London Book Fair Report: The Great Debate
For Shatzkin, it's all about scale "The reason that large publishers buy small publishers is because they can get more dollars out of the assets." And as an indication of superiority, "every big company in our business has a component that has services for those that can't provide scale. If smaller is better, why do small presses need bigger companies?" asks Shatzkin. "Just about all small companies are dependent on larger companies."
Small publishers may have relative power within their niches, but how many small publishers could have grown and survived without Amazon as a distribution partner?
Also on the side of size was Ken Brooks of McGraw Hill Education. Brooks slyly defined large size as a byproduct of sustained success, which is hard to argue with. All big companies started as small companies, says Brooks: Random House. Amazon, Ingram, Twitter. "Being successful in your market leads to size."
Brooks also pointed out that innovation is often erroneously credited to small companies -- a misconception supported by the fact that we rarely hear of the thousands of failures of startups that quickly disappear into the ether. But the successful startups you know.
"The interesting thing about innovation is when it's done right, it leads to size. The Ebook didn't work until Amazon," says Brooks. Conversely: "Anyone that is small who is successful has plans to grow or sell to someone larger. And anyone who doesn't is a very odd entrepreneur."
Brooks summed his side's position up by saying that size matters, it matters in the digital world as much as ever, and a bid for a larger percentage of a small pie is not a long-term strategy. Bigger is better for stakeholder profits, customer access to content, career opportunities for employees, and resources for authors.
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.