What some publishers are really saying is "People don't want to pay the price we've always charged for the stuff we've always produced." It's similar to what some printers are really saying, "People don't want to pay the price we've always charged for the stuff we've always produced." Actually, it's the same for every legacy business in the internet age. Consider Dell Computer or General Motors "People don't want to pay the price we've always charged for the stuff we've always produced."
Printers, just like Dell Computer and General Motors have three choices.
1. Get used to being a stagnating company in a shrinking market.
If you borrowed too much cheap money and cooked the books, go out of business as on Wall Street this September.
2. Find the people who want to pay the price for the stuff you've always produced.
Easiest for the short term solution.
3. Tinker with the stuff you make until you figure out how to make stuff people want while at the same time figuring out how to earn enough money to make a sustainable profit.
Most reliable for a longer term solution.
That's pretty much it. And it's pretty much what people mean when they talk about "creating value," "inventing new business models","monetizing value" and "innovation drives profits."
A good friend forwarded this link to a story at New York Magazine. It shows a business model innovation for publishing that might work. The title is Have We Reached the End of Book Publishing as We Know it? The writer is Boris Kochka. The date of publication is September 14.
Have We Reached the End of Book Publishing As We Know It? -- New York Magazine:
"Miller recently left Hyperion, which he founded seventeen years ago, to start his own imprint at the urging of HarperCollins’s then-CEO, Jane Friedman. She was replaced in June, but HarperStudio lives on. For all its ambitions, it’s a modest outfit: Miller and three women, two of them in their twenties, hope to publish two books a month starting next May, having convinced 25 authors to forgo big advances in return for half of their books’ eventual profit."Idea 1:"...forgo big advances in return for half of their books' eventual profit"
Idea 2: "Miller and three women, two of them in their twenties. . "
Still books, still publishing, everything else is pretty much the same.
In this case, the "innovations that drive profit" were innovations in the business model. Truth be told it is now possible because the "makeready" costs to get the first books into market is better, faster, cheaper. Thank you, Adobe,et al, and digital printing. Plus, the logistics of getting it distributed is also better, faster, cheaper. Thank you, Amazon, the internet, et al.
It's taking a little while to get it right because business that prospered last century have been a little too busy blaming the customer. Also there are lots of people that have to either get retrained, more trained or fired.
It's a longer, but similar, story for print salespeople and the firms they work for, but that's for another post. Or you can just fill in the blanks yourself.