Wednesday, February 13, 2013

How the People Saved Book Publishing

 Jeremy Greenfield, Contributor - Forbes

The following is a highly edited and altered excerpt from an introduction to my new ebook, Finding the Future of Digital Book Publishing, synthesized with excerpts and ideas from another introduction to the ebook by Forrester principal analyst James McQuivey, Ph.D.

Whatever happened to newspapers? They used to be an area of growth and a cash machine. Today, the industry is written about as a patient on life support. Magazines are in the neighboring hospital bed to newspapers. Television is suffering from the twin ailments of piracy and new competition from its streaming partners (Hulu, Netflix, etc.). The music industry? What music industry. It’s half of what it was a decade ago.
All victims of digital disruption.
Call it the decade in which music became more used, more beloved, and more interesting than it had been before. That’s what digital did to music. It annihilated analog constraints that sustained certain types of profit, freeing up innovation and leading to more consumer satisfaction. Companies of a certain shape and size didn’t like that. Leaders of a certain type didn’t like it. But what they liked didn’t really matter.
And now it’s book publishing’s turn. The book publishing industry is closer to the beginning of its transition and so far, it’s going relatively smoothly for the established companies in the industry. Why? The people.
According to McQuivey, “The people managing the transition are business people who are … believers in words and ideas. As believers, they approach the digitization of their industry with a zeal that is admirable even while that faith doesn’t hold them back from engaging in the disruptions necessary to preserve the business.”
It’s true in every industry that a company’s best assets walk out through the front door every day at 5:00 PM; it’s much more true in media businesses, for the products we create are a manifestation of our personalities. That’s why I wrote a book interviewing some of the most interesting, dynamic and successful executives in the business.

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