Neil De YoungThink like a startup, act like a mature business. It’s the trick that publishing houses around the world want to master.

In the digital age, every publisher needs to get closer to the consumer (also known as the reader). How they get there requires a revised perspective on return on investment and publishing practices that emulate software development, says Neil De Young, Executive Director of Digital Media, Hachette Digital, Inc.

Following a recent appearance at the Yale Publishing Course, De Young spoke with CCC’s Chris Kenneally on what approach makes the best user experience for e-books, including doing nothing much at all.

“We compete against everything else that a phone or tablet or a desktop can do. Not everything needs interactivity or a different experience. The experience I used in the lecture was The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt. It’s a gorgeous book that doesn’t need interactivity. It’s beautiful on its own.

“There’s lots of other content, though, that can be improved or interacted with differently, whether it be a cookbook, whether it be a devotional, whether it be a sci-fi novel – things with giant worlds and complex content,” De Young explains. “We look at content that makes sense to be reevaluated and reimagined. If it doesn’t need to be, then it doesn’t need to be.”

As the Executive Director of Hachette Digital, Inc., Neil De Young is responsible for managing digital content development and operations, including interactive ebooks, supply Chain, D2C eCommerce, and anti-piracy. He has been an Adjunct Professor at Hofstra University, teaching the Digital Publishing course in the Publishing Studies program and is a guest lecturer at the Yale and NYU Summer Publishing Program’s as well as at Pace University’s MS Publishing program.

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