Publishers should 'get to know' consumers better, Laid Bare conference hears

<p>Publishers should focus on getting to know their consumers by improving websites and making authors regularly engage with readers delegates were told yesterday (24th June) at the Publishing Laid Bare conference.<br /><br />The conference, organised by Legend Press and held in London, highlighted the importance of direct contact with consumers, building a relationship with them and finding out about their reading habits.<br /><br />Will Atkinson, sales and marketing director at Faber, said publishers should engage with consumers in the &quot;right way&quot;. </p><p>He added: &quot;What the consumer wants is for our innards to be on the outside&quot;. </p><p>He gave the example of Faber making its archive available to view online, which he said was &quot;really rather wonderful.&quot; Atkinson said: &quot;It&#39;s getting to know our customers, getting to know the consumers and their habits.&quot;<br /><br />The internet was highlighted as the prime resource for reaching consumers and social networking was focussed upon. Mark Thwaite, manager and founding editor of ReadySteadyBook, said: &quot;Publishers need to start to think of their authors as brands. They need to teach them how to blog and tweet and will need to change contracts so that when they sign contracts it said that there is a need to do some digital marketing of their own.&quot;<br /><br />However, he added: &quot;Still publishers&#39; websites are not particularly great, search engines are terrible, updated covers aren&#39;t up there and blogs aren&#39;t updated regularly. They don&#39;t know how to use google alerts or RSS feeds, they&#39;ve still got a lot to learn.&quot;<br /><br />Author and editor Jonathan Reuvid said publishers should look at different ways of providing consumers with what they want, particularly in the digital age. &quot;There&#39;s no reason why you should sell your book in slices, so they can buy the pieces they want,&quot; he said.<br /><br />Atkinson said: &quot;In terms of pricing on books, digital books will be cheaper than physical books - sonsumers simply won&#39;t wear it in any other way ... there will be a price deflation in terms of e-books.&quot;</p>