Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Part 3: No more silos

In Part 2 of this series, I proposed a new definition for publishers. Nothing within the definition of the publisher's role requires, or even presupposes, printed books or eBooks. It can include websites, web apps, native apps, databases, videos and podcasts—as well as print and eBooks. However, today's publishers are missing a lot of the experience and skill sets that are necessary to create this kind of content—and to get it, some publishers are engaging in marriages of convenience. For example, Random House recently launched an operation called Random House TV—but rather than partnering with a producer with extensive dramatic television experience, it partnered with Fremantle Media, a company owned by its parent, Bertelsmann, that’s best known for reality and game shows.

Being successful as a 21st Century publisher requires going “all in” on all types of media—nothing can be “out of your wheelhouse.” The silos used to be easy to define: Your newspaper was delivered to your house each day by a paperboy on a bicycle. The magazines to which you subscribed arrived in your mailbox. You listened to the radio using one box and watched television using another. You bought books at the local bookstore or borrowed them from the local library. Today, everything arrives the same way (over a high-speed Internet connection or wireless broadband) to the same box (your tablet, smartphone or PC) wherever you happen to be located.

Just because you can’t limit yourself to any one silo anymore, it doesn’t mean that you have to have all of the necessary expertise in-house—in fact, there’s never been a better time to use outside talent. However, as with the Random House example above, it's not enough to work with people who have generic experience with a medium. Instead, it’s critical to partner with the right people, with the right varieties of experience and talent.
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