Thursday, August 24, 2006

Dr. Joe Webb - continued

Dr. Joe Webb, (he's a real Dr., as in PhD.) is one of my favorite evidence-based observers of the printing world. He tends to say what he sees in the evidence, even if it ruffles some feathers. If you spend any time thinking about the US Post Service, it's worth the click to Dr. Joe Hits a Postal Nerve: Playing Football with Baseball Bats? at

In addition to some entertaining back and forth about the USPS, there are seeds for thought in there for every printer.
Until the Postal Service, and members of the printing industry, firmly grasp that their competitors are digital media and not UPS, FedEx, or DHL, they will be attempting to play a sport with the wrong implements. You can't play football with baseball bats, but that's what they seem to be trying.
The thing is that in the 21st century business world competitors can quickly become allies. If you believe 1. that print is that best media for long form non fiction reading and 2. that the internet is collecting millions of things that should be read, then 3. new products should emerge from the mash up of digital media and print.

This may be less relevant for the 20th century way of selling stuff. In the 21st century, stuff is not so much sold. Stuff is bought. Consumers can easily research and find what they want. Good news for consumers. Good/bad news for producers like printers who make printed stuff.

The new rules seem to be 1. make good stuff that does something better, faster and cheaper, 2. make people feel good about buying your stuff because it's a pleasure to buy and does what it promises to do.
most of the sales/marketing budgets should be diverted into developing great stuff? Consider Starbucks or Google.

Consider further that Gutenberg's most successful product was printed bibles (long form reading non fiction - certainly from the POV of the likely to purchase market segment.) His bibles were much better, faster and cheaper than the hand copied bibles produced in the scriptoriums. The success of printed bibles was NOT because they were new. Instead, Mr. G et al figured out a better, faster, cheaper way to make a product that already had a vigorous, albeit niche, market.