Digital Book World just presented an interview with Ellen Archer, the CEO of Hyperion. For those who don’t know, Hyperion is a publisher that is part of Disney. We’ve received many excellent books for review from Hyperion Teen, including the stellar Generation Dead, and several books they sent us ended up on our 2011 Top Picks list for Young Adults, including Mercy by Rebecca Lim and the Near Witch by Victoria Schwab.
That they sent us these books doesn’t really have anything to do with why I’m sharing this interview with you, though. Here’s the deal: in spite of the fact that Hyperion is not one of the Big Six publishers we hear about and write about so much of the time, it is a reasonably good-sized publisher that puts out some really quality books, and it’s also part of a major media empire. Disney is about a lot more than princesses, and it has an impressive marketing machine. Hyperion, as part of that media empire, has the opportunity to produce transmedia experiences that will really stand out. I wrote about transmedia over the summer last year (and while I continue to be fascinated by it, I still favor physical books for children, which seems to be true for many parents, even those addicted to ebooks themselves), and I can see from this interview that Archer is headed in this direction (in a much more complex way than I described) from what she says here:
Maybe we have to drop “books” from the way we think. I think that’s keeping us from not thinking as big and broadly as we need to.
I have authors come in and I suggest we start with e-books and then have a print companion later on and they say, “what about the ‘book’ book?”
What I see Hyperion as is a producer of great reading experiences in the form that someone enjoys.
I continue to see debates about the value of ebooks vs. physical books. I think it’s pretty clear now that in order for publishers to survive that debate has to be reframed. There are going to be ebooks, physical books, and media of all kinds in play. And it’s not just going to be about how we consume media, but how our experiences of a variety of media bring us together. Have the Big Six publishers recognized this? They seem to be moving tentatively into this sphere, but if other publishers, like Hyperion, move faster, I think we’ll see the structure of the publishing industry change considerably. For those of us who are used to categorizing media into discrete areas (like some librarians and many, many digital immigrants) it won’t be an easy transition. But it’s coming, and, if Archer’s ideas about the future of publishing are on target, it’s coming sooner than we think.