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Jonathan Karp on Publishing's Problem

Books2 Johnathan Karp is the publisher and editor-in-chief of Twelve, an imprint of Hachette Book Group.  Karp recently wrote this OpEd piece that I came across in today's Dallas Morning News.  In it, Karp shares some of his highlights from almost 20 years in book publishing and also talks about the problems currently facing the industry.  He also shares a list of 5 ways he believes publishers can grow their business.  Since we're talking about an industry where publishing the book is often a better financial alternative to conducting formal market research, it's obvious why there are so many books produced every year.  In short, the barriers to entry have gotten smaller and smaller and ever-improving print-on-demand technologies will only help reduce them further.

Karp also notes that, "For publishers, R&D means giving authors the resources to write the best books – works that will last, because the lasting books will, ultimately, be where the money is."  The average shelf life for books in my specialty area (IT pros) is far shorter than many other areas in the bookstore, but I'm all in favor of creating more books with longer lifecycles.  R&D isn't just about what publishers can do for authors though.  In my business R&D investments are critical for us to figure out the best way to deliver content to our customers, many of which feel free online content is "good enough."  We need to continue challenging ourselves to build products that are better than "good enough" and worth the price we ask customers to pay.  That's why we've invested so much time and energy in online experiments like Chapters on Demand, WROX Blox and Sybex's TestSuccess.

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