IDPF – Publishers Roundtable
June 4, 2012 | 10:24 am
By Paul Biba
Richard Charkin, CEO, Bloomsbury: the customer, for Bloomsbury, is the author and need to bring stronger relationships with authors. In specialist areas, for example in cricket, publisher will sell directly to the customer. And in the cricket community can tie into to sales of other things, such as cricket-related items. Now actually worries that print can cannibalize ebooks. Are nickel and dime industry and so our overheads are absolutely vital. Have 250 people worldwide going to bookstores to sell books directly out of 400 total employees. These 250 people have to learn to sell digital as well. One aspect of taking out DRM is it’s conflicts with worldwide rights. If publishers published with worldwide rights then would have no problem taking it off. Absolutely possible for a publisher to be in the digital world and hold gross sales and profits. This was proven in the academic market when publishers went to selling articles in digital format and it turned into a very successful business even though the price of the articles dropped by tenfold or more. Digital publishing creates an incredible opportunity to reach out to the rest of the world. Are starting up in India this year and setting as their first goal is to become a digital publisher. Library market is a very good one for them and all it takes a little imagination.
Jane Friedman, Open Road Media: consumers look to author as a brand, not to the publisher. The publisher’s role to to help the author do this. Not a direct seller and have good relationships with middle men. Need to market to the end customer but don’t have to sell directly to them. Have to do better job in getting the consumer to buy something because once they buy something then they will buy something else. Don’t agree that self-publishing leads to increased marketing. It is publishers that do the marketing. Unclear as to whether to take DRM off but leaning towards it. Is a matter of educating agents and authors. See more pirating in hardcover than in ebooks. Traditional booksellers have to learn to sell digitally. Digital publishing allows them to form alliances in parts of the world that wouldn’t be able to reach efficiently. Libraries are an emerging audience and feel they are another market.
Madeline McIntosh, President, Sales Operation and Digital Content, Random House: vitally important for publishers to nurture a direct relationship with the readers. Do this by serving the authors’ relationship with their readers, as opposed to establishing a trade brand name. Don’t think that add value to author or reader by competing with booksellers. At the same time do have authors who want to sell directly to consumers, especially in business book area, so that author can get the consumer data they need. One of great bonuses of self-publishing is that it allows so many more people to bring their publishing to light – for example Shades of Grey was self-published and then picked up by Random House. They have found that for Shades of Grey the print and digital editions have reinforced each other and not hurt each other. At Random House Audio were the first publisher to take out DRM and found that when they did this it had no impact at all. A year from now expects more publishers to take it off. DRM is a red herring. Selling ebooks in more than 100 countries. Fear factor with publishers selling to libraries is that when dealing with authors have two separate populations, libraries and bookstores. Fear is that this will merge into one population with ebooks.