Old Wisdom for the New Digital

Penguin was a small start-up publisher, which became an instant success in the publishing world. If we look at the reasons they were so successful, we can see they adopted many new concepts that added up to an explosive package.

First there is the format — small paperback, quality writing and simple graphics. Allen Lane, the founder of Penguin, lifted the entire concept from Hamburg publisher Albatross. To be smart you don’t have to come up with a new concept, but you do have to find it! Lane travelled extensively and kept in touch with new ideas. Does your itinerary for Frankfurt Book Fair allow time for discovery?

Second — impulse purchases can be planned. Penguin retailed their books through a carefully planned system of vending machines, railway stations, and other high traffic areas frequented by their target market. Airport booksellers are still growing in numbers today. What are the high traffic areas that your target market passes every day; Facebook? Gaia? Cyclingnews.com?

Finally — status matters. This is a human drive that will never change. Penguin appealed to status shoppers, who wanted to better themselves. In a digital world do we have to abandon the physical? As a frequent traveller for most of my life, I have witnessed many conversations between people about the books they were holding. How could people let other people know what book they are holding in a digital future?

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About Lisa Buchan

Lisa Buchan is the Founder of Prato Consulting (and its imprint Prato Publishing), a company dedicated to supporting book people on the journey to a new era. If you have innovative new global services for publishers, agents or writers, Lisa wants to know!
This entry was posted in Ideas from around the world, Industry Trends, Social Media. Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to Old Wisdom for the New Digital

  1. A sensible and grounding blog post. As we publishers scrabble to keep up with every new widget and app, it’s helpful to be reminded of these lessons from a not-very-distant past. I eagerly await your next post, Lisa.

  2. Interesting article and blog. As a small retailer carrying kids’ books, it’s an expanding category for us. Went to the Book Expo in NYC over summer and was surprised to find how busy it was. Thought e-readers had killed books forever, but maybe not. Again content is king!

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