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June 8, 2007

News & Opinion: What Publishers Are Saying Readers Want

By: Dylan Schleicher @ 3:15 PM – Filed under: Publishing Industry

What Publishers Are Saying Readers Want by Todd S.

It is always interesting to hear what publishers think readers are looking for. Publishers Weekly runs a feature each year on the trends in business books. Here are the quotes from the publishers featured in the May 21st article:
"A major issue facing businesses today is the war for talent. As the baby boomers retire, there is a smaller pool of talented, skilled workers. In this business environment, retaining and motivating good employees will be critical for corporate success. At the same time, executives have become skeptical of the promises of quick fixes offered by recent business books. They want substantive information that offers real solutions to complex problems." - Hank Kennedy, president and publisher of AMACOM

"It is remarkable how brand-name books and brand-name authors are standing out in this crowded marketplace. When the market is glutted, there is flight to tried and true, known and proven. Often the books have a distinctive title and have become the dominant book on their topics." - Steve Piersanti, president of Berrett-Koehler

"There's a growing awareness that managers have to pay more attention to their subordinates--really listen to them and address their needs. The new generation of 20- and 30-somethings can't wait to go out and set up their own shops, and in order to keep that talent, companies have to keep that talent, companies learn what makes them happy and motivated and act on it. Today's management style has to be flexible and not take employees for granted--it's not the 1950's anymore." -Rick Wolff, editorial director of Business Plus (formerly Warner Business)

"This morning when I was reading The Wall Street and saw the business books bestsellers list, it was a flashback from 30 years ago with Lee Iacocca at #1. People are looking for advice from proven authorities." -Steve Ross, president and publisher of Collins (former senior vice-president and publisher at Crown)

"People will always want to read about the accomplishments of successful people, especially if they have broken new ground or created a whole new industry. " -Lauren Marino, executive editor at Gotham Books

"It's very clear that readers --whether business students or professionals already embarked on successful careers--want books that will give them the up-to-date knowledge and skills they need to compete in today's global economy. And it's not just a matter of knowing another language or the customs of a country. They want books that will give them actionable advice and the innovative and perceptive ideas they'll need to build a world-class organization." -Maureen McMahon, Vice-President and Publisher at Kaplan

"We believe the era of the globalization of the management book has arrived. Look at the appeal of global brands. Readers want to know how Google, Toyota, and Starbucks do it." -Herb Schaffner, publisher of business and finance at McGraw-Hill

"[He sees a rebirth of internet related management and strategy books.] There was a big wave of these books in the late 1990's--bestsellers like Customers.com and Unleashing the Killer Ap. Then the Internet bubble popped and the whole genre disappeared for about five years. Nobody cared. But now we're back to seeing bestsellers aimed at managers who want to apply the lessons of the new Web 2.0 companies like YouTube and MySpace." -Adrian Zacheim, publisher at Portfolio

So, do you agree with them? Are these the kinds of books you are looking for?

About Dylan Schleicher


Dylan Schleicher has been a part of the 800-CEO-READ claque since 2003. Even though he's stayed on at the company, he has not stayed put. After beginning in shipping & receiving, he joined customer service and accounting before moving into his current, highly elliptical orbit of duties overseeing the ChangeThis and In the Books websites, the company's annual review of books and in-house design. He lives with his wife and two children in the Washington Heights neighborhood on Milwaukee's West Side.