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).