Perseus CMO Rick Joyce on Battling the Homogenization of Books
No one will be unhappy if a publisher is getting deep into the verticals that they publish into, providing cool information, building a following, and collecting information about the consumers. That is all valuable information for the agent, for the publisher, for the retailer, and it's building demand for books.
What are the big challenges that Perseus hopes to tackle in the next few years?
I would say building direct relationships with consumers around focused content. We will also be focused on analytics-being able to analyze consumer behavior to figure out what to recommend, what to promote, how to price, and who to promote it to.
Discovery in general is also important because a lot of the online retailing recommendation engines are still very clunky. They are not insightful enough, elegant enough, or fun enough and in no way compare with the kind of purposeful serendipity that you get when you walk through a bookstore. They are not built for browsing in the same type of fun way.
Another thing I'm thinking about a lot is building up this sort of invisible book layer where any person in the world can immediately access a book that is relevant to where they are or their specific experiences. One of the real challenges is to make that book layer have a kind of intuitiveness so that really "in context" books are made visible to you, not only when you want to buy a book but also when you don't. There are a lot of ways to do that. As content becomes more connected, there will be fewer missed opportunities.
In publishing, we can't just sell books to people who have already decided they want to buy a book. The market is not as big as it could or should be. You also want books to come up when someone is thinking, "Mother's Day is coming up, what should I get my mom?" A book is competing with anything else you might do-a gift certificate to a spa, flowers, clothes. 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, your time, and your money. I'm excited by all the ways that that book layer can get wired and is getting wired so that books can cross your path more purposefully.
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