Thursday, September 16, 2010

Four Meetings on the Future of Books

In the course of about 24 hours, I met in New York this week with four book publishing professionals. Not in symposia or conferences, mind you, but one on one, old friends across the table.

Nor was this an academic exercise. I have completed two novels and hope to have more on the way. Yet current business models — the “old” business models, if you will — look more and more like castles made of sand. The tide of technology is lapping at their foundations. Is this the time to build another sand castle in the same spot or should I strike out in search of firmer ground?

The Director
My first meeting took place over Indian food with the director of a small division within one of the large houses. The division has a spectrum of products, not all of them books but all in support of a branded worldview. Despite being earlier to market than a startup competitor, this division has had its clock cleaned by that competitor, a company with no prior baggage and with a tendency toward innovation.