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Co-operation makes it happen

The current issue of Fast Company magazine reports the story of Berrett-Koehler, a press with an innovative approach to publishing. Based in San Francisco, the 13-year-old publishing house operates on the principle of collaboration. In addition to full-time in-house editors, BK’s managing editor, Jeevan Sivasubramaniam, employs a small team of freelance readers guaranteed to hold differing views of a book, each of whom writes a report. Also, the author’s input on design and marketing is encouraged via an interactive blog. “For each new book, editors and designers will come up with several titles and cover options, posting them online. Authors love the result — a buffet of distinct type fonts, rejiggered subtitles, and contrasting color schemes that evolve as new comments are posted. To help inform authors’ marketing decisions, everyone at BK — from the senior editors to sales managers to, literally, Kathy in accounting — is invited to share his or her suggestions on the blog and elsewhere.”

BK has also hosted author retreats and conferences “where … writers come together to share ideas, suggest speaking opportunities, and offer advice and contacts for book tours,” as well as “a marketing workshop, where some 60 authors and key outsiders, such as booksellers, shared experiences.” The company is also known to cede to the requests of its authors, granting one permission to publish his book for free online and another his choice of three copy editors.

Although BK’s co-operative strategy lengthens the process of publishing books, the apparent results of BK’s approach may serve as evidence for the benefits of collaboration. Attracting to its roster such writers as David Korten and the author of the bestselling One Minute Manager series, BK saw a growth in revenue of 25% last year, to $7-million US, and is projected to grow another 50% in 2005, according to Fast Company‘s Lucas Conley. Conley adds that the average BK author sells some 15,000 copies, 27% more than the American industry average.

Thanks to BookNinja.com for the link.

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Click here for the full story from Fast Company