Rick Richter – Publishing's Paradigm Shift

The CEO of Ruckus Mobile Media explains how he recognized the digital shift in the publishing industry and decided earlier than others to jump in feet first.
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TRANSCRIPT

How do you prepare for a paradigm shift in your industry?

Use historical perspective to spot change.

Rick Richter, Founder, Ruckus Mobile Media: I was very open to the digital transition partly because my dad was a letterpress printer.  I saw linotypes and monotypes and then I saw digital arrival of composing.  It didn’t seem like it was such a huge leap to me to think that we would be originating content in digital form very soon.  But I can’t say that there were a lot of people with me, partly because there are a lot of romantics in the book business and there's a surprising amount of—a number of people--who really feel like the book is the only vessel.

Identify areas in which industry leaders currently fall short.

Rick Richter:  My feeling when I was running the children’s division at Simon & Schuster was that there was a lot of attention being paid to the digitization of adult titles, but not a lot of attention being paid to taking the same approach on the kids’ side, and over time I think I felt like I was singing a solo, both within the halls of Simon & Schuster and, to be fair, in the industry, which is why I decided to start Ruckus Media and focus on being a pure play digital publisher.

Anticipate the disruptive power of technology.

Rick Richter: The iPad changed everything for the kids' business.  I firmly believe that the day of the 40-pound backpack, that day is over.

What we do at Ruckus is we blend gaming and we blend animation and we blend traditional reading and put lots of different kinds of things together in the creation of an interactive book.  We would argue it’s a different experience.  Is it a game?  Yes.  It is a video?  Yes.  Is it a book?  Yes.  It's sort of all of the above, and for a reluctant reader we think we have opened up a whole new world.  We think we've invented something that is a hybrid, but, for a child who is slow to come to reading, we think it is pretty powerful. 

What we’re witnessing is a fundamental change from an analog world to a digital world.  And for kids what we want to do at Ruckus Media is be that first step, the first step into a wonderful digital world that is gratifying, that's respectful of kids, that delivers great, new intellectual property.  That inspires a whole new generation to go in different directions.

Directed by Jonathan Fowler
Produced and Edited by Elizabeth Rodd