Kassia Krozser does an excellent job with the Booksquare blog. It's one of my favorites. So when I saw the title of one of her recent posts, Why Publishers Should Blog, my antenna went up. Now that I've finished reading it, I'm both disappointed and inspired. No, I'm not disappointed by what Kassia has to say -- I think she's absolutely right. I'm just concerned that my blogging efforts for the past 3+ years have been misguided. But there's hope.
Kassia's post talks about the similarities between publisher catalogs and publisher websites. Unfortunately, most publisher websites aren't much more than the catalog in HTML format. Where's the personality? Who are the people behind the scenes making these books? Where's their passion and vision? And yes, while most readers probably care more about the author's passion, vision, etc., what's wrong with the publishers, editors, marketers, etc., participating as well?
My blog isn't connected in any way with a Wiley website/catalog. That's true for most publishers and publisher blogs out there. Even the ones with links to their blogs from their publisher websites are nothing more than that...simple links.
I don't want to read too much into what Kassia is saying, but I got inspired by interpreting her message as, "hey, you've got the catalog site, and maybe you've got a blog or two; why not integrate them better so that visitors get a real feel for who you are and how that ties into these books?"
Btw, if my blog magically wound up getting integrated with the imprint websites my group publishes into (highly unlikely), that's not going to change a thing. One blog and one point of view won't make a difference. What we really need are for representatives from all the various departments of a publishing house (e.g., publisher, acq editor, dev editor, marketer, etc.) to come together on this, and that's like moving heaven and earth.
Nevertheless, when I think about a publisher's website that not only features the usual catalog content but also a high likelihood that I'll bump into the publisher, editor or other people associated with the book I'm interested in, well, that would be be highly appealing to me. I could see a site like that evolving into more of a social network for the publisher, their authors and customers. One central location where all the players could have meaningful discussion and debate about a book. How fun would that be?
Any publisher thinking about overhauling their website ought to give serious consideration to the social networking aspects of what Kassia is suggesting. Nobody's there yet, but the first publisher or two to create a model like this will be the envy of the industry.
P.S. -- Speaking of publisher blogs... I recently stumbled across a fine one called Books on the Nightstand. It's written by a couple of Random House employees and should be on any booklover's RSS feed list.