Big Idea: Growing the Book Industry's Pie
To be sure, some cannibalization of print or ebook sales takes place, but it can be offset with the revenues derived from providing access to new markets. Few publishers are big enough to sell directly to the institutional market, but many have content that would be valuable if it were part of a comprehensive offer.
Not long ago, I learned the story of a publishing business that includes newsletters, magazines, research, and a subscription database. The database includes much of the content that appears in other formats as well as original content relevant to the businesses that buy it.
Early efforts by this publisher to convince institutions to buy database subscriptions were unsuccessful. But when they started offering users the ability to download high-quality charts, graphs, and analyses, demand for site licenses began to rise. They remain strong today.
The charts had always been part of the database. The only change in their offer was unbundled content, offering components that users could import and present on their own. The publisher's clients found great value in being able to borrow directly from the archive. In a competitive marketplace, the visibility of these components amplified awareness and willingness to buy the publisher's data service.
Providing Content as Part of Workflow
For several years, Thane Kerner of SilverChair has talked about the importance of providing content "as part of workflow," available when and where STM professionals need it. While STM publishers have been pioneers in this regard, almost every publishing category has opportunities to deliver content where readers are looking to obtain it.
In the trade space, the significant investments that platforms like Google, Yahoo, and Yelp have made in travel, dining, and related content shows how far demand for such information has migrated away from traditional formats. While the platforms here are often competitors, any publisher can use an understanding of its audiences to reshape how and where its content is discovered and consumed.