Posts Tagged 'publishing industry'

The Arms Race in Journals Publishing Heats Up

Joe EI ALWAYS LOVE veteran author and publisher Joe Esposito’s thoughts. He is a witty and astute observer with the valuable eye of an experienced and passionate participant in research and scholarly publishing.

This year Joe has done a lot of work looking at society publishing, which is all well worth reading. The extent to which a professional or scientific society relies on publishing as a way of fulfilling its mission can vary greatly; some societies see their journals and books as the very core of their offering, whereas for others they are cash cows to support other member activity. Either way there are a bewildering range of options and new challenges thrown up by the digital shift. Commercial publishers have a lot to offer.

In this article Joe describes neatly what commercial publishers can and do offer societies (in addition to the obvious: sometimes enormous sums of money).

Looking at this from the publisher’s point of view, there are also untapped benefits (as well as the obvious financial return, “bulking up” and niche domination) from associating with societies. These include acquiring credibility, access to domain expertise, the creation or strengthening of communities or networks of authors, and perhaps strategic growth into new geographies and subject areas.

Of course there is also a very human side of this. Staff in publishing companies often come from academic backgrounds and look for the personal validation that comes from rubbing shoulders with society grandees. For a while I was, though a pretty humble physics grad, the publisher of the outstanding Landau and Lifshitz series of textbooks – The Course of Theoretical Physics. It makes me proud still, though all I did was keep them in print for a few years.

Club Elsevier, as mentioned at the end of Joe’s blog post, is much more fun when the disco floor is full of big-name society people and famous authors.

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Book Brands for the Future

6a0133f3a4072c970b014e89f73270970d-800wiBEHIND EVERY PUBLISHING IMPRINT or brand, carefully managed and curated often through generations, are the lives and careers of thousands of publishers, their hopes and intuition, genius and expertise. The climate set by transpersonal leaders in publishing houses over decades contributes to the culture of the company. Publishers and booksellers have their own strengths and values, and we have pictures in our minds about what to expect from them. I think I know what I might get from Penguin or from Faber; I understand Kogan Page’s strengths as a publisher that is dedicated to certain aspects of business publishing, and the Royal Pharmaceutical Society’s publishing output displays the expertise and approach one would want from such a leading professional body. Blackwell’s is a bookshop where I would find academic insight and Waterstones has a literary feel with a populist slant.

I don’t know what I would expect from a publisher called Amazon.

I doubt it is a strategic priority for them to create the kind of culture that defines them.

If they are listening, I would suggest another answer to the question: “Where is Amazon heading?” In my view it should not be further into publishing books or into making films, software, growing food or branding groceries. Instead it should continue to apply big data with increasing intelligence to target products at consumers. After the Kindle – a delivery device of supreme simplicity and ugliness, designed to provide a cheap and effective way to channel content from Amazon to me – I expect Amazon to create a secure doorstep delivery box to hold my orders at home, an intelligent fridge that orders new comestibles as required and reduces food waste, a bathroom cabinet that orders new toothpaste within a day of the last squeeze, and an iWardrobe with sensors to monitor my outfit choices (actually I could do with a robot clothing advisor but that’s another story). That should keep Amazon busy for a while.

In the meantime publishers and booksellers should get to know their readers and authors even better. That means creating a climate and culture through leadership beyond the ego – what we call transpersonal leadership.

There has been an unprecedented change in the demands of leadership over the last 10-15 years. This has been created by social and technological change, by globalisation and by the growing concern for the future of our planet. If we look back further over the last 50 years the world has witnessed amazing economic growth in many areas. We are now at a turning point in this new 21st century and it’s time to grab the nettle. What will leadership look like in our industry and beyond, to help us stay in print and stay successful in all the various forms we require.

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.

 

A publisher adds value to a book.

amazon-alamy_2060041bWHAT DOES AMAZON DO WELL? It catalogues a wide range of knowledge and makes it easier to find. It prices keenly and delivers efficiently. It captures data on what we buy and uses it to target promotional activity online and offline. Readers all over the world can get hold of a wider range of books (and everything else) than ever before, and than was ever possible. Hassled parents can find the toy of choice at birthdays and Christmas and have it delivered within days. Obscure computer parts or connectors can be sourced, and prices are keen across the range. Price is an issue, but for many customers it is secondary to availability. Put simply, Amazon has pretty much everything, and can get most of it to you quickly. That’s an incredible offer.

What Amazon can’t do yet, and has failed to do on several occasions so far, is create the products themselves (with the notable exception of the Kindle range). Its forays into book publishing still look like self-publishing which is done better elsewhere. The things they don’t do offer clues as to where a publisher adds value. These include acting as a quality filter, working to develop new authors, or seeking authors for known projects or ranges such as academic and reference works. During writing, publishers give intelligent broad input, continuing encouragement and guidance, and detailed final scrutiny and correction to manuscripts.

Less well known is the way publishers, along with librarians and booksellers, can help to catalogue, define and develop new fields of study. My own career includes a decade as a commissioning editor in which it was my privilege to work with excellent authors. Their input and my publisher’s output were both driven by my own ideas about the needs of the professional audience I served, based not only on data and analysis (though that is important) but on talking to people, making connections, networking and using intuition based on many conversations. Amazon’s algorithms are no match, yet, for human expertise and deduction.

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.

 

A challenge for the book industry?

2014-01-09T211337Z_4_CBREA0812MG00_RTROPTP_3_BARNESANDNOBLE-RESULTS_originalWHAT IS CHANGING is not the popularity or usefulness of the book, but the way authors create and share, and readers find and enjoy them.
Continue reading ‘A challenge for the book industry?’

Nobody gives a gift of an eBook. Leaders, discuss!

bookstore  WHEN BOOK PUBLISHERS are discussed in the media, it is almost always the big fiction houses that are at the front of mind, bidding millions for the top authors and carpeting the world with big advertising budgets. But this sort of bestseller activity is the tip of a publishing iceberg. The book, as my good colleague Bob Bolick would often say, is a resilient piece of technology that ain’t going anywhere soon. It does its job very effectively, in print and in digital forms. In particular it is interesting to note that despite predictions, print is hanging in there. Nobody gives a gift of an eBook, whereas the printed issue is still a very attractive and welcome present. Continue reading ‘Nobody gives a gift of an eBook. Leaders, discuss!’