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More Change Coming

30 September 2012

From Publishers Weekly:

Speakers on a panel of industry leaders at Friday’s annual meeting of the Book Industry Study Group agreed that the publishing industry is in for much more change. “I expect there to be more dramatic, disruptive change ahead,” said Sourcebooks CEO Dominique Raccah. Tom Turvey, director of strategic partnerships for Google, said he believes the industry “is not close to what it will look like five years from now.”

But Turvey said that with the right adjustments, publishers are in a good position to take advantage of the opportunities that change will bring. Publishers need to hire less business people “and hire more people like we hire,” he said, noting that publishers need to bring into their organizations people who understand where technology is going. Publishers on the panel said they have all made extensive changes to their staff with Raccah noting that there is not one job at her company that hasn’t been touched by digital. Maureen McMahon, president and publisher of Kaplan Publishing, said the one characteristic that her company’s always screens applicants for now is whether they can “learn and teach.”

Link to the rest at Publishers Weekly

The panelists sound like semi-finalists in a cliche contest.

After reading the article, Passive Guy is less impressed with Big Publishing’s ability to respond to change than he was before he read it.

Ain’t gonna hire your way out of the hole unless you’re willing to fire your way out of the hole first.

Big Publishing, Disruptive Innovation

19 Comments to “More Change Coming”

  1. “Publishers need to hire less business people “and hire more people like we hire,”


    Less business people?

    “hire more people like we hire”

    The inelegance is bracingly incompetent.

    They’m anywheah neah publishing?

    How soon before it’s just all complete carp?

    Reality books?


    • “…and hire more book people.”

      That’s where I thought it was going. I was surprised when he specified tech people, though I shouldn’t have been. IMO, they need both more book lovers and tech savants. And less of the business widget-selling attitude.

    • Reality books? (And carp ones at that.)

      Perfect coinage, Brendan. 🙂

  2. My favorite phrase uttered by a publishing insider from the recent Discoverability conference was as follows: “We are working to build and deploy verticals to construct thematically framed communities.”

    • James Scott Bell: I think the meaningless jargon in that quote just broke my brain.

      I understand part of it, but none of it is supposed to fit together.

    • We are making higher bookshelves?

      We are constructing missiles to threaten communities into buying more of our books?

      We are stoned out of our minds right now and are stringing random words together in hopes they sound technically impressive?

    • Shame on you if you didn’t shout ‘Bingo!’ That one sentence would fill almost anyone’s buzzword card.

      • It means installing those shelves where you have to screw the metal standards onto the wall and then you put brackets and shelves wherever you want. Right? Right? Let’s hear it for publisher flexibility!

    • Er, my translation is they want to make a website for cakebakers with lots of books cakebakers might be interested in?

      (Where you can change cakebakers to another interest group) .

      So they are only fifteen years behind the times.

  3. I’m hoping that English isn’t the first language of the person who wrote this article.

  4. One of the things I heard at the Discoverability and Marketing Conference that made perfect sense was that all of this has less to do with technology and more to do with a skill set. The technology is here. People are using it and loving it. The part that becomes difficult is the back end stuff and that is a skill set. We constantly hear from the big 6 how they solved this problem or that with something we’ve been doing for more than 2 years. They are chasing the technology instead of learning the skill set.

  5. Things change! News at 11!

  6. Well, they are finally catching up to the obvious. I’m happy for them.

    I’m sure they found this whole event rather strengthening, actually. It means they are facing reality as a group, so they are in this together, and finally acknowledging what is real. Oddly enough, that can be a relief. Hard to change reality without acknowledging that it is, indeed, reality.

    Took them awhile, and they had to be dragged into it, but they are getting there.

    As for the firing, PG, I’d bet that will happen.

    • Although, I probably should add that I doubt it will make much difference. But it sort of feels better watching them put up a fight, at least.

      And, of course, I don’t care how much change they make to their business model, or their staff (not that it’s the staff’s fault, most likely, it’s the culture, and it’s the leadership), but as long as they treat the writer like crap, they will lose. The writer will leave. And that’s that.

  7. ““We need to brand our authors to get the widest possible reach,””

    Why does this bring to mind a cowboy, a fire , and a piece of iron. Esspecialy in light of nonncompete clauses.


  8. Nah, it’s easier to stick a Penzoil logo on their foreheads.

  9. “I expect there to be more dramatic, disruptive change ahead,” said Sourcebooks CEO Dominique Raccah.

    Disruptive to traditional publishing, not to the writers who want to get their work out there, and not the public who likes to buy said work.

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