Stop building communities. Join one instead

If publishers ever hope to break the hegemony of Amazon, then surely more co-operation and interaction amongst themselves is the way forward.


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Will Netflix for eBooks work?

Attend any industry event these days and you can be sure there will be at least one speech or panel on creating “communities”. It’s one of these real buzz words or concepts that seems to fire publishers imaginations – “if we create a community then they will come and sales will increase!” But is that really the case or is it more a Field of Dreams aspiration?

Either way I strongly feel that publishers need to focus more on creating a community amongst themselves – an atmosphere of collaboration, exchange and benefit for all. Publishing is an incredibly insular and siloed world, yet dealing with publishers of all sizes every day it always strikes me that the same queries, worries and challenges face all.

What would the danger be of talking to other publishers, exchanging experiences, swapping war stories and sharing successes? I think it’s less than you might think. It also makes complete sense in today’s publishing world.

In an industry that is being forced to examine the way it does business – becoming leaner, more focused and more cost driven, the benefits of learning from each other increases exponentially. What is the danger in becoming more collaborative? There seems to be a competitive worry, but realistically, how many publishers outside the top 6 should really be concerned? The benefits outweigh the drawbacks.

There are massive resources and models available online that provide us with hints as to where publishers could benefit. I think there’s a real opportunity in providing a service that allows publishers to hire highly skilled designers, proof readers, editors, marketers etc on-demand. That makes complete sense in a market that needs lower overheads, yet increased capacity and flexibility. It also suits a generation comfortable with working from home.

What about a type of Linkedin specifically aimed at publishers? You could share your profile and availability. Swap articles and stories that others would find interesting. There could be an area where publishers could outline successful marketing campaigns or book launch strategies. Editors could review new production software they’re trialling, share tips on getting the most out of their systems and people. This increased interaction also strengthens the standards of the people and companies within the industry, bolstering an industry being questioned for its relevancy.

One really good example of a more open mind set is the rather excellent website A crime fiction community that was launched and is run by Random House, the site also stocks and gives equal exposure to other publishers’ titles. It would have been very easy to focus on just their own titles, but instead it’s a broad minded approach that gives the reader a fuller experience that multiple publishers benefit from.

If publishers ever hope to break the hegemony of Amazon, then surely more co-operation and interaction amongst themselves is the way forward?

What do you think?

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