How Can Business Books Keep Pace?

From Independent Publisher, the online magazine
The High-Tech Solution to the Business Book High-Tech Problem

by Nina L. Diamond

While reading some very insightful and helpful books as a judge for the 2008 Axiom Business Book Awards, I was struck by this one powerful thought: Of all the things I wouldn’t want to do in publishing, writing or publishing a business book is near the top of the list.

Not that there’s anything wrong with business books, their authors, or the companies who publish them.

It’s just that it must be maddening knowing that because high-tech marketing methods appear and change so often, business practices become incomplete and even practically obsolete at least once or twice a year.

And that means that business books do, too.

About 12-18 months ago, publishers contracted for most of the business books that were published this week. But, in the last nine months, YouTube has become the hottest way to market just about everything and everyone. Business books that have been published in the last few months and will come out in the next few months – unless they were crash-produced – had no chance to detail YouTube’s enormous impact on marketing, promotion, and public relations, and how business book readers could use that internet phenomenon to their business advantage.

That’s just one example of the speed at which high-tech marketing opportunities change and how difficult it is for business book publishers to keep pace.

As a big fan of paper, and the traditional book-reading experience, I’ve never been a fan of e-books, no matter what names the technology is given or how it’s delivered via computerized gizmos, even those designed to resemble books.

But, even I can make a case for business books to be made available ASAP via said gizmos so that they’re not incomplete or obsolete before they even hit bookstore shelves.

Business book publishers may also want to cut the lead time back from the usual nine months or a year (or more) between contract and publication. Sure, it means that those publishers wouldn’t be able to rely on the traditional seasonal paper catalogs to make sales to booksellers six months before a book is published. But, they could, instead, market to bookstores via e-mailed and online catalogs a month or two before publication.

If technology is giving them this problem, publishers might as well take advantage of technology to solve it.

* * * * *

Nina L. Diamond is a journalist, essayist, and the author of Voices of Truth: Conversations with Scientists, Thinkers & Healers. Her work has appeared in numerous publications, including Omni, The Los Angeles Times Magazine, The Chicago Tribune, and The Miami Herald.

Ms. Diamond was a writer and performer on Pandemonium, the National Public Radio (NPR) satirical humor program, for its entire run in Miami and select markets nationwide from 1984-1998. As an editor, she works frequently with other authors and journalists on both fiction and non-fiction.

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One Comment on “How Can Business Books Keep Pace?”

  1. Nina –

    I partly agree and partly disagree with what you’re saying. Business books that focus on the part of the world and business that are undergoing rapid change (such as, to your point, the technologies we use to market) are certainly in danger of become obsolete and irrelevant very quickly.

    However, the essentials of business change very little over time, in my experience. For instance, the skills and mindset needed to be in effective manager or an inspiring leader don’t change from year to year. And the elements of a sound business (talented, committed people consistently executing on good ideas that meet consumers needs in a cost-effective way) don’t change from year to year. I like to think that the books I write will be useful to a new generation of businesspeople in 20 years.


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