I began my career at Knopf in the Publicity Department, where I am credited with inventing the author tour—for Julia Child’s Mastering the Art of French Cooking, Volume II—in 1970. I spent the next 28 years as a senior executive at Knopf/Random House, serving in a variety of roles, including founding and being named the first president of Random House Audio Publishing. In late 1997, I became president and CEO of HarperCollins Publishers Worldwide. After a very successful decade leading HarperCollins, I co-founded Open Road Integrated Media, a digital publishing and marketing company that has given me the opportunity to unite my entrepreneurial spirit with my publishing experience.
What are some upcoming trends for 2014?
What is exciting about today’s publishing industry is that it is constantly, rapidly evolving—today’s trends might tomorrow be considered the tired traditions of yesterday. If one is nimble and knows where to look, one can be a trendsetter. Readers will increasingly move to digital platforms, but the importance of content will never change. Readers love a good story regardless of format, and we see them regularly adding classic titles to their digital libraries.
Open Road focuses on the vibrant backlist of publishing’s past. And we publish and market these curated books and authors in different verticals or genres. For example, Octavia Butler is an anchor in our science fiction and fantasy vertical, and we have recently announced that over the next several months we will be releasing dozens of e-books from May Sarton, a literary star for our literature vertical.
We also see a trend in increasing the presence and success of books in translation, and Open Road partners with major publishers in 10 countries around the globe. We have also recently launched a Spanish language e-book imprint with our partner, Barcelona Digital Editions: Cuidad de Libros/Open Road Español.
What book/genre/topic would you like to see cross your transom?
I have had a lifelong interest in poetry and am very eager to grow a poetry vertical at Open Road. We are confident that we are using technology properly to reproduce the ever important line of a poem. So, stay tuned.
What topic don’t you ever want to see again?
I hope to never hear again the constant, never-ending talk of a divide between traditional publishing and digital publishing. We are all parts of one industry, the publishing industry.
Format and delivery may be different, but as I have already said, content remains king.
What is unique about your corner of the industry?
It is very exciting to create new ways to reinvigorate older titles. With the explosion of digital marketing, mobile growth and direct-to-consumer communication, change is happening at breakneck speed, and we are built to respond. Bringing the greats back to life for a new generation of readers is our mission.
Anything else you’d like to add?
I’d always thought of myself as an “intrapreneur,” as my career path was within a corporate structure. And I was eager to be a true entrepreneur. The digital revolution is offering me an enormous opportunity to innovate, which is clearly an important part of my personality. I’m finding this a valuable skill as I develop, with my excellent team, Open Road’s growth strategy.
Jane Friedman is the co-founder and CEO of Open Road Integrated Media.