Digital Directions: Transformation's End
The year 2008 was the most significant year for print publishing in the past 40. That was the year that ebook revenue took off, coincident with a decline in print sales. An inflection point was reached. According to Price Waterhouse Coopers (bit.ly/144XIRZ), by 2017, ebook sales are expected to eclipse print and audio books.
Print publishers have long dabbled in a variety of digital enterprises, including interactive courseware, CD-ROM products, online marketing, free companion web sites, course-packs for learning management systems and, more recently, mobile apps. These activities were largely peripheral, and done primarily to answer competitive threats and bolster the publisher's brand, as opposed to creating new value and revenue. Revenues generated by works on paper supported most of these programs.
But 2008 was different. Real customer dollars were moving from traditional revenue sources to digital delivery formats, and represented a watershed event in the industry. A few years before, a similar pattern was seen in the shift of retail activity to online commerce, and the shift of advertising media budgets to digital. These shifts demanded a strategic response from those who wished to continue to engage in the marketplace. And so in 2008 it was with book publishers: Lead, follow or get out of the way.
Publishers heard the clarion call for change. The Transformation Era was upon us. Many publishers saw that strategic changes of core business practices were required in order to to respond to the new opportunities and anticipated threats in the increasingly digital marketplace.
To fully realize these digital opportunities, every aspect of the organization needed to be examined:
● Sales and marketing teams needed to create and maintain direct, digitally mediated customer relationships, and use that dialog to better understand the needs of the marketplace and increase customer value.
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