Has Publishing’s Digital Obsession Undermined Fundamental Business Practices?

In Discussion by Hannah Johnson

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.

About the Author

Hannah Johnson


Hannah Johnson is the publisher of international book industry magazine Publishing Perspectives, which provides daily information and news about book markets around the world. In addition to building partnerships with international cultural and trade organizations, she works with the Frankfurt Book Fair to organize and support a number of its overseas initiatives. Hannah has also worked as the managing editor for an online media company, The Hooch Life, focused on craft distillers and cocktail experts. Prior to that, she worked as a project manager for the Frankfurt Book Fair’s New York office, managing various business and marketing activities.