Always Get It In Print: My New Job In Publishing

My new job in PublishingFor once, I’m ahead of the curve. Everything that is old is new again: bow ties, LPs, absurdly tight hipster pants. What was retro has gone full circle and is cutting edge again, and I’ve taken a trip in my Way-Way Back Machine to return with the next smash-hit retro comeback: movable type. Print. Publishing.

By that, I mean I recently joined Pearson Publishing. It’s probably a safe bet that you’ve read something that Pearson has produced. They have a global reach and are the world’s largest learning company. That 8,000 page university text book? Yup. That’ll be them. Besides text books, they also publish consumer books and financial news through Penguin, DK, Ladybird, and the Financial Times.

I’m joking saying that print is retro – besides the fact that the feel of opening a new book is timeless, the digital media revolution hasn’t left publishing behind. eTexts, eReaders, tablet and interactive publications – the methods of creating, distributing, consuming and sharing written work has grown just as fast as in newer industries like music, video and gaming.

I’m sure that your Facebook and Twitter streams are filled with 140 character quips about your friends’ musings about Shakespeare and Dickens, right? …right?

So, I apparently need less nerdy or literary friends. Huh.

I joined Pearson to help with their Digital Content and Marketing challenges. This position should be a phenomenal experience. As far as publishing has come in the transition to digital, there are still some huge questions to answer about how to best take the printed word and offer it as a digital product.

I want to keep a few thoughts in the back of my head in my day-to-day.

  • How are traditional publishing methods meshing with new digital methods of distributing content?
  • Most books aren’t blockbusters – how can you effectively market books to niche audiences digitally?
  • Tablets. eReaders. eTexts. I want to know as much about these awesome devices as possible.
  • Digital publishing has made self-publication more of an option than ever. That is a really unique shift in publishing, which has traditionally been a difficult market to crack into without backing by a big publisher.

These are a few of the questions that have come to mind so far during the first couple weeks I’ve been at Pearson and it’s a list I expect to grow pretty quickly. I’m sure I’ll have lots of time to think about the digital side of the industry while I’m setting type, inking slabs and getting the printing presses fired up.