Monday, June 20, 2011

Learn to be a Reader Again

Last week, Don Linn, wrote a couple of very practical blog posts entitled "What Men (and Women) Talk About When They Talk About Publishing". In those posts, Don advises how best to focus management attention and move organizations forward during these early days of ebooks.

Don has hit the nail directly on the head with his posts, but from my perspective, there is still a piece missing. While Don has laid out "what" publishing executives should focus on, I have a few tips on "how" they should start to do it. In offering these tips, I must acknowledge that these come from some very savvy publishers who are already doing this!

1. Understand the Consumer's experience. As a company executive, you should OWN many different devices, a Kindle, a Nook, an iPad, a Kobo Reader, and any other device you can get your hands on. You should be BUYING books from different retailers (all around the world), downloading them to your device or devices and READING them. BUY books from your own website and from the websites of other publishers. This is a relatively small investment of money compared with the insights you will receive in doing so.

2. Become at least as "tech savvy" as your readers. Read books that have DRM applied and those that don't. Understand the difference in the user experience. Download a book or two from a "Pirate" site. Try to borrow a title from your local library. Try to lend a title from your Nook.

3. Where ever your titles or discussions of your titles can be found, you should be there. If your house is using NetGalley for disseminating review copies, join NetGalley and request your e-ARCs. If you house is using Edelweiss for electronic catalogs, get on the distribution list. Join GoodReads. Join LibraryThing. If your publicity department is putting up facebook pages for certain titles, visit them.

4. Ask lot's of dumb questions internally. Understand your internal processes. Understand why certain groups work differently than others. Understand what kinds of stresses and strains producing ebooks puts on your staff. Understand how production quality breakdowns occur. Understand how rights are managed.

As you progress down this path you will come to understand many things, and your experience and training as a leader will help your company break down many barriers.

The moral of all of this is, that as publishing executives, you cannot delegate understanding how your products AND the products of your competitors are consumed in the marketplace.

Good Luck!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Great insight and very true all around. Thanks for this!