Business Strategy

News analysis and commentary on the latest ventures, business models and strategies in the digital publishing landscape.

Why Publishers Must Use Direct Sales

Why Publishers Must Use Direct Sales

If you were writing a business plan to set up a new consumer goods business, which of the following two strategies would make most sense? Strategy 1: Identify a market which, while mature, has publicly suffered of late, with a series of high-profile failures, and whose future is uncertain. Agree with these high-risk target...

A Brief History of Sales Channels

A Brief History of Sales Channels

One definition I‘ve seen and like of a “sales channel” is “a method of distribution used by a business to sell its product.” The digital age we are currently in has certainly spawned a multitude of new sales channels, yet they still fall into two basic categories, whether you’re doing B2B or B2C: direct...

The All-in-One Subscription Model

The All-in-One Subscription Model

Self-publishing is easier than it has ever been, but in the current marketplace earning money for the books you’ve written now comes with a whole new set of challenges. Most authors and publishers are finding it difficult to get their books to stand out in a market that’s only getting more and more saturated....

Is Amazon the Lion That Will Eat You?

Is Amazon the Lion That Will Eat You?

Recently, I’ve been talking to people in the book industry about a new program my company is launching that allows individuals and organizations to retail ebooks and audiobooks like the big three do: Amazon, Apple and Barnes & Noble. One of the most common questions I get asked, though, is, “How can anyone compete...

The Show Must Go On – More Opportunities Than Ever for Publishers at MIPJunior

The Show Must Go On – More Opportunities Than Ever for Publishers at MIPJunior

MIPJunior, the world’s largest showcase for children’s television rights, was both inspiring and invigorating this year. It saw authors and TV producers, digital players and licensing gurus, all rubbing shoulders as they showcased the very latest content and debated the challenges and opportunities in a world where on-demand and streaming platforms are transforming the...

Mechanical Sympathy Makes Rights Data Easy

Mechanical Sympathy Makes Rights Data Easy

The way I drive, sometimes, you wouldn’t think I believe in mechanical sympathy. But I can assure you I do. Mechanical sympathy is the ability to have an awareness of and empathy for how a machine works, as well as the capacity to adjust your engagement with that machine to help it perform optimally. If you...

The Benefits of Implementing a Rights Management System: Part I

The Benefits of Implementing a Rights Management System: Part I

Introduction What is the revenue potential of licensing at your organization, and how well are you capitalizing on it? Through my work providing rights solutions for MetaComet Systems over the last 16 years, and as the former co-chair of the Book Industry Study Group’s Rights Committee, I have learned that the value of rights...

Content, Not Wrapper: The New Frontier for IP and Rights Management

Content, Not Wrapper: The New Frontier for IP and Rights Management

While publishing is typically classified as a creative industry (at least here in the UK), I prefer to think of it as a business that’s focused on the exploitation of intellectual property (IP). I do this because the publishing industry mainly exists to facilitate authors’ creativity and connect that with people who want to...

Book Fairs Becoming a Key Meeting Place for Technology

Book Fairs Becoming a Key Meeting Place for Technology

In a month in which a number of rights and licensing deals will be cemented, announced and lauded, it seems to me very appropriate that Digital Book World is focusing on the importance of rights solutions. October has long been synonymous with the Frankfurt Book Fair (FBF), and this continues to be the largest...

The Evolution of US Digital Innovation in Publishing

The Evolution of US Digital Innovation in Publishing

The United States has been at the forefront of digital publishing since the field’s inception. And now, as digital is fully integrated into our daily publishing lives and the industry continues to expand the format of books and data analytics, the US market continues to lead. While there has been a lull as ebook...

Publishers Must Be Aware of Their Technical Debt

Publishers Must Be Aware of Their Technical Debt

In programming, there’s a concept called “technical debt,” and it’s one that has much to offer as a way of thinking about your publishing business. Technical debt is what you accrue when you write bad code or take some expedient shortcut or just think, “Nah, that’ll never be needed.” At some point, you might...

Your Biggest Weapon: Managing Expectations

Skills development, well-thought-through workflows, decent transactional websites, careful integrations of software using APIs, and thoughtful planning are all valuable strategies. And if you adopt a considered, strategic approach to building a publisher, you increase the likelihood that your company will still be around, relevant and thriving next year, in five years and in 10...

The Future Is Freelance

Here’s a good game to play in an idle moment. Imagine you are starting a new publishing company, with your own money, from scratch today. Whom would you choose to employ on fixed-term contracts, and which external services would you hire in? Focuses the mind, doesn’t it? In response to Emma Barnes’s well-intentioned post...

Don’t Outsource Your Publishing Business Away

In the debate over whether to rely on outsourcing or develop skills in-house, I come down firmly on the side of learning skills yourself. A major reason for this is personal satisfaction: competence and capability make you feel good about yourself. And by extension, a happy, motivated workforce makes for better publishing. Another motivation...

Matt MacInnis Inkling book publishing digital publishers innovation

How to Win at Publishing

As founder and CEO at Inkling, I’ve spent nearly six years working across the publishing industry at every level. In my first two posts in this three-part series, I discussed changing customer expectations then turned to examine the corporate culture challenges many publishers face. In this third and final post, I’ll explore the strategies that...

digital publishing strategies book editors Inkling Matt MacInnis

Tipping the Editorial Apple Cart

As founder and CEO at Inkling, I’ve spent nearly six years working across the publishing industry at every level. In my first post in this three-part series, I discussed a few key ways the market has changed. In this second post, I’ll share my tech-centric perspective on the challenges publishers face in transforming themselves. In...

Emma Barnes Bibliocloud coding ebook publishers

Publishers Can Learn a Few Things from Programmers

As both a publisher and a programmer, I’m a member of a very select club. It consists of both those who started out as coders and went into publishing and those who did the reverse. I’m in the latter group, having co-founded a little indie press called Snowbooks in 2003. When I needed a system...

Inkling digital publishing start-ups innovation

How to Survive the Death of the Book

As founder and CEO of Inkling, I’ve spent nearly six years working across the publishing industry at every level. In this three-part series, I’ll share my tech-centric perspective on the industry. This first post addresses the changes I’ve seen in the book market and the key trends driving them. Second, I’ll discuss the challenges I’ve observed...

Getting Past Genre in Digital Acquisitions

The growth of ebook publishing has heralded the growth of genre publishing—and it’s no wonder: Readers gravitate toward online communities that mirror their interests. By publishing genre-oriented ebooks, publishers and authors can cater to established communities of readers. And since ebooks can often be produced inexpensively and sold at lower prices than many of...

Amazon Google mobile e-commerce direct-to-consumer ebook publishers

The Mobile Future Is Now and Amazon Is Winning It

No, I’m not talking about the Fire Phone. Two recent moves by Google drive home an e-commerce lesson many book publishers worried about Amazon’s market dominance are beginning to learn themselves—that a great deal depends on owning customer relationships with mobile users. Last month Google updated its search algorithm to give priority to mobile-responsive websites, and on Friday the Wall...

multi-channel digital content publishing

How to Make Multi-Channel Publishing Profitable

The digital environment opens up new ways for people to enjoy the information that interests them. Publishing still dominates one long-established format: print on paper. But it’s not the oldest; storytelling, performance and music all predate it. These still thrive today and hold their own alongside newer forms like radio, film, television and online...

Five More Ways to Make Digital Pay

In my last post, I argued that publishers looking to invest in elements of a more robust digital strategy have to balance the costs of technology and the costs of implementing it with the expected savings in the overall publishing process. I also suggested that there’s a timing factor, too, and taking incremental steps...

Gareth Cuddy digital disruption ebooks publishing Vearsa Sinofsky

Publishing’s Digital Disruption Hasn’t Even Started

Imperceptible, invisible almost, but it was there at the London Book Fair this year—publishers quietly clapping each other on the back and breathing a collective sigh of relief: Phew, thank goodness that ebook thing is over. Now let’s get back to real publishing. I’m being a little facetious, of course. But this year’s trade...

Five Ways to Make Digital Pay

Few doubt ebooks’ importance to publishers’ bottom line, particularly as print sales decline, but with ebook growth mostly flat, many still question how much further a digital strategy should go within a modern publishing business. For every good reason publishers have to expand their digital strategies, there seems to be at least one skeptical objection....

ebook publishers direct-to-consumer strategy

The Real Price of a Strategy Shift

Whatever your strategy, you need to pay a “strategy tax.” That’s the name I give to the cost you’ll end up paying to support your business strategy. Take Amazon. It has a hands-off strategy. Amazon doesn’t want to pay staff to answer phones; it wants publishers to be self-service. We don’t phone them or...

Young Readers Say No Thanks to Enhanced E-Reading

How do younger readers want to read? If you go by the numbers, so-called digital natives are just about as frumpy as their analog elders. One recent survey shows U.S. readers ages 18–34 almost twice as likely to read a print book as an ebook on any device. And while Pew researchers found ebooks’ popularity...

A Vantage Point on a Decade of Change

As of April 20th it will have been ten years since, aged 25, I set up Legend Press from an Internet shop under my shared flat in Stoke Newington. The last decade has been a challenging but unforgettable personal journey, but it has also inadvertently coincided with an industry that has irreversibly changed. When...

Pew global ebooks readers publishing

Emerging Global Internet Users Young, Social, Read English

A Pew study published last week finds that Internet use in emerging and developing countries is highest among younger, more affluent, better educated users who read English—all potentially good news for English-language ebook publishers setting down roots in international markets. Despite wide variation in the rates of access among the 32 countries Pew surveyed, national income correlated strongly to...

Android Apple iOS mobile ebooks tablets

Android, Apple and Mobile Ebooks: A Roundtable

After Apple released its most recent financial results earlier this month, several online outlets jumped to publish headlines like this one on TechCrunch: “Apple’s iPhone Overtakes Android in U.S. Sales for the First Time Since 2012.” That headline was rather breathless by comparison with the report the article draws on, which notes that iOS...

direct-to-consumer ebook publishers

To Go Direct, Publishers Must Mean Business

The arithmetic of publishing is fairly straightforward: Sell plenty of books at as high a margin as you can manage, and don’t spend all that margin on overheads. To make that sum work, there are a number of levers a business can pull in order to improve its fortunes. You can increase the retail...

Why Publishers Are Obligated to Make Content Available Globally

In the publishing industry, making content available across the globe is usually on the calling cards of the major digital distributors; many can put ebooks up for sale in countries from Algeria to Azerbaijan. And while worldwide distribution is an often misunderstood yet market-changing feature of today’s bookselling world, doing it well is actually far more important than it sometimes...