Take Control of your Operations
February 13, 2012 § Leave a comment
Let’s face it. Being a publisher today is a much different thing than it was even five years ago. Virtually every aspect of the publishing process, from the time a work is selected for publication until a consumer is reading a finished version, has been affected by new technologies.
Just to name a few innovations from recent history that come to the front of mind when thinking about all this change:
- Centralized distribution – eliminating the warehouse freed financial and intellectual capital that could be put into content publication
- Short Run Digital Printing – changed the way composition was done, and made us rethink print runs
- Print On Demand – made us rethink inventory strategy
- Title Management systems – have become almost as essential to publishers as order processing systems used to be.
- Electronic metadata feeds – puts our marketing messages on ecommerce sites
- Ecommerce web sites – radically changed the way books are sold
- Electronic catalogs – made life easier for retail buyers
- Electronic galleys – have helped expand the opportunities to create a buzz about individual titles
- Social Media – has created unprecedented opportunities and challenges in how to market titles
- Search Engine Optimization – changed the way customers discover your content
- An explosion of new reading devices and content formats
The point is that in the face of all of this change, most companies have taken each innovation on, one at a time, and layered new processes on top of their old processes while waiting for things to “shake out”. Some things have shaken out, but others won’t ever. Some of the changes are temporary and others permanent. Yet, most publishers still have all of the layered processes in place. This often leads to a redundancy of effort, and a frustrated work force.
The most progressive publishers we see are those that have an ongoing endeavor to constantly review their internal operational processes and eliminate the layers wherever possible. The CEO or COO usually chairs internal review committees – a group that meets regularly to review the processes in place in individual departments – and holds them up to the new realities of the day.
These publishers understand that in order to compete in today’s market, the efficiency of which products move through the editorial, production, marketing, publicity, and sales departments is critical to their survival. There is no longer the luxury of having artificial boundaries between these groups. Everyone needs to be on board and work together. In order for that to happen, each group needs to be constantly re-educated in what it means to be a publisher, and that can only come from the people at the top of the organization who own that overall vision.
So, join the vanguard! Publishing is much different than it was five years ago, and it will be much different five years from now. Constantly reviewing your internal approach is the only way to incorporate all of the challenges that lie ahead.