Sealed Lips Can Sink Ships
A strange thing happened while creating this issue. Whereas we normally find book publishing industry executives to be open and willing to discuss industry issues and their own strategies, our writers had a difficult time getting people to comment for their stories this time around.
At first we thought the holiday season was to blame, that people were, understandably, just too busy to respond. And then some people did respond, but many declined to comment. This is a strange experience for our writers, and some of the people who declined really surprised me.
One story that met with a number of closed doors was “An On-Demand World” (page 31). Many executives at publishing companies in particular just didn’t want to comment on the subject, and those who would comment requested anonymity, which is a rare occurrence in this business.
It also was difficult to get people to comment on e-books for, “Are the E-book ‘Barbarians at the Gate’?” (page 28).
We wondered whether it is because e-books and print-on-demand (POD) are still relatively new areas where many publishers are gaining their footing. They are also unproven areas for some, and perhaps some executives would just rather not go on the record at this point. POD and e-books also may be huge growth areas, so people want to keep their lips sealed and their competitive edge safe.
But the fact is that this industry is changing drastically. And if people don’t talk about the issues, how will the industry advance as a whole?
I understand keeping certain information from the competition. But I also believe in “united we stand, divided we fall.”
For this reason, I have to extend a major “thank you” to those executives who did share their insights for this special issue that examines many of the industry’s biggest challenges and hottest topics.