Cover Story: Publishers' Outlook 2012: The Industry's Next Bold Move
Howard: Are you watching trends in libraries, specifically the lending of e-books?
Young: It's no secret that we haven't yet found a solution to e-book lending that encourages us. … I'm just not prepared to let the genie out of that bottle because we'll never get it back. … If you imagine all these millions of devices that are spread across America, if we just make our books readily available for borrowing for free in libraries, and it becomes a completely frictionless process, that's the best way of committing commercial suicide I can think of.
Howard: Hachette also offers a number of services to other publishers, from distribution to publicity to rights and permissions. How do you see that part of the business developing?
Young: We've recently licensed Hachette Digital Platform to a small company called Round Table under a software-as-a-service deal, which is a first for us. … On Jan. 17 we [are rolling] out our new Order to Cash System, which has been a massive companywide enterprise and has resulted in the eradication of our old mainframe system, and we've gone entirely to a cloud environment. And it means we can take on new clients more easily, more efficiently; we can deliver their data requirements in bespoke form. The word transparency is bandied around a lot, but we're certainly going to be a much more transparent company. We're completely re-launching our business-to-business website. It will include a portal for our authors and agents to look at sales information, print information, royalty information. That could also be made available in due course for our distribution clients. There's nothing that we do which we don't offer to our distribution clients.
Howard: Do you see transparency as an important part of the puzzle going forward?
Young: Yeah, I think publishers as a whole haven't done a great job telling the general public what they bring to the party. It's something we're acutely aware of in these days of self-publishing.