Publishing 2012
World Bank/George Washington University
Mexico City, Feb 2007
Preparing for the Future:
Digital Strategies for Publishers
Michael Jon Jensen

Digital Publishing Business Models
  • Service-driven
  • Publisher-driven
  • Advertiser-driven
Business Models: Service-driven
  • Contractual, non-exclusive licenses; service as wholesaler
  • Ebrary
  • NetLibrary
  • Questia
  • Google Book Search
  • Amazon
Business Models: Publisher-driven
  • O'Reilly's SafariU, online subscriptions, NAP, etc.
  • All require substantial technical infrastructure.
  • Institutional Subscriptions (consortia, universities, businesses, even entire countries)
  • Individual Subscriptions (to site, to journal, to collection)
  • Consumer Reports, History Cooperative, e.g.
  • Individual Purchases (PDFs, e-books)
Business Models: Advertiser-driven
  • Wowio (for books)
  • Google AdSense (for journal articles, book pages, etc.)
Which model is most appropriate?
  • Depends on size, publishing purpose, audience types, etc...
Much may depend on the near-future: 2012
  • Majority population broadband
  • Always-on, all the time
  • Cellphone / E-Ink readers much cheaper
  • Print On Demand + traditional print
  • "Information" cheap, "knowledge" still costly
  • Online audience participation presumed
2012, Continued
  • Web content has grown 1000%
  • Web content is "basic library" for everyone
  • Library funding now threatened
  • "Harvesters" and "Web 3.0" -- machine intelligences processing and finding value for individuals
  • "Free" continues to win in many markets
  • Open access predominates
  • Every publisher's competition is everything else in the world
  • Many niches for quality, many niches for specialty, many niches of specialized customers
Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats (SWOT)
What Strengths can be amplified?
  • Content that is best in print?
  • Content that is appealing for a particular audience?
  • Content that is worth paying for?
  • Content you can sell to aggregators?
  • Content you can use to entice, for other purposes?
  • Content in multiple "containers"?
  • Understanding of marketplace and intermediators?
  • Understanding of audience expectations?
  • Understanding of author expectations?
SWOT: Weaknesses
What Weaknesses need adjusting?
  • Understanding of "online culture"?
  • In-house technical skills?
  • Understanding of larger Spanish digital marketplace?
  • Investment in training/education of staff?
  • Emphasis on reference/"information" publishing?
  • Contacts in outsourcing businesses?
SWOT: Opportunities
What Opportunities are arising?
  • Huge potential new audiences/markets via Google, Yahoo, etc.
  • Potential library markets for aggregated content
  • New companies/technologies are making it easier to digitize and e-publish
  • Amazon and other digital marketplaces enable additional revenue
  • Consortial arrangements (publisher cooperation) on topic-specific aggregations
  • Remote print-on-demand reduces shipping costs, local print-on-demand decreases warehousing (but still higher unit cost)
  • First-to-market collections of historical/social sciences resources for university library market
SWOT: Threats
Near-future Threats
  • Easier than ever for self-publishing (see
  • Print-on-demand options, monster aggregators
  • Low-cost book scanners scan 250 pages in an hour into searchable PDF
  • Low capital outlay for e-publications
  • New abilities for people to "volunteer" their time, to make up for amateur expertise
  • User resistance to Digital Rights Management
  • Challenges of "free content" and shared content
E-publishing Skill Sets
For 2001:
  • 50% IT understanding, 15% Web understanding, 5% external engagement, 40% content understanding, etc.
For 2007:
  • 20% IT understanding, 30% Web market understanding, 10% external engagement, 30% content understanding, 10% creative thought, etc.
For 2012:
  • 2% IT understanding, 25% Web market understanding, 25% external engagement, 23% content understanding, 25% creative thought, etc.
See Graph

E-publishing Skill Sets, continued
  • Technology issues can be outsourced, but understanding cannot
  • Broadly engaged in information space
  • Find and mine new niches
  • Find and mine micromarkets for your content
  • Find and monetize licensing opportunities
  • Being willing to take risks, the hardest thing for any publisher to do.
Key Conceptual Shifts:
  • Intermediation: Traditional publishing sells through bookstores
  • We do not know our customers individually or personally.
  • Relationships: Online interactions are with individuals, and so thinking about our customers, and customer service must change.
  • Formats: Container is not the same as content.
  • Context: World of information abundance, rather than scarcity
  • Free content is required, for customers to find us
  • The "Long Tail" and the always-on society
  • Niche markets demand agile methodologies
Final Discussions
Thank you!

Michael Jensen

Santiago Pombo