On Readers, Importance of

October 6th, 2009 · 4 Comments
by Kassia Krozser

In which a very smart man says it better than we ever could:

One of the things we’re doing the best, I think, is engaging with our audience, and listening. Publishing is a very insular industry, where insiders are constantly talking to each other, but very rarely do they actually talk to or listen to the actual end customer: the reader. There have traditionally been some very valid arguments as for why this is the case, but as digital media democratizes the world more and more, those arguments become much less convincing or even relevant.

Tor.com is one way in which we’re talking directly with readers, listening to what they have to say, and we’re finding out a lot about them. And I do mean a whole hell of a lot—some of the very dearly-held assumptions of the publishing industry really don’t hold much water with the reading public, and it’s very sobering to compare and contrast what I see and read every day on Tor.com in particular and the internet in general with what I see and hear from within the walls of the Flatiron building.

File Under: Quote of the Week

4 responses so far ↓

  • Sean Cranbury // Oct 7, 2009 at 11:27 am

    Thanks for posting the quote and the link, Kassia.

    I was out for drinks with some very passionate and experienced publishing people in Vancouver last night and we discussed this notion at length.

    My experience comes from more than 10 years as an independent bookseller as well as an independent publisher.

    There’s always lots of talk about ‘what the customer wants’ online and at publishing meetings and I often wonder whether the people speaking about ‘what a customer wants’ has ever been in a situation to actually find out.

    Have they ever actually served a customer? Ever actually experienced that intimacy? If they ever had they’d know that every customer is different and that there’s levels of give and take, it’s a conversation and a sharing.

    It’s like Mr Defendini says, ‘engage the audience and listen.’

    Thanks for posting!

  • Stan Scott // Oct 7, 2009 at 2:43 pm

    A couple of weeks ago, there was a discussion here on how publishers might have to change to survive the transition to ebooks. It was interesting to me that no one talked about what the READER might want; it was all from he provider’s point of view. Just as Apple did with the MP3 player, there’s a lot of money to be made, if someone can just figure out what the readers really want.

  • Kassia Krozser // Oct 7, 2009 at 9:04 pm

    Stan, you’re right that the reader is often the missing part of the equation. Part of this is because the reader isn’t really the customer of the publisher, so there’s a natural tendency to work within the context of the existing system. Of course, it’s the publishers who pay attention to readers who are garnering lots of reader love and appreciation.

  • Kassia Krozser // Oct 7, 2009 at 9:07 pm

    Well said, Sean, well said.