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Does a Narrow Focus Give a Trade Publisher a Competitive Advantage?

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By Edward Nawotka

Today’s feature story offers a profile of Gallic Books, a UK-based publisher that specializes in translations from the French, a previously underserved niche in the market. As publishers face increasing competition from self-publishing, tech start-ups and the Web, does such single-mindedness offer them any competitive advantage?

Certainly by developing an expertise in a particular market segment, publisher can exploit this to attract the best authors. In addition, by being so focused, they can hone their marketing programs to precision — something that is often lacking an publishing — and thereby develop a deeper relationship with an audience, a brand even, which can help them sustain sales in the long-term. In addition, several niches are simply too small for the large trade conglomerates to pay much attention to, thus leaving room for smaller publishers to take up the slack and thereby granting them an organic competitive advantage.

Let us know what you think in the comments?

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2 Comments

  1. Posted April 25, 2011 at 10:28 am | Permalink

    It would seem like a no-brainer that a publisher could derive a competitive advantage from a narrow focus either on a particular genre or a given foreign literature, like France’s. Why not Russia or Germany or Spain, or Italy or Portugal/Brazil for that matter?

    Indeed, why not?

    I suspect that there are all sorts of additional reasons that explain the success of a publisher like Gallic Books.

    First, the literary market in which Gallic Books is tapping is BIG: the French reading market is large and the number of new titles each year is VERY large. Note that Gallic Books doesn’t publish anything coming its way: it picks those titles that are runaway best sellers in France. That’s putting the chances on your side.

    Two, there are linkages between the French and English reading market: what generally appeals to the French is going to appeal to the English and Americans. There are cultural affinities and at the same time pleasing, almost “exotic” differences: Paris is not merely a setting but a “character” as is noted in your article. That “touristic” aspect is important and will ensure sales.

    Can the same be said of the other countries I mentioned above? I’m not so sure. The market from which to tap may not be sufficiently big, cultural affinities might not be so evident…But I’d be willing to bet that Germany would be a great next market to tap into…

  2. Prof E Williams
    Posted October 16, 2011 at 6:26 pm | Permalink

    Walker and Company have maintained a competitive advantage by using a innovative bonus system that rewards all staff only on a commission basis, a competitive advantage can be obtained in the publishing in many ways.

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