The shifts in today’s publishing business are happening lightening fast and iceberg slow. Epiphanies strike at odd moments. Brett Sandusky had one. Below is where he ended up; read his entire post (linked below) to see how he got there.
In the end, no amount of market research, anecdotal evidence, kaffee klatsches, or cocktail parties can ever replace actual and real interaction with our customers. Recently, I attended a conference where a panelist kept repeating throughout her presentation, “The reader is the consumer who is your customer. I openly admit that, at the time, I begrudged this panelist for stating the obvious. Of course the reader is our customer.
It wasn’t until much later that I realized what she was really saying: in an age of digital books, in an age where many of this industry’s institutions are, one by one, going away or becoming irrelevant, we are no longer the industry we thought we were. And, the reality is this: we can no longer afford to act as a B-to-B business. The future, if we have one, depends on our ability to reconfigure as a B-to-C business and start interacting with readers directly free of buffers and intermediaries. From product development, to consumer feedback, to buyer-less sell-in for digital products, to direct to consumer sales, to verticality, to providing readers with what they want, a new wave of customer interaction needs to guide us along our paths to the future.
Now, do you remember that money which we took from marketing budgets slated for BEA? What if we funneled that money into establishing direct consumer contact? Think of the awesome changes we could make in place of printing thousands upon thousands of galleys that end up in the hands of someone who could get the book for free regardless.
I can only repeat these wise words, something I didn’t fully understand just a few months ago, “The reader is the consumer who is your customer.”