Peter Booth Wiley, Chairman of The Board of John Wiley & Sons Publishing

Peter Booth Wiley, Chairman of The Board of
John Wiley & Sons Publishing

In this podcast Lon Safko speaks with Peter Booth Wiley, Chairman of The Board of John Wiley & Sons where Peter describes how Wiley, a 201-year old company, has been in the forefront the technological revolution in publishing.  That’s right, John Wiley & Sons celebrated their 200th anniversary in 2007.   John Wiley was publishing books when Thomas Jefferson was president.  Peter explains how Wiley began experimenting with computers in the 1950s while thinking about how they would impact their authors, their customers and the way they published. He describes how Wiley took this experimentation to the next level in the 1980s with the creation of a sales training program on an interactive videodisk with assessment capabilities.In this 39 minute interview Peter explains how the secret to Wiley’s success is two fold; they create an internal culture that encourages creativity and they listen to their authors.  Among those they have listened to were J.D.R. Licklider and Robert Sproull, both of whom played important roles in the development of the DarpaNet, the mother of all internets. When a subject matter expert comes to them with a new concept, Wiley is willing to take a carefully calculated risk and publish their work.


These interviews and other content have been released in anew book “The Sparks That Ignited The World” available on Amazon (  For a CD containing all 50 audio interviews totaling more than 24 hours of historic conversations, go to

“The Sparks That Ignited The World” Series

This blog is part of the series “Sparks”, which contains transcripts and links to the audio podcasts from the more than 50 historic interviews I did with the founders, pioneers, inventors, authors, and visionaries who who set the world on fire by creating something that change the lives of everyone on the planet.  We now call innovation “Social Media”.  They were the “The Sparks That Ignited The World”.

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An Interview with Peter Booth Wiley, Chairman of The Board of John Wiley & Sons Publishing – Wiley – Knowledge for Generations

Hello, my name is Lon Safko, co-author of The Social Media Bible, published by John Wiley & Sons, the most comprehensive book ever written on the subject of Social Media. Today, believe it or not, we are here with Peter Wiley, Chairman of the Board of John Wiley & Sons, and we are going to talk about publishing and we are going to talk about Social Media and we are going to talk about The Social Media Bible.

So, Peter, gosh this is awesome to have you here today, thank you.

PW: Well, it’s my pleasure, Lon, and not only is your book about Social Media, but the creation of your book is a form of Social Media. I think that’s interesting and I think you are doing a pioneering piece of work here.

LS: Well, that’s exciting because we are trying to do that. It’s all about “user- generated content” and “trusted network” and bringing in all of these different people to contribute. I want to be the aggregator; pulling it all together.

Can you tell our listeners a little bit about your background? We know you are a direct descendant of the famous John Wiley and you are an author, as well. Is that true?

PW: That’s true; actually I started out independently as an author and publisher. I am a member of the 6th generation of Wiley’s involved in the publishing business; we are 201- years-old. There is a 7th generation; two of my sons, both of whom are aggressively working in Social Media. I’ve been the Chairman at Wiley’s since 2002. Prior to joining our Board of Directors in 1984 I was a magazine publisher and a newspaper reporter, a writer of articles for magazines, and the author of five books.

LS: Wow! So you really do have publishing and writing in your blood? PW: Couldn’t get away from it!

LS: (Laughter) that’s for sure and you said that your family, as well as the company, celebrated its 100th anniversary last year?

PW: Two hundredth.
LS: Two hundredth!
PW: So, as we like to say, “Thomas Jefferson was President when the company was founded.” LS: Oh my goodness! That’s absolutely amazing. I did not realize it was 200 years.

PW: Social Media was writing a letter which was then handed to somebody who got on a horse (or handed it to somebody who was getting on a stagecoach) in the good seasons when it was dry. It would take awhile to get from, say, Virginia to New York; and in the bad season when it was muddy it probably went by ship. Now we’ve got information and creative ideas flying through the air at the speed of the electrons.

LS: So you went basically from the quill to the iPhone.

PW: That’s it!

LS: (Laughter) that’s an amazing journey. I would like to talk a little bit about John Wiley because I’m really excited. I’ve published five books in the past and this is my first one with John Wiley & Sons. I’ve got to tell you, the experience has just been terrific. You always seem to be on the cutting edge of business and education with your Wiley Cliffsnotes and Wiley Blackwell for Science, Medical, Technical and you’ve had this amazing success with the “For Dummies” series. How do you recognize these incredible trends? How do you stay so close to the very edge of technology, business, and education?

PW: Well, I think there’s two things; one is that we listen. Going back when we talked earlier, I talked about how we began experimenting with introducing computers into the business in the 1950’s. But we tried to understand and experiment with computers and networks really aggressively 25-years-ago, and our ideas about what we should be doing as a business came from our authors. We listened very carefully to them about what they though was going to happen.

So that’s part of it, and the other is creating a culture internally to Wiley that can implement not only to gather information while listening to authors and experts, but also develop within the company (or with partners, as the case may be) the necessary social experiences (I’m not suppose to use “platforms” anymore) that are helpful to us and to our authors and to our customers.

LS: And I have to speak personally to that. That is really absolutely true about listening to your authors. As I said, several of my other books were published with other major publishers and when I brought Social Media to them two years ago I would never even get the “blue sky” meeting. They had no idea what it meant. Nobody wanted to take the time to understand what it meant, even though I was trying to explain that this was the way that business was going to go.

The moment we brought it into John Wiley & Sons, you looked at it and said, “You know what! You’ve got something here.” You listened and we’re putting together the book, and I have to thank you for that.

PW: Well, I think one of the things that’s interesting about what we do is we use Social Networks (now we use them electronically, before we used them in an interpersonal way) to understand who you are and what you are capable of doing. So in our initial conversation when you told me of your history in the world of technology, I was very impressed. And so Step 1 is, “Okay, I recognized that this guy is somebody who has been right on the cutting edge himself.” Step 2 is to use our Social Network to evaluate, really, your capabilities and your proficiency in whether you are going to be able to deliver to us a manuscript that we’ll be able to sell.

And so it’s very interesting the way in which the whole author/publisher relationship is evolving using Social Media.

LS: And what you said right there, too, kind of leads to the next question and a follow up on the first one; you really are risk-takers. You looked at what my background is and you were betting on me to deliver, as you said, a manuscript that’s sellable. Even more importantly is that as you made the evaluation that the Social Media manuscript is a manuscript that can be sold if written properly. Again, my kudos go out to John Wiley & Sons because of your ability to see the trends. More importantly, you are willing to take those risks.

PW: Yes, we built risk-taking into the organization quite a while ago and we’ve fallen on our face being way ahead of the curve at times. I think what we’ve learned is it’s best to be on the leading edge, rather than the bleeding edge; because we’ve spent time on the bleeding edge.

We created an interactive video disc in the 1980’s and put a sales-training curriculum on it. This was a brilliant piece of work. It used dramatizations, videos of (sort of almost) soap-opera type scenes. We used Maslow’s Personality Types to instruct sales people on how to interact with people. What we showed in this video was ways in which you would interact with the assistant to the person you were trying to sell to, and it had assessment tools built into it. We bought a training company, we bought an assessment company, and we built assessment capabilities into it.

We had gates you had to get through, and if you didn’t get through the gates in your training, then you were instructed about where to go back and start again. It was very sophisticated and very much like what we are selling very aggressively and very successfully in higher education right now.

It flopped, and the reason it flopped was that we were ahead of the curve. You had to buy a $25,000 Sony video machine, and we couldn’t convince companies that it was better to buy this machine and get the video disc than it was to send people to Eden Prairie, (where our headquarters were at the time) for the training business, to sit for days in seminars, and pay the price and the transportation; or to have one of our consultants come and work with them.

We just couldn’t make that sale; it was too (laughter) advanced! So I think from trying that, and from being close to people (for instance who built the DarpaNet), that those are the people we listened to, and that those were our advisors to the people on our Board of Directors.

By being close to those people, over time, we learned what was a judicious form of risky business, risk-taking, rather than an overly aggressive form of risk-taking.

LS: Kind of a more calculated risk. PW: Yes, absolutely.

LS: Well, you mentioned laser discs. In the early 80’s that was even the predecessor to the Beta and VHS/VCR’s.

PW: Right.

LS: Those were the big discs that looked like a long-playing (LP) 78.

PW: Yes, they were huge. I actually have the discs. I think the content has probably degenerated, so that I cannot use them anymore. The package itself was with the disc in the metal box, and it weighed quite a bit, and the machine was very large.

It was interesting because at that time we had J.C.R. Licklider, who wrote an essay on what he called the ‘Intergalactic Network” in 1961 when he was working in the Defense Department, developing DarpaNet.

We had him working with us; we had Robert Sproull, who was one of our authors who sat on our Board of Directors. He was an electrical engineer. He also was involved with the DarpaNet. And we had a guy named Pete Jensen from Georgia Tech, and Pete said, “Oh, what we need is we need a travelers’ desk.” “What’s that?” “Well, that would be a place where we would aggregate all the information that our sales people were collecting on the road, and put it in a database that the salespeople could interact with and use to build, cumulatively, knowledge about what we are doing.”

LS: Wow.

PW: We kind of went, “Humm, that’s interesting!” It sounded kind of “blue sky,” but we did it over time. He was recommending that we do this in the middle 80’s, and it took us another decade to really get this off the ground. It’s only really been perfected in the next decade.

LS: Wow, can you imagine! I mean, listen to all of the things that you said back then, where you say, “That sounds like a good idea.” And now, today, we just take all that for granted.

PW: Yep!

LS: That’s amazing! You were 25-years ahead of the curve and isn’t it amazing, also, that people would not invest a one-time $25,000 investment in this type of technology. But yet, over the last 25 years have spent millions flying people around.

PW: And the direct successor of that particular experiment with the interactive video disc is video- conferencing. We are running a video conference, (I’m not sure, I think it’s next week sometime) where there’s 700 attendees and it’s a conference on business leadership. And in this particular economic environment where companies cannot afford, really, to put people on planes and put them up in hotels, this makes a lot of sense.

The video conferencing is interactive, in the sense that you can not only see a presentation on your laptop or your PC, but you can interact with the speakers. And then there’s a chat feature that goes on, so you can be commenting and chatting with one of the four speakers while another one of them is making a presentation.

LS: Isn’t that webinar technology just amazing. Just recently, about six months ago I founded a company called World Webinar Network, and the purpose is so we can do Social Media Webinars and we never have to leave Phoenix and our participants never have to leave their respective cities.

PW: Yes, and I’m doing it myself. There’s not an interactive feature that I have not encouraged our Board of Directors to, on a regular basis participate in and governance programs to gain greater knowledge of issues in the field of governance. I use the National Association of Corporate Directors videos, which they stream to you. They haven’t built in the interactive activity feature yet, but I’m sure that’s coming.

LS: Sure, sure. You could probably just use some type of iChat or Instant Messaging, such as Google, Yahoo, or even AOL, to overlay.

PW: Yep.
LS: We did that yesterday. We interviewed the CEO of Linden Labs who created Second Life, the virtual…. PW: I saw that; Matt sent it to me.

LS: Oh my gosh! That was just the most amazing thing; our two little cartoon-critters were sitting talking to each other for a half hour. In the meantime we had an MC sitting off to the side and he was receiving these instant messages, these text messages, which he would then voice to us as questions; we could address those and answer to the audience. And it was completely interactive and nobody left their respective cities.

PW: Yes, it is interesting because we have a bookstore in Second Life.

LS: Oh!

PW: And we’ve actually published a number of titles in that area, and it has lead me to think more about marketing and how you market. Because what we know is that in the traditional method when we talk about authors we use the term “platform”….what’s Lon’s platform? By which we mean, “Does he speak regularly at conferences, how big are they, is he going to get on Oprah, is he going to get on Good Moring America, will his books be reviewed?

And in some of the traditional print forms for marketing, and specifically book reviews, they are having a very difficult time right now because print newspapers are failing, really. Book reviews are being either downsized or completely eliminated. So now we are looking…and television, yes it works to a degree. I think it’s very affective at times. We’ve had experiences with authors going on very high-profile television programs and selling a lot of books (like Oprah).

We’ve had experiences with other authors going on high-profile television programs and not selling a lot of books. And now we are looking more at these networks, at the Social Media networks that author’s have, and trying to understand the way in which you created your own community, digitally, and how we can get to that community to explain to people what your book’s all about.

But the interesting thing is the way that you’re actually “authoring” the book is creating the platform.

LS: Yes, and that is exciting because by “partnering” basically with 30 or 40 of the largest Fortune 500 companies in the world on Social Media and by bringing them in, they’re contributing, they’re “branding”, basically, a chapter. But they are also becoming marketing partners, they are becoming trusted friends.

PW: Yeah, that’s great!

LS: And this is exciting, and that’s the exciting thing about Social Media, it is exactly what you said. In the old days when everything was done, kind of, with a handshake and a wink, we are just moving more electronically. But we could increase out network exponentially, by using electronic forms.

When I tap into one person, let’s say in LinkedIn, and ask for a favor, he may have access to 100-500 people that also have their own trusted networks. By picking this one person, building a trusted relationship, I now have access to his 500 people. And this, of course, this goes on and on and on as you start to build your networks.

I mean imagine the type of networks that are going to be supporting this book; when you talk about Google and Yahoo, and LinkedIn and all of these giants.

PW: Of course, as a commercial publisher we are interested in metrics. So we are interested in seeing the evolution of the effectiveness of marketing and the effectiveness of networks. And I think we are at an early stage with that, but I really look to the libraries and their interaction with publishers. They are able to measure usage. So say that they license 100 journals from us; they can look at which one of those journals are being used. They look at two things; impact factor which is the impact of the content on the audience that it is trying to reach. Journals are rated according to their impact factor. The other is usage. So the librarian’s are saying, ‘Okay, I’ve got these 100 journals but only 98 of them are really being used. Let’s look at these two that we might eliminate or replace with other journals, and maybe they should remain in the collection even though there is a low usage.”

So there are metrics being developed and I assume over time (right now we go to Google and we look up Lon Safko, and we can get a rough metric there) we will be able to measure more accurately the impact of your work and of your particular Social Network.

LS: And that is also one of the things that is exciting about using Social Media and the internet, just in general.

First of all, when I designed the outline for this book, my intent really was to create a reference guide so that we can do just that; get it into every public, corporate, higher-educational library. And this was not only for sales, but for dissemination of the information.

Secondly, any time anything is distributed over the internet you can track incredible amounts of information by looking at server reports, or comments on the blogs. You really have very accurate marketing information feedback, where 10-years-ago we never had that with conventional marketing.

PW: Yes. That was, sort of a hope and a prayer; you sent out your little stack of cards (laughter)…

LS: (Laughter) I’ve been there! Keep your fingers crossed!

PW: We still do send out card decks. A lot of people will, kind of, laugh. The card deck is an old technology.

LS: Well, I think we are still in that transition-phase where some people are still comfortable with the older technologies.

PW: But let’s go back to what we were talking about earlier and the way you are creating this book, because this tells you a lot about where publishing is now and what its future could be like.

When I wrote my last book (my last book was published in 2000); in that instance an editor asked me to write the book; I wrote the book. I sent the manuscript into the publisher. The publisher reviewed it and edited it and sent it to production. Production designed it and laid it out. It went to the printer and then to the customer and then to marketing and sales. And then it ended up in the customers’ lap. It’s a very traditional model of print-on-paper. Right now we are seeing this continuous process, and we have a favorite graphic that we use at a lot of meetings. It’s out on So we are one of the leading travel-publishers and we’ve created this circle call the Travel Cycle. And we have looked at what do we do in the Travel Cycle. So the first part of the cycle is to, sort of, dream about what you are going to do.

And you would look at travel newspapers, magazines, online forums, blogs; so right now we are doing travel newsletters, online forums, and blogs about travel.

And then you plan; and we are doing guidebooks and travel websites with text, photos, video, podcasts, recommendations, interactive maps, and custom PDF guides.

And then you go, and when you are going we continue to interact with you with audio walking tours, and now we are going to be launching (or just launched) maps that will go on your iPods with airport guides.

And then after you come back, we share with customers and with the traveler online trip journals and online photo albums, and reviews and ratings. So there is a continuous process of interaction here, rather than the linear process I described earlier. And when you add to that what you are doing, which is working with the community (your community) to develop content, and review and refine the content, you have a completely different publishing model.

LS: It really is different and that’s, again, one of the things I appreciated about John Wiley & Sons; because the other publishers have not quite figured this thing out yet and you do really have a handle on it.

And, really, it is this reiterative feedback process; but the cool thing is is that for the first time it’s your actual customer that’s involved in the process, feeding back. And that’s where the trusted network comes in.

PW: Yes.
LS: Big difference! Wow. And a great summary, I might add.

PW: So one of my favorite books which we published was Norbert Weiner’s Cybernetics. (Laughter) and the feedback loop. Every once in a while I pull it out and I read it and I go, “Yeah, 1948!”

LS: Was it 1948?

PW: 1948! And we published it with MIT Press. We were partners at the time and that was a seminal work and that was an instance in which a very profoundly intelligent, forward-looking person wrote for us and we went, “Aha, what’s this mean for us?” Not only internally for the business in terms of communication and processes, but our relationship with authors and customers. And, of course, that was 1948. It’s taken us a lot of years, actually to follow through on those ideas…

LS: It’s 60 years. But the cool thing about you, too, is that you practice what you print. PW: Yes.

LS: That’s a big difference. Just quickly, everybody’s familiar with the “Dummies” guides. What’s the secret formula? What’s the secret sauce? What is every single one of those…..because I have interviewed Evo Terra for Podcasting for Dummies, and Stephanie Bryant, Videoblogging for Dummies, and John Arnold who did Email Marketing for Dummies….I mean it just keeps coming up. This is an incredibly successful series. To what do you attribute that?

PW: Well, it’s the pedagogy that’s imbedded in the book. There is a template that we use and it’s tried and true. It’s funny, actually one of my family members (I won’t mention who) said, when we bought “Dummies,” “Well, you call me a dummy and I’m not going to read your book.” Of course, it’s facetious and it doesn’t travel in some cultures, like the irony of the “Dummies” name doesn’t work well in Italy, for some reason. But it’s the ability to take information and break it up into the right-sized byte for people to digest and then the ability to create a format that allows people to review the material. And then working with our authors, to say to them, “Look, this is the pedagogy, this is what works, and we’ll help you. If you can do this yourself, fine. Go ahead and write the book. If you cannot we will partner you with one of our freelancers and help you work to the pedagogy.”

It’s a very effective learning mechanism. But I think the interesting thing to me about “Dummies’” is that we’ve taken it to the next level; and the next level is what we call “WileyPLUS” which is our educational experience (I’m not using the word “platform” if you notice) where you take the eBook and you put it in the center of an experience which, for the students allows them to read the text but interact with the text and test themselves against the text; and then assess where they are doing well and where they are having difficulties.

And on the faculty-side, there are ways in which the faculty member can communicate with the student, but also there are tools built in there that allows him to set the difficulty of the tests, the amount of time that the students can answer the question before it’s counted “wrong.” I think what is really important from a faculty members’ perspective is two things: 1. The ability to assess the individual students performance by looking at (very directly looking at) a student working on an accounting problem and saying, “Oh, he made it to through the first six steps, but he fell down on the seventh.” Remediation for this student is going to be working on this particular problem.

But the faculty members can also access across the class and figure out where the class is having problems. So I think that’s a very powerful social experience.

The next level, which we’ve already begun working on, is the ability to customize content. So the faculty member says, “Hum, okay, we’ve got this textbook that’s got 11 chapters and we really only use four of them, so we’ll use these four chapters and my lecture notes and maybe an article here and some graphics there.” He can use some PowerPoint’s that we provide or he provides, and have the ability to create a customized textbook for the students he’s working with.

So if you are a community college and you have remediation issues, you can gear the textbook to that level. If you’re at MIT and it’s a freshman class, all you’re going to want to use is more sophisticated material.

LS: And that’s really exciting. I love the custom content. I teach at four different universities, from time to time, and any one textbook may only have 20 or maybe 30%, at best, of stuff that I want to teach for that particular curriculum. You really cannot pass the cost of four different textbooks onto the student, and especially at the hardcopy costs nowadays. But if you can actually create a customized textbook by pulling different chapters…and the cool thing, too, is you also keep tract of the royalties so that each of the different authors get their portion of the royalty.

PW: Yes! We are taking this to a higher level within the next year, with greater capabilities of greater customization-capability.

LS: I wasn’t aware that you had that level of sophistication of “bottom-line” learning, too.

PW: Yep, that’s been highly successful and there are a couple of things going here, and that is that it’s a more effective way to teach. And equally important, in particularly right now, is it dramatically reduces the price of the textbook. And this is because students do not like buying $125 textbook and then having the faculty member assign half of it.

LS: Sure!

PW: And for us, making sure that the faculty member uses what the faculty member needs, and the student only paying for what they are actually using is very important. It has dramatically reduced the price of the textbook.

LS: And by the way, I appreciate that. My daughter is in college right now, so thank you. PW: (Laughter).
LS: Personally, thank you!

PW: Well, I don’t know if you heard, but I’ll tell you one story. I was at Brown Brothers Harriman on Wall Street and when I signed in, the security guard looked at the sign-in book, and it was my brother and myself and my son, Jesse; and he said,

“Oh, Wiley…textbook publishers! Boy, those books are expensive.” This was the security guard, and I said, “Oh, what are you studying?” And he said, “Intermediate Accounting.”
And I said, “Well, is your professor using WileyPLUS?”

And he said, “What’s that?”

And I explained what I just explained to you, that it was an interactive eBook that you could get at a much- reduced price.

And he said, “Well, can I use it?”

“Your professor has to assign it.” So I gave him my card and asked him to have his professor call me. He was studying at Brooklyn College. I haven’t heard from the professor.

LS: So you are out there selling, too, then.

PW: Oh yeah!

LS: You’re not just Chairman of the Board! And that is something, too, that I heard earlier and that I wanted to comment on; the fact that you are out there and you are participating in webinars and you are listening to your customers. And again, truly, that’s what Social Media is about; but really I think that’s what’s going to set in this new millennium, really what’s going to set one company competitively ahead of anybody else, and that is because you are out there listening!

PW: Yes, we’ve run…I haven’t done this recently; I did it for a while. A lot of our customer support is based in Indianapolis and I’m based in San Francisco and I would go over to our San Francisco office from time to time and listen to the phone calls where people were calling in and talking with out customer-service people. They would call up and say, “Well, I’m looking for a book on variable compensation.” So then our person would talk to them about variable compensation and they would recommend a number of books or journals, and then would engage the customer in a conversation about, “What are your interests here?” Because it is an up- sale opportunity.

LS: Sure.
PW: So now we move this into a chat format. LS: A trusted format.

PW: So now we’ve got people who want to earn some extra cash who will do this in the evenings, where they are chatting with maybe three or four customers simultaneously about….there could be a problem like, “Where is my book?” And working with UPS we can track it. Well, actually it’s in the hands of the guy who is just approaching your door at 3:11 p.m. Or we can be chatting with them about, “What’s the problem you are trying to solve here? What is the accounting problem that you are trying to solve?” And then we can, (because we have a very wide range of content, in accounting in particular, we are one of the leaders in that area), engage them in a conversation and customize the material that we get to them.

LS: And that’s amazing and actually, getting back to The Social Media Bible, that’s one of the things that I wanted to do before we actually hard-lined with the manuscript, or what the table of contents was going to be. We actually put it out in front of 1,000 people in all demographics, higher education, professionals, and what we found was something that was really quite unique. And this is that I thought The Social Media Bible was going to really be another standard 250-page business book. And I was prepared for that and the original table of contents reflected it.

When we got the feedback from the 1,000 people, what we heard was that they wanted three business books in one, which I’ve never heard of. They wanted tools. “What are the tools? What are all the Social Media tools that are out there? How do they work? What are they?”

In the middle part of the book they wanted a reference guide. “Who are all of the providers of those tools? What are their feature benefits?

And the last part, of course, is the strategy. “How do I actually apply the first two parts of the book and use these in my company and create a marketing and communications plan?”

I never would have thought of two business books sandwiching a guide, a reference book. PW: Yes.

LS: But that’s what they asked for, so it was like, “Wait a minute. If we simply give the people what they want we probably stand a good chance of success.”

PW: Yes, and then it becomes a continuous process. So right now, in the world of print-on-paper we’ll put out an accounting book; its 11th edition one year and then three years later we’ll go back to the authors and say, “Okay, the accounting world has changed. What do we need to do, to change in the book?” And we will revise it, but with interactivity you’re constantly interacting with the customer who is using the tools to find out what works. And you can constantly revise it. It becomes a stream of knowledge and a stream of information, rather than a very finite object that comes off the conveyor belt every three to six years.

LS: Yes, it’s more of a living document.

PW: Yes.

LS: Yeah, I love this. I swear, I would just love to continue to talk but I know that you have a really busy schedule. Is there anything else that you would like to say about John Wiley & Sons Publishing, about Social Media, anyway you would like to summarize or recap what we’ve talked about?

PW: Well, what I’d like to say is that we are very interested in what you are doing because we think it’s a pioneering piece of work. Our experimentation over the years has brought us to the point where we are very interested, not only if the books sell well, but that what you are doing becomes a template for what we could do with other books in the future.

LS: And I am excited about doing that, and Matt and I had some conversations about once we start getting through this process and get my chapters written, that I would like to come back with him and sit down and see if we cannot take everything we learned (and I am learning, too, by the way. I am not an expert on all of these subjects) and by doing the research and working with the experts I would like to be able to bring this back into Wiley.

But it sounds like you have an incredible handle on it. I am very, very impressed. That’s cool.

PW: And maybe you talked about three books in one, but over time I think I’m sure you’ll find that the customer will say, “Well, yeah that’s nice but I want “X,” pages 17 to 27 in chapter 2.” And the opportunities to get the person exactly what they want in a very timely manner is important. We use the expression, “All Wiley, all the time.”

PW: By which we mean our vision of the company is to create an environment where our customers can get anything that they want out of Wiley in a very timely fashion. If it’s an article, if it’s a book, if it’s a PDF; that they can identify what they want, we can help them identify what they want and get it to them quickly in the format they’d like it in.

If they want print, if they want it digitally, how do they want it?

LS: And that gets me to another thought, not to keep you much longer, but with the new print-on-demand technology, do you see maybe some day where instead of doing it just for professors in classes that you can actually do custom content for individual purchasers?

PW: Excuse me, print-on-demand?
LS: You said you were doing it for schools and professors and students. Maybe the individual book buyer may

someday be able to do that?

PW: Well, that’s happening. We are doing a lot of that. Our print-on-demand business is going up exponentially and I know, without being specific at this point, that there are print-on-demand technologies that are absolutely mind-blowing. This is in terms of the speed at which (and we’ll see this unfold over the next two years) high quality print-product, fully bound in full color, will be able to get to the customer.

We are at the beginning of a very rapid period of change in POD and it’s very important to us because we publish some very esoteric books that people still want print-on-paper. We can do one, we can do five, and we can do 10.

My own last book was with Wiley and is now in print-on-demand.

LS: Well, some exciting times here.

PW: Yep.

LS: And you guys are riding the wave. I love it! If somebody wants to buy some Wiley books, where’s the best place for them to go, how do they find out more about you and your company, too?

PW: Well, it’s and a couple of things there is, you know, all of our content is there and people can find out what we’ve got. But the other is somewhere on that site there is an ability to sample our technology. So if you go to the first page, you’ll see a button that you can hit to look at WileyPLUS and what that means, or look at the way Wiley Interscience works, which is our digital platform for scientific, technical, medical, and scholarly publishing.

LS: Wow, and it’s all available on your website and! PW: Yes sir!

LS: I would really like to thank Peter Wiley, Chairman of the Board of John Wiley & Sons Publishing, for being with us here today to talk about publishing and Social Media and The Social Media Bible.

Peter, thank you so much!
PW: Thanks, Lon, and it’s great to be working with you, and onward! LS: (Laughter) Yes sir! Absolutely!

This has been Lon Safko, the co-author of The Social Media Bible. Be sure to check out our other valuable Social Media tactics, tools, and strategies that can be found in The Social Media Bible book and its companion website,

For more information about me, Lon Safko, please by all means go over to my website at And again, Peter, truly and honestly thank you so much for all that great information today. Thank you.

PW: Thanks, Lon.

Lon Safko

Bestselling Author & International Keynote Speaker

Tags: Lon Safko, Bestselling Author, International Keynote Speaker, Innovative thinking, innovation, creative thinking, The Social Media Bible, The Fusion Marketing Bible, founders, Matt Mullenweg, Gary V

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