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Old 01-11-2008, 06:14 PM   #1
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New Digital Business Models

The Economist talks about how much trouble the music labels are in, and briefly goes in to some alternate business models that they're trying. I thought this was interesting in light of the discussion we had about ebook publishing models (http://www.mobileread.com/forums/showthread.php?t=17420).

Some of the methods by which they're making money include advertising and turning music into an add-on product with cellphone subscriptions.

"<this program> is a recognition that music has to be given away for free, or close to free, on the internet,” says Mr Mulligan."

Will ebooks face the same fate? Or are the markets to dissimilar?
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Old 01-14-2008, 04:34 PM   #2
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For myself, I can easily see e-books going the same way as music (and television and radio, before it), being supported by advertisers and put out for free to consumers. Another, similar tack would be financing via grants. With a society that is already used to pulling its entertainment "out of the air," it seems a logical way of presenting the material that so many seem to be loathe to directly pay for.

Look at TV and radio... both systems work, right now. Music is taking advantage of its already-existing advertising connections to do the same. The big downside is that it does limit the amount of material available to consume, because the work is left up to a third party to okay. Art ends up at the mercy of corporate execs, marketers and other deep-pocketed supporters who may or may not "get you."

It also means going out and either soliciting for your grant or advertiser, or aligning yourself with an organization that will do that for you. You may end up back with the existing publishing model, wherein someone else has the final say over whether or not you get published.

But with some tweaking, I think the advertising/grant system could be applied to e-books, as with music. I myself look forward to the day when I can do nothing but write, because I am being backed by advertisers or grants.
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Old 01-14-2008, 07:57 PM   #3
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For myself, I can easily see e-books going the same way as music (and television and radio, before it), being supported by advertisers and put out for free to consumers. Another, similar tack would be financing via grants. With a society that is already used to pulling its entertainment "out of the air," it seems a logical way of presenting the material that so many seem to be loathe to directly pay for.

Look at TV and radio... both systems work, right now. Music is taking advantage of its already-existing advertising connections to do the same. The big downside is that it does limit the amount of material available to consume, because the work is left up to a third party to okay. Art ends up at the mercy of corporate execs, marketers and other deep-pocketed supporters who may or may not "get you."

It also means going out and either soliciting for your grant or advertiser, or aligning yourself with an organization that will do that for you. You may end up back with the existing publishing model, wherein someone else has the final say over whether or not you get published.

But with some tweaking, I think the advertising/grant system could be applied to e-books, as with music. I myself look forward to the day when I can do nothing but write, because I am being backed by advertisers or grants.
If there are advertisers there are rules so you might not just get to write. You may have to conform to the advertisers idea of the world or they won't support you. Similarly for the grant system you are working for someone, not the end user, so the end users ideas may not matter much. Similar to paintings done in the past you get to see what the patron wanted painted not what you might want or what the artists might have wanted to paint.

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Old 01-14-2008, 08:51 PM   #4
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But in the present system, the patron is the publisher, so how is that any different?
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Old 01-15-2008, 12:29 AM   #5
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But in the present system, the patron is the publisher, so how is that any different?
Not really; the market is the patron, the publishers just decide if they believe something will sell (enough) or not; unpleasant controversy can yank a book of bookshelves, but it needs to be something illegal or really unethical (and sometimes the book in cause is reissued with the issues fixed by some deletions, an acknowledgment, stuff like that).

On the other hand as quite a few recent examples have shown us, offend a powerful interest group and you are yanked off the air, retired from a university and so on, whenever you depend on ads or a patron...
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Old 01-15-2008, 12:56 AM   #6
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But presumably if we move to a patronage system there will be a market of patrons, so if you offend one group of patrons you're likely to be liked by another group of patrons. Just as today, if one publisher dislikes your manuscript because it does not fit their image you go to another.

Also there will be a powerful incentive for patrons to not be arbitrary as if they are they are likely to attract less talent.
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Old 01-15-2008, 10:26 AM   #7
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But presumably if we move to a patronage system there will be a market of patrons, so if you offend one group of patrons you're likely to be liked by another group of patrons. Just as today, if one publisher dislikes your manuscript because it does not fit their image you go to another.

Also there will be a powerful incentive for patrons to not be arbitrary as if they are they are likely to attract less talent.
Historically Patrons have never cared what anyone else wanted. They were only worried about their own self interest. They are generally rich, hire someone for their pet project, and others only get the benefit after they died.

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Old 01-15-2008, 11:01 AM   #8
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You're talking about individual patrons, I'm talking about institutional patrons. Publishers are really and example of institutional patrons, except that in addition to providing financial services, they also provide publishing services. If publishing services become simple enough that they can be split into editing/advertising and thus contracted out to specialized services, publishers will become pure institutional patrons.
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Old 01-15-2008, 11:33 AM   #9
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You're talking about individual patrons, I'm talking about institutional patrons. Publishers are really and example of institutional patrons, except that in addition to providing financial services, they also provide publishing services. If publishing services become simple enough that they can be split into editing/advertising and thus contracted out to specialized services, publishers will become pure institutional patrons.
I also checked a bit on Wikipedia about patronage and it seemed that even individual patrons have often other goals then to keep things for themselves. And I suppose that the donation system in the US as it works today is an example of individual patronage that works.
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Old 01-15-2008, 03:38 PM   #10
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In either system, individual or institutional, yes, you have to deal with the possibility of the patron essentially telling you what you will write/what they will accept from you. This, too, is no different from the present system with television, radio and music.

Generally, whether the patron is individual or institutional, they are trying to make themselves look good, either by profit or by social standing. An artist's job, therefore, is to figure out which type of patron is more likely to be attracted by their work--high-profit patrons for popular works, or culturally-minded for more intellectual works, for example--and target those patrons in their solicitations.

There will still be those who will not get that support, however. I never said it was a perfect system... just that, overall, it does work, IF you manage to become one of the artists that win a patron/advertiser/grant. Those who do not get support will essentially be in the same position as they are in today, self-publishing in the hope of attracting support down the line.
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