About

McCarthy Digital is a consultancy founded to provide breakthrough solutions to trade book publishers and those in the publishing value chain as they seek to define and realize their business strategies in a rapidly changing marketplace. Our area of exploration is that point at which books and technology meet. Our lens on the world is that of the marketer.

Peter McCarthy, the founder and principal consultant, is a creative executive with 15 years experience in trade publishing and is also typing this now so I’ll go with first person. I began my career working in editorial for The Reader’s Catalog, 2nd Ed., a publication widely regarded as a precursor of online retailing. Indeed, its underlying database taxonomy and annotations played a significant role in B&N.com 1.0. It was at that moment, 1997 or so, that I fell for the web.

My next projects involved developing the first web iterations of The New York Review of Books and Granta magazine. During this time, I learned the fundamentals of the web, from coding and design to some of the more technical aspects of information architecture, content management, and the like.

In 1998 I went to work for Penguin Putnam, the US operating company of the Penguin Group, firstly as a Project Manager within their nascent web team and, shortly thereafter, as the Director of that group. I wore many hats in that role and learned the finer points of the business side of publishing from my mentors there. I launched Penguin’s eCommerce program, selling books directly to consumers, the first concerted D2C effort among the major US trade publishers. Additionally, I oversaw the development of a vibrant and profitable eBook publishing program of several thousand titles. This was all prior to The Kindle, which found Penguin remarkably well-prepared for the future. Suffice it to say, marrying the web with business strategies became a passion. And it remains so today. I left Penguin in 2005 as Vice President, Executive Director, Penguin Group (USA) Online.

I brought my consumer-centric, technical view of the world to Random House that year as their Director for Consumer Operations. In tandem with a terrific team, I helped develop their eCommerce capabilities, honed their email marketing initiatives, drove online marketing best practices and measurement, and sought to innovate beyond traditional mechanisms for consumer outreach. Consumer marketing R&D — specifically of the digital variety — became my sole focus in about 2008. In that capacity, I engaged with technology companies, aligned Marketing and internal IT, defined in-house tools and platforms, developed consumer communities, performed market research and marketing analyses, consulted on and executed author- and title-specific campaigns, developed marketing automation, spear-headed internal workgroups, and stood on the front lines of many of the major eBook shake-ups of the past 4 years. I left Random House in 2011 as their Vice President, Marketing Innovation.

Along the way, I have had the opportunity to teach, learn, and advise in many ways. Here are some highlights.

  • Speaker, “Big Ideas from Big (or Small) Data.” Book Summit 2014. Toronto, June 2014
  • McCarthyDigital.com a Writer’s Digest101 Best Websites for Writers.” June 2014
  • One of Writer’s Digest’s10 Top Publishing Insiders (& Outsiders) to Follow Online.” February 2014
  • Panel Moderator, “Panning for Gold: Marketing the Backlist.” Digital Book World. January 2014
  • Panelist, “What Consumers Want: Utilizing Data for Acquisitions and Marketing.” Digital Book World. January 2014
  • Speaker, “Consumer Data in the Digital Arena.” Presented to members of The General Administration of Press and Publications from Beijing, China at The SUNY Global Center. October 2013
  • Programmer, Host, Digital Book World/Publishers Launch Marketing Expo. September 2013
  • Contributing Writer, Digital Book World Expert Publishing Blog. July – September 2013
  • Workshop Facilitator, “By the Numbers,” Book Summit 2013. Toronto, June 2013
  • Panelist, uPublishU at Book Expo America. “Taking it to the Next Level.” May 2013
  • Speaker, “The Consumer Data that Matters Now,” Publishers Launch, Book Expo America. May 2013
  • Panel Moderator, “Marketing in Verticals: No Re-Org Required,” Publishing Perspectives Reaching Readers Conference. May 2013
  • Panel Moderator, “The Evolving Author-Publisher Relationship: How Publishers are Powering — and Empowering — Authors Today,” Digital Book World. January 2013
  • Contributing Writer, “Will it Work? My Thoughts on the Penguin-Random House Merger,” The Huffington Post. November 2012
  • Speaker, “DRM vs. Discoverability,” Publishing Business Virtual Conference. Fall 2012
  • Guest Lecturer, Denver Institute of Publishing. 2001 – 2010
  • Participant and Presenter Bertelsmann University, “Digital Innovation Forum.” Germany, 2010
  • Guest Lecturer, NYU Publishing Program. 2010, 2005
  • Participant, Bertelsmann University, INSEAD, “Preparing for Opportunities.” France, 2008
  • Consultant, Virginia Quarterly Review. 2005
  • Participant, Curriculum Advisory Board, NYU School of Continuing Education. 2004
  • Speaker, American Library Association, “Making eBooks Work.” 2003
  • Participant, Pearson Forum for Executive Training. London, 2000
  • Speaker, American Library Association, “Collection Management in the Information Age.” 1998
  • Book reviewer, the Washington Post, San Francisco Chronicle, and Boston Review. 1995 – 1998

After a brief stint in the music industry, I have returned to trade publishing via McCarthy Digital and am very much enjoying  it. Thanks for taking the time to read about McCarthy Digital. If you’re interested in learning more, please take a look at the services we provide, or feel free to contact us.