Rebuck: 'direct consumer engagement pivotal'

Rebuck: 'direct consumer engagement pivotal'

Random House Group UK m.d. Gail Rebuck has said the rules of "agent, publisher and retailer are being rewritten", and revealed that e-books now account for around 11% of RHG's total net sales.

In a year-end letter to staff, Rebuck said that the group should finish 2011 ahead of internal targets despite a year characterised by a "turbulent economy", and with the "struggling High Street, particularly in Australia with the collapse of The Red Group".

She also said 2011 would be looked back on as "a time of significant digital-led change" with the publishing industry in transition. She added: "Traditional business models are in flux and new, exciting ways of doing things are coming into focus while the roles of agent, publisher and retailer are being rewritten," creating "opportunities for those who are ready to embrace and lead change".

Looking to 2012, she said: "Increasingly, direct consumer engagement will play a pivotal role in our campaigns as online discoverability and recommendation become ever more crucial to the future success of our books."

Rebuck said e-book sales values were up more than 500% on 2010. She highlighted apps such as The Magic of Reality and The Primrose Bakery, as well as digital projects such as the short story initiative Storycuts, as being successful examples of digital being integrated into publishing programmes, and the online game for The Night Circus as being a way to build pre-publication attention and "a platform to talk directly with consumers".

In physical publishing, Rebuck highlighted Madeleine by Kate McCann, Terry Pratchett's Snuff and Christopher Paolini's Inheritance, as well as S J Watson's Before I Go to Sleep and Julian Barnes' Man Booker-winning The Sense of an Ending as particular successes for the year.