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Publishing Means Business

CHAPTER THREE

Proactivity and the Entrepreneurial Self-Concept of Book Publishers

SUSANNE BARTSCHER-FINZER

Introduction

This paper examines the relationship between the entrepreneurial self-concept and the proactivity of owners and managers in running their publishing businesses, and is based on the results of empirical studies in Australia and Germany. In parallel surveys, we asked the owners and top managers of book publishing houses about their motivations and attitudes towards their work and towards their publishing outcomes—the results of their work. Why did we choose this particular industry for our research? Book publishing is an interesting industry to examine since the criteria for evaluation of its products, to a large extent, is derived from (or based on) immaterial, cultural value systems. Therefore, one can assume that the producers and mediators of these products should have strong missionary and cultural ambitions. But these ambitions and the underlying motivation to become a publisher and work within this cultural industry does not naturally align with the logic a publishing house, as an economic organisation, has to follow. From this, the question arises whether and how the predominant motivations of publishers affect their entrepreneurial behaviour.

Why should a comparison of the Australian and the German situations be instructive? One reason is that the underlying economic, cultural and legislative conditions in the two countries are quite different in some interesting aspects (e.g. in respect to price-fixing, distribution of booksellers, and literary climate). The common feature in both countries is that most publishing houses are small and medium-sized firms. This is a fact that underscores the crucial role of the publishing-firm owner and the respective role of the top manager in defining and executing the policy and strategy of the publishing house. Therefore, there should be significant differences dependent upon whether their motivations are more strongly rooted in the economic or in the cultural sphere. Certainly, book publishing is a commercial industry, and publishers have to deal with all the forces and constraints of the marketplace (Carter & Galligan 2007, 3 f.). From the perspective of the standard economic theories, book publishers are just normal firm owners with a distinct interest in profit. But in reality, one finds, more often than not, that publishers have an intense sense of mission, which may dominate their economic goals. The purpose of our study is to investigate and to explain whether the motivations of the book publishers have an impact on their entrepreneurial orientation and whether there are differences between the Australian and the German book publishers in respect to these motivations.

Theoretical Considerations

This paper is not about differences. Quite the opposite; its core hypothesis is that the proactivity of book publishers is strongly determined by their economic orientation both in Germany as well as in Australia. Institutional and cultural differences between these two countries may be responsible for the degree of proactivity of the publishers and whether more or fewer publishers have an economic or cultural motivation (i.e. for the marginal distributions of these variables). But the relationship between the economic (respective of the cultural) orientation and the proactivity of the publishers should be unaffected by the institutional and cultural differences between the two countries. This is because publishing and the publishers’ work in this métier is, in most cases, a central life interest and therefore closely related to the publishers’ self-concepts, and as such determines, in a fundamental way, their thinking, their attitudes, their behaviour, and their habitus. It makes a difference whether one sees oneself primarily as an agent for cultural development, or whether one sees oneself primarily as an entrepreneur whose interests are somewhat independent of the intrinsic nature of the products and the industry in which one works.

Actually, book publishing has a hybrid nature between culture and commerce. Entrepreneurship, therefore, has a special flavour within this mixed field. A publishing house’s success is highly ambiguous and precarious due to several underlying factors indicating that publishing is not a high-profit industry. There is a low predictability concerning the success of its products; there is strong competition with substitutional products (other media, manifold forms of entertainment); and the nature of the products position books as a kind of luxury. This indicates that the publisher is a person of special interest and could provide valuable insight into the machinations of this hybrid industry. Our study focuses on one special aspect of this person: the publisher’s commitment—on the one hand their cultural mission and on the other hand their economic motivations and the influence this has on their stance and subsequent activities in making and marketing books.

Much of the literature on entrepreneurship dwells on the question of which dispositions a firm owner and manager should have to lead a company on a successful trajectory. This question has two parts. One part has to do with the inner motives of an entrepreneur and their ultimate aspirations and self-image in relation to being an entrepreneur; the other part focuses on their behaviour in exerting their role in leading the company, their behaviour and their aspiration to achieve results. Both parts are important elements of a publisher’s drive, and they are closely interconnected. In our analysis, we look at two selected variables that represent central aspects of the motivation and the behavioural parts.

Regarding the motives, we are interested in whether the publishers have a strong cultural mission—that is, whether they are driven to contribute to the cultural development of society and of their readers, or whether they are, in a more conventional way, primarily interested in their own economic welfare. A widespread view assumes that the behaviour of entrepreneurs is merely determined by economic aims such as profit, growth and gaining strategic advantages. However, research has shown that entrepreneurs are driven by many other motives as well (Amit et al. 2001; Cassar 2007; Carsrud & Brännback 2011; Estay, Durrieu, & Manzoom 2013).

Amit et al. (2001) for example discuss eleven motives that may guide the decision-making of entrepreneurs. Wealth is only one of these, along with the desire for stability, independence, challenge, lifestyle, innovation, reputation etc. Interestingly, though, the list does not mention cultural motives. From the motives that Amit et al. cite, the need to ‘contribute’ comes closest to the wish to foster the cultural climate of the society. However, this derivation is not quite the same because contributing is directed towards helping others, making a difference to one’s organisation, community and industry, and creating opportunities. In contrast, the cultural motive means manufacturing intellectually and aesthetically sophisticated products, and promoting knowledge, education and enlightenment. To be sure, not all publishers will follow this ethos. Alongside high quality books one also finds books with trivial content, simple entertainment or offering functional advice. Nevertheless many, perhaps most, publishers would not be publishers without some idealistic stance. This is all the more true since most book publishers will not be able to accumulate great wealth. Being a publisher is more a profession than a job. It is not simply an instrumental activity to earn a living; it is a passion and, as such, closely linked with the person and their self-image and self-concept.

Does that mean that publishers with a dominant cultural orientation develop a different behavioural style in regard to leading their publishing enterprises than publishers with a more dominant economic orientation? We expect that a more cultural-oriented publisher is not engaged in the entrepreneurial side of his publishing business with the same drive as a more economic-oriented publisher. The typical entrepreneur is characterised in relevant literature primarily as innovative, risk-taking, and proactive (see Miller 1983; Covin & Slevin 1993; Rauch et al. 2009 amongst many others). There are further characteristics associated with entrepreneurship, such as the strive for autonomy and aggressive competitive behaviour (Lumpkin & Dess 1996), but already the classical theories of entrepreneurship (Schumpeter 1912; Kirzner 1973; Casson 1982) emphasise the importance of proactivity as the most essential characteristic of entrepreneurial orientation. Therefore, we took this variable in our own study as an indicator of an entrepreneurial attitude and behavioural style in fostering one’s business and striving for growth and innovation (see also Stanworth & Curran 1976; Carland, Hoy, Boulton, & Carland 1984; Vesala, Peura, & McElwee 2007). In accordance with this literature, which associates this entrepreneurial orientation primarily with innovation and growth, we formulate the following hypothesis.

Hypothesis

Book publishers who accentuate economic interests are more likely to have a proactive entrepreneurial orientation than book publishers who accentuate cultural interests.

The hypothesis is based on the assumption that publishers whose behaviour is strongly determined by economic considerations correspond more to the classic image of an entrepreneur than publishers with a strong cultural orientation. Because of its general nature, the hypothesis should apply to all developed countries. We will examine our hypothesis on the basis of the data we collected from our surveys of publishers in Australia and Germany.

Methods

This article reports a central result of a quantitative study on the motivation of book publishers. Before using this type of research method, my colleagues and I had numerous discussions with book publishers about the entrepreneurial characteristics of their roles. In these conversations, the publishers repeatedly pointed out that there are quite different types of book publishers—for example, publishers with a high sense of idealism and cultural commitment, which could also determine their economic behaviours. These book publishers have often established themselves in a niche market and have no further economic ambitions. On the other hand, one also finds among the book publishers the classical entrepreneurial type, who only incidentally works in the publishing industry, and who acts not so much cultural-but primarily business-driven. In the quantitative study, which I undertook with Albert Martin and Anne Richards, we wanted to look at whether these presumptions could be proven on a broad, empirical basis. The underlying survey was conducted in 2013, first in Germany and then in 2014 in Australia.

Surveys are not without methodological problems. One of these problems comes from the requirement of representativeness. In our study we did not need to use special sampling procedures because we used the complete lists of all book publishers in the Publishers and Booksellers Associations in both countries, which reflected the sample populations. There may be possible biases because of the moderate response rates. Nevertheless, there is no indication of special problems in our study. For example, the demographic variables (e.g. firm size, age of the firm, publishing program) as well as the behavioural variables (e.g. motivations, attitudes, satisfaction) have sufficient variance. Furthermore, representativeness in a strict sense is imperative only for exact propositions about the distribution of variables. For the relationships analysis (which is the focus of this paper), it is of minor relevance because, with the help of multivariate analysis, it is possible to control potential distortions.

A main task in quantitative studies is to construct and select the items used to measure the theoretical-derived variables. In respect to the proactivity variable we were able to refer to the literature on entrepreneurship, which delivers a theoretical foundation of this variable as well as proven measurement items. In respect to the cultural vs economic orientation variable we decided to ask the publishers in a very direct way for their primary motivations. To answer such questions undoubtedly requires some faculties of abstraction and some intrinsic interest in the aim of the study, but it is very plausible that the publishers who decided to participate in our study were able to understand the meaning of the questions and were also willing to report about their motivations.

An inherent limitation of quantitative studies lies in their constrained ability to reconstruct the subtle and complex considerations that may determine a publisher’s decisions, an undertaking which is even not easy in elaborated case studies. Notwithstanding this limitation, surveys and quantitative studies can also deliver valuable insights into fundamental behavioural dispositions and their relationships, and give advice for further in-depth studies.

Our surveys were directed at the owners and top managers of small and medium-sized publishing houses in Germany and Australia. To get a list as complete as possible we used the address list of the German Publishers and Booksellers Association (with few exceptions practically all book publishers are members of the German Publishers and Booksellers Association). Therefore we used their address list, wrote to its members and asked them to participate in our survey. We did not use all 1,629 addresses—we omitted music publishers, publishers of calendars, forms etc. and public-relations agencies. Furthermore we included only publishing houses with less than 200 employees. Ultimately, 1,105 publishers were contacted; 51 questionnaires could not be delivered (because the company was dissolved, moved to an unknown address etc.). The basic population, therefore, consists of 1,054 cases. We received answers from 196 publishers (return rate 18.6 per cent). In Australia the procedure was similar. We used the address list of the Australian Publishers Association Members Directory and wrote to all 234 usable addresses. The return rate was 23.1 per cent (54 responses).

The aim of our study was to gain insight into the tasks and motivations of the publishers. We asked about the content of their work, their workload and time use, as well as questions on personal dispositions and behaviours such as risk preference, intuitive thinking and intrinsic motivation. Furthermore, we asked for attitudes (e.g. about agents, institutions and economic conditions in the book market), strategic orientations (product policy, book program), sociographic variables (gender, age, experience as a publisher), and general properties of the firm (size, legal form and ownership). The items were taken from proven scales (for details cf. Martin, Bartscher-Finzer & Richards 2017).

The two variables, which are the focus of this article, are based in both cases on the answers to two questions. For the exact wording of the economic orientation see the two questions in table 3.1; for proactivity see the two questions in table 3.2 in the next section. It must be observed that the variable proactivity in the context of this study is to be understood as entrepreneurial proactivity (as can be seen from the wording of our questions in table 3.2). It does not suggest that other forms of intensive engagement (for example task-orientated dedications) are of minor significance or worth. In regard to the second (the independent) variable in our hypothesis—the economic orientationwe asked the publishers, directly, whether they accentuate more the cultural or the economic side of their business. The second item asks whether non-economic goals have the same importance as profit goals (see table 3.1).

The correlations of the index items we used to measure the economic orientation were r=0.58 for Germany and r=0.62 for Australia, and the correlations of the index items we used to measure proactivity were r=0.53 for both countries, which is an acceptable result for surveys.

To check the validity of our hypothesis, that the proactivity of book publishers is strongly determined by their economic orientation, we looked firstly at whether the data shows a substantial correlation between these variables. In a second step, multivariate regression analysis was used. Because proactive entrepreneurial behaviour has multiple causes, one has to consider whether other determinants of proactivity can explain the empirical relationship between economic orientation and proactivity. Some of those determinants are described below. In our regression analysis we used these variables to control the effect of economic orientation on proactivity. If the relationship between economic orientation and proactivity is quite high in the bivariate case and essentially stays the same when the control variables are included in the regression equation, this would be a good proof for the validity of our hypothesis. In addition to its use for testing our hypothesis, the regression analysis can also show whether the relationships between our variables are the same for both countries and whether the proactivity of the book publishers are determined by the same factors.

Results

To what extent do publishers follow a cultural mission? Our results show that most publishers accentuate the cultural side of their business when contrasted with the economic motive. This applies to the Australian as well as the German publishers (table 3.1).

Regarding our second variable—proactivity—we find remarkable differences. Whereas more than 60 per cent of the Australian book publishers endeavour to be innovative by creating new markets, the corresponding number is only 25 per cent on the side of the German book publishers. In addition, whereas 50 per cent of the Australian publishers concentrate on their existing sales markets, the equivalent figure on the side of the German publishers is around 70 per cent (table 3.2).

When looking at table 3.1 and table 3.2 we can state that both German and Australian book publishers (in their majorities) ascribe themselves a strong cultural mission; regarding their economic proactivity, the Australian book publishers’ entrepreneurial orientation seems to be much stronger than their German counterparts.

As already described, our main interest refers to the question of whether a predominant cultural or economic orientation will have an effect on the entrepreneurial orientation—that is, the entrepreneurial proactivity. We found a significant correlation between both variables (r=0.27, n=234, p < 0.001). However, that relationship only holds for the German case (r=0.35, n=196, p < 0.001). For the Australian publishers, the correlation is zero (r=0.01, n=51, p =0.959). Table 3.3 illustrates this result. In the German case, the percentage of proactive publishers rises from 32 per cent to 53 per cent when changing from a predominant cultural to a predominant economic orientation. In the Australian case, the percentage of proactive publishers remains the same; in both cases it is rather high. Even the more cultural-oriented publishers in Australia are more frequently proactive than the economic-oriented publishers in Germany.

The non-existent relationship for the Australian book publishers between a strong economic orientation and pronounced entrepreneurial proactivity is astonishing because this relationship should be of a general nature and not so much country-specific or culture-specific.

Table 3.1: Extent of economic orientations of the publishers

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Table 3.2: Extent of proactivity of the publishers

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So we have to ask, how can the lack of a relationship in the Australian case, and the difference between the Australian and the German publishers, be explained? One way to develop an explanation is to look at further variables that might have close empirical relationships to both of our two variables and convey theoretically relevant connections, too (for possible logical configurations see Lazarsfeld 1955; for statistical assumptions and factors influencing the correlation see Chen & Popovich 2002).

An interesting variable that may moderate the relationship between economic orientation and proactivity is whether the publisher is the manager as well as the founder of the enterprise. In contrast to a manager who is a salary earner, someone who has started the business might be more deeply motivated to promote that business. However, as our data shows, this variable has no effect on the proactivity, neither in the Australian nor in the German case. Regarding the economic orientation, we find an illuminating result: founders are not primarily focused on making money; instead, for most of them, their prime motivation comes from the cultural appeal of this industry.

Tables 3.4 and 3.5 show some further variables, which may explain the lack of a relationship between economic orientation and proactivity, in Australia. It seems likely that the first years of starting a new business are especially demanding and therefore require a high degree of proactivity. However, as can be seen in table 3.5, such an influence is not apparent in Australia. The reason for this may be that proactivity for the Australian publishers is high in any case. In the German results, one also finds only a slight effect, but closer inspection shows that female publishers in Germany, in their first years, are more often proactive (58.3 per cent) than in later years (25 per cent). For the male publishers in Germany, there is no such effect.

Regarding gender, remarkable differences are found for the Australian case where a distinct proactivity is a characteristic especially for female publishers. In fact, the difference in proactivity between the German and the Australian publishers as shown in table 3.2 comes almost entirely from the outstanding proactivity of the female Australian publishers.

Table 3.3: The frequency of proactive dispositions in relation to fundamental orientations and country.

Cultural orientation

Economic orientation

Germany

32.1%     (n=106)

53.2%     (n=77)

Australia

66.7%      (n=27)

62.5%     (n=24)

Proactivity and economic orientation are dichotomised at the median of the index-values of the pooled Australian and German data.

Table 3.4: The frequency of dominant cultural orientation of book publishers

Australia

Germany

Male

50.0%     (n=24)

60.0%     (n=135)

Female

55.6%     (n=27)

52.9%     (n=51)

Publisher is the founder

59.4%     (n=32)

69.4%     (n=111)

Publisher is not the founder

42.1%     (n=19)

42.6%     (n=68)

Years in publishing < 11

68.4%     (n=19)

57.7%     (n=52)

Years in publishing > 10

43.8%     (n=32)

64.4%     (n=118)

Size < 5 Employees

60.6%     (n=33)

71.2%     (n=111)

Size > 4 Employees

31.3%     (n=16)

38.9%     (n=72)

Table 3.5: The frequency of economic proactivity of book publishers

Australia

Germany

Male

45.8%     (n=24)

40.7%     (n=135)

Female

78.6%     (n=28)

45.1%     (n=51)

Publisher is the founder

63.6%     (n=33)

42.9%     (n=112)

Publisher is not the founder

63.2%     (n=19)

39.7%     (n=68)

Years in publishing < 11

63.2%     (n=19)

50.0%     (n=52)

Years in publishing > 10

63.3%     (n=33)

37.8%     (n=111)

Size < 5 Employees

55.9%     (n=34)

36.0%     (n=111)

Size > 4 Employees

75.0%     (n=16)

50.0%     (n=72)

Company size has a very strong influence on both variables. A cultural orientation dominates the small publishing house, while a strong economic proactivity is, in contrast, a characteristic of the larger publishing houses. Both results seem plausible because as corporations grow they often expand their programs and cannot remain in protected, niche markets, and therefore have to adapt to a more unfriendly, competitive environment.

Interesting as these results may be to our main question, we have to ask whether they can help us understand the difference between the German and the Australian cases regarding the relationship between the predominant orientation (economic or cultural) and the proactive behaviour of the publishers. To answer that question we sought to undertake multivariate analyses, which used the variables in tables 3.4 and 3.5, as well as additional variables, which might have an influence on the proactive behaviour of book publishers. For example, of high relevance for organisational as well as entrepreneurial behaviour is the friendliness of the economic environment (Khandwalla 1976; Covin & Slevin 1989); a hostile environment requires special efforts, but can also induce cautious rather than courageous behaviour.

Another significant behavioural drive is the intrinsic motivation of the book publishers. Whoever does her job with enthusiasm may develop the desire to enhance her activities and expand her business. On the other hand, this may cause additional work strain, which may reduce an excessive engagement. Finally, it is the satisfaction with and the results of one’s behaviour that may induce more or less effort in developing and advancing their own firm (for a more detailed discussion of these relationships see Martin & Bartscher-Finzer 2014).

Table 3.6 shows the results of a regression analysis, which includes all variables listed above. As can be seen, the difference between the Australian and the German book publishers remains the same: even when controlling for these variables in the German case, in contrast to the Australian case, we find a significant relationship between economic orientation and entrepreneurial proactivity. Whether the book publisher is the founder or not seems to have a certain effect, especially in the Australian case, though it is not significant in the statistical view (which may be because of the small sample size). The size variable loses some of its importance in the multivariable view and the effect of publishing experience mirrors the bivariate result for the German case. Remarkably, the gender effect remains very strong for the Australian case, an effect that deserves closer consideration. The remaining control variables do not have significant correlations with the proactivity of the book publishers.

Table 3.6: Determinants of proactivity

image

Discussion

Our analysis shows that the difference between the entrepreneurial proactivity of publishers in Australia and Germany is not resolved by taking additional variables into account. So we have to look for alternative explanations, which may be theoretical or methodological.

Surveys have methodological limits. They are based on self-assessments and, therefore, may be biased because of social desirability. However, such a distortion is unlikely with respect to the questions we used. Whether or not someone has a cultural or economic orientation, or whether or not one strives for entrepreneurial growth, does not necessarily determine social approval. Another methodological problem may be incomplete measurement. In our study we could not use scales with a lot of items—a fact which may reduce the reliability of the measurement. However, as factor-analytic studies show, the items of our main variables load on distinctive factors, and the divergent correlations of our two main variables with other variables suggest a good discriminatory validity (cf. Martin, Bartscher-Finzer & Richards 2017). Another methodological problem may arise from insufficient representation in the sample. We focused on small and medium-sized publishing houses. This does not represent the whole book publishing industry, but it encompasses an important part of it. Although our sample is about one-fifth of the industry, the small Australian sample size, which limits the possibilities of statistical analyses, is problematic.

Halfway between a methodological and a theoretical problem, one can suspect a base effect in our data. The missing correlation between economic orientation and proactivity in the Australian case might be explained by the fact that Australian publishers are exceptionally proactive from the outset. In the German case, because the German publishers start from a relatively low level of proactivity, a strong economic drive may stimulate additional proactive behaviour; for the Australian publishers, the potential for additional proactivity is already exhausted.

Another theoretical problem might be that while we have captured a whole series of control variables, they may not be the most decisive ones. Perhaps the inclusion of differing societal values would be more suitable as a control variable. For example, Australian managers rate high in humanistic and moralistic orientation (England 1975; Westwood & Posner 1997). As well as economic motives, social values are sources of strong commitment and therefore may explain the relatively high degree of proactivity amongst Australian publishers. In addition, besides cultural specifics, country-specific economic and legal conditions have to be taken into account. Further research is needed to examine how the book publishers assess their institutional surroundings and the peculiarities of their individual firm, and how they react to these potential influences. Surveys are only partly suitable for answering such in-depth questions. Therefore, in follow-up studies we will be using a case study methodology.

Outlook

Why does an economic orientation significantly affect proactivity with German book publishers but not Australian book publishers? We are carrying out a qualitative study that aims to explain the differing orientations and motivations of the publishers in the two countries in a wider context. We want to clarify why we have different relationships in Australia and Germany between the economic orientation and the entrepreneurial proactivity of book publishers. We also want to embed this question into a more general study about the formation of the publishers’ entrepreneurial dispositions in relation to their self-concept. With the help of in-depth interviews we will ask experts from the publishing industry to share their insights about these questions and about the peculiarities in both countries. Our theoretical frame of reference includes, as a first group of variables (as in our survey), the personal motivations of book publishers, their aims, needs and aspirations. Therefore we also need to discuss the various meanings (and examples) of economic and cultural orientations, (intrinsic) motivation, and strategic orientations (aggressiveness, adaptation, proactivity, cooperation etc.) and their significance for Australian and German publishers. An important factor that affects the self-concept of publishers is their personal image about publishing; that is, the publishers’ beliefs, perceptions and theories about their industry.

In respect of these issues we will ask publishers in both countries whether we have to consider different types of book publishers. Maybe the experts can identify typical clusters or categories of publishers on the basis of self-concept, strategic orientations, and their perceptions of different groups of publishers. It would be interesting to know if differences are identified, for example, between publishers in large companies and small, independent companies, and what kind of differences will be mentioned.

A second group of variables refers to the possible determinants of the entrepreneurial dispositions and motivations of book publishers. On the one hand, we explore the socialisation of book publishers and the nature of the selection process, which characterises the career of an entrepreneurial book publisher. On the other hand, we have to look at the characteristics of the book publishing industry and ask whether the properties of the product and particular economic conditions have an impact on the dispositions of book publishers. The other question, here, is whether these factors can explain differences in the dispositions and motivations between book publishers and entrepreneurs in other industries.

Selection and socialisation processes can shape the character of publishers differently. So we have to ask: what are the typical biographical steps that characterise the careers of publishers and their experiences with the task of publishing? What are the occupational backgrounds of book publishers? What kinds of competencies do publishers in each country need to be successful? Is there a special criterion of success for book publishers? It can be assumed that the book publishing industry in Australia is less valued than in Germany because of the lack of a long industry tradition and because of the perceived limited economic and cultural relevance. These differences could also, of course, have an impact on the self-concept of a book publisher.

A third group of variables refer to the framework conditions of the book publishing industry; that is, to the different socioeconomic opportunities and constraints, and to cultural specifics which might moderate the influence of the explanatory variables just mentioned, on the motivations of the book publishers.

For example, big book publishing dominates in both markets. However, although many high-profile, medium-sized publishing houses in Germany are subsumed into multinational companies, these firms have maintained their individual identity and have great freedom in determining their firms’ policies. The Australian experience is a striking contradiction, where smaller publishing firms tend to disappear in takeovers.

Another economic opportunity of the German book publishing industry compared with the Australian book publishing industry is the highly efficient warehouse and distribution system in Germany and their close cooperation with all sectors of the book trade. In Australia, distribution has always been a major hurdle. Most small publishers rely on the multinationals to distribute and warehouse their stock. Additionally, in Germany there exists the regulation of fixed book prices, which enhances their income security. The Australian book publishers in general have to deal with more competitive pressure, which inevitably affects the book publishers’ motivations.

Finally, other cultural factors may play an important role. These include the reading habits of the public, institutions such as book fairs and the various state writers centres, author readings, reading groups, literary clubs, the role of literary prizes, libraries, and reviews in the newspapers and in broadcast media. Of special interest is whether we can identify important cultural-based values, which come into play in defining the role and the image of entrepreneurs in general and of book publishers in particular. An example might be the egalitarian attitude often quoted as a characteristic of Australian society (Fiske, Hodge, & Turner 1987; Thompson 1994). Since it is frowned upon to stand out, one needs a justification for being special. Being a hardworking and aspiring individual can deliver such a justification and may explain the high level of proactivity of the Australian book publishers. The low level of uncertainty avoidance in the Australian culture may be another reason for the higher level of proactivity of the Australian book publishers compared to their German colleagues who live in a country where the level of uncertainty avoidance is relatively high (House et al. 2004).

These (and other) queries ultimately lead to the broader question of how book publishers combine their cultural aspirations with their economic aspirations, whether the result of this dualism results in tension, and how the book publishers deal with this.

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Publishing Means Business

   by Aaron Mannion, Millicent Weber and Katherine Day