Category Archives: Publishing
The Wired Magazine interview with Amazon’s Jeff Bezos in their latest issue has motivated me to reflect. For 15 years Amazon has been influential but they seem to always be behind the curtain to players like Microsoft, Apple, Google or Facebook. But consider what they have accomplished and how they have done it. A philosophy based on low margins designed to serve a large customer base in stark contrast to another famous tech player that focuses on high margins catering to a small customer base. Also the fact that Amazon is willing to commit to a 5-7 year business plan has separated them but may also contribute to how they may be overlooked. I remember in their early years I was amazed at their staying power, willing to loose money for many years, but knowing that they would eventually win because market share is the key to domination of the Internet.
Amazon’s strategy which has yielded success is why I have to believe that their approach to publishing with book distribution is also destined to radically redefine that industry. Apple tried to shake up the distribution game with iBooks but Amazon truly controls online book commerce. And now as Amazon ventures into publishing I think we need to take notice. Bookstores as the big publishers desire are quickly becoming history. Consumers will buy books via the most effective and affordable path and that is the Amazon model. We in Higher Ed continue to reason why this can’t work but it does. The majority of our students buy their books through Amazon and if we hope to maintain happy students we will relent to support of that model as well. So take notice of Amazon’s release of the Kindle Fire and their aggressive direct publishing strategy that will reward authors with 70% of the revenue stream. We may fear Amazon’s invasion of our privacy but that fear dampens as we compare it to all the other intruders into our lives.
Document format has always been a key to control of software selection and retention. That dominance not only guaranteed Microsoft’s control of the Office Suite market but also allowed them to create a renewable market with manipulation of their format. We in tech support were forced to upgrade our MS Office Suite in order to eliminate the user hassles with their inability to open the new formats. But what about all of those great new features in MS Word that allowed us to be so much more effective writers.
The point of my post – communication has changed. Those impressive writing features in programs like MS Word are more in the way now. 20 years ago we communicated by means of a printed document, 10 years ago printed format was still important. But how many printed documents do you create today? We write for electronic distribution today and that medium handles the format for us. Benefits of MS Word have allowed for more elegant authoring in Outlook, but again, the trend is obvious. It reminds me of the advice offered in Paul McDougall’s InformationWeek article: “7 Things Microsoft Must Do in 2010”. Cut the price of Windows and free Office. I actually thought of this post while reading about competition between Apple and Google. Competition based on the relevant tech business market that Microsoft is not a part of. And I realized that Apple’s publishing tools such as iLife and iWork and even Google Apps are so much more relevant to this electronic publishing era, price is right as well.