How do you buy your books? New Media Specializations’ Trip to Frankfurt

How do you buy your books? Most of us go to a library or order books online without considering the complex procedures which have to be made beforehand. On Friday, June 28 the Social Media Lab course was invited to the publishing house S. Fischer Verlage in Frankfurt am Main. Albeit we went there initially in order to clarify a briefing they provided us with, we got an overview of the tasks to accomplish prior to nationwide availability of the latest publications. By Marieluise Papenfuss (Master Management 3).

During that day, we heard ten lectures in which people from different departments gave us valuable insights about the spectrum of their work. For instance, we learned that S. Fischer Verlage receives lots of manuscript every day. However, only one out of 50 authors gets the chance to publish a book. Many are also unrequested and have an even lower chance to get published. Similarly, the process of editing, production, marketing and design is tightly scheduled and, at times, has to be accomplished simultaneously. In the same way, the communication has to be planned already when the author is still writing. Future trends have to be assessed and considered one to two years before which makes the planning process very risky. Hence, there is a perpetual rhythm to make publicity for a book.

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Digitalization led to a shift in the publishing industry. Since the traditional book market is decreasing, companies like Amazon, Google Books and producers of E-book readers are contemporarily dominant in the marketplace. Even employees had contrary opinions about the shift from print to digital books. Moreover, in times of ubiquitous availability of the Internet, self-publishing is a buzzword which is detrimental for publishing houses. Nevertheless, they have to deal with the developments mentioned before. Therefore, a major consideration is about the differences in publishing, selling, reading and marketing books. Exactly at this point our task becomes relevant. While having gathered plenty of knowledge about new media, our course aims to make suggestions about how to boost the YouTube channel of S. Fischer Verlage. This represents a challenging, but attractive exercise to practice theoretical knowledge in a real setting.

The overall impression was positive for all participants. It was interesting to see the incremental backstage accomplishments in order to be able to buy a book and the various influences from the external environment to consider within the process. The employees were friendly and responsive to the various questions. Eventually, we drove back from the excursion by happily looking forward to working on the briefing, lots of ideas for the implementation and some additional reading material which was given to us.

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