Wednesday, January 28, 2009

I'm calling the meeting of the Nomenclature Committee to order

Today's NYT article is a good look at how the traditional (big 6) book publishing model is quickly unraveling. May I ask that we agree on the following: 'printing' and 'publishing' are not the same thing! 'Publishing' a book, at least in my estimation, includes not only the careful distillation of ideas, but thoughtful design and most importantly the ability of the author to engage and motivate their audience (please - if you have not yet- read Seth Godin's TRIBES).

The other big softball I JUST HAVE TO SWING AT in this article is the bit about trade-offs authors make by forsaking signing a traditional deal:

They do not have the benefit of the marketing acumen of traditional publishers, and have diminished access to the vast bookstore distribution pipeline that big publishers can provide.

Are you kidding me?? You mean like the paying of tolls at turnpikes or blind mailings of bookmarks? Or do you mean the mindless 19th century 'loading of the wagon and carting the goods to market' distribution model? How could anyone give that up?


  1. I agree and disagree all at once! On one hand, I agree that traditional publishers really don't have much marketing acumen. Paying tolls to promote a book? Silly. Making stacks of bookmarks? Waste of paper. HOWEVER, I do think that marketing can bring value to this business by becoming experts on the market. Think of it this way-- the writer is the expert on the book's subject matter, but they still work with an editor to develop and hone the idea. Marketers can serve authors in a similar way by helping them identify which customer segments to target, which communication vehicles to use to engage readers, etc. But first we have to stop relegating our marketing departments to printing bookmarks and posters, and start allowing them to develop skills to become ACTUAL MARKETERS.

  2. The other thing that the NYT mysteriously leaves out of their tradeoffs is the editorial function. (Of course an individual can hire a freelance editor, but there's no mention of that here.) Do editors really add no value in today's book marketplace? Does a book benefit from an editor, in other words, and is that benefit perceived as added value by a potential consumer?