Expert publishing blog opinions are solely those of the blogger and not necessarily endorsed by DBW.
By the end of the London Book Fair last week, I had spoken to over 100 publishers, most of them mid-sized, (by going booth to booth—and yes, my feet are tired) as well as a handful of distributors, and I’ve noticed that for the first time there is nearly universal agreement on the following five things:
- Most publishers’ online presences are woefully inadequate, and something must be done.
- It is first and foremost publishers’ responsibility to market their books effectively on the web.
- Partnering with authors to achieve those marketing goals is essential.
- Building out a great direct-to-consumer program is a key part of the solution to issues 1–3.
- Budgetary and time limitations constrain every effort at tackling issues 1–4.
I don’t think that anyone in the publishing industry would be surprised at that list. I also don’t think anyone would be surprised that almost every publisher I’ve spoken with expressed a desire to do something about these challenges.
The difference, however, is the way publishers are finally talking about it—with an understanding that this is now a business imperative for which they themselves assume ownership.
Like it or not, the digital market is pushing publishers like never before to figure out how to become effective marketing and direct-sales organizations. As a result, there’s now an almost a palpable hunger for more information about implementing these changes, at a level that I personally haven’t experienced since I started working with publishers six years ago.
Of the publishers I spoke with in London, about ten of them had just signed an outside agency to build them a new website. In my opinion, this is a significant percentage.
There is also a sense that publishers of all sizes can compete effectively with the bigger players and stand a better chance of building a brand and a loyal base of followers thanks to the leveling of the playing field that the digital market is bringing about.
Is it possible that there is a skew in the organizations represented at the London Book Fair toward those that are more forward-looking and marketing-focused? Very possibly.
But I’ve been to many conferences over the years, both in publishing and in other industries, and I’ve never experienced this level of interest in what we do here at Biztegra—not just in terms of how we can help as a potential business partner but also in talking more informally about broader digital marketing goals and why they’re so important to achieve.
I believe that there is a sea-change underway in publishing, at least in the middle of the industry. Publishers understand that if they don’t make these changes, they will be left high and dry on-shore as the rest of the industry sails away from them.
What do you think? Let me know in the comments below.