Why 2015 Is the Year of the Customer

customer book publishers RodaleWe’ve heard it twice now from industry leaders scheduled to speak at Digital Book World 2015 next week: the year ahead will be characterized by publishers rethinking their relationships with customers.

As Squidoo.com founder Seth Godin pointed out recently, it starts with first identifying who exactly those customers are. “Is it the bookstore?” he asks, “The New York Times? Amazon? The reader?”

Mary Ann Naples, SVP and Publisher of Rodale Books, says it’s the reader–and underscores the urgency of reconceiving the reader-publisher dynamic.

“From every corner of the business, we are seeing experiments on how to best connect with customers gathering steam, if not much actual revenue yet.” Depending on how quickly publishers can learn from those experiments, the payout may not be long in coming.

Much more.

Related: Join Mary Ann Naples at DBW15 Next Week for a Look at Building Publishing Verticals from the Ground up

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Rodale Reshuffles Upper Ranks (PW)
Mary Ann Naples, formerly VP/Publisher, assumes an SVP/Publisher role at Rodale amid reorganization and new staff in the company’s books division.

Leaders in Children’s Publishing Assess the Market (Pub Lunch)
The Publishers Launch Kids Conference kicks off Digital Book World 2015 next week with more than thirty leaders in the children’s publishing space, exploring top trends reshaping the market. Here’s what to expect plus a free booklet with essays on select areas of interest.

“In God We Trust, All Others Must Bring Data” (DBW)
That’s a line from noted statistician William Deming, which Jellybooks founder Andrew Rhomberg says still fits the prevailing mindset in publishing today. But while major retailers still withhold most of their own data, publishers may be further along than they think. It starts with knowing what you can and can’t do with what’s already on hand–a subject Rhomberg will explore in a workshop at Digital Book World 2015 next week.
Related: Dispelling Myths about “Big Data” in Publishing

Follett Fights Textbook Price-Comparison Tool (Teleread)
A browser plug-in that compares textbook prices and suggests cheaper alternatives to the titles on certain online stores is drawing Follett’s ire, with the publisher threatening legal action. Developers of the tool, called “Occupy the Bookstore,” claim it doesn’t interfere directly with Follett’s business, since it supplements e-commerce sites’ available information with additional data for shoppers who opt in.
Related: Investigate the Transformation of Higher Education Publishing at DBW15

Recorded Books Acquires Tantor Media (PW)
The deal sees two of the biggest independent audiobook publishers come together as Recorded Books continues to bulk up. The company purchased the former audiobook imprint of Workman Publishing last spring.
Related: Inside the Rapidly Growing Digital Audiobook Market at DBW15

Why Amazon Should Get Out of Hardware (Forbes)
It seems like peculiar advice in light of Amazon’s recent announcement that its device sales grew considerably over the holiday season, but as one observer sees it, “tablet sales aren’t likely to grow robustly again anytime soon,” and the device market overall represents a perilous distraction. Here’s the case for why plus what the company, in this view, should be focusing on instead.

Amazon Nudges Customers to Use Ebook Credits (Good E Reader)
Amazon encourages users to take advantage of the consumer credits issued in the December 2013 ebook price-fixing settlement. Those credits won’t expire for another few months, though, on March 31, 2015.

Comics Publisher IDW Buys Top Shelf (PW)
IDW Publishing acquires the independent comics publisher Top Shelf Productions, which has a strong reputation for best-selling and critically praised graphic novels.

Authors Who Care…Too Much (The New Yorker)
This one’s just for laughs: a send-up of authors who prize their readers’ feedback a little too highly in the quest for sales.


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