Editor's Note: 'Times That Try Men's Souls'
Raccah said, “Retailers will be showing the top two or three things in a category.” The key to being among those is focus—for example, be the best publisher of vegan cookbooks, not just cookbooks, she said.
She also noted that the “content continuum”—the potential for expanding content and author brands into e-book, mobile and other digital content products—presents the “largest opportunity I’ve seen in 22 years as a book publisher.” And her company is already taking advantage of many of them.
There are many more examples out there of such empowerment; the industry is not helpless, encumbered by its history and old modus operandi, as some suggest.
One of my favorite sayings is “These are the times that try men’s souls” (Thomas Paine), and this is, no doubt, a trying time for most industries. And it gives me a certain feeling of pride when I look around and see that in these trying times, in this industry, some of the most brilliant thinking is transpiring.
Look at this issue of Book Business alone. Former Random House CEO Peter Olson and Bharat Anand, Olson’s colleague at Harvard Business School, co-authored the Guest Column, entitled “The Kindle: Igniting the Book Business,” in which they share their perspective on pricing digital content—one of the industry’s top issues today.
Andrew Brenneman’s “Digital Directions” column is a wake-up call. He addresses the opportunities inherent in a world where customers demand a role in content delivery—e.g., customized collections of poetry. “Some may feel that such a model is … outside the boundaries of a book publisher’s role,” he writes, that “the compilation of collections and anthologies are exclusive under the providence of the editorially anointed, not the domain of mere readers.” The fact is, he stresses, someone will fulfill this role—if not publishers, then someone else. Look at the music industry and iTunes.