Composed in Evernote, this is a doc that I’ve been working on for a week or so. Hope it comes out nice.
Am sitting is a car at the moment talking about the kiosk project and some of the issues that relate to how the bible publishing industry can move forward. We know for certain that publishing the way that is has been going for the last 50-100 years isn’t going to continue in the face of advancements made digitally. From content distribution to monetization, there are questions to be addressed and none of them will endear easy answers.
Ownership and Access
The common perception of ownership is that of sovereignty and domain. When you purchase a product, you take responsibility of it’s upkeep and any additional service to fix or improve the initially purchased product is done for an additional fee.
Access is the ability to get to content, but not necessarily the ability to change or maintain it. Access usually has additional rules around it such as copying, sharing, and forwarded distribution. In some cases, access might be tied to another service agreement which allows for updates to the content (product) and some kinds of maintenance.
To be blunt, there has never been a model of publishing where we have owned the Bible. Access is granted through agreements we enter into with publishing houses. Distributors may also have a slice of this access pie, but it all ends up in the same equation – you don’t own your biblical material, you are granted access.
Access and Publishing
With that said, the publishing industry would seem to have an excellent heads-up on some of the upcoming trends in this information economy. They have the intent, the content, and the understanding of the marketplace to continue with this model for some time longer. Truly, there are many persons who don’t have access to the Bible or it’s associated materials who would prove to be solid markets for publishing houses to pursue.
Yet, as I look at the world around me, the question about information isn’t ownership, it is access. If I have the access to the source, when I need it, does it make sense to continue to purchase access in silos (books, applications, audio formats)?
The kiosk proposes that someone only needs to know where a central content distribution area is. The internet proposes that you only need to know the website, or at the very least be connected to a person who does have the access and will share it (that link) with you. To a publisher, how does their model of selling success make sense in the light of such changes in the receiving method?
Publishing’s Opportunity to Change
There have been a lot of calls for publishing to change. We’ve gotten into the fray here with our series item The Future of (Biblical) Publishing. And it is true to an extent that publishers are facing the moment of change, thing is, they still hold the cards (content). Therefore, anything that looks like change to them has to ultimately work in their benefit.
Monday Note recently posted an article in a similar scope to MMM’s and came to a similar conclusion:
“Coming back to the subject of this column, the shift from paid-for files to rights for books or digital contents won’t come easily. As a telco exec told me last week: ‘It took centuries to convince people their money was more secure in a bank than under a mattress; convincing them they should trade ownership for access rights will take some time’.”
Publishing’s opportunity to change isn’t just a matter of changing to a digital-enabled economy, but being a literal agent of behavioral change for authors/consumers. But, if I were a publisher, how could I go about changing something that was so embedded into the way we think/use content?
Or, is it us who need to change our viewpoint of what really is the reality of ownership, and modify our perceptions and use to that in light of publishing’s hold on content?