J.S. McDougall

Notice anything different? Welcome to the newly redesigned February issue of Book Business magazine. This month features our special report on branding in book publishing, with strategies for niche publishers, general interest publishers, b-to-b publishers and beyond.

Lynn Rosen and J.S. McDougall talk to Penguin Classics, Chronicle, McSweeney's, Chelsea Green, HarperCollins Christian, O'Reilly, Harvard Common and Wharton School Publishing to get at the secret sauce of publishing house and brand, and why creating symbols that signify quality content is more imporant than ever before.

Companies across the globe are full of executives who believe in the traditional model of digital marketing and may need a little convincing to recognize that times are changing. You may also find that these executives are a bit jittery because their once tried-and-true tactics are becoming less effective. The well of consumer patience for constant interruption is exhausted.

The digital revolution was a huge win for the act of publishing. Content is now everywhere and can be purchased anywhere. But how, in this sea of content, do publishers who invest in the time-honored processes that ensure quality content communicate that?

There are many methods to boost content discoverability—many are technical, many are strategic, and all should be tailored to the content and audience in question. The most powerful—and most resilient—method for improving your content's discoverability, however, is to inspire your once-passive audience to actively seek you out.

Active discovery—where customers know to specifically seek out your content—requires branding.

Here's your strategy landmine for the day: The web browser is dying off.

It may be difficult to fathom, but in a few years, no program we use on our tablets, phones or computers will resemble the web browsers we're using today. Digital services, social platforms and most importantly, digital content are all steadily migrating away from the web browser and into the world of apps.

Publishers have been blessed with the gift of invisibility. For the last several decades of modern book publishing, the industry's "top-down" distribution model has allowed publishers to stand behind the scenes—working tirelessly, but not publicly—to make sure high-quality and important content found its way to the world's stage. This shroud of invisibility has long protected publishers from suffering the worst effects of their worst failures, and it has granted them certain freedoms to take the risks required of a publisher—on new authors, on new topics, on new ideas, etc. Colossal failures during these years may have tarnished the author in the readers' minds, and the booksellers who recommended their steaming pile of a book, but not the largely invisible publisher—who lived to publish another day.

It's hard to imagine any title launching today without a Facebook page, Twitter campaign, author blogs, online assets and video, and all other manner of digital marketing. But it wasn't so long ago—2008—that one of the year's biggest releases launched without any of that.

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