Posted on September 14, 2013 in Archive

Publishers need to replace complaining with creativity


Tom Chalmers, founder and managing director of Legend Times and IPR License, posted this article about the self-pitying state of the publishing industry.

And he’s got the industry pegged.

He correctly observed that publishers and booksellers spend too much time moaning about how the digital revolution has destroyed the industry they knew and loved.

Their negative attitude is not only tiresome; it’s downright counter-productive. If publishers want to stay in the industry then they need to accept that it has changed, and find ways to make it work for them.

Complaining won’t achieve anything. What would make a difference would be an end to publishers pointing their fingers at everyone else.

Yes, Amazon The Behemoth dominates the industry; and yes, governments should do more about its creative tax setup, but there’s still room for growth and success.

If anything, Amazon should be considered a case study, not an enemy.

They have managed to develop a clear, long-term business strategy that involves seizing opportunities and focusing on the needs of customers.

They are also one of the main retailers for many in the industry, and for that reason, people should either reconsider their relationship with Amazon, or the way they talk about them.

Chalmers sums it up nicely: “publishers should stop moaning about their girlfriend/ boyfriend while continuing to sleep with them.”

A lot of publishers do like working with Amazon, because of the convenience and benefits it affords, and others don’t.

Those who genuinely dislike them should follow in the footsteps of Barefoot Books and stop supplying Amazon.

In fact, this kind of innovative and courageous dissociation is slowly starting to become more common.

Some small publishers and independent bookstores, including Foyles, have decided to focus on smaller communities.

They have realised the importance of catering to boutique customer bases and are attempting to achieve this through expert marketing.

Perhaps the efforts of these companies is a sign that more and more people in the industry are finally waking up to the idea that traditional and contemporary approaches to publishing, including self-publishing, can work together.

Chalmers reinforces the need for publishers to realise that there is no miraculous cure for the industry and the only solution is to accept that and move on.

Publishing belongs to the creative industries and one of the key steps to survival is creativity – alongside smart strategies and effective implementation.

All of Chalmers’ points are spot on and it’s great to see someone in publishing, outside of the Big 5, who is genuinely realistic and optimistic about publishing’s future.