The bureau hacker

Last week, Aaron Miller contributed a Medium essay, "How to change the future of publishing now, even though it's too late". He provides a good summary of the acquisitions Amazon has made (Shelfari, mobiPocket, Stanza, CreateSpace, Audible and most recently GoodReads) in the e-reading space, then asks, "Can’t anyone see what’s going on?"

With Travis Alber, Miller co-authored a chapter published in Book: A Futurist's Manifesto. For his post on Medium, he describe four ways that publishers can respond:

  1. Care about community
  2. Care about what happens to a book after it is sold
  3. Understand that the context of content and authors is as important as they are
  4. Understand that a seven-figure advance for BJ Novak’s book might be a good idea, but so might a $2M investment in a tech startup that helps them with #1, #2, and #3 above.

These are points a number of people have made before. However, coming from someone who has started and tried to manage publisher-facing businesses, Miller's advice resonates.

I think it will take an internal advocate – in Pablo Arrieta's words, a "bureau hacker" – to spur publishers to invest outside of what they do now. Defying the title of his post, Miller says it is not too late to change course. I hope he is right.

Brian O'Leary

About Brian O'Leary

Founder and principal of Magellan Media Consulting, Brian O’Leary helps enterprises with media and publishing components capitalize on the power of content. A veteran of more than 30 years in the publishing industry and a prolific content producer himself, Brian leverages the breadth and depth of his experience to deliver innovative content solutions.

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