By Edward Nawotka, Editor-in-Chief
In its new white paper, launched in collaboration with Publishing Perspectives and the Frankfurt Book Fair’s CONTEC conference, Danish publishing consultancy Schilling challenged global publishing executives to ask themselves, given all the transitions in publishing over the last decade, “Where would you place your bet?” for the future.
Previous white papers focused on “European publishing towards 2015″ (published in 2011), “Author and publisher relations – how publishers stay competitive in digital publishing” (2012), and “Educational publishers of the future” (2013). This, the fourth white paper in the series, intends to buck some of the doom-and-gloom pessimism that has pervaded parts of the industry and, in its own words, “stay positive and collect all the optimistic dreams and ideas that are out there and share them with the industry – with you.” It asks a dozen publishing executives to dream, let go of preconceptions and answer “what would your idea of a publishing company built from scratch in 2014 look like?”
The paper takes many of its cues from leaders of young companies — some still modest in size — that have managed to establish a firm foothold in the business and expand globally. Among them are Toronto’s Kobo, the ebook company, which recently decided to invest in hardware and distribution, Berlin’s Dotbooks, a content curation firm (we wrote about here), Goodreads (now owned by Amazon) which has become the leading social media site for booklovers, as well as Boston’s Code Mantra, a publishing services firm. Others include Bloomsbury, Bonnier Books Finland, Klaava Media, Lindhardt & Ringhof (Egmont), MacMillan, Octopus Publishing, Profile Books, Publishers Association UK and Rosinante & Co (Gyldendal) among others.
“One thing all these companies, all these people, have in common is that they invested in publishing because they believe it is worth it,” says the paper, adding, “Literally. Another thing they have in common is that their investment decisions were made while looking ahead, while thinking of tomorrow and what can be done, not while looking back or thinking of yesterday and what cannot be done.”
To be systematic, a series of questions were posed:
- Mission statement: What would be the overall goal of your company? Answer: Specialization is key for many.
- Opportunity: How would the company work the market and its opportunities? Who would the customers be? Why would and should they buy from this company? How would they be reached? How would products and services be priced? What about sustainability and competition? Answer: A sharp focus on the core competencies, whatever your niche.
- People: What kind of people, what kind of expertise, would be needed? To what extent would the production be in-house and to what extent would tasks be outsourced? What kind of organization would be established and built upon? Answer: Enthusiasm and creativity trump all.
- Context: Which external factors would impact the success of the company? Answer: Technology and state regulation
But, if one overriding theme emerged from the discussions, it was the the ongoing digitization and globalization of the industry has opened up the world of opportunities to one and all. The limits are merely in your own mind and set by how far you are willing to challenge yourself and your tolerance for risk.
Among the major challenges addressed by those surveyed are issues surrounding rights, discovery, as well as branding and direct sales.
Denmark’s Schilling is a company that develops innovative software solutions that support and empower educational publishers not just to meet the challenges brought on by increased digitization heads on, but to help the industry fulfill its growth potential by meeting customer demands for new products, both print, digital and combined solutions. They offer support for the entire publishing lifecycle management process, with integrated publishing solutions for contracts, rights and royalties, editorial work, product development, author relations, sales and more.
Schilling’s fourth white paper, “Where would you place your bet?” will be released on October 7. Pre-register to receive it free online. The findings of the white paper will be discussed during a panel discussion at CONTEC, featuring Michael Bhaskar of Profile Books, Richard Charkin of Bloomsbury UK, and Georgina Atwell, formerly of iBooks UK and now of Toppsta.com. The event takes place at 10:45 a.m. on October 7, in Hall: 4.0, Room Europa,