'A Bright Future for Publishing': George Lossius speaks to The Bookseller

'A Bright Future for Publishing': George Lossius speaks to The Bookseller

The Bookseller's Tom Tivnan speaks to George Lossius, CEO of Publishing Technology.

"Digital is not the demise of publishing," George Lossius says. "There is a really bright future for the publishing industry if they embrace it and have the right infrastructure in place."
True, as the c.e.o. of Publishing Technology, a business which provides just that infrastructure, you'd imagine he would say that. But Lossius has been at the digital coalface for some 15 years, first at Publishing Technology's predecessor Vista, and has been an IT man for even longer.

He knows of what he speaks. "Publishers are going to have to be agnostic about what their output is," he says, "whether it's physical, print on demand or digital. The question must be: 'How do I use the granularity of a publishing product and sell portions of it, rather than sell the whole thing?'"

This granularisation will partly be the result of what he says will be "by a massive margin" the most important e-reading device: the mobile phone. "The iPad, Sony Reader and the Kindle are important; they'll sell in the millions and I'm not belittling them. But mobiles sell in the billions, and are the way of getting into Asia, South America, eastern Europe and Africa. Clearly you are not going to read War & Peace on a mobile phone. But it's reading smaller chunks, particularly of non-fiction, that will be important."

Reinventing the wheel Publishing Technology was launched in 2007, the merger of two publishing software companies, Vista and Ingenta, together with the market research firm, Publishers Communication Group. It has three strands: its Advance all-in-one software that aids publishers with editorial, distribution, paying authors and selling rights; building online platforms mainly for academic publishers at the moment; and the aforementioned market research. Its publisher clients range from big conglomerates like Elsevier, Random House and Hachette, to single journal publishers such as the Society for Seed Technology.

Things are going well: after the typical post-merger growing pains, the company posted a £500,000 profit on revenues of £15.3m in 2009, and half-year results in 2010 have seen a 30% rise in profits. Lossius says the strategy is to cater more on the trade side, that can learn from academic publishers, particularly when it comes down to repackaging and selling content.
"Academic publishers know how to do this, trade publishers don't. They are in danger of reinventing the wheel that was invented 10 years ago by academics." He admits the digital landscape can be tricky: "There is an element of fear. If you invest now will you be investing in something that will be useful in five years? That's natural. But I would say, no, we don't know exactly what the market will look like in five years, but what we do know is the way we can be versatile enough to meet the changes."

For more information, visit www.publishingtechnology.com