How has your background affected how you view the book industry?
My career has sort of been all over the place, starting with consulting, into music, advertising, and investment banking. I think each one of these experiences has opened up my mind to the possibilities of media. In investment banking you could look at media across different verticals. You could actually spend one day talking to a client that was focused on education and the next day you would talk to someone who was in the TV business. You start drawing parallels. You start seeing how different businesses adapt, and you can learn from each one of those businesses.
What did you learn from working in the music industry?
I think the music industry was most instructive out of all my experiences. When I was in music, it was the early days of digital. I think one of the key lessons—which is what I'm trying to bring to HarperCollins in the case of subscription—is that younger consumers have a different perception of content and of ownership of that content. Their mentality is more about access and utility rather than ownership.
At the time, one of the things that the industry tried to do a lot was protect the content to the detriment of actually supporting business models that might have been better for them. They spent their time not allowing access to content, which resulted in high piracy levels. You have to actually try to support, participate, and learn, rather than sitting on the fence. Only by participating do you have a chance of actually getting your content recognized.
What is HarperCollins' approach with ebooks? Is there a focus on social, rich media, and gamification elements?
I don't think we've cracked that nut yet. We've done a lot of different things from enhanced ebooks to apps to gaming platforms.
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