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A huge competitive advantage awaits bold publishers

Eric Ries on how lean startup methods apply to publishing.

In the video interview below, Eric Ries (@ericries), author of “The Lean Startup,” sits down with O’Reilly online managing editor Mac Slocum to talk about the lean startup method and how it applies to publishing. Ries argues:

“When you’re publishing a new book or any piece of media, you’re actually an entrepreneur, whether it says that on your business card or not. It doesn’t matter if you’re an editor, a publisher or an author, you are an entrepreneur.” (Discussed at 00:23.)

Ries talks about the lengthy process of producing a book and the inefficient business practices behind the slow iteration speeds:

“When I signed my publishing contract, I asked for the expedited process, which I was told was about 18 months. In those 18 months, how much time was actually spent on the editorial production of the book itself? Very little time. Most of the time was either me waiting for my editor or him waiting for me. It was dealing with all the intricacies of the publishing process — the catalog, figuring out the marketing campaign, tons of activities that are all important, but have nothing to do with the actual production of the book. [The 18 months is about] fitting a zillion books — far too many — into this crazy waterfall process.

“The reason we call this ‘lean startup’ is because of an insight that happened in manufacturing called lean manufacturing. Working in these supposedly efficient silos, where everyone is in their department and the work product is passed from department to department seems very efficient, but it’s actually radically inefficient. The first publisher to restructure their process around these [lean] principles is going to have a huge competitive advantage over their rivals.” (Discussed at 5:04.)

Ries also says that “the one realization that has not hit publishing yet is that if you make content, you’re in the software business … if you look at the supply chain, who’s accumulating all the power? It’s software companies like Apple, Amazon and Google.” (Discussed at 6:43.)

For more on how the lean startup methodology applies to publishing, check out the full interview in the following video:

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Associated photo on home and category pages: Eric Ries by O’Reilly Conferences, on Flickr

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