Jensen finds it useful to think in terms of blurring the line between marketing and content. Podcasts, for instance, provide content, yet also drive people to a publisher’s Web site. “The percentage of people who visit and are buying is only 0.2 percent,” he says, “ but that can be a big number in the digital environment. The podcast is capturing people who would never have known of [the book] before.”
Ultimately, publishers can be at least partially insured against risk by virtue of what doesn’t change—the central position of great content. “You have to have quality content,” stresses Jensen. “If we’re putting out schlocky content with our podcast, people will not listen to it. Content standards [remain] high even as expectations for quality format have been changing.”
For publishers, the principal challenge is to provide the high-quality material that always has been and remains its stock-in-trade, while putting itself out where readers and viewers are, even if that means venturing into strange and unstable territory.