Part of the Around the World in 8 Hours virtual conference.
Curious – what is your favourite project at work right now? Are there any great innovative pub projects on your radar?
“One of the problems that I think is going to be important going forward is creating new ways to think about retail for books,” explains Dominique. “Watching a lot of people talking about that right now, in a lot of different areas, though, not specifically about books.”
“This video from @profgalloway about Amazon, Apple, Facebook & Google: Who Wins/Loses is interesting. It’s a game changer.”
With reference to retail, what kind of approach has Source Books taken in pursuing existing and new markets? “Lots of similar themes, ‘bricks and clicks’, ‘click and carry’, ‘omnichannel marketing’ – all things need to tackle for books.”
Are there any sales tactics or major changes to strategy compared to three years ago? “Yes,” she says. “That’s what’s so cool. It’s all changing right now. And there are big implications for authors, I think. Much more complex decision making as different products/books go into different channels.”
Decision-making and allocating resources to meet varying market needs is a huge issue for publishers, notes Kat. “Yes, and getting out of the mind-set of books as static objects with one purpose only. Agile workflow is very tough.”
Innovating is more challenging, and more important than ever, replies Kat. “Innovation is key,” agrees Dominique. “We have to innovate, but it’s in service to authors and retail partners, so not abstract. I think there’s enormous danger in believing the field is static, that we know what something will develop into.”
“The first place I look for innovation is Apple,” she continues. “And what they’re doing with the Apple Watch is a game changer. I have for years used the thinking of @timoreilly to help me inform what I’m actually thinking about the field. I thought this interview was interesting and said some important things.”
Do smaller and niche publishers enjoy an advantage in that they can do things faster? “Yes. Vertical players have an advantage. It’s what Harper is finding in their acquisition of Harlequin.”
Does anything worry her about the industry, or the culture of books? “Sure. One of the things concerning me right now is that we seem to think the transformation is over or in a stable place. Such a mistake. We’re at the beginning of this transformation. There are enormous changes to come.”
And a wrap-up question: do you think being an independent publisher helps you stay ahead of the innovation curve in publishing? “I think there’s great work being done all over the book ecosystem,” she says. “We’re rethinking some fundamental stuff.”
And that’s the day wrapped up!