On Acknowledging Truths

May 3rd, 2010 · 12 Comments
by Kassia Krozser

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.”

File Under: Quote of the Week

12 responses so far ↓

  • Jamie // May 3, 2010 at 10:26 am

    That’s the one truth which is not going to change whether you’re in print or digital. You can be in print and every digital form imaginable, but if the reader doesn’t know about your book, they can’t buy your book. So, as always, the questions remain: how I can tell/show readers about my book? How do I reach them? Where are they?

  • Pauline Baird Jones // May 3, 2010 at 10:28 am

    Finally! Someone in the industry saying what those of out here have been screaming! WE are your customers, not bookstores, not Amazon, not even Apple/iBooks! It would be nice if publishers did actual market research directly to readers. That said, did get an actual survery link in the Tor ezine that asked about digital reading habits. I do every survey I can find about digital reading, trying to let them know I WANT DIGITAL BOOKS. (sorry, not shouting at you, but at them! LOL!)

    thanks for the great link. :-)

  • Angela James // May 3, 2010 at 12:00 pm

    “Finally! Someone in the industry saying what those of out here have been screaming!”

    Actually, you’d be surprised at how often it’s been said in the past year.

    Thanks for the highlight, Kassia. I think it’s heartening to know that people are having these come to Jesus moments ;)

  • Jean Costello // May 3, 2010 at 4:40 pm

    This insight is vital (and very difficult) for public libraries as well.

  • Colleen Lindsay // May 4, 2010 at 5:11 pm

    Love the Brett Man but a lot of us have been saying this for years.

  • Reed Sanders // May 8, 2010 at 10:49 am

    “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.”

    Ok, so what specific strategies do folks suggest to make this happen?

  • Mary Tod // May 17, 2010 at 6:13 pm

    It seems to me that authors and readers can have significant impact in this brave new world and organizations that find interesting and effective ways to connect them will provide the pathways for change. Readers want to talk about what they love to read, they might even want to have a conversation to shape a future book. Authors love new ideas, feedback and encouragement. Readers enjoy telling others about favourite books. Authors crave an interested audience. Publishers, agents and others in the industry can facilitate and add value throughout the process.

  • Mark Anthony // May 22, 2010 at 9:56 am

    In the digital age, there is no longer a wall between the consumer and the producer – the internet has become a gateway for commerce. The sooner publishers see this, the sooner they can foster an organic give and take relationship that will benefit both parties.

  • Chris Fagg // Sep 3, 2010 at 3:27 am

    Lionel Shriver throws a sidelight on publishers’ assumptions about their customers at

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/cifamerica/2010/sep/02/publishers-ghettoise-women-writers-and-readers

  • Judith Briles // Jun 6, 2011 at 6:51 am

    That kind of truth is actually very apparent in both the real world and the digital world. But, I guess, even if we are living in something obvious, it does not mean it is something realized until someone will remind us constantly of what’s really the truth.

    It is very insightful and of course a good realization to a lot of authors and readers as well. But nowadays there are some authors who are reaching directly to their customers especially when it comes to the digital world. I think it is better to continually remind them despite the many past commentaries and posts on this issue. Some might just work that way. :)

  • John M W Smith // Nov 26, 2012 at 3:11 am

    The word is lightning, not lightening. Lightening is what some people try to do to their skin. And “all right” is two words, not one.

  • Matthew // Mar 5, 2013 at 5:46 am

    This is the way it should be. You should not be hiding behind a wall and looking over it at them. If you do not interact with your customer, how can you know what they want.