Friday, June 18, 2010

You go back, Jack, do it again

A few weeks ago, I had a conversation with a manager with one of the biggest eBook companies in the business. (I'm not using names to protect the innocent.) This manager asked me what I thought the company should offer in the way of self-publishing services for authors. I told the manager that one way to add value would be to offer promotional services to authors. When I was writing computer books, I got virtually no promotional support from my publishers, so I and a friend had to arrange media bookings, book signings and speaking opportunities ourselves.

The manager told me that the company's self-publishing division already provides promotional services. I checked their website while we spoke, and I found nothing about promotional services on their homepage. As I dug into the site, however, I did find some promotional services. So, I asked the obvious question: Since the company already has its own self-publishing division, surely the eBook operation would take advantage of its services, wouldn't it? The manager replied that yes, they own a very successful self-publishing operation for print books and other media, but they've decided to build their own self-publishing operation for eBooks.

I didn't pursue the point because I was so shocked by the manager's response. Why reinvent the wheel when you've already got a self-publishing operation in-house? If that division isn't doing something that you think you need, why not get them to do it rather than build your own self-publishing operation? It makes absolutely no sense for authors to work with one group if they want to self-publish books that get printed on paper and another group for eBooks.

There may be a good reason why this company has decided to "do it again," but overall, it smacks of both bureaucracy in action and a strong case of "Not Invented Here" syndrome. This is a company that's highly praised for the quality of its management. I have my doubts.

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