the future for publishers

More on business models and the future of publishing this week – this time from Paul Watson of The Lazarus Corporation. I love the strapline on his blog: “all that you think you know is wrong”. Always a good mantra for thinking the unthinkable, that one. Anyway, here’s his eloquent take on the failure of many publishers to grasp the new marketing. Enjoy.

Free distribution of digital content (music, books, visual art) is embraced by—and benefits—customers because it gives them access to a much wider range of content. This is because the restrictions on the amount of content they could get—based on how much they can financially afford—is eliminated.
Instead of money, the bottleneck becomes the time required to find content they’re interested in – this is where Google leads the field by providing an ever-improving and expanding search facility for finding the content, whether it’s webpages, books, news, academic articles, images etc.
Free distribution of digital content is slowly being embraced by—and will benefit—creators (artists, musicians, authors etc.) because it allows their work—and reputation—to be distributed to a much wider audience.
Musicians such as The Charlatans and Nine Inch Nails are making headlines with new ways to make money while giving away MP3 files of their music for free (and unsigned bands have been doing it for years).
Authors such as Suze Orman and Dan Solove are giving away free ebook versions of their books, in the knowledge that the wider distribution this gives them helps to sell more paper copies of their books.
So where does this leave publishers? The book publishing companies and music companies seem to have been left out of this equation. You could argue that they’ve left themselves out of the equation by desperately attempting to pretend that the business model of content creation has changed while vainly suing fans for the crime of being early adopters of a new economy.
Actually, there is a role for clued-up skills-rich publishers. It’s just a slightly different role than they’re used to. The clues can be found when you examine the new business model summarised above and look for the holes. That’s what I’m going to try to do now (but not exhaustively – I’ll leave that to people much smarter than me).
Continue reading…

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Jon Reed

Jon Reed is a content writer, author, screenwriter, lecturer, blogger - and the founder of Publishing Talk. He was previously a publisher for 10 years. Publishing Talk aims to help new and emerging authors write, publish and sell books. Advice is available via the blog and our masterclasses and membership programme. More...

4 thoughts on “the future for publishers

  • 29th March 2008 at 12:30 pm
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    Thanks, Rich; it is amazing how you can get your stuff found for little expense, if you bother about things like search engines and social media.
    The new marketing is all about findability – and I think the point of much social media is to help people find your website, and from there to take action – whether that’s signing up to a newsletter or buying a book.
    Totally agree, Paul: facilitating the use of social media by authors should be a key role for publishers. Sadly, some aren’t even aware of their own authors social media, such as blogs – much less help them to use it. But authors will continue to use social media, in ever more sophisticated ways – and, at the moment, I can only see that gap widening.

  • 28th March 2008 at 8:24 pm
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    @Rich: I completely agree. Facilitating the authors’ use of social media (for those who need the help – some are already pretty social-media-savvy) could be one of the services offered by the new-style publishing industry.

  • 28th March 2008 at 8:04 pm
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    And ofcourse there is the additional layer on top of the google algorithms, the echo chamber that is social media. This layer feeds off and back into google (as well as ping servers) further enhancing the findability of a digital entity. Recursive marketing, quite a difficult model to beat.
    As a quick example a search for words invented by shakespeare returns people to my site 1st result.
    I shouldn’t be top, you would have thought a publisher or similar entity would be. But the information has to be out there in the first place for it to be found.
    And of course the echo chamber being what it is I have improved my own standing in the google rankings 😉

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