Friday again which means I repost something from the archive and since I mentioned this in my panel at dbw I thought it reasonable to repost. It was originally from May 21, 2009.
Authors, writers, illustrators, photographers, etc all need to produce content for publishers but doing so in a world increasingly dominated by technology becomes a challenge. The more technology is interwoven into the creation and leverage of content, the more it becomes clear that pro-actively managing the intersection between content creator and technology represents an imperative for publishers. Publishers want their contributors to focus on content creation not the help desk. As functional responsibilities change within publishing houses, we will begin to see the morphing of the roles of editorial, marketing and promotions assistants into something akin to a ‘digital concierge’
Functional responsibilities are changing within a publishing house not least because the publishing process becomes less linear. It will no-longer be typical that a book ‘commissioned’ or ‘acquired’ sits proudly at the front end of a long sequential set of steps that ultimately lands the book on a shelf somewhere. In the new model, a book may be the last item produced after what may look from today’s perspective like a meandering route to publication. Truth is, there may not be ‘a model’ as publishers become more attuned to how consumers want to interact with content and as they experiment. Finding and engaging with an audience becomes both fractured and expansive and options to interact can seem at odds: facebook versus Myspace or twitter versus friendfeed, and a publisher is unlikely to want their ‘investment’ (i.e. The Author) to be distracted by those considerations. Not only will publishers build these relationships on their authors’ behalf, they will see doing so as an additional content creation opportunity. The ‘traditional book’ may reside at the center of additional supporting material from on-line chat to Powerpoint webinars to audio and video interviews. Of course, the book may also be a secondary rather than primary outcome of one of these publisher/author social communities.
Social networking is a catch-all phrase that can describe many things, but typically we use it to explain the concept of reaching customers via the web; whether the consumer takes specific action – commenting or emailing – thereby involving them with the content, or the creator (author and publisher) pushes interaction using tools like facebook, twitter and myspace. This can all be overwhelming to an author and, left to their own devices, they are likely to be unsuccessful; hence, the concept of a digital concierge.
The job of digital concierge grows in significance as more and more material is introduced to the market via the web. As mentioned above, the web community around an author almost becomes their studio where new material is introduced, discussed and ‘published’. The author will require a digital concierge who will marry and blend the appropriate technology tools so they are not a distraction to the content producer and they compliment the experience of the consumer. There is much to ponder here as trade book content moves to the web and the role of the publisher changes. While the job description for the digital concierge may not be written yet, I see this position as potentially critical to the successful migration from a trade print world to one dominated by social communities.