I just read ‘What’s The Future of the Sharing Economy‘ on Fast Company and it re-kindled some thinking about the business models that we’re seeing in the digital publishing world.
Many of us are now used to receiving books, magazines and newspapers in a digital form, however, how is this impacting the sharing economy? Where as in the past books, magazines and newspapers were recycled many times during their lifetimes digital material tends to be locked to an individual. Sharing is one aspect that has yet to be cracked and is probably unlikely to be cracked for a while. The reason I say this is that while the market is growing there is no real driver to do so.
If we look at the models for digital publishing then what we see is a pricing model which the incumbents are trying to lock to a traditional model, whilst offering a value proposition that cuts out the functionality of sharing. At some point enough people will adopt digital delivery of publications that it will become the ‘norm’ and at this point publishers will have to differentiate through other functionality and my guess is that rather than drop the price they will all some kind of limited sharing to drive the value proposition.
The other market that is ripe for a ‘sharing proposition’ is the academic market, where to the user most text books have a shelf life of 1-2 years but a disproportionately high price. This drives a liquid secondary market for hard copy books, but how will this work as publishers move to rich media digital content?
What we are seeing is that people are valuing the convenience of digital content more than the sharing of knowledge and entertainment during this phase of the publishing business model evolution which is a real shame as it leaves so much knowledge and enjoyment locked into our personal devices.
One day, one of the majors will break rank and the balance will be re-dressed.