Container-less Content? Not in This Digital Age.
The publishing industry is not unique in being disrupted by the digital revolution. However, as much as or more than any enterprise out there, publishers are being challenged to reevaluate and reinvent the very core of what they do and how they do it. We find ourselves questioning what a book is, what content is, and what shape authored work will take five years from now.
Published in October of 2013, The Content Machine explores the publishing industry in crisis, disrupted by digital innovations, yet continuing to adapt. Written by Michael Bhaskar, digital publishing director at Profile Books, The Content Machine outlines a theory of publishing that allows publishers "to focus on their core competencies in difficult times while building a broader notion of what they are capable of." Exploring the nature of content, Bhaskar combines historical perspective and communication theory to make the case that the publishing industry will indeed survive and thrive in the digital age.
Among the ideas Bhaskar advances is a reevaluation of how content and what we typically call platforms relate to each other. While it may appear that digital technology has freed content from it's former containers (printed pages), content must still be contained in some fashion.
Likewise, it's important to recognize how content can be "decoupled" from its medium. Bhaskar toys with the notion that content is distinct from its medium, yet maintains a "formative relationship" with its medium. Bhaskar's term for content containers is "frames," chosen to better reflect how the content and platform relate. It's also an attempt to better understand content as we shift to a digital environment and emphasize the importance of cultural and technological context.
Admittedly, this is more academic territory than Book Business typically gets into, but we think it's an important insight and a worthy thought exercise regarding the nature of content as our "frames" evolve. Following is an excerpt from Chapter 3 "How Content Works" of The Content Machine.
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