Jane Friedman: I spent my career as a book publisher, and do I believe that there will be hardcover and paperback books forever? Yes, I do, because I think that the library's something that identifies the individual. All of us have gone into friends' homes and, very often, the first thing we look at is what's on the bookshelf.We are seeing in the book industry mainly what is just another form of reading, which is reading on the screen. And what that will do is make the kinds of books that are being published ones that can be read on the screen, and be read in book form, and put onto the library shelf. That's where the distinctions will come in.
Bonnie Fuller: Will we all be reading on a device?
Friedman: I believe so, because we all have generations behind us who do everything on a device and find nothing uncomfortable about a device. And I think that when we in the book industry face the fact that this shift is going to happen automatically, everything will change in the book-publishing world.
Everything comes back to the beginning. I want you, David, to recommend omething to me. I don't necessarily want your product manager to represent that he or she thinks that that product is what I want. If you know me, you can tell me what it is that I want. I think that's what's happening here. It's interesting to kind of stand back a little bit, because my form of media, meaning book publishing, is very different than a lot of what we're talking about here. You read an author's book. You like that author's book. You go to the author's backlist, where you look for his or her next book. Again, that's part of community and the new brand. And I think today the consumer is smarter, and great. I mean, there are too many books out there. There are too many videos out there. There are too many toothpaste products out there. The consumer wants to make his or her choice. My goal would be to influence those consumers from a marketing standpoint and give them what they want, when they want it and how they want it.
Brian Napack: The textbook is an appalling way to deliver information. It's extremely time-intensive to develop. It's extremely expensive to produce, extremely
expensive to warehouse, extremely expensive to load to the marketplace. The students don't like it. The professors don't like it. It's bad access of information. You never have it where you want it. You have a bunch of students in K to 12 and in college who have right shoulders that are lower than their left shoulders. Everybody hates it. We hate it because we sell it. It goes into the marketplace and it comes into the used marketplace. So every time we sell a textbook once, it gets sold three or four more times, and I don't make any money on it. So, I'm looking forward to a digital transition. But in this case - and this is why I'm dwelling on education - education is migrating in a very elegant fashion, a methodical and elegant fashion not just toward new and additional products, but toward products which are better for all parties involved, with the exception of the used-book industry. So what we're moving from is from a content metaphor, where the content is king, to online where you have, yes, the content, but more important, you have tools, you have community, you bring students together with teachers, students together with each other.
The whole article is very interesting.