tv Interview with Michael Pietsch CSPAN June 4, 2016 9:30pm-10:01pm EDT
living question? >> i am the ceo of hachette book's group which means i work with talented publishers editors, finance people, everything that's involved in running a publishing company that is bringing books to all the readers in america and around the world. >> what makes up hatchet? >> it is made up of some publishers that have been around for a long time. we been in a company that was founded in 1837 in boston. another division called grand central publishing which is a publisher of commercial mainstream fiction and nonfiction that has been around 35/45 years. a45 years. it started warner books. we have a children books division, we have a christian division, we have a nonfiction division, we have a division
called hachette audio which we have just required a company which is a new group within hachette book and it's in publishing nonfiction for the readers. >> what is the importance of having all of these different industries? why not just call all of them hachette book? one one of the things about publishing is that it's done out of creative teams on the kind of book and the way it's publishing. you'll notice it throughout times there publishing companies that two people's names together , like lillian brown, harper brothers, publishing is a collective activity. so you want to have groups that are focused around individual titles. we have one brand affects all of those books, the individuality of each of those, they each have distant different personalities and different books they love
and to bring into the world. you want to have that branding, not because of consumers care so much, nobody's looking at it same as a basic book necessarily. but for people in between the publisher and the reader, the tv interviewers, reviewers, bloggers, librarians, they, librarians, they know those brands. they know the publishing group says people. it means something to those people in a book comes in with that. you want to have the different groups because of the focus of energy that really works. publishing is a person to person. just like when you read a book and you love it, publishing is that important. made large. >> host: how long has hash at books been a long around? hachette book's? >> it is the third-largest publisher in the world. in
france it goes back to the 1820s they had a plan to expand internationally from france because the ceo underneath said the books were selling all over the world where often they are in english and spanish so we expanded and acquired companies in the u.k., and u.s., spain and the u.s. and -- >> host: and your head corners now in your? >> guest: yes as all the offices are, you wonder why? >> host: go-ahead's. >> guest: well we had think about this as we recently moved offices. we could be anywhere, wire all the big publishers in your? and? and i've read histories about it, the reason that biggest publishers were in york historically is because of the
erie canal. there used to be publishers in boston, philadelphia, new york, they were about the same size because cities were about the same size. the market was growing and when the erie canal was completed the cost of getting books from the in the market to new york was so much lower that is more profitable for them, they could offer more money to authors, they could offer and promise them a bigger audience and new york became the place that authors came if they wanted a massive publication. so that's why publishers used to be in new york. but it's not driving up business anymore so what i realized what i thought about where we needed to be was that publishers are in new york because of marketing opportunities. because it is media. publisher's first job is to get the book heard, there hundred, there hundred of thousands of books published urine to get your books noted is the first job. and you get your books noted through your relationship with radio, tv, online companies, all the media companies, although media companies are in new york and the person who reles to publishers and marketers of those people, that is the lifeblood of the businesses and that's way publishers are in new york. >> host: how much of your
business comes from international sales? >> guest: our business in the u.s. is about 10% international. i would like to see more and it's growing because american entertainment park products are getting bigger and bigger around the world. and in because of the age of selling thanks to digitization, e-books can be sold and bought in many countries around the world. so international sales are growing. right now around 10% expect to see more the future. >> guest: how did you get into this business? >> guest: i got into book publishing because i'm a hopeless reader. i'm one of those kids who always had his nose in a book. and i love talking about books and love the writing. i love poetry, poetry, novels, all kinds of nonfiction. i love reading. a part of a big family and i found privacy and books. as one of seven kids and privacy
i would just go into a book and have my own world. i went to college thinking i would become a lawyer and ended up majoring in english instead because i wanted to read. i wanted to read and talk about books. when i thought about what i wanted to to do for a living after i finish college, i heard of this and call publishing. i look around and found an internship at a small publishing company in boston and i walked in the door and literally never looked back. it was the first minute of being inside a set of rooms where people were me reading manuscripts, thinking about what the business relationship of the other, selling the book, book, packaging, designing, everything that goes into it. the pleasure of thinking about how i would take a book, what's inside a book, and incarnate it to a digital form and communicate the ideas of that book into the world, i find it completely compelling. totally what i want to be doing all of
the time. and. and publishing is full of people like that. that are the people drawn to publishing, those who want to think about what's inside a book like and how they can get out into the world. >> host: what was your first job? >> guest: my first job was like when you come in and do whatever we tell them to do because it was a small place that gave me the opportunity to do everything. i was was a sales representative in the midwest for a few weeks, is working with a designer on cutting and pasting, i was working with a finance guy and doing invoices. but the best part was when i was brought in to a library and in the slavery there's a shelf in on that shelf with this back of many scraps and how manuscripts. i got to go take him as many of those that i wanted and read them and come back and say what you think. so think about publishing this book. you think it's something people would pay money to read this.
so that for strep i got a piece of everything. i got to to see the thrill of teamwork and it was a great way to begin. you get get to see all of the pieces. that foundation has served me really well. >> host: how has your career advanced? >> guest: i came to new york. [inaudible] but all the major publicists were in new york and i came to new york and it was held and i was in editor there and got to work on the book that my boss brought it. i got to begin doing the work of an assistant which includes always reading and reading. while there he became an editor and i had the pleasure of working with -- there is an enormous opportunity and i got to edit a book about hemingway's a memoir that was never published called the days of
summer. that was beyond exciting. it was a great place to begin acquiring books and emmys are being trusted with the company's money and you become an investor. your job is to read things in i think we should put your money into this book because i believe we can make money on it for these reasons. that was one of my first experiences as an investor. it was a great responsibility. >> host: tell me about the hardest is decision you made and was a not smart decision you made is acquiring editor. >> guest: smart decision as an aspiring editor, there have been i'm happy to say there been a lot of them. i would say working with james
patterson, i became his editor at one point and i guess i can't take credit there because it was all being published by little brown when i became his editor. so working with him as been a best settle lessons i've ever had but i can't take credit as the acquiring editor. i'd say talking to my bosses about investing in book was a great investment. >> it was a partial novel, hundred 60 pages i think of a book that was going to be of unspecified length but known to be very long. it was challenging work. it was hard to see about what the big stories going to be. and the reason i like the book is because it was that the previous book i sold copies of. my boss looks at a track record like that and says well, t-shirt, but i was able to get the support of other readers and house were very excited about what he was writing and by what a promise.
and to get little brown to support the acquisition and it some of the longest rewards in terms of the way that book has affected people's lives and how much alive it is in our culture. >> as an acquiring editor somebody, is it different than being the editor marks of the transcript? >> guest: the difference between an acquiring editor and align editor is not large. but all acquiring editor's are also editing the work books. some require so many books to turn some over to an editor who partners with them. i don't know any editors who give it to someone else to edit. is usually a path to an acquiring editor is having been align editor and that craft is
incredibly important to the organization because what the writer is doing is trusting your advice, they trust in your vice have to take it. nothing will be changed without their approval but it is someone who makes suggestions. sometimes the author takes them and sometimes that is a very small set of changes, sometimes it's you misspelled the word sometimes it's really think about the trajectory of a book, lines that are making sense the way a nonfiction book in the way the stories laid out. sometimes it's really big and it creates a partnership. but that works and what they do with the writer is kind of the glue of the relationship between the publisher and their editor. >> host: how is that work served u.s. ceo today? >> guest: the work of having been in editor, i believe has
served me very well as ceo because i worked directly with writers as much as anyone in the company does. so the editing job the editor is a business manager, and your job is investment in a way to work with publicists, the timing, and it looks like you doing all those things well. all of those is the foundation of becoming a co because you're seeing the unit becoming a common book. size of the derived on that. working consistently working consistently with authors in the literary agents requiring to get an understanding of the financial aspect of the relationship in their lives and how it feels to them and offered to acquire the business. so co has to understand how others feel about the relationship and
how important the author is to our enterprise i think is a great strength. also i i continue to edit a few books each year. i love that will intimate work with the author. i love writers and i love their books, i would not give up that pleasure, i would not give up that pleasure. >> host: if you're still doing that, who are some of the authors you're still working with? >> guest: i've only been doing my been seal for three years. in that. i've been doing editing by three or four books here, this last year i worked with stacy ship on a book and that was an anonymous pleasure. i worked with with a biographer named peter on his biography of two-volume biography of elvis presley. so for me this is a pleasure, not to give someone else the pleasure of working with these
brilliant writers. and i worked with james patterson on his book. i love i love keep in a connection with him on the page level in addition to on the business level. >> host: james patterson has become quite an industry in many ways. quite a forest in a publishing world in other ways too. have you been a part of that. >> host: i've been working with james patterson for going on 20 years. i started working with him as an editor when he was still publishing one book a year. as a matter fact i became his editor at the time that he came up with publishing. he actually did the science of publishing was one book of the year, serious packaging, bestsellers, and it did work. and we came up with this idea and i have to say that the executives at the time, whoever were at the company said that's crazy talk. that's work, that's too soon, the be wrong, this is working
why would we mess with that. and jim said, when you finish a novel and really love it you put it down and say, great i really want to wait a year for the next book from that writer. and i had to say no. and so he said i think we should try that. so he was able to persuade the executives that we should try it in the second book sold more than the first book. it made sense. we look at the reader first, not at the business side. but working with jim as a writer and seeing how well it works and how well it is an emotion and seeing his understanding of what readers respond to. he has a brilliant mind for organizations work, how retail works. he was the chairman before he became a writer, he knows a lot about marketing.
but he doesn't approach it from a marketing point of view he approaches them from a reader's point of view. he thought about this idea of doing more than one book a year where he's publishing five hardcovers for adults every year, sometimes six. they're all great. he works with co-authors, there his ideas, his outlines, and he outlines, and he works with them so you can bring his ideas to life faster than if he did himself. and he has an act for getting kids to read and in the world. he has has a new idea that were launching next june which is going to be focused on the reader. looking at how busy every lives are, a lot of readers books are too long but there too long so he came up the idea of packing all the thrills and one of his thrillers into a short novel that is only hundred 40 pages that you can finish in one night. get all the thrills, twice the thrills and have the time were publishing them in a series called bookshop. there are only $4.99.
two a month thrillers and one romance a month. so they don't necessarily stop they'll be in the book section but also in checkout lines and another places, these books are great, and they'll get the pleasure of reading back into their lives again. it could be -- >> host: so far in your career we have not found the finance side of the co sigh, where does that come in. >> guest: the finance side comes in as an editor. if you really care as an editor you have to understand that this is a business. if you're recommending books that do make money you want to understand why they don't make money, and how you can make money. so from the first minute i walked in the door i was always looking at every piece of financial information i can get. you want want to do well by your writers by understanding the business. you do well by the people who employ you by doing
well. if you're not profitable you don't need to be employed, so you have to know how to manage a portfolio, manage projects, and, and then after certain number of years i was promoted from an editor, moved from little brown 25 years ago as an editor and became editor-in-chief where you're responsible for editing a group of people. as a publisher you're responsible for the publishing division so you have to care about every detail, paper cost, jacket cost, advances, publicity class, where you're spending money on marketing, everything everything that goes into making a successful publication in a successful publishing organization. so overseeing it is a good step towards running it because the company is an aggregation. >> host: isn't it private service?
>> guest: it's a public created company brands that's controlled by a family, their parent company and and is a mixed-media company it has radio, travel details, publishing and some other businesses. >> host: to do you report? >> guest: i report to a brilliant strategist and financial mine. he understands the full range of what goes into publishing books successfully. when i first entered this job of them publishing in france and england, spain, what was a universal less than that apply everywhere, and he said there are no universal lessons,
publishing is local. every country has its own publishing economics, its own publishing economics, it's on publishing focus, zone with marketing. i would never buy a company that say do it this way. i've tried a couple times that if it successful one country should try it here it doesn't work. you have to have someone in the publishing group that believes in it and put their heart behind it and ideas behind it and really invest themselves in it. so you need to publish the book the weight needs to be published. >> host: so do you speak any french? spee2 just enough to get myself into trouble. i can ask questions, but then i can understand the answer because they talk much too fast. my meetings are conducted in english. >> host: so when you have a staff meeting here in the united states, who is run the table? >> guest: we have a monthly board meeting. the board is composed of all the publishers of all seven divisions. it is a financial officer, chief operating officer, chief
counsel, head of hr, marketing director, communications director. and i'm probably leaving someone out and i apologize in advance. people who run all the major department's are there. we talk about how we are doing and what the budget for the year is and how were doing against strategic initiatives, what happened with the books. >> host: is a book of publishing a modern business? spee2. >> guest: book publishing is a 19th century business. it has changed more in the past few years and it has in the past hundred years before. it it is not a leading-edge modern business because the experience of reading is an ancient, on changed experience. it is a deeply emotional experience that takes time and books are portable the day there invented. so my theory is i could turn
around and say books are incredibly modern invention because the rest of meat is just picking up with books but movies, cds all these other forms of music they had to be in one place to hear anymore digitalization made all of it portable and those businesses were radically transformed. so book psychotherapy modern, were not -- we fully modernized and digitizing every book we have in making books available at everyone kind of reader and every kind of format. when i say the 19 century business relationship with the authors of the basic financial relationship between author, publisher, reseller not much has changed. because it's a business of literally hundreds of thousands of products. the number books published each year's gigantic. their needing individual
attention, the focus of that of acquiring a lot of books, synthesizing developing, marketing, trying marketing, trying to get them out to millions of readers and bookstores around the country, that that has not changed much. digitization changes wonderfully in the anybody can buy a book the second they think of it. they don't have to go to a bookstore if you want to. you can be having a conversation with someone and say they love a book and you can have it on your ipad the next minute. it is modern and instantaneous in that way. but the experience has gone unchanged. i think that's the reason why books have not changes much in the past decade has the other media industries i talked about because the expense of reading a book, people really like the physical incarnation of a book. it's like a souvenir of a journey in your head. reading on paper is different than reading on the screen. you absorb it better, you retain a better. >> host: and you think digitalization over 20% of the
business. >> host: that is leveled off completely. e-books have grown rapidly but over the past couple years they had a peak and have been declining for the major trade publishers. independent retailers have been growing, they been thriving and growing. that's a sign of a really healthy deep roots of our industry. those independent booksellers who are the first readers and who people really look at the ideas through community. there thriving and and that's a sign of great business. >> host: has the digital revolution been painful? has a bennett disruptor to the book business. >> guest: it has been a disruptor, there's there's been a lot of change i would not say it's not as nearly as disruptive as it's been in the magazine, and magazines, those businesses were much more radically transformed. we have to transform,
digitization is a conglomeration people. people have had to get bigger because the cost of getting into the market has grown. because the concentration of power into two really big booksellers. so the audience has grown a lot. [inaudible] think digital transformation is under fitting some of the growth your scene. it's not a radical radical transformation they are seen in many other areas. >> host: 2016, the health of the publishing industry. >> guest: very strong. publishing has a very stable foundation.
because the demand for books is enormous. i think the challenge is the quality of the entertainment that's on that device. used to be a book is only thing you can have in your hand but now you're having your device in your games a social media and the number of things that are competing for people's time on the same channel, dizzily speaking, that's a big challenge we have to make sure that books stand out even more than what they do, we have to sharpen the messaging. we. we have to come up with some more formats gains are narrative based two, and the amount of narrative is outstanding i think there's a place for for games and books could meet and the kinds of books could be really exciting. the foundation foundation of publishing, reading, writing, it's really strong. >> host: where to spend the majority of your day doing?
>> guest: spend the majority of my day that's a tough question because each day is different. i think i spend the majority my time working with the publishers on publishing their book. on what books what books were acquiring and bringing into this world. and the rest of the time i'm thinking about organization for the night. and i spend a lot of my time there is much as i can. >> host: give us a sense how many books did you sell last year, or what is your revenues or how many employees, give us a sense of how big. >> guest: i'll give you a sense of scale. there five publishers in york that are pretty big. simon & schuster, harpercollins,
has shut books into others, mcmillan and schuster are about the same size with a hundred million dollars for the revenue, harpercollins is about three times as big and random is larger too. among that even after acquired it is a pretty big title count. were still smaller by a substantial number, they publish many more books and the reason i like that is i think it seeks attention for the writer. were being selective and making sure we have time to commute get
about the whole partnership. we think it's unique and we want to keep it that way. >> guest: are revenues were $600 million. we acquired about 90 million-dollar company, but as a 50% increase. >> that sounds like a lot of money. >> but when you compare to a car company a google or facebook it's pretty small. >> guest: were much smaller than those major media companies that you speak of, absolutely. it's an industry that is built up outal