Editor's Note: Innovation And Cross-Pollination
It's far from a scientific study, but the sampling of industry players profiled in "The Innovators" special feature package this issue have something in common: the ability to cross disciplines. It's something you're seeing more and more of in the book industry—and the publishing sector at large. The lines that define the work a book publisher does are blurring, so the industry needs people that operate across them. Particularly, we've noticed innovation goes hand-in-hand with the ability to take experiences and wisdom gathered in one discipline and apply it to another.
The book business is becoming increasingly complex and publishing platforms more splintered. Developing innovative solutions often requires a generalist's eye for finding the common strands among the interwoven revenue streams, with a specialist's hand for applications that resonate with the consumer. Seasoned and savvy industry innovators are able to draw on knowledge of what has and hasn't worked in similar industries.
Case in point: On page 15 HarperCollins chief digital officer, Chantal Restivo-Alessi, shares how her experience in the music industry has informed her strategy in the book business. The music publishing sector dragged its feet when it came to freeing music sales from the constraints of the album format, fighting young listeners' consumption preferences to the detriment of the industry. With that nugget of knowledge, Restivo-Alessi has taken a more progressive, experimental approach at HarperCollins.
Similarly, Luke Parker Bowles has brought his film industry background to his position as executive vice president of production at Open Road to develop author-driven videos that build interest around books, attract new readers, and increase product discoverability.
And a further example: Stonefly Press, an independent publisher of fly-fishing books, is leveraging an events- and author-centric business model to rapidly build its community. Stonefly co-founder Robert Clouse picked up on the value of author-reader relationships while working in the past at presses large and small.
Hopefully you can find inspiration in the stories of those profiled in "The Innovators" section and beyond. From audiobooks (page 20) to comic books (page 26) to enhanced ebooks (page 8), new ideas for improving the book-reading experience, boosting the bottom line, and reshaping the industry come from individuals applying their wily entrepreneurial visions to a long-established profession. Take a closer look, and you'll see cross-pollination is often at play in the entrepreneur's eureka moment.
Are you a cross-pollinator? Share your experience with us.
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Related story: The Innovators
Denis Wilson was previously content director for Target Marketing, Publishing Executive, and Book Business, as well as the FUSE Media and BRAND United summits. In this role, he analyzed and reported on the fundamental changes affecting the media and marketing industries and aimed to serve content-driven businesses with practical and strategic insight. As a writer, Denis’ work has been published by Fast Company, Rolling Stone, Fortune, and The New York Times.