By Brian Feinblum, Senior Vice President and Marketing Officer
Publishing for Profit: Successful Bottom-Line Management for Book Publishers launched its fifth edition, and any small publisher looking to survive or grow will find the guidance and resources useful. The Associated Press has called it “the bible of the industry.”
Publishing for Profit (Chicago Review Press, April 2014) is written by Thomas Woll, the president of Cross River Publishing Consultants. He has held a variety of executive positions in publishing, among them vice president and general manager of the professional and trade division of John Wiley & Sons, publisher of Stoney Communications/Garden Way, and vice president and publisher of Rodale Press’book division.
Woll’s book has been updated four times since it debuted 15 years ago. The newest version consists of information and guidance on:
-Today’s publishing environment
-Protecting your assets: contracts, copyrights, trademarks, cash
-The editorial process
-Book production and manufacturers
-Sales and marketing plans
-Direct response marketing
-Operations, fulfillment, and accounting
Woll writes: “We have seen the rapid transition from a print-based industry to a digital-based industry, particularly in the professional and academic segments, but increasingly, as well, in the trade segment; from a very clearly defined, and tested, print business model to much more amorphous, fluid, and just-being-tested digital business model to much more amorphous, fluid, and just-being-tested digital business models; from an inventory-laden print-and-deliver system to an inventory-minimal deliver-and-print system.”
It is clear that the book publishing landscape and marketplace have changed dramatically in the past five years.
“The one sure thing is that the current norms will change,” says Woll. “By understanding the fundamentals of industry and your business, by becoming completely familiar with the process of strategically planning and managing your company, by putting in place the proper templates and management structures so your staff understands what you want and how you want it, you will have done your job. Then, no matter what the future brings, your company will succeed.
“So what does this mean for the future? The one certainty is that the publishing process will continue to evolve. In my crystal ball, I see a future in which:
-Publishers emphasize more direct-to-consumer online sales.
-There is greater, though slower, growth of e-book sales and use.
-There is greater use of print-on-demand and smaller print runs.
-Independent bookstores stabilize as the chains falter.
-More emphasis is placed on special and non-traditional sales.
-There is greater mobile phone and “mini” tablet book readership.
-There are continued mergers of the largest publishers (Simon & Schuster-HarperCollins?).
-Greater use is made of cloud-based computer systems to run and track the business.
-There is a continued reduction of fixed costs and an increase of variable costs by reducing staff and/or selling warehouses, buildings, and equipment.
-What all of this means for the publisher is that it must target more, plan more carefully, and budget better than ever before.”
-The future of book publishing, regardless of changes in technology, will still depend on one’s ability to create a worthwhile product and to invest in marketing it accordingly. As long as publishers and authors follow the steps in Woll’s book, the future could be bright.