The biggest difference between Amazon and book publishers

“We’re in a major battle right now for the future of the industry,” Brian Napack, a senior advisor at Providence Equity and the former CEO of book publisher Macmillan, said at the Publishers Launch conference at BookExpo America Wednesday.

“We have Amazon as an example, and certainly not the only example, of someone who’s coming at this business from a completely different angle,” Napack told Publishers Lunch CEO Michael Cader. “Amazon, at its heart, is a customer relationship management company. [Book] publishers, at their heart, are author relationship management companies.

“Those two worlds could coexist nicely for awhile. The problem is, in Amazon’s search to grow and enhance its customer relationships…they are going headlong after what we think is book publishing, and what they think is an expansion of their customer relationship.

“[Publishers] have to do a great job of customer relationship management as well. [That means] we are going after [Amazon’s] business…not Amazon’s e-commerce, but Amazon’s customer relationships. That’s where these two are going to clash.”