BIT Studio

November 4, 2009

Publishing Industry

Filed under: Composts — webmaster @ 12:12 pm

  The traditional role of the publisher as gate-keeper between author and distributor is being challenged. The book industry is presently undergoing major change and many comparisons have been drawn between the music industry of 1999 and the publishing industry of today.

Record labels and music distribution companies underwent massive consolidation and downsizing as MP3 and file sharing technology emerged. Publishing companies are restructuring and as a result, almost all in-house editorial services have been outsourced. Likewise, title acquisitions are becoming more dependent upon agents, referrals and the mining of successful self-published books and expired-copyright material. Print-on-Demand (POD) technology has taken much of the mystery out of the publishing process and today’s author has direct access to online distribution. Amazon (Kindle) and Sony are trying to establish a dedicated hardware solution for electronic books, but ebooks will likely migrate to a PDA or Smartphone platform. It is also likely that the cost of the digital book (currently $9.99 on the Kindle) will drop. An industry standard digital format (such as the Palm PDB) readable on an industry standard software program (such as the eReader, which is a free download for products from Apple, Blackberry, Motorola, Nokia, Palm, etc.) is the most logical evolution and future for the ebook. Interestingly, eReader.com has recently removed all commercial restrictions from unencrypted eReader formatted products, a strategy similar to that implemented by MP3.com ten years ago.

Multinational publishers should embrace this inevitable outcome early, but they won’t. Grandfathered and legacied contracts bound within an archaic and self-fulfilling legal architecture are worth a lot of money. Industry evolution at the upper levels will be slow and painful, just like it was in the music industry ten years ago.

 

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