Crunch time

Yesterday, I picked up on an observation made by James McQuivey and Nate Hoffelder: publishers lack the mindset and skills required to disrupt their own business model. That's a tough thing to change, but a window just might be opening.

In February, Crain's New York Business ran a profile of the venture-capital (VC) firms offering so-called "Series A" funding: "the first, all-important, validating round of institutional money start-ups vie for." In her article, Judith Messina explains that New York City "has a well-publicized Series A crunch", with as many as 1,000 start-ups likely to fold for lack of capital.

VCs provide more than capital, typically mentoring management teams along the way. These commitments make accomplished VCs reluctant to take on too many companies at once, even when capital is abundant.

That means there are probably some good prospects out there that VCs will not fund. Enter the traditional publisher.

I'm not suggesting that publishers suddenly start throwing $2 million at everyone with an idea. But it wouldn't hurt to have an open door and some substantial conversations, ones that try to place the new idea in the market, not your current business model.

In publishing, most entrepreneurs have to beg for access to something as simple as content. Look at how hard Kobo has had to work to sign publishers just to sell their titles, and they're the retailer that isn't fighting with publishers about terms.

This would be a good year to change that. A modicum of funding, an open attitude and a willingness to share what you know might keep the more promising of those new ventures on the publishing horizon. It's too late to support Goodreads, but you can still get in on ReadSocial.

A bit of disclosure: Travis Alber and Aaron MIller, who founded BookGlutton and ReadSocial, contributed a chapter about the projects and their experiences to Book: A Futurist's Manifesto. I'm using ReadSocial as an example of a good idea that could fly with some support, but neither Travis nor Aaron was involved in the creation of this post.

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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