5 Questions with Lorraine Shanley, President, MPI

Lorraine ShanleyLorraine Shanley is the president of Market Partners International, a consulting firm that specializes in traditional and digital publishing in the US and internationally. Her expertise includes market research, development and planning, multi-channel marketing, distribution and fulfillment, and executive search.

Shanley has chaired the Launch Kids Books + Media conference for Digital Book World and Publishers Launch since its inception in 2012. And now in its fifth year, the conference takes place on the first day of DBW, and is a space where many attendees who are not directly involved in children’s publishing come to find out about larger media trends.

At Digital Book World 2016, Shanley will be moderating a panel called “Finding the Talent Today to Build the Great Publishers of Tomorrow.”

We recently spoke to Shanley about digital’s effect on children’s publishing, her experience working in different sectors of the industry, and what her DBW panel will focus on.

Can you talk a little about the state of children’s publishing and how digital is affecting it?

As has been widely reported, children’s books are doing better than most adult categories, and this year nonfiction has really come to prominence, in part because of Common Core, but also because more—and better—nonfiction is being published for this market. That includes books that started out as adult titles, like Unbroken and Quiet. Ebooks have not made significant inroads into the children’s market yet, but there has been a lot of experimentation with various direct-to-consumer and education platforms, from HMH’s Curious World to Scholastic’s Storia. We try to cover these efforts because interactive learning is coming to the classroom and into the home, and publishers want to know what it will mean for them.

Your company, MPI, consults all over the industry. What is your favorite area to be involved in and why?

We like to think that working with different clients on different projects across a range of sectors, gives us—and our clients—a perspective that’s useful. Recently, we worked with a publisher on developing a new imprint, from launch through the first three years. It involved potential acquisitions, budgets, inventory projections—and of course, managing internal and market expectations. That was an exciting challenge. Then, of course, we had to consider staffing needs, and who best could fill them. That’s when we feel we’re really adding value on multiple levels. that’s what we like to do best.

You’re moderating a panel called “Finding the Talent Today to Build the Great Publishers of Tomorrow.” Can you give us a brief description of what will be discussed?

The panel is comprised of two vice presidents of HR, a chief talent officer and a corporate strategy person, all of whom are in publishing. We’ll talk about what it takes to get the best people into the industry. When I’m not chairing Launch Kids, I run Market Partners International, a publishing consultancy. Half of our business is executive search, and clients on both sides of our business are always looking for smart employees. If they hire them from the outside, they want to be sure they will be integrated into the publishing business, and if they’re already in publishing, they want to make sure their purview is broad and their skillsets include an understanding of digital media. Having people who’ve grown up in the industry work alongside those who’ve come out of other areas like music, advertising or startups has really energized publishing.

Other than the panel you’re on, who or what else are you looking forward to at DBW?

Obviously Launch Kids is my focus, and there are many highlights there, including a brand new Nielsen survey of the children’s market, a conversation between bestselling author Jenny Han and Tumbler’s Rachel Fershleiser, and some great panels on brands, startups, and how schools and libraries can work together. But I always attend DBW sessions. This year there are several presentations from companies like Rodale, Ingram, Wiley and NetGalley about how they’re transforming themselves, which sounds intriguing.

Why do you think people should come to Digital Book World?

Obviously it affords networking opportunities, but there is a lot of genuine engagement with the issues that face publishers. And having different breakout sessions means you can focus on those issues that are germane to your business. Though I think everyone will want to know about “Finding Talent,” right?

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