Lantern Books Exec ‘Cynically Optimistic’ About the Future
Rowe: In my life in publishing I’ve seen the shift that editors have had to [endure]. … They’ve moved from being people who sit behind desks all day with their doors closed reading manuscripts to being people who have to make budgets, have to understand the markets for their books, and have to realize that they are part of a business.
What are the most significant changes to the industry as a whole that you’ve seen throughout your career?
Rowe: The whole industry has changed and is changing in such a way that nobody really knows the direction it’s heading in. When I started Lantern, the big thing was e-books. I’d go to BEA [Book Expo America] or ABA [American Booksellers Association], and see these huge stands for e-books and everybody telling you that the printed word would be dead within two years. And we’re still waiting for that. I don’t think that the printed word is going to disappear anytime soon ….
The challenge of promotion is to use the technology and the infinite number of … chat groups, blogs, Web sites, online organizations, etc., and reach them with your product to make sure they talk about it. [Using] the conventional ways of trying to get a book into the general market via book reviews, book signings in bookstores, trying to get authors on radio and TV shows … you’re just not going to be able to compete unless you have the big names or you have big money. And if you don’t have either of those—which a small publisher like us doesn’t—then you have to be much more creative.
Lantern has a MySpace profile. When did you create it, and what is the strategy behind it?
Rowe: We created it about six months ago, and the reason is that the majority of our customers link to us from MySpace. It’s actually surpassed Google in terms of search for us. And, of course, the challenge with this is that if everybody jumps on MySpace, it becomes just as unvarying as all the other methods of marketing.