One could spend all day debating the changes in media and publishing that are occurring due in large part to the Internet. Indeed, Know More Media exists because of the ability to access and publish content from expert authors all over the world. Other blogs are full-time on this topic of media disruption – Micropersuasion, Chartreuse, BuzzMachine, BelowTheFold, and Seth Godin are some of our favorites.
Most of this discussion has been centered on the creation of content. However, there is also a revolution occurring on the distribution of media. We have talked about this notion on this blog (we love Pez). Digital assets slash the cost of distribution and render control of access to the consumer. So consumers of media ultimately choose the media they want. Think iTunes, on-demand movies and TIVO. Additionally, Newspaper subscriptions are falling as more consumers use RSS and other aggregators to obtain the news online and in a format they create.
I read recently in Newsweek about the Espresso Book Machine. It is simply Publishing-on-Demand.
“The current model of the machine can print the text for a 300-page book, with a color paperback cover—and bind it—in just three minutes and for only a penny per page. It will retail for less than $100,000. If publishers digitize their catalogs and booksellers get onboard (big ifs), the machine could revolutionize the current warehouse-distribution model. ‘I think that this may, indeed, someday come to fruition,’ says Jane Friedman, CEO of HarperCollins. ‘But there's a lot that still has to be worked out.’”
It is not being put together by some young entrepreneur but publishing industry veterans. According to Newsweek,
“Former Random House editorial director Jason Epstein, a legend in the industry, and former Dean & DeLuca CEO Dane Neller are backing the venture. ‘We're on the verge of something really powerful here,’ says Epstein.”
Ten years ago, I remember hearing word that Blockbuster was seeking technology to distribute music and videotapes this way. While that idea did not make it, a form of this concept did take shape as a revolution as peer-to-peer networks shared music.
Technologies like this – whether accepted or not push solutions that consumers and businesses adopt. While the ultimate test is the marketplace, several competing solutions ultimately find an answer. Stand by on books. Something will happen.