The Pace of Change

November 4th, 2009

My intention this evening was to point to some article or other or some statistic or other that would suitably comprise a subject for a blog. I’ve got dozens in my files…many to chose from. But as I scoured through them I thought that a recap might be more appropriate than a narrow-subject issue.

I was with a client yesterday, a long-time client with whom I’ve worked not for years but for decades. In this case it happens to be a printing firm. Many of my readers will click to another subject upon that revelation. But as I continue to argue, publishing is an ecosphere, and to focus on only one aspect, such as social networking or Google dominance, is great folly. It’s essential to recognize the ecosphere as a whole, and at the same time to recognize, not unlike the flapping wings of the apocryphal butterfly in Africa, that indicators from any and every sector of the publishing business reflect upon the whole if you’ve got the wherewithal to recognize the effect.

My client is an exemplary firm, with exceptional staff and very loyal customers. Its sales have continued to grow through a recessionary time, albeit, of course, with diminished margins. But most important this firm has not lost the faith: its intention is to be there for the long haul. And so it does not shy away from the changes that affect every aspect of the publishing industry.

It was an unusual consultation. I had visited just two weeks before. And yet I felt it imperative to once again call together the board of directors to deliver a revised forecast. I had warned them that I felt that the pace of change was not in any way slowing but was increasing in its intensity. What I said that two weeks ago never led me to imagine that I would have vital new data to present that would cause me to revise a 14-day-old forecast. But I offered half-a-dozen data points that supported my revision.

I was not embarrassed by my report. It only supported my earlier claim that the pace of change in the publishing industry is without precedent.

Regardless of what place your firm occupies in the publishing ecosphere, be mindful. If you do not have sufficiently qualified staff onboard to keep you abreast of these near-daily changes, then retain one or more consultants (self-serving, but quite true).

Anything you constructed in your publishing goals or workflows one or more years ago is due for a further revision today. Please take my word for it.