Think short-term to stay ahead of digital change, publishers told

Publishers should avoid locking themselves into any long term strategy, technology or partnerships in their digital publishing because they cannot accurately predict the next two years' developments, today's World eReading Congress in London was told.

Cliff Conneighton, chief strategy officer of Elastic Path Software, warned publishers the picture will be so dramatically different in five years time that short cycles and rapid adjustments are of the essence. "Explore business partnerships but make no long-term commitments - date around, don't get married," he advised. Publishers must also keep their wits about them in their commercial relationships, he said. "Markets are colliding, not converging. Your new competitors may be companies you think of as partners or channels today."

Conneighton, speaking after keynote addresses from HarperCollins c.e.o. Victoria Barnsley and Random House Group deputy c.e.o. Ian Hudson, said that in the new environment backlist could prove as profitable as frontlist, if presented to consumers in the right context and at the right price. But he added that publishers should measure and test every development they tried, because their customers are different today from who they were just five years ago.