Perceived differences between 'us' and 'them'

Image - mkos83
Image – mkos83

“More trust in your staff not to be numpties.”

Suw Charman-Anderson
Suw Charman-Anderson

Only if you lingered for a bit after #FutureChat — or looked back later to see the stream — might you have spotted that comment from Suw Charman-Anderson.

And not much earlier, Victoria Noe had said, “It’s like a generation gap.”

She was referring to the differing viewpoints of — to quote my colleague Philip Jones — “those for whom digital has enhanced traditional business models, and those for whom digital is an ever constant threat to these models.” Noe wasn’t referencing anyone’s age, but rather the sensation that the strain here is almost that of a culture clash at times.

Philip Jones
Philip Jones

Both #FutureChat participants were making apt observations about the tone and tenor of the debate that concerns a perceived divide, possibly widening, gap between those who embrace and promote publishing’s digital developments as integral to its future, and those who seem to want to declare the transition done and done.

We were glad to have not only Diversion Books’ Scott Waxman with us this time, but also HarperCollins audience development lead Jim Hanas: He had pointed out to us HC’sBookperk programme, which sends subscribers a daily email blast with ebook offers, most of them under $2. Very D2C, of course, direct to consumer, and Hanas told us that the service has a handsome base of “subscribers in the mid-six-figures.”

One of the key strands of the conversation became issues of whether the “binary depiction” (Jones’ useful phrase) of the industry as pro-digital and anti-digital might be a result of a perceived reticence on the parts of major publishers to “tell their own story” as well as they might.

Jim Hanas
Jim Hanas

Certainly, not everyone agrees with this assessment of what I have sometimes termed “the silence of the trads” — and Hanas certainly did his part to dispel that impression, communicating with HarperCollins’ audience readily in the friendly and good-natured tones we enjoy about #FutureChat. (Watch for a fun touché! from him to Waxman.)

As usual, this selective look at tweets from the conversation necessarily includes gaps (and not of the digital kind, just breaks as we dip in and out). It’s not meant to be chronological, but a way of capturing some of the high points of what was said. As ever, we appreciate all the comments and engagement brought to the table Friday: the respectful, smiling bearing of this discussion has become a much-appreciated element of its weekly debate.

Watch The FutureBook here daily for news of our upcoming chat with The Bookseller’s digital publishing community on Friday, and do try to join us, you’ll be most welcome.

And as is often the case, Tim Lewis of Stoneham Press got us started with a mild and gracious comment:

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By Porter Ander­son

The FutureBook: #FutureChat recap: Perceived differences between ‘us’ and ‘them’

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