After eight years as vice president of corporate and business development at Oxford University Press, Evan Schnittman left in August to become Managing Director of Group Sales and Marketing, Print and Digital at Bloomsbury. In this newly created – and major – role, Schnittman will lead Bloomsbury's sales and marketing in the UK, US and Germany, across all divisions of the group. The FFD caught up with Schnittman, a popular voice on all things digital and a fixture at publishing industry events, to talk about his first Frankfurt Book Fair in his new role.
FFD: Can you tell us how the opportunity at Bloomsbury came about?
ES: Bloomsbury recognised that the publishing world has quickly become digital, that global English-language publishing is the only logical approach to a coherent print and digital strategy, and that academic and speciality publishing, which have always been global, would represent a large and growing facet of the company's strategic direction. I guess the coming together of all of that reads a little like my resume, and Richard Charkin called me.
FFD: You've been in the job for two months now. Can you tell us what you've been doing?
ES: Well, it's all very MI6/CIA top-secret stuff and if I tell you, I might have to kill you. Seriously, I have been spending all my time learning about this fascinating business, everything from wonderful children's books, to high-level academic and reference works such as QFinance, to amazing fiction like Howard Jacobson's The Finkler Question, which I just finished. My job is to jump-start our digital efforts, and work closely with senior management to optimise and dramatically expand our global business.
FFD: You're a leading voice on digital publishing issues. How has the digital market changed from last year's Fair?
ES: I think last year was the final time you'll have heard folks refer to publishing's "digital future". We are in the centre of that universe now. There are mature and sophisticated channels of commerce available, as well as an ever-increasing pool of innovation and change. The business models are there and the percentage of sales are staggering, particularly when you consider frontlist. And Google Editions hadn't even launched!
FFD: You had a nice, successful run at Oxford University Press, during a period of great innovation there. Any lessons you learned there that you'll bring to Bloomsbury?
ES: Lead, don't follow in digital – especially when it comes to the library community. Like OUP did for monographs via Oxford Scholarship Online, Bloomsbury can do with its Public Library Online service (PLOs). I see fantastic potential there for a multitude of publishers to get their products to public library patrons in a model that works for libraries and publishers.
FFD: Between you and Richard Charkin, Bloomsbury has two of the best, and busiest, panel speakers in the business. Your meetings must be fun, no?
ES: What, Richard and I? I believe "wall-flowers" best describes the two of us. Then again, we are thinking of taking our act on the road. Yes, we do have a great deal of fun, but Richard and I think alike on a whole host of issues. This makes for both fun and extremely productive meetings.