A couple weeks ago, there was a long article in New York Magazine about the end of publishing. It was interesting in the way that watching a car accident happen is interesting, only this is a car accident that you could have predicted was going to happen 20 years ago. You simply can’t keep paying a lot of money for something (in this case a book) that’s not going to make you a lot of money.
Last week, the author of that article tied it all together with another short blurb comparing Random House to General Motors, the only difference being Random House’s back list has some value.
It got me thinking a couple things:
It’s not that publishing is over, or banking, or auto manufacturers, or the music industry. This isn’t a coincidence. These are all businesses that haven’t evolved from where they were and they’re getting punished for it.
Why do e-books cost as much as an album? The article above has the price of ebooks for your Kindle at $9.99 similar to a price for an album on iTunes. Maybe iTunes has kept the price of an MP3 low, but a song or album you can listen to over and over and over again, while a book…how often do you read a book? Even your favorite book. If publishers agree to lower the cost of ebooks to $5, they’ll sell more than twice as many. Mark it, dude.
Oh, and the NY Times Magazine says journalism has to change, also, or they’ll be dead, too.
Oh, and James Surowiecki says Newspapers are toast, too.
Had the bosses realized that they were in the transportation business, rather than the railroad business, they could have moved into trucking and air transport, rather than letting other companies dominate. By extension, many argue that if newspapers had understood they were in the information business, rather than the print business, they would have adapted more quickly and more successfully to the Net.