Publishing partnerships: Joining forces to conquer the industry

Publishing partnerships are becoming increasingly popular due to the need for diversification in an industry that requires a broader range of skills and knowledge in order to get ahead. The merging of two companies can allow for more skills across more sectors for each party in the game of publishing.

At the Society of Young Publisher’s AGM we heard from industry experts who have pursued this business strategy through their own ventures.

Combining skillsets

Tom Willams, Head of Marketing at Touchpress, revealed that your whole business plan can be underpinned by a partnership. He explains how Touchpress came about because they saw another company – Apple – with a need that needed to be fulfilled. They saw that Apple were no longer creating their own apps, but looking to other companies to provide the apps for them; they no longer needed to create these apps themselves as they held the strongest platform for these apps in the market. This meant that app designers and producers would approach them, and this presented Touchpress with a business opportunity. They were able to partner with Apple in providing them with good quality apps, that Apple could host on their highly desirable and discoverable platform. Here we have an example of two companies partnering up and using each other’s skillsets to each others benefit in creating competitive advantage that can’t be challenged by an independent corporation.

Alternative business models

A completely opposite approach from the Touchpress partnership model, was described by Xander Cansell, Head of Digital at Unbound, who demonstrated how content came to him. This was achieved with their crowdfunding business model which relies solely on the donations of individuals in order to publish, but these can accumulate to larger amounts of capital that means all publishing costs are covered. The partnership within the Unbound model exists between the author and the publisher, with the reader determining the outcome: the author presents a pitch, the readers pledge against what they want to see put into print and the funds dictate what gets published. Though this may seem a pretty new age way of publishing, Xander describes that this format has been around since the 19th century!

Top tips from the panel of industry experts for venturing into a publishing partnership included:

  • Work out how the partnership can be mutually beneficial before agreeing to work with another company.
  • Consider the weaknesses in your company to find a partner that will fill in the cracks with their capabilities.
  • Contemplate the potential partners motive for joining forces – don’t be led into a takeover!
  • Don’t be put off by pairing a small company with a larger corporation. A large company may be able to deliver in terms of a brand and audience, but a small organisation is less tethered by the commercial side and more able to innovate with new ideas, allowing both companies to form one venture.

This is a guest post by Abigail Hyland. Abigail is an Editorial Assistant at SAGE Publications and music reviewer for the Brighton based magazine, ‘The Latest‘.