The View From the Top
“It’s an enormous opportunity. Now, will it actually convert to book sales? Well, yes,” she says. “Will it convert to book sales in a dramatic way? We don’t know.”
“… We can’t be all things. We are basically a publishing company, and I am very happy being a publishing company,” Friedman says. “But we do have to enter the digital age, so why not partner with experts rather than reinventing the wheel every step of the way?”
Friedman practices what she preaches, too, as HarperCollins has been a leader in the digital age. The company is making every effort to provide consumers with books in the format, time and places they demand them. HarperCollins Australia was among the first book publishers in the world to launch a mobile publishing platform. HarperCollins was also the first major publisher to publish a book for free online with each page of the book’s text indexed for search engines and accompanied by contextual ads. The company is also creating its own digital content warehouse. And, it was the first major trade publisher to sell e-books to libraries, and among the first book publishers to experiment with and utilize webcasts and audio and video content on their Web sites.
Friedman has made her career out of following where the market is going, and right now, she says, “We are facing the digitization of the world. And we are facing the fact that if we are going to become a digital publisher as well as a physical publisher, [we have to figure out] how we are going to derive revenues. We can’t just invest, we must take something back.”
Investing in the future
So, what’s next for HarperCollins? “We’re about to go into a budget meeting and talk about it,” Friedman jokes. “Obviously investment is necessary, and that’s investment in people to build more imprints perhaps.”