. Growth was created by acquiring authors who, in turn, wrote great books. This year, the question is hard to answer.
Sure, acquiring competent authors and great content are as important as ever. But thanks to industry consolidation, there are usually less than five major competitors, within nearly every publishing segment.
This means fewer publishers are fighting for a few great authors, and fighting for the financial resources to combat competitive editorial and marketing moves.
Each publisher tries to find a sustainable editorial or marketing advantage in their segment. They usually end up finding little more than a temporary first-mover advantage.
So what catalyst will reignite publishers' growth? The answer, in part, is found in mass customization. Mass customization means the ability to produce books in micro (very small) quantities, and personalizing them.
Due to recent advances in digital book manufacturing, computer databases, and broadband Internet access, it's now possible for publishers to offer readers customized books.
Mass customization satisfies not only readers' existing requirements (needs readers can easily express), but also latent needs (needs they can't express or don't believe can be satisfied).
This allows publishers to deliver more value to readers. Here are some fast facts about how mass customization can grow a publishing concern:
Q. Our sales growth has been flat in the past two years, and we are looking for new ways to add incremental sales without increasing expenses or staff. Is there a way that short-run digital book manufacturing can help grow sales?