By Stephen Bateman, Publisher and Managing Director, David & Charles Limited
If, like me, you attended the Digital Book World Conference hosted by F&W Media (parent company of David & Charles) in New York City last week, you left fully energized and invigorated, ready to implement many of the ideas and best practices the speakers and panelists shared with attendees.
If, however, you did not or could not attend, all is not lost because I took notes!
And that is the first lesson: sharing is de rigueur in this new digital world.
For me, the conference dealt with many themes, but these generally broke down into one of three key categories:
- Online marketing and cultivating customers
- Online retailing and selling direct to consumer
- Publishing in multiple formats, physical and digital
Here are my key takeaways for each:
Online Marketing and Cultivating Customers
We must make outsiders feel like insiders and work to bring our authors and readers together; we must cultivate and nurture the connectivity between members of our community, paying special attention to the people on the top rung of Forrester’s Social Technographics Ladder to learn what we can from them by asking questions, listening to and interacting with them.
We must work alongside the key social influencers or “cool people” in our communities, and do everything we can to empower our own people to face outwards and represent our brands.
Online Retailing and Direct-to-Consumer Sales
We must move away from being product-driven to being community-driven. It will become increasingly difficult to push one product to many customers, so we must be able to communicate with thinly sliced segments and promote the products those segments will value most at any given point in time. To do this, we need segmented mailing lists and customer data detailing attitudinal behaviors, online purchasing behaviors, etc.
We need to understand our customers intimately, especially if we are to compete with online offers elsewhere that might have economies of scale and a low cost base. In order to build our audience we need email lists and clever competitions and other incentives that will attract and help us grow our niches in order to gain scale ourselves.
Publishing in Multiple Formats, Physical and Digital
New digital revenue streams are palpable. The media industry has been questioning when the tipping point of digital sales would come and we can now see that tipping point looming, yet closer now with the imminent arrival of the Apple iPad.
(Aren’t your kids and colleagues clammering for one?)
There is now a genuine and immediate opportunity to earn new supplementary revenues from new initiatives such as Apple’s new iBooks platform by investing in both new and existing assets. Sure, some observers might be skeptical but the tipping point is here and Steve Jobs would appear to have blessed our industry with a great solution for modern audiences. Because Apple and iTunes are trusted household brands, the iBooks Store and iPad are destined to revolutionize the market for electronic reading and on-the-go entertainment.
Add to this the other new “reveal”: Blio, the new, “in the cloud” platform by Baker & Taylor aimed at publishers of illustrated layout, and the horizon suddenly looks very attractive for those willing to embrace new media models. For this, we must ensure our digital workflows are geared to producing content that can flow into multiple physical and digital formats.
Those are the three key categories of the conference that energized me and which I feel can boost many publishers. It’s a pity not more European publishers could make the trip to DBW.
Hopefully F&W Media can host something similar for us in London?
Finally, Mike Shatzkin should be applauded for pulling together such a great program and for chairing the event with such enthusiasm and good humor. The event was good go for the soul, not just for business!
Stephen Bateman is focused on change in the media industry and on providing ways to lead effective organizational change to better meet the needs of an entire generation of new media consumers, profitably. He is the Publisher and Managing Director of David & Charles Limited, an international publisher of illustrated non-fiction books, and a division of F+W Media, Inc.