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Has Publishing’s Digital Obsession Undermined Fundamental Business Practices?

By Edward Nawotka

In today’s lead article, Shelia Bounford of NBN International encourages publishers to pay more attention to customer service. Bounford believes publishers need to reverse a nearly 100-year trend of moving away from their customers, a distancing that came as retail removed the direct connection to the book-buying public.

It seems like a simple concept — cater to the end-users of your products and they will come back for more. But it brings up the larger issue of why haven’t publishers (in Bounford’s estimation) already been prioritizing fundamental issues like customer service. It is just one area where publishers can improve their fundamental interaction with the end-user: readers. One explanation may be that the obsession over the transition to digital publishing has come at the expense of these fundamental business practices and, as a consequence, hastening the transition and eroding the relationship with the existing customer base for print books. Thus we are stuck in a vicious circle…

Naturally, this merely touches the tip of a much larger discussion, but we’d like to hear what you think in the comments.

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One Comment

  1. Posted October 10, 2010 at 8:43 pm | Permalink

    It’s a valid question.

    There are several schools of thought on the way forward for publishers. Crossing the digital divide is one and becoming customer facing entities is another. Looking at recent publisher moves, It looks like the digital argument has won out.

    In these uncertain times, it’s hard to believe that a single approach will usher publishers comfortably into the future. More likely, a combination of changes are needed.

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