Perseus CMO Rick Joyce on Battling the Homogenization of Books
The transformation of the media business over the past few decades is nothing short of remarkable. Today, music can be downloaded or streamed instantaneously, movies and television shows are available via mobile devices, and magazine brands extend across print, digital, video, and social channels. And though digital technology revolutionized the way we consume content, it greatly undermined media organizations' traditional revenue models.
In his previous life as a consultant for Accenture, Perseus Books Group CMO Rick Joyce helped clients in the media industry grapple with this digital upheaval. One lesson Joyce learned from working with a range of media and entertainment companies is that creating digital access alone will not stabilize the bottom line. Providing digital content with unique value and conveying that value to consumers is just as important. Otherwise, as Joyce witnessed in the music industry with iTunes' 99-cent song pricing, digital books will be homogenized and valued accordingly.
Today Joyce works tirelessly to articulate the notion that books have situational value. "A coffee table book does not have the same worth as a reference book, which doesn't have the same value as a paperback," explains Joyce. The value of any given book is determined by its specific use by a specific audience. For example, dedicated fans of a popular young adult series will value the newest sequel and may be willing to purchase a special, enhanced edition. Someone eager to learn a new language quickly will appreciate a book that promises fluency upon completing its pages.
Joyce says that more than ever, a publisher's role is to identify the value of a book and communicate it to the right audiences at the right time and through the right channels. This requires powerful analytics tools that can collect consumer data, as well as robust social platforms that connect publishers with consumers who fit a particular niche. And finally, Joyce says, he and his fellow publishers need to find ways to help individual consumers serendipitously discover the books that they need before they even know they need them. "For books to succeed, you have to be thinking about all the needs a book can fulfill and all the things its competing with for your attention and for your time and money."
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Ellen Harvey is a freelance writer and editor who covers the latest technologies and strategies reshaping the publishing landscape. She previously served as the Senior Editor at Publishing Executive and Book Business.