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March 27 2012

A huge competitive advantage awaits bold publishers

In the video interview below, Eric Ries (@ericries), author of "The Lean Startup," sits down with O'Reilly online managing editor Mac Slocum to talk about the lean startup method and how it applies to publishing. Ries argues:

"When you're publishing a new book or any piece of media, you're actually an entrepreneur, whether it says that on your business card or not. It doesn't matter if you're an editor, a publisher or an author, you are an entrepreneur." (Discussed at 00:23.)

Ries talks about the lengthy process of producing a book and the inefficient business practices behind the slow iteration speeds:

"When I signed my publishing contract, I asked for the expedited process, which I was told was about 18 months. In those 18 months, how much time was actually spent on the editorial production of the book itself? Very little time. Most of the time was either me waiting for my editor or him waiting for me. It was dealing with all the intricacies of the publishing process — the catalog, figuring out the marketing campaign, tons of activities that are all important, but have nothing to do with the actual production of the book. [The 18 months is about] fitting a zillion books — far too many — into this crazy waterfall process.

"The reason we call this 'lean startup' is because of an insight that happened in manufacturing called lean manufacturing. Working in these supposedly efficient silos, where everyone is in their department and the work product is passed from department to department seems very efficient, but it's actually radically inefficient. The first publisher to restructure their process around these [lean] principles is going to have a huge competitive advantage over their rivals." (Discussed at 5:04.)

Ries also says that "the one realization that has not hit publishing yet is that if you make content, you're in the software business … if you look at the supply chain, who's accumulating all the power? It's software companies like Apple, Amazon and Google." (Discussed at 6:43.)

For more on how the lean startup methodology applies to publishing, check out the full interview in the following video:

The future of publishing has a busy schedule.
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Associated photo on home and category pages: Eric Ries by O'Reilly Conferences, on Flickr


January 24 2012

The five things you need to pay attention to at TOC 2012

This post is part of the TOC podcast series. You can also subscribe to the free TOC podcast through iTunes.

The 2012 edition of the Tools of Change for Publishing conference will open its doors on February 13 in New York City.

Since we're in the home stretch, I rounded up TOC chairs Kat Meyer and Joe Wikert to discuss the major publishing trends and developments that are shaping the conference. Below, you'll find the five biggest takeaways from our chat. The associated audio podcast contains the full conversation.

1. Publishing is rife with startups

The publishing world is no longer solely the domain of big old organizations. There's a whole bunch of startups engaged in a variety of publishing experiments. TOC 2012 will feature notable upstarts in the Startup Showcase and throughout the conference program.

2. You've got the data, now what do you do with it?

Digital and data go hand-in-hand, and that means publishers — whether they know it or not — are running data-driven businesses. They need to learn how to gather, mine and use all those datasets to their advantage. The practical application of data will be an important theme at the conference.

3. No more ugly ebooks

Those quick and dirty digital conversions won't cut it anymore. Readers are committing to digital, and now they're rightfully demanding top-notch ebook / app experiences. It's time for publishers to meet that demand.

4. Publishing is bigger than books

Book people have something to learn from media people, and media people can learn from book people. Toss in film and music folks, and you've got a huge digital knowledge base that can be drawn from and adapted. This year at TOC, there's a concerted effort to expand "publishing" beyond its narrow and traditional definition.

5. "Change/Forward/Fast" isn't just a catchy tagline

Agile development began in the software world, but its core attributes of iteration and feedback also apply to publishing. Agile methodologies and applications will be discussed in a variety of TOC sessions.

Again, those are just the takeaways from the interview. The podcast has much more on TOC's major themes and what you can expect to see. It also includes a "bold prediction" from Joe that, if realized, could completely change the way publishers handle mobile apps and ebooks.

TOC NY 2012 — O'Reilly's TOC Conference, being held Feb. 13-15, 2012, in New York City, is where the publishing and tech industries converge. Practitioners and executives from both camps will share what they've learned and join together to navigate publishing's ongoing transformation.

Register to attend TOC 2012


January 13 2012

Top Stories: January 9-14, 2012

Here's a look at the top stories published across O'Reilly sites this week.

What is big data?
It's the hot trend in software right now, but what does big data mean, and how can you exploit it? Strata chair Edd Dumbill presents an introduction and orientation to the big data landscape.

Can Maryland's other "CIO" cultivate innovation in government?
Maryland's first chief innovation officer, Bryan Sivak, is looking for the levers that will help state government to be smarter, not bigger. From embracing collective intelligence to data-driven policy, Sivak is defining what it means to be innovative in government.

Three reasons why we're in a golden age of publishing entrepreneurship
Books, publishing processes and readers have all made the jump to digital, and that's creating considerable opportunities for publishing startups.

The rise of programmable self
Taking a cue from the Quantified Self movement, the programmable self is the combination of a digital motivation hack with a digital system that tracks behavior. Fred Trotter looks at companies and projects relevant to the programmable-self space.

A venture into self-publishing
Scott Berkun turned to self-publishing with his latest book, "Mindfire." In this TOC podcast, Berkun discusses the experience and says the biggest surprise was the required PR effort.

Tools of Change for Publishing, being held February 13-15 in New York, is where the publishing and tech industries converge. Register to attend TOC 2012.

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