Expert publishing blog opinions are solely those of the blogger and not necessarily endorsed by DBW.
The familiar narrative goes something like this: Big Publishers, burdened by outmoded infrastructure and gatekeeper mentalities, are incapable of adapting to the mandates of the digital age. Meanwhile, cutting-edge technology companies are enabling writers and brands to succeed independently, nudging Big Publishing into obsolescence.
It’s a powerful story, repeated daily in blog posts, Twitter feeds, and mainstream media. The only problem:
It might not be true.
Scratch the surface of the Big-Publishing-is-Doomed Narrative, and you find more in favor of Big Publishing’s successful adjustment than the dramatic demise story allows. From indie bookstore resurgence to hardcover resiliency, book culture is booming; reading–across platforms–is up; and experimentation abounds. But behind those hopeful signs are smart, indefatigable, book-loving people who are doing the very hard work of making the old new again. With fresh acquisition tactics, release strategies, imprint construction, or technology builds, Big Publishers are finding ways to thrive despite the exaggerated rumors of their demise. And if they’re doing it successfully, it’s because of the The Change Agents within.
In this occasional series, The Change Agents, I’ll be speaking with a variety of folks inside Big Publishing who are helping their respective companies–in ways large and small–to adapt, adjust, innovate, and reinvent.
Plenty of pixels and ink are spent on the innovators outside the industry–the innumerable publishing technology start-ups, their energetic founders, their magical technology solutions. The Change Agents series turns the spotlight inward, showcasing the editors, marketers, publicists, designers, sales people, and executives who work inside the heavy, ancient machinery of Big Publishing, and who are confronting disruption with creativity.
<Click the tag The Change Agents to read all posts in this series.>