Amazon vs. Google
When Will We Evolve Past "Books"?

CEO Roundtable Panel from O'Reilly's TOC Conference

Toc logo One of the highlights from my first six months with O'Reilly Media was the opportunity to lead a CEO Roundtable panel discussion at our Tools of Change conference earlier this year.  The panel consisted of the following CEOs:

Eileen Gittins, Blurb

Michael Hyatt, Thomas Nelson, Inc.

Bob Young, Lulu

Clint Greenleaf, Greenleaf Book Group

Tim O'Reilly, O'Reilly Media, Inc.

If you were unable to attend the conference or this particular session, spend a few minutes listening to the vision of this great team of CEOs:


Chris Bates

Print service providers, a distributor and a couple of publishers … what’s missing here?

Maybe, author as publishing CEO.

The rise of ebooks combined with an increased flow of proven self-pub business models, will possibly render all the above businesses somewhat redundant over time.

Tim may be right with regards to O’Reilly ‘legitimising’ a topic once you guys publish but the same can’t be said for Lulu. Bob nailed it when he said most of the books on Lulu ‘aren’t very good’. That’s his ‘Achilles’ heel’. His service may be good but the content created with the service often is not.

Controling the content legitimises your brand. Conversely, not controlling content will diminish your brand. Readers don’t go to Lulu, as a third party, to buy books. They never will. Well, not in numbers that would suggest a viable online retail business to rival Amazon.

Of course, Clint’s business is a little different. They vet the content they distribute. Provide a needed independent service for small publishers and allow access to the larger market. All good. Unfortunately the distributor’s marketshare will probably erode with the advent of ebooks and the constricting of bricks-and-mortar retail outlets.

Michael highlighted the lack of importance in brand building an imprint within the marketplace. Yes, it is wonderful for your publishing industry peers to recognise your business, but customers couldn’t care less. What determines success of a book published by Thomas Nelson Inc. as opposed to one self-published by Nelson Thomas’s ink? Content. The barriers are falling. Once again, traditional publishers control content simply because offset print and other associated costs demand return on investment. They can’t survive if they print crap.

The ebook self-publisher can. There is no cost.

Maybe the real revolution will be when authors interact with freelance editors or knowlegable online communities to craft better content. Pin-point the market. Build sales. Distribute online. Follow up with online content that refreshes daily. Interact.

I disagree with Tim, to some degree, on the Google ad revenue front. No, it won’t support fiction – Grisham, Rowling et al. What it most certainly will support is the content your company publishes. Highly searchable and non-narrative.

The concertina is closing. Authors are only a click away from their readers. And none of the above businesses may truly be needed to instigate a successful breakout title.

That said, I really just want books to be in print and available at the bookstore. If only because that’s the way I personally like them! :)

Christian Book Publishers

Watching this 2 years after the event, shows what a great resource to hear these talented experts speak about the industry. Thanks Joe for this excellent opportunity.

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