Monday, October 3, 2011

Cheer up, publishers aren't the only ones struggling with their digital publishing issues, even some vendors are lost

Many publishers tell me that the whole mobile and tablet publishing issue has them staying up at night. How can they afford to launch mobile and tablet apps when their print and online publishing ventures are no longer as profitable as they once were? Who has the money to invest in something new when the something old won't pay for it?

But publishers aren't the only one confused and a bit afraid. A call to some digital publishing vendors revealed that some of the same challenges facing publishers are also facing the companies that have traditionally sold to them: moving their legacy products into new digital platforms.

A few calls revealed that many vendors are stuck selling their usual wares while publishers clamor for newer features. When asked if a company could get a publishers flipbook into an app form a sales person told me that their digital publishing solutions were strictly web based, if you were going to read the digital product on an iPad, for instance, it would be through the Safari browser.

"Are you working towards an app solution for your customer?" I asked the sales representative. "They don't tell me those kinds of things," came the response.

This is, no doubt, one of the reasons a major printer like RR Donnelley went a head and acquired LibreDigital. No doubt Donnelley was seeing increased demand for certain services and felt the need to continue to provide them, or else risk the loss of business.

“Through acquisitions and new product development we continue to extend RR Donnelley’s reach across the breadth of the supply chain,” said Thomas J. Quinlan III, the company’s President and Chief Executive Officer. “Adding LibreDigital’s proven, innovative capabilities to our digital content creation and delivery platform will enable us to offer our publishing, retail, ereader provider and other customers an even broader selection of services.”
So what do you do when you are getting wish-washy answers from your vendors concerning what they can offer and when? My suggestion: call them in. Get the rep to bring in someone from the management team to explain where the company is going. If they can't do that for you then you probably shouldn't be doing business with them anyway.