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An Informal Survey on the State of Publishing


During the holidays, we attended the requisite round of get-togethers with family and friends.  This year, my family hosted four events, which actually made all the cleaning and decorating worthwhile.

My conversations frequently migrated to publishing and information technology.  While sampling the wine and cheese pairings, I noted a number of common topics that were on the minds of my small, statistically-challenged sampling of the general public.  

Why are bookstores going out of business?

My sample noted   that bookstores are now hosting special events or selling video games, candles, collectibles, board games, jigsaw puzzles, coffee, and sandwiches rather than selling books.   New library branches appear to have more computers than books.

All of my classes now use course packs.

Expensive text books are being replaced by customized course packs that are printed, digital, or both.  Teachers and students find these both more flexible and less expensive.  Even when textbooks are used, course packs are used to supplement the material.

What is the cloud and is it secure?

Besides the general confusion over what cloud computing is, concerns exist about privacy and security. .  People are asking: how is my personal information being used?  What is the chance that my personal files will be lost or hacked?  How can I access my information when the cloud is "down"?

I buy everything through Amazon or eBay.

This might be an overstatement, but it indicates the direction retail is headed.  Will the online retail market continue to expand?  What are the costs and challenges for traditional retailers and publishers?

What’s going on with self-publishing?

The people I talked with appeared quite knowledgeable and interested in self-publishing.  Everyone wants to be an author, I guess, and they see it as less of a barrier to entry than the traditional publishing model. They understand the link between self-publishing, online retailing, print-on-demand, and electronic readers.

While those of us in the industry have been aware of these shifts for several years, I was surprised at the level of knowledge, and acceptance of the new trends among my friends and family.  For example, it seems like all of them now have an E-reader or tablet when only a couple years ago they were expressing the desire for the feel of a good book in their hands.

So, as the demand for information evolves, where do we focus our attention?  Let me suggest a few areas to consider:

·        Customer relation management – how do we target and retain customers?

·        Business intelligence – how do we store and evaluate data to drive strategic business decisions?

·        Data security – how can we ensure our data is safe and complies with new regulations?

·        Content management – how do we manage and deliver content in the way the market demands?

·        Strategic partnerships – how do we build strong relationships with key technology partners and combine the value of years of industry expertise with new, forward-thinking associates?

These issues are generally transparent to the general public, but very important to Advantage and our customers.  Our recent and future developments address these issues head-on.  As more and more clients use Advantage, the product is pushed in new directions as is our company - your partner.  We will be discussing many of the above items at the upcoming Advantage User Group conference in February.  

The year 2012 will be full of opportunities as well as challenges for us all.  May it be a prosperous new year for you.

Feel free to email me with your thoughts and suggestions for ways we can help you improve your competitive advantage.

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