The Role of the Expert Has Radically Changed [Smart Set]

Smart Set

Welcome to the weekly The Smart Set, where I curate new smart reads about the publishing and media industry. I also point to issues and questions raised, and welcome you to respond or ask your own questions in the comments.

“To seek: to embrace the questions, be wary of answers.”

—Terry Tempest Williams


“To seek: to embrace the questions, be wary of answers.”

—Terry Tempest Williams

TripAdvisor Hires Wendy Perrin As Its Travel Evangelist by Jason Clampet

After more than 20 years with Condé Nast Traveler magazine, Wendy Perrin is leaving for TripAdvisor, the world’s largest travel site, which is driven primarily by user-generated reviews. At TripAdvisor, Perrin will generate new content and act as a curator of user content. (For those not in the know, Perrin is well-known and respected in the travel community.)

Perrin says:

The role of an expert has changed radically in the past two decades. Expertise used to be a one-way broadcast. Now it’s a group conversation. I think today the job of a travel expert is to engage travelers, harness their wisdom, and distill it. The TripAdvisor community is contributing millions of up-to-the-minute individual experiences. I hope to help filter those through the breadth of my global experience and produce a set of information that is empowering to all.

Questions raised:

  • Something that also happened last week: Ladies Home Journal shuttered. How do traditional magazine brands remain relevant and compete effectively in the digital space?
  • What magazine brands are positioned well for the digital age? (This is a question I asked expert Bo Sacks for an interview at Scratch.) From my perspective, the ones who are doing it well offer far more than a periodical. They’ve developed a community around a single purpose, vision or mission—and that community is served in many ways, not only through a magazine.
  • I think TripAdvisor will be around for much longer than Condé Naste Traveler. What do you think?

What Every Literary Writer Needs to Know About the Digital Disruption: a series of posts and interviews by Porter Anderson

Tomorrow, at the Publishing Perspectives website at 1:30 p.m. ET, you can watch a live stream of a panel discussing literary work in the digital age. We will discuss why we don’t hear more about literary authors charging ahead with digital self-publishing, what literary authors can learn from genre writers in this area, and whether literary fiction can cultivate its audience in social media as readily as other genres.

Yes, I’m one of the panelists. In the lead up to this panel, journalist Porter Anderson has been featuring previews and questions from people like myself. So far:

Eve comments:

I don’t see online communities growing up around literary authors and books in quite the same way I see it happening for genre fiction and fan fiction.

Questions raised:

  • What or where is the larger discovery platform for literary authors—particularly as physical bookstore discovery is replaced by online discovery?
  • Where are the online communities for literary authors and readers?
  • How do you want to define literary—perhaps the biggest can of worms of all?
  • Should we be angsty/worried about these questions in the first place? Will these issues resolve themselves in their own good time?

The Disruption of the Disruption Is Temporary by Mike Shatzkin

There’s a wide belief or understanding that digital growth for the big publishers has plateaued and we’re all getting back to “business as usual.” But are we? Shatzkin writes:

… even if the contractual 25 percent royalty is slow to change, the big authors will almost certainly be demanding (and getting) advances based on the total margin expectation, not the 25 percent. And the price of ebooks is going to continue to be driven down, also not a good thing for the publishing establishment.

Shatzkin lists 6 other reasons for publishers not to get too comfy.

Questions raised:

  • Where are we at in the “disruption” of traditional publishing? What other pain points are yet to come?
  • How much further will ebook prices be driven down?
  • How much profit will publishers have to cede to authors, and to retailers?

What questions do you have? Share in the comments.

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