Should Publishers Do More to Interact with Readers Face-to-face?

In Discussion by Edward Nawotka

Could extra effort put into personally interacting with readers with the public pay off for publishers?

By Edward Nawotka

Today’s feature story offered anecdotal evidence that publishers general lack of willingness to engage the public is likely to have long-term, detrimental effects on their readers. Whether you agree with the assertion that publisher’s lack intra-personal PR skills or not, one thing is clear: the public feels put out by publishers.

There is, without a doubt, the growing feeling of mistrust, if not outright hostility, for the publishing community among some writers and readers. At the the London Book Fair earlier this month, during a panel called The Great Debate: Will Publishers Soon Be Irrelevant?, Andrew Franklin, CEO of Profile Books, asserted that “publishers are nice people,” a notion that was quickly challenged by an audience member during the Q&A. “No, you’re not,” said the audience member, who indicated she was a writer and went on to elucidate several instances where she felt she felt slighted. “The people you’re made at probably agents,” deflected Franklin. Perhaps…

Still, it cannot be disputed that publishing is a business that increasingly needs to engage with the reading public in meaningful ways. Yes, publishers are now on Facebook and Twitter, but it’s often done with a corporate facade and is, ultimately, a marketing effort and a poor substitute for actual person-to-person interaction. In the US, especially, book publishers often have little or no presence at the many local book fairs and festivals that take place around the country, where interaction with the public is largely ceded to booksellers. As it becomes increasingly important for publishers to cater directly to consumers, could extra effort put into personally interacting with the public pay off for publishers? Is it too inefficient and costly for publishers to consider seriously? Or is it simply the cost of doing business in this era of instant and continuous interactivity?

Let us know what you think in the comments.

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.