I had the pleasure of hosting terrific webinar last week, featuring HarperCollins senior director of global digital operations Leslie Padgett and content solutions architect at RSI Content Solutions Eliot Kimber. They did a great job of articulating how HarperCollins has begun to transition from legacy print production to a system that is automated and truly multichannel.
I'm an author. Late this year, I'll publish my tenth novel. Publish, that is, in the traditional way: with a Big 5 publisher and all that goes along with that. That sounds like a strong track record and, in a way, it is. Yet my strong advances haven't always been matched by stellar sales outcomes and, last year, I separated from Random House in the US, when we couldn't find a way to continue our relationship together.
The team at Book Business recently hosted a one-day, invite-only event in NY. I had the pleasure of attending as well as moderating the first panel of the day, "Transforming Your Company for the New Era of Book Publishing."
The day was filled with highly engaging discussions featuring panelists from McGraw-Hill, Pearson, Hachette, Cengage, Perseus, Rodale, HarperCollins, and Scribd. Here are a few of the most interesting points I took away from the event:
Most publishers cringe at the thought of crowdsourcing. Publishers often believe they exclusively own the art of content curation and they feel threatened when they sense others encroaching on their turf.
It's hard to argue with that logic, especially in our disrupted world where the publisher's role is under attack from self-publishing, free content, and authors with their own platforms. That's why every publisher should rethink the role they play and determine how to remain relevant in the years to come.
Bestselling author, blogger, and marketing guru Seth Godin is known for his practical insights around connecting with readers and building audiences that can be mobilized. In a morning panel at the third day of the Digital Book World Conference + Expo, Godin brought this knowledge to bear for book publishers, explaining how the digital revolution has changed their business proposition, both in what they are selling and how they sell it. After a brief presentation, Godin sat down with conference council chair and founder of The Idea Logical Company Mike Shatzkin and founder of Publisher's Lunch Michael Cader and discussed the value of forming relationships with readers, social media, and ebook subscriptions.
Publishers want to increase sales with new books and new ways to market them. Yet in practice they wait for authors to submit manuscripts and then sell the published books through bookstores and online. The quest for innovation is lost to habit and tradition.
You're probably familiar with Moore's Law, which states that computing power doubles every couple of years. I think there should be a similar law for the amount of information and expertise most workers have to acquire in each generation.
In my own career I've had to invest a lot of time keeping up on technology, business trends, etc. My generation has faced a bigger challenge with this than my parents' generation faced. But the hill I've climbed, and continue to climb, is nothing compared to what my children and their generation will have to deal with throughout their careers.
We're all intimately familiar with the cell phone business model. Buy the phone today at a reduced price that's subsidized by what's typically a two-year commitment with that carrier. Other options have emerged in the cell phone arena but this low-price-plus-lock-in model remains extremely popular.
Book sales in the U.S. and Europe have been stagnant for years. While publishers design creative campaigns to turn Twitter followers into customers, they often ignore a much larger and more challenging prize: developing nations.
It's a textbook example of The Innovator's Dilemma. The crazy part is we all know it's a big problem and yet very few publishers are taking evasive action.
I'm talking about the reliance on print, even at the expense of digital transformation and growth. Here are a few reasons why print is a publisher's silent killer: