The Hachette versus Amazon battle keeps going on as the most visible symbol of the changing landscape of the publishing industry. I have written about it before, but this time I want to take a look at the situation from a bit broader scope: What should Hachette do to survive not just this battle, but digitalization itself?
Lagardère, the parent company of Hachette, gave a presentation on its views on the publishing market and Hachette’s position in it on their investor day on 28 May 2014. This gives us a good starting point to examine what Hachette thinks it should do, and whether its conclusions and claims are sound.
(Also, I participated in a strategy MOOC recently, so some analysis was good practice for that one as well and I examined Hachette in my final project there.)
The amount of information available online has continuously increased, and it is now easier than ever to learn new skills. The key to such learning is the ability to find relevant information online and evaluate its usefulness.
In this post, I will detail a process I myself use to get started on a new field in a business environment. I have successfully used this method to get started on Lean, project management, social business, and sales management to name a few areas. (How do I know? Because I’ve applied these skills for some years by now. There are other, more recent, fields where I cannot yet tell for sure.)
The battle between Amazon and Hachette, one of the big five book publishers in the USA, has been going on for months now. The most visible effect of the battle so far has been Amazon’s delays in shipping and removal of pre-order buttons for some Hachette titles.
Originally, the battle was portrayed as being fought over ebook prices for the most part, but recently more information has surfaced on Amazon demanding payment for various services, such as pre-order buttons, personalized recommendations, and a dedicated employee at Amazon for Hachette books.
What is going on? In order to grasp the situation, it is useful to look at what has happened in the publishing industry in the past few years, and a useful lens for exploring this is Michael Porter’s five competitive forces.
What do you want to own? That is a fundamental question that has been challenged more and more in the recent years. Is being able to access the things you want when you want enough, or do you actually need to own something?
Reviews have been one of Amazon’s strengths and one of its problems for a long time. The issues around fake reviews are rather well known and covered extensively in traditional media as well (here is a New York Times piece on those issues and Amazon’s attempts to solve them).
However, there is also another, less thoroughly covered story of Amazon review manipulation: the helpful or non-helpful review vote. Anyone can vote for or against a review with the simple click of a button, and this affects how reviews are displayed on the page. This feature is nowadays extensively used for manipulation of review rankings on product pages.
The New York Times published an article about Amazon last week titled As Competition Wanes, Amazon Cuts Back Discounts as well as an accompanying blog post titled The Price of Amazon. These two articles, both written by David Streitfeld, convinced me that the publishing industry is failing catastrophically.
In this post, I will elaborate on how the publishing industry is failing, what does Lean at Amazon have to do with why Amazon succeeds, and why Guy Kawasaki’s and Shawn Welch’s recent book, APE: Author, Publisher, Entrepreneur-How to Publish a Book, should be read by most traditional publishers.