Thursday, December 04, 2008

Strategy Anyone?

Yesterday was a bleak day as we know but in the long list of downsizing, reorganizations and salary cap announcements it seemed every statement was lacking a closing sentence along the lines of, "we continue to invest in new business models and content solutions to address the changing needs of our existing readers and the developing needs of our newer and younger readers." Sadly, the retrenchments are a typical reaction - along the lines of cutting marketing expenses, canceling the Christmas party and eliminating free coffee - to the declining economic situation. The sad thing for all of us, it that the good times will not return in the form we all familiar with. In other words, those jobs are not returning because by the time things improve the publishing business will be smaller and the jobs redundant.

I could go on, and I intended to particularly about the continuing love affair with imprints; that is, until I read the following from BookSquare:
No really, who cares if these groups are retaining editorial independence while combining strengths? Is that really going to change the business dynamic, or is it just focusing on the wrong problem?

Imprints are just boxes on an org chart. To most of the buying public, they mean nothing. To some of your acquisitions editors, they mean nothing. To the bottom line, they mean nothing. You can have a hit book from any possible label, to borrow from another business’s lingo. It ain’t the logo on the spine, it’s that magic combination of book and audience and right time/right place.

I am not disparaging the talents of Gina Centrello, Sonny Mehta, or Jenny Frost (I’ve particularly been a Centrello fan for a long time), but the emphasis on maintaining their individual silos does n’t begin to address the real problems facing publishing today: financial structure, changing readership, and, sorry, old-fashioned notions of of monetary priorities (differentiating between financial structure, where I mean big-ass corporate commitments beyond the nuts-and-bolts of publishing books).

Kassia goes on to make the same point I note in my first paragraph as well as some additional well taken points.

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