Books -- Publishing in the Information Age: A New Management Framework for the Digital Era by Douglas M. Eisenhart

Article excerpt

*Eisenhart, Douglas M. (1994). Publishing in the Information Age: A New Management Framework for the Digital Era. Westport, Conn.: Quorum Books. 312 pp. Hardback, $55.

For traditional print publishers who "rankle at their inclusion in the information industry as too reductive when considering the richness of a Thomas Hardy novel or the delicate beauties of a folio of fine art," the message of Douglas M. Eisenhart's book is clear: While books, as separate entities, will survive (perhaps more as luxuries), the successful publishers of the 1990s will be fully digital enterprises integrated into the information "meta-industry." They will eagerly capitalize on convergence between interpersonal communication systems and mass communications media, among modes and media of communication, between information and entertainment, between publishing and broadcasting, between print and electronic firms as well as forms.

Eisenhart's primary audience is senior-level managers, consultants, researchers, practitioners, and stakeholders in traditional print publishing (books, magazines, newspapers) and newer video software, multimedia, and online publishing. His aim is to provide a management framework within which publishers can comprehend and consider the range of technological changes and options. Indeed, the book underscores fundamental questions about growth, direction, strategy, and basic definitions of publishing.

The book's organization is easy to follow (with a plethora of signposts--preview and review) and its language is clear. The book merits status as recommended reading for a basic college course in publishing, or as required reading if a strategic, managerial perspective is desired. (The author, director of Electronic Development and Licensing for Houghton Mifflin's Trade and Reference Division, has management experience in the marketing and planning of books, cable TV, and software.)

Parts of the book (particularly Part 1, the three opening chapters that discuss the socio-economic-technological paradigm shift of the Information Age and publishing's 7M's--material, mode, media, means, markets, management, money) are suitable for a course in communication technology.

Parts 2 through 5 examine in depth the 7M's, and several of the book's excellent schema ("media matrix" and "media universe") serve as a management framework that aligns communication products and services along several dimensions: mode (textual, visual, aural), means (list, periodical, open channel), and market (educational, business and professional, and consumer).

The book's final part restates the book's major themes, which include the advice that Information Age publishers must abandon a product-driven approach linked to a vested interest in a medium format and distribution apparatus; instead they must adopt a "supra-format perspective" aimed at serving customer needs in any and all appropriate formats. …