If They Need to Compete With Digital, Why Can’t Publishers Work Faster?

In Discussion by Edward Nawotka

By Edward Nawotka


Earlier this year we covered the new trend of “cause publishing” and in today’s lead story, we have an example of it: 100 Stories for Haiti, an anthology sourced via Twitter of stories from around the globe with proceeds going to Haitian earthquake relief. What’s even more remarkable is the fact that the book went from idea to finished manuscript in three weeks. The writing was crowd sourced from Twitter and the editorial work was provided on a volunteer basis. Granted, we’re still waiting to see what the finished product ultimately looks like.

Last month we discussed how “speed to market” was becoming increasingly important for publishers who want to compete in a fully digitized world. And traditional publishers have demonstrated an ability to work in haste: just last year at BookExpo America, publisher Perseus put on a show of producing a book in a single 48-hour period, and doing so in all available formats (of course, this was a rather simple book of altered first lines from classic literature, again, crowd sourced from the Internet).

So, all this begs the question: If competing against digital is the most pressing and urgent problem the legacy publishers are facing, why can’t they work faster? What’s holding them back? Is it traditional models of sell-in that requires an in-person visit from a sales rep six-months in advance of publication? It is an existing backlog of titles that have yet to hit the market? Is it inertia, or lack there of?

Let us know your thoughts in the comments below or via Twitter using hashtag #ppdiscuss.

About the Author

Edward Nawotka

A widely published critic and essayist, Edward Nawotka serves as a speaker, educator and consultant for institutions and businesses involved in the global publishing and content industries. He was also editor-in-chief of Publishing Perspectives since the launch of the publication in 2009 until January 2016.