Over the years we have worked with hundreds of publishers spanning many industry verticals. Some publishers do everything in-house, some outsource pretty much everything. The question for me is what is the definition of a publisher these days? Is it an organization that does everything from soup to nuts in the entire publishing process or is it a publisher that outsources as much as possible and only worries about brand management?
According to Oxford English Dictionary (OED) published by our RSuite CMS client Oxford University Press, the definition of a publisher and brand manager are:
Publisher - A person or company whose business is the preparation and issuing of printed or documentary material for distribution or sale, acting as the agent of an author or owner; a person or company that arranges the printing or manufacture of such items and their distribution to booksellers or the public
Brand Manager - the supervision of the promotion of a particular brand of goods
So, do these definitions define today’s environment? Let’s look at two examples:
We do everything publisher
We have worked with some publishers who like to control everything about the publishing process right down to printing and binding their publications onsite. These types of publishers are few and far between these days, but they do still exist. I can certainly understand the desire to own the entire publishing process since I am sure the company is a traditional publisher, have employed many of the people for 20 plus years, and have honed the process to be very efficient. The questions are, can outsourcing a specific piece of the publishing process drive better profits or maybe adding some key automation tools (i.e., RSuite CMS) help deliver more and higher quality content? The “we do everything publisher” is generally a niche publisher (e.g., safety information) and has not had too many competitors in their space to drive change. However, as with everything in publishing, the digital age requires publishing to deliver in multiple formats and print no longer can support the company growth. Therefore the call to automate as much of the process to really drive multi-channel publishing will continue to grow and require change along the way. What these types of publishers need to realize is that change is not a bad thing and frankly, change is inevitable. Selective automation is better than no automation.
We outsource everything publisher
Several years ago I had a rather heated conversation with an executive at a global publisher. I asked her what exactly they do in-house anymore since it seemed like all they wanted to do was to outsource the entire publishing process and enjoyed beating up their vendors to hit their quality standards and profit targets. First, I’m sure the offshore vendor deserved some of the beating up. Second, I’m sure some of blame was due to poor input from the publishers. In other words, there was blame on both sides, but the fact was that this global publisher became nothing more than a brand manager in my opinion. Other than the acquisition team, everything else was outsourced (mainly offshore). Is this the face of publishing today? I suppose that companies who are attempting to drive profitability as much as possible feel that outsourcing everything is the best alternative. Long gone are the days when the art and craft of publishing required a solid team who were dedicated to the higher cause of publishing. It’s about brand management and its about profits in this scenario.
We selectively outsource publisher
Now I am sure there are publishers that fall in between these two examples where they do a lot in-house and selectively outsource production processes. If I had to guess, I think that is where most publishers fall today. The question that still remains is which direction is the industry headed? Will publishers become so highly outsourced in their production process that they only manage their brands or will they want to continue to control every step along the way? My guess would be that most publishers are going to continue to move towards the brand manager model and outsource and automate as much as possible to drive profits because of the pressure of replacing print with digital revenue. Unfortunately that is not a dollar for dollar replacement and publishers will be forced to do something in a very short period of time or begin a slow decline until they go out of business.
When publishers look to automate their publishing process, I hope they take some time to look at the amazing results our RSuite CMS publishing clients have achieved by implementing our software. When we set out to build a better publishing automation tool, we never envisioned our clients enjoying a 50% reduction is production time, 30% increase in website traffic due to better metadata management, or 100% content processing automation. These numbers are staggering but real and we are proud of how much we have helped our clients drive revenue and profitability within their organizations.