The first time I commented here on electronic book publishing, I skewered David Pogue for not understanding it. I’ve known Dave for a long time and have used his name as fodder for quite a few business-meets-technology stories. Sometimes, he likes what I have to say. Other times, not so much.
David Pogue is a good guy, and although he’ll one day have no choice but become his own publisher, a la Louis CK, he’s so successful that he hasn’t yet felt the pinch from the people who make him rich and famous. David Pogue, in short, doesn’t suffer from the same problems that Julien Smith has to contend with.
But those problems are coming to everyone.
My piece from yesterday on eReaders—in particular Barnes and Noble’s NOOK Simple Touch™ with GlowLight™—was about this problem.
Last week, the US Department of Justice filed a lawsuit alleging that Apple and a handful of book publishers had colluded to keep the price of eBooks artificially high. In and of itself, that story is less about business change than it’s about trying to do keep doing business as usual. But in the aftermath of the ePublishing collusion lawsuit a story from a couple of months back came to the surface: small publishers are fighting back by refusing to do business with (for example) Amazon.
Push to shove, this is very much the same thing that the Julien Smith and Louis CK stories are about. Scroll up and read them; I’ll wait.
The music and movie businesses have fought to maintain control over their media business fiefdoms, and it isn’t working. The eBook business is headed in the same direction, but with the difference being that with several large eReader makers using incompatible formats book publishers will be forced to accept business change, and see power swing to Barnes and Noble, Apple, and Amazon. Are you listening, Penguin Books? Your business is about to go away.
Smart businesses and smart business people see change coming and adapt. Musicians like Neil Young and Elvis Costello get it. Out on the Internet, Chris Brogan has gotten video religion—and more important understands that bad video is worse than no video at all.
It’s about change. Ebooks are changing publishing. Done Deal. Time to Adapt.
Now if we could just change education.