A Session with Eric Huang, Development Director at Made in Me
by Ishani Bhattacharya
On a bright sunny day, an enthusiastic and impressive figure of Eric Huang, Development Director at Made in Me, woke up me and my fellow classmates from a weekend of gloomy weather to an exciting and imaginative world of digital publishing.
What better than some back-story to get us hooked to the session? From his obsession with dinosaurs to his actual ‘first’ job at Disney as a receptionist, Eric instantly connected to many in the house who had their various perceptions and ideas of the world is thwarted by reality. The take-away was – Publishing has something for everyone!
Charting the course of some big animation companies like Pixar, publishing houses like Penguin, he delved into what else is part of the publishing industry than books. Merchandising plays a big role in expanding the reach of a brand and the ‘masters of branding’ according to him are Disney, BBC and Amazon.
It was interesting to note that it wasn’t always that books inspired toys or other merchandise, but how, as in the case of Moshi Monsters, an online web-based gaming platform for children became the inspiration of a gaming app as well as movie. It was a great example of all the wonders that can be a commingling of the publishing industry and some tech genius.
While talking about the wide reach and the big players of the industry, he mentioned that “Our fiercest competitors are our biggest partners.” With the technological advancements, he gave examples of how fresh ideas of marketing and promotion were required to survive in the industry. Imagine something like banner ads for children’s eBooks on websites being a failure while a small lucrative ad on a family restaurant table being an absolute success!
The points that he highlighted during the hour-long lunch lecture were:
- Iterate and Pivot
- UX and Discoverability
- Story and brand
“Start small and keep changing it.” He stressed upon this point. With the dynamic world of technology a very significant part of the industry now, it wasn’t a surprise. The significance of the above motto, though, expanded to all the facets of the industry if it was to continue on a glorious path. UX and Discoverability were the next two essentials.
The terms, not being specific to the publishing universe, are worked upon by the editorial and marketing departments. The user experience provided by the Gaming world was a great example with the help of which Eric urged us to think about improving RX or reading experience. From interactive eBooks for children to crossovers between the gaming world and books, an app like MeBooks was a great way to attract young readers as well as parents.
With the example of Disney, he brought home the fact that the story and the brand are more inter-related than assumed. Pick up any Disney story and you know there are some aspects of the product that are in tune with the brand. Maintaining the consistency is very important, even when diversifying into various fields.
Eric didn’t disappoint even during the Q&A session when he pointed out an interesting point - you don’t need to know how to code if you have to comment on how appealing an app is. For many us planning to enter the field of digital publishing, this was very comforting. And somehow obvious. We do critique movies if we don’t like them or notice something which could have been better.
All in all, a very exciting and engaging session!
Last edited: 24 10 2015