In an interview with HBS Working Knowledge, Olson sees an industry that:
- Refuses to change business models to face new challenges. Publishers are attempting to prop up the print book business by charging more for e-books. Says Olson: "I don't know of many successful examples of pricing a product based not on what it costs or what people want to pay for it, but based on another format that is completely different, just because you want to keep that format alive."
- Unwilling to innovate. Instead of using technology to make books more accessible and attractive, publishers are sticking to their paper product.
- Losing sight of your customer. "The odd thing is that no one is really focusing on the reader. A disproportionate amount of publishers' resources are dedicated to the manufacturing and physical distribution when in fact their key function is editorial in nature. In a sense, many book publishers are trying to buy time, to postpone a reckoning with reality."
- Biting the hand that could feed them. Instead of partnering with e-book distributors such as Amazon, companies are fighting with them.
Let's pretend that you are Olson's successor at Random House, or any publishing house. Will you remake your business model in baby steps or big giant leaps? What's your next move?