Amazon, Publishers and Us

FIRST, LET’S AGREE – Amazon is not a bookseller, though that is how it began life. It is a multiple retailer, a Walmart of the web and an internet chainstore of everything.

Amazon is one of the dominant commercial powers of our age, though not consistently profitable it has the ability to be so at the flick of a switch. It can and does put competitors out of business. It has ambitions and has made forays into product development as well as retailing. It is a behemoth, straddling the world right now. But can it be a successful book publisher? A new article in the New Yorker discusses its progress in the world of books.

The role of a publisher is different from that of a bookseller and, I believe, different from Amazon. That’s why unhealthy spats between Amazon and publishers seem sterile, and some of the quotes coming from Amazon seem misguided. I’m particularly struck by George Packer in the New Yorker (his excellent article is also quoted in this shorter Business Insider piece). Packer says:

At Amazon, “personalisation” meant data analytics and statistical probability.”

For publishers and booksellers, in the future just as in the past, success depends on “personalisation” being about people. The article claims that Amazon employees are chosen for their Myers-Briggs personality types:-

Eighty per cent of them came in two or three similar categories, and [Amazon founder] Bezos is the same: introverted, detail-oriented, engineer-type personality.”

Publishers and booksellers need to remember to be ‘people people’, and that transpersonal leadership, for example, can provide a path that offers insights and success, and creates a strong culture of innovation on which publishing can grow.

Kind regards

Duncan Enright, LeaderShape

Duncan has been a senior director with over 25 years experience in the publishing industry. He’d be delighted to discuss your leadership issues, whatever the size of your publishing-related concern. You can find out about his background here or contact him now.


1 Response to “Amazon, Publishers and Us”

  1. 1 duncanenright 10/06/2014 at 3:17 pm

    Reblogged this on Evidence-based Networks and commented:
    First of a series of thoughts about the impact of Amazon and how publishers might respond.

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