Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Publishing and the New Media Shift - Paid Content vs. Free Content

This topic is one that hits close to home. I have worked in publishing for over 15 year with a major regional newspaper. This newspaper has been around for over 150 years reporting and running advertising. About 8 years ago there were rumblings that the website for this newspaper should be paid access, and so we through ourselves into the paid content area. This failed miserably and we actually had many complaints about access that should come free.

The power of the Internet is that it is a close representation of what the real world is. It has the good and the bad aspects, but there is another battle that continues to rage on. This battle is between free access to information and paid access. Most think that major media outlets should make news and other features free to all because the ads will pay for the access. On the flip side, the newspapers believe in paid access, after all most newspapers are use to having paid subscribers base for the printed product.

Several years after making the paid access fiasco the paper decided to allow access for all. It has taken several years of continuing this full access for the numbers to recover.

I believe newspapers cannot compete as they are in a fast paced digitally charged, everyone is a news reporter world. They have to change and if they don't they will be out of business. The current business model that newspapers have been operating on cannot carry them into the next decade of the 21st Century. Change is the only constant and newspapers have to adapt and overcome.

One area of publishing that may indeed be revitalized is the book publishing area. With the advent of electronic book readers, notebook computers and the ipad, this is seeing a increase in sales of paid access to e-books. We can learn quite a lot from the current business model of the Apple itunes franchise. You have paid access to great music, music videos and television shows to name a few. People get use to things that work, and itunes seems to really work well for most.

The sales of e-books has steadily increased since the year 2000. An article on www.emarketer.com talks about how sales for 2009 were totalled at over $169.5 million. The e-book sales grew 176% from 2008 sales numbers. That is truly fantastic growth. I would expect that in the next several years, after the ipad gets into the hands of many, the increase will be even more significant.

One very important lesson that we cannot forget when dealing with old print technology and the new media, is that the generations that grew up with digital products will not go backwards to the old technology. They will only embrace products that are digitally and techno based.

Will Paid Content Put Publishing Back in the Black? - eMarketer

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