On Monday night we attended another fantastic Byte the Book at the Ivy Club in Soho. The hot topic of the evening was innovation and what it means to the changing face of publishing, and so we arrived eager to hear the brilliant panel’s thoughts on the elusive subject. With a slight change of line up, the panel consisted of Michael Baskhar (Digital Publisher – Profile Books), Theo Gray (Creative Director – Touch Press) and Sara O’Connor (Digital and Editorial Director – Hot Key Books) with Byte the Book founder Justine Solomons acting as chair for the event.
Justine kicked off the discussion by asking the panel to describe innovation in as few words as possible. Michael immediately expressed his suspicions of innovation as he finds the word has become clichéd in today’s digital climate. However, he did manage to come to a conclusion that in general innovation is something really new, really different and really useful. In sprightly opposition, Theo Gray only just having stepped off the plane eight hours before from the US, found innovation exhilarating. He explained that although innovation can be challenging, the lack of ability to predict the future is what makes it exciting. Sara joined Theo, to add that innovation doesn’t have to make money to be successful; it is as much about what you learn during the process as what you receive from the outcome.
What was perhaps most interesting from the discussion was the recurring theme that the way forward for the publishing industry is not so much based on product innovation but marketing innovation. For publishers, the need for innovation lies in marketing plans and brand management rather than innovating the content itself. Michael developed this idea explaining that the most important innovations are not the ideas but what you do with them. Theo expanded on this using Steve Jobs as an example; he didn’t invent the technology, he just made it better, and Theo recommends publishers do the same. Consequently, the resounding idea from the discussion was that the publishing industry needs to save its energy trying to come up with new innovative ideas for content, and should spend more time investing in the way they manage that content and market it to our audiences.
Here at Inspired Selection, we are passionate about the publishing industry; we talk about publishing, read about publishing and attend all major publishing events like the one you’ve just read about. We would love to meet you at events so do feel free to come up and introduce yourselves! If you’re interested in opportunities within publishing do keep in touch and register for our Vacancy Update Service as well as keeping up to date with us on Twitter