Publishing/Writing: Insights, News, Intrigue

04/13/2013

Memo To TP’s: Do Not Miss Last Boat To Survival – Salvation Lies in the Same Source as the Challenge


Urgent Memo to Traditional Publishers: Survival

TP’s are going to have to realize: simple ebooks, that may not require publishers, only scratch the surface of a gigantic potential! Let’s call this potential ‘transmedia‘ or ‘multimedia’.

Traditional publishing is under attack from many sides — ‘the rise of ebooks, competition from other media, the growing shadow of Amazon’, etc. — and the best way to defeat these attacks is to discover how their existing talents, experience and expertise can be applied to accomplishing the new transmedia (or multimedia) publishing demands — Then taking a leadership/innovative role.

In the recent past, some traditional publishers did dip their toes in these waters, experimenting with a few innovative projects; but these half-hearted efforts didn’t pay for the start-up costs; this resulted in traditional publishers retreating to straight digitization of standard text projects, occasionally adding a half-hearted “enhanced ebook.”

TP must go beyond just accepting the new publishing media, they must embrace it, thrive in it. Salvation may lie in the same source as the challenge.

cocreators of The Silent History, a serialized, exploratory novel for iPhone and iPad, have written an exceptional article in HuffPost Re this subject. I know you will enjoy and learn mucho:

Publishing Companies Are Technology Companies. Now It’s Time For Them To Act Like It

The death of publishing has been greatly exaggerated.

Though traditional publishers are being threatened from all sides — the rise of ebooks, competition from other media, the growing shadow of Amazon — publishers have learned from the failures of the music industry, the futility of closing one’s eyes and trying to deny an evolving marketplace. They have conformed to many aspects of digitization, hurrying to convert to required formats and bowing to imposed pricing structures, hoping to not miss the last boat provided by the new marketplace.

However, accepting the future is not the same thing as embracing it, thriving in it. Many of publishers’ traditional functions — printing books, storing and shipping them around the country, maintaining a far-flung sales team — are becoming less relevant as content moves to digital. Self-publishing is an increasingly plausible option, with some remarkable success stories. While nervous companies typically fight to preserve and protect what’s left of their industry, the smart ones figure out how their skills might be applicable in the next. In this new world, how do publishers make themselves valuable and even necessary?

Salvation may lie in the same source as the challenge. Ebooks alone may not require a traditional publisher, but simple ebooks only scratch the surface of the potential of this new realm. Whether we call it transmedia storytelling, interactive fiction, or any other semi-depressing buzzword, we are beginning to see the exciting possibilities: Serialization. Collaboration. Interactivity. Communal reading experiences. Location-aware storytelling. New narrative structures, serving classic storytelling values.

This isn’t about killing books, or forcing unnecessary flash into the reading experience; it’s about providing new tools to our writers and storytellers, engaging readers in new ways. Some early experiments have been successful, while others have been more possibility than reality — which is to be expected with any new form, a natural part of the process of discovery. The formative years of transmedia fiction are taking place against a backdrop of hyper-accelerated technology and an uncertain traditional-publishing industry — at the intersection of startups and panic.

But the potential is clear. Expecting books to be unaffected by these new reading devices would be like expecting cinema to consist of nothing more than filmed plays. True embrace of the emerging formats requires projects more ambitious than simply digitizing a traditional text.

So far, the growth of these evolving forms has been limited by practical obstacles. Unlike straightforward ebooks, transmedia projects can be very difficult for individual authors to undertake on their own. Platforms must be built from the ground up, new markets must be discovered, audiences educated — all for a single one-off project. These challenges would instantly shrink, however, if many projects were brought under a single umbrella — essentially, a new-media publisher. Much of the labor would transfer smoothly from one project to the next: a growing library of code, discovery of best practices, usage analytics, and a relationship with a new community of readers. Costs would quickly decrease, and production speed and sales would improve.

Read and learn more

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02/27/2010

Inside Random House’s New Digital Transition Team


Ever wonder how the BIG publishing houses are organizationally structured to deal with everyday publishing tasks? Especially in the present upheavel and transition turmoil? Good preview for those who want to enter the more formal publishing industry. John’s editorial note: This writer sees the publishing industry as becoming de-centralized and more individual-empowered.

Today’s post gives an insight into Random House’s (RH) personnel structure and decision-making process through two high-ranking memos.

Jim Milliot, Publishers Weekly, reports on the memos:

In memos distributed to Random House employees Thursday, chairman Markus Dohle and Madeline McIntosh, president of sales, operation and digital, detailed new plans for the publisher’s digital operation while also announcing new homes and leadership for the audio and information group units that had been part of the old Crown Publishing Group.

Random House Audio Publishing and the Fodor’s Travel Group will now report to Nina von Moltke who has been promoted to v-p digital publishing development, a newly created position. Amanda D’Acierno publisher of RH Audio, and Tim Jarrell, Fodor’s publisher, will report to von Moltke. RH’s large print operations and Living Language brand will be overseen by D’Acierno. The other parts of the information group–The Princeton Review, Sylvan Learning and Prima Games–have become part of the Children’s Book division. Tom Russell, head of TPR and Sylvan, and Debra Kempker, head of Prima, will report to children division president Chip Gibson.

In explaining the moves, Dohle said TPR, Sylvan and Prima “share a core consumer base” with the children’s group and will benefit “from the educational orientation and consumer-marketing focus” of the children’s group. Moving RH Audio and Fodor’s under von Moltke will let them continue to further develop their digital capabilities.

Von Moltke’s appointment to v-p of digital development is one of three appointments made by McIntosh to create a senior leadership team that will direct new digital units that will support digital initiatives within the Random House publishing groups. In addition to von Moltke, Amanda Close has been named v-p ditgital sales and business development. She will lead a team that will establish strategy, terms, policy and programs relative to new business models, identify new business opportunities and mange existing digital relationships with different partners. Pete McCarthy has been appointed v-p, online marketing charged with developing online methods to fulfill his mission to “partner with our sales reps, our publishers, and our retailers to ensure we’re maximizing our ability to convert consumer interest to incremental purchases.” All three report to McIntosh.

Matt Shatz, who as v-p of digital had been a primary spokesperson for Random’s digital efforts, has left the company to join Nokia.

The memos, which contain a number a new appointments, are printed below.

MARKUS DOHLE

CHAIRMAN AND CHIEF EXECUTIVE OFFICER

MEMBER OF THE EXECUTIVE BOARD OF BERTELSMANN AG

February 25, 2010

TO EVERYONE AT RANDOM HOUSE, INC.

We want to share with you today our next steps forward in accelerating the company’s transition to digital, growing our physical book sales, and increasing the efficiency of our customer- author- and publisher-support services. To best position ourselves to accomplish these strategic priorities we are making a number of changes and appointments in our Sales, Operations and Digital areas under Madeline McIntosh, which she presents in accompanying memos. We also have completed the new lines of reporting we began undertaking in December for the Audio division and for the businesses that have comprised the Information Group.

Madeline is announcing the formation of new teams that will be fully dedicated to digital-content development, digital sales development, and online marketing. I am very excited about these moves and about the additions she is making to her senior leadership team. Their mandate is to create and to catalyze publishing and entrepreneurial opportunities, both self-starting and in partnership with our publishing divisions. The e-publishing and online marketing activities originated and executed by the Crown, Knopf Doubleday, Random House, and Random House Children’s Books Publishing Groups will be indispensable to our authors and to our creative and commercial growth, and I am confident that the new support provided to those groups at the corporate level will be key ingredients in ensuring our success during and after the digital expansion.

Among Madeline’s new executive team, I have worked most closely with Nina von Moltke, who has reported to me as Vice President, Corporate Development. Nina’s new responsibilities as Vice President, Digital Publishing Development, are a natural progression from her previous role in which she applied her tremendous understanding of the evolving digital-publishing financial models to evaluating new corporate and divisional business opportunities. Aside from her new task of supporting the development of our digital content offerings across the divisions, Nina will also oversee the Random House Audio Publishing and Fodor’s Travel Groups. Both groups provide excellent models of successfully transitioning from analog to digital businesses, and I know that they and our traditional trade publishing groups will benefit by having them integrated into the corporate-level digital publishing team.

Amanda D’Acierno, Vice President, Publisher, Random House Audio, Books on Tape, Random House Large Print, and Tim Jarrell, Vice President, Publisher, Fodors, will continue to run their respective businesses, setting and implementing their publishing priorities and choices, reporting to Nina. We will further integrate the publishing activities under the Living Language brand into the digital content group, reporting to Amanda D’Acierno.

We also foresee expanded opportunities for The Princeton Review, Sylvan Learning, and Prima Games imprints as we bring them into the Random House Children’s Books division. Tom Russell, who leads TPR and Sylvan, and Debra Kempker, who heads Prima, will report to Chip Gibson. The former two businesses will complement and benefit from the educational orientation and consumer-marketing focus of Chip’s publishing teams. Prima and the Children’s Group share a core consumer base as well as a like focus on brand management and strong license partnerships. The combination of this considerable expertise will benefit them both.

Children’s Books will further expand to include the Tricycle Books young readers publishing program under Nicole Geiger, currently part of Crown’s Ten Speed Press. Tricycle now will be a Berkeley-based imprint of Alfred A. Knopf Books for Young Readers and its frontlist and backlist will continue to be sold by Children’s Sales.

These new homes for Audio, Fodor’s, The Princeton Review, Prima, Sylvan Learning, and Living Language; our newly established digital-development teams; and Madeline’s appointments in Sales and Operations will help us grow sales and foster greater collaboration internally and with our authors, customers, and readers. I thank you for your support of these growth initiatives and for all our colleagues who will implement them.

____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________MADELINE MADELINE McINTOSH

PRESIDENT

SALES, OPERATIONS AND DIGITAL

February 25, 2010

TO EVERYONE AT RANDOM HOUSE, INC.

Since returning to Random House in December, I have had the great experience of re-engaging with many of my former colleagues in Sales and Operations. I’ve been gratified to learn more about the ways in which the teams led by ANDREW WEBER, Senior V.P., Director, Operations and Technology, JOAN DEMAYO, Senior V.P., Director, Children’s Sales, and JACI UPDIKE, Senior V.P., Director, Adult Sales, have risen to the various marketplace challenges presented in the last few years. Of those, one of the greatest has been to create new systems, policies and programs to harness the opportunities presented by the explosive growth of the digital channel.

While everyone in my group has played a part in “managing digital” over the last year, the time has come to be more explicit regarding those individuals to whom we will look for digital business leadership in the future. The great news is that, in working with Andrew, Joan and Jaci to map out our needs for our digital and physical businesses, we have found that the people we need are already here at Random House: we have been able to realign our group to provide the resources required to ensure healthy digital growth while also continuing to invest in maintaining our leadership position in the print marketplace.

It is in this context that I’m delighted to announce the new leadership structure for Random House Sales, Operations and Digital. Andrew, Jaci and Joan continue in their current roles. Joining them as my direct reports are: NINA VON MOLTKE, V.P., Digital Publishing Development; AMANDA CLOSE, V.P., Digital Sales and Business Development; and PETE MCCARTHY, V.P., Online and Digital Marketing. Their new roles and departments are detailed below. A number of related changes within Andrew, Joan and Jaci’s departments are described in a following memo.

Digital Publishing Development

As V.P., Digital Publishing Development, NINA VON MOLTKE will have two key areas of responsibility: partnering with our publishing divisions to help accelerate and broaden their own digital programs, and oversight for those Random House, Inc. publishing lists for which digital distribution and web-enabled commerce are already the core business.

Reporting to Nina will be ANDREA SHEEHAN, formerly V.P. & Director, Digital Strategy and Business Development at the Random House Publishing Group, now in the newly created position of V.P., Digital Publishing and Product Development, which she will take on upon her return from maternity leave. In Andrea’s time in the Random House Publishing Group, she has provided critical leadership in the area of digital product innovation: together with her team, Andrea has spearheaded various initiatives around e-book format development, e-only content, IP development, redesign of online presences and mobile applications for major brands and authors, and innovations in digital marketing tools.

A Random House hallmark and point of pride has always been our decentralized approach to publishing entrepreneurship, and that will not change for our expanded digital mandate. By acting as facilitators and catalysts, Nina and her team’s role will be to help each publishing division bring its own unique vision to market as successfully as possible. Initial examples of services to be provided by this team include: strategic support in driving digital growth for key content categories; expertise in alternative business models (such as serializations, subscriptions, and advertising), content bundling or disaggregation; and start-up support for original digital publishing programs. The team will also be responsible for the ongoing backlist conversion project.

Also reporting to Nina will be AMANDA D’ACIERNO, V.P., Publisher, Random House Audio, Books on Tape and Living Language; TIM JARRELL, V.P., Publisher, Fodor’s Travel Publishing; FABRIZIO LAROCCA, V.P., Creative Director; and SUSAN LIVINGSTON, newly appointed as Director, Digital Business Management and Planning. All four are crucial “digital veterans” who will now be able to share their expertise more broadly.

To ensure that our digital efforts receive the appropriate publicity support and that we communicate effectively to our internal and industry stakeholders, SHEILA O’SHEA is named Director of Publicity, Digital Initiatives, reporting to Nina. She will work closely with the publicity departments across the divisions, as well as coordinate publicity efforts for the Fodor’s Travel group. Stuart Applebaum will continue to be our main media contact for any major corporate announcements and inquiries.

Digital Sales and Business Development

AMANDA CLOSE, currently V.P., Group Sales Director, Crown Publishing Group, will now become our V.P., Digital Sales and Business Development. Amanda earlier served as our V.P., Online Sales, and she stepped in with great agility when Jaci and I asked her to coordinate the cross-functional team evaluating Apple’s new e-book program. Her expertise, infectious enthusiasm, and astute analytical, technological, and product instincts will be invaluable in maintaining our position as the market leader in digital sales.

Reporting to Amanda will be JEFF WEBER, formerly Associate Sales Director, Amazon, now Director, Digital Sales; RANDI ROSENKRANZ, Senior Manager, Digital Channel Development; and LILLY KIM, Account Manager, Digital Sales.

This team’s responsibilities will include: establishing strategy, terms, policy and programs relative to new business models; identifying and prioritizing new opportunities for sales or licensing; connecting potential partners with the appropriate internal stakeholders; developing expertise in activities in other media categories that might apply to our own; and crafting programmatic merchandising support for our publishers’ new lists of original digital content.

They also will manage the overall digital relationships with our existing partners, including Amazon, Audible, Barnes & Noble, Google, Ingram Digital, Overdrive and Sony. Selling and merchandising our publishers’ lists will continue to reside within Jaci and Joan’s existing Online Sales departments, thus providing our publishers and accounts with sole points of contact at the product level. By focusing entirely on the opportunities and challenges of the digital channel, Amanda’s team will ensure we are maximizing volume and profitability, embracing innovation, and learning from our experience.

Online and Digital Marketing

PETE MCCARTHY, V.P., Online Marketing has been leading Random House’s corporate consumer online marketing efforts for the past two and a half years. During this time, he and his team have partnered with divisional marketers and with Chris Hart’s Applications Development group to create increasingly innovative approaches to reaching consumers online. While his department was originally created to explore direct-to-consumer sales, they have found their greatest success in driving consumers directly to retailers’ shopping carts – whether on the web or in bricks & mortar. Their recent work with Doubleday on the “second wave” campaign for Dan Brown’s The Lost Symbol is an excellent example of the sales magic that can be created by combining corporate technology and analytics expertise with the publisher’s stellar creative campaign.

To be successful in connecting our books with the largest audience possible, it is exactly this type of innovative, retailer-aligned approach that we believe will help to set Random House ahead of our competition. Therefore, we are now formally repositioning and expanding this department. As a member of our digital senior management team, Pete’s mission will be to partner with our sales reps, our publishers, and our retailers to ensure we’re maximizing our ability to convert consumer interest to incremental purchases.

Newly reporting to Pete will be CHRISTINE MCNAMARA, currently our V.P., Director, Adult Sales, Borders Group and Books-a-Million. Taking on the newly-created role of V.P., Partnership Development, she will be fully dedicated to integrating our online marketing efforts with those of our retailers and vice versa. We can look forward to having her bring her deep understanding of sales and publishing (as well as her excellent sense of humor) to bear in these new efforts.

Continuing to report directly to Pete is CHELSEA VAUGHN, Director, Online Marketing Operations. Chelsea will oversee the project management and analytics components of the campaigns in which her highly creative team, which includes Senior Managers Erica Curtis and Joanne Korn, is involved and ensure the dissemination to marketers throughout the company of any new techniques or tools created or discovered at the corporate level. Her team has continually helped us improve our ability to precisely and efficiently spur frontlist and backlist sales.

Pete’s department will continue to have oversight for randomhouse.com, corporately-managed e-mail marketing lists, and our activity on Facebook, Twitter, and elsewhere on the web. They will be working to further develop category-based online communities such as suvudu.com, the highly successful science fiction & fantasy site launched last year. Making all these efforts possible are CAMILLE COLLETT, Director, Web Production and JINNY KWON, Creative Director, newly transferring from Crown online marketing.

As with Nina von Moltke’s digital publishing department, Pete’s team will act as incubators and catalysts, adding extra creativity and support to the excellent title and category marketing programs that will continue to be anchored at the divisional level.

As you may already know, Matt Shatz, until now V.P., Digital, has accepted an exciting new opportunity as Head of Strategic Content Relationships at Nokia, where he will be working to develop and grow Nokia’s digital content business. Matt has been instrumental in advancing the Random House digital strategy and initiatives since 2007. While all of us are very sorry to see him go, we do take comfort in the fact that we’ll be able to work with him as a partner as he establishes Nokia’s publishing related initiatives.

Please join Andrew, Jaci, Joan and me in congratulating Nina, Pete, Amanda and their teams on their exciting new responsibilities as we expand and advance our digital-publishing opportunities.

01/07/2010

Help (understood or not) is on the Way for Print Media


Publishers need to become more committed to understanding the three-dimensional debth of multi-media products and the concepts of light, sound and motion to enhance “printed word” content.

Jim Gaines, editor-in-chief of multimedia magazine FLYPmedia, former managing editor at: People, Time and Life magazines AND corporate editor of Time Inc., discusses this impact topic in the December, 2009 edition of FOLIO magazine:

So far, publishers have demonstrated more fervor than conviction in their attempts to embrace digital innovation. With a few important exceptions—notably The Atlantic—general-interest magazine sites have given themselves over to opinion and aggregation, chasing the headless eyeball and revenue from desolate banner ads while leaving behind all trace of the narrative and design richness of the parent publications.

There is a desperate, shotgun quality to print-digital marriages, as well—like Entertainment Weekly’s “video in print” ad for CBS in September, GQ’s iPhone app in October and Esquire’s experiment with “augmented reality” on the December cover. Popular Science got there first in July, by, as they say, holding up the magazine cover to a computer’s webcam so readers can see “a 3-D landscape dotted with wind turbines popping off the page; by blowing into your computer’s microphone, you can even make the turbines spin faster.”

And as the song goes, you would cry too if it happened to you.

Help is On the Way

Happily, help is on the way, though at first glance, it has a decidedly menacing aspect. Like a hologram, it takes a little squinting to see it for what it is.

The much-rumored whatchamacallit from Apple (iTablet, iPad, whatever) will be just the ancestor of a new world of digital devices whose capabilities are going to lift the greatest burden of publishing (the cost of paper, ink and distribution) bringing HD video, animation, eloquent info graphics and the engaging arts of video gaming to the task of journalism and most other purposes of non-fiction story-telling, including education.

Just as transformative, the iWhatever and its descendants will liberate users from the lean-forward nature of the desktop experience by putting the screen in our hands. The Internet will still be the best way to find what you’re looking for fast, but it will be a great deal more than that, as well. Thanks to broadband penetration, print has lost its monopoly on ubiquity.

When I was the editor of People, I used to say magazines were safe until fiber optics made it to the bathroom. That was a long time ago. What I could not imagine then was how much more robust story-telling could be when liberated from paper and ink, or how you could ever feel like curling up with a computer.

Perhaps most importantly, multimedia story-telling will endow “print” journalism with the brand-enhancing asset that has kept advertisers investing in broadcast and cable: the engaging energy of light, sound and motion. Industry analysts have yet to make the leap from Web as a distribution channel to revolutionary medium.

“The strategies that make media companies successful will require new capabilities,” according to one recent study, which enumerated them: “tracking and research to gain deeper insights into audience interests, informatics to manage and direct Web traffic, database management, custom content and applications development, and the ability to manage a network of partnerships.”

Well, yes. But the way to enhance those relationships is not through database management, but by building trust and engagement—by telling great stories in a way that makes people want to read and experience them.

The Next “Magazine”

This will not be easy. ASME will need to get over itself and stop treating advertisers like enemy occupiers. ABC rules and circulation practices will need to change so that print brands can re-imagine themselves without losing credit for the loyal adherents who follow them there. Publishing giants will have to act like startups, inviting story-tellers from the worlds of film and gaming to join writers and designers with a serious claim on resources and the mandate to fail until they succeed in perfecting the crafts and arts of multimedia story-telling.

When that happens, some enlightened American company—publisher, ASME, maybe even an advertiser!—knowing that its brand equity is intimately tied to the values it promotes, will put its name (and money) behind the next great American “magazine.”

That could very well be a broadband multimedia experience whose mission is the same one that has always informed America’s publishing at its best—to share experience, in a spirit of generosity, to bear faithful witness, to bring coherence and light to the gravest problems and greatest purposes of American life.

Or, as Henry Luce once put it: “To see life. To see the world. To eyewitness great events ….”

Now that’s an app.

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