Book publishers, like record labels before them, are struggling to
adapt to the digital world. And their struggles are only growing larger
thanks to the growing e-book market, where a price war has broken out.
The price war, which has driven down the cost of e-book bestsellers, is
of concern to book publishers for several big reasons, a primary one being that low-priced e-books
could potentially devalue their physical counterparts.
Facebook's growth, it seems, is limited only by the scope of Mark Zuckerberg's ambition. It began as a social networking site trying to keep up with MySpace, but Facebook is now circling its own orbit.
All that's stopping Facebook from becoming the pre-eminent news publisher for its 300m users is Zuckerberg's desire to do it.
The internet's leading business is currently scanning and digitising millions of books. Dominance of the web is not enough, the search giant now plans to become, in essence, the world's biggest librarian and bookshop.
Now, regular readers of my posts and articles will know that I am
usually onside with Google. It's frighteningly large and successful,
but anything that invests so much time and energy into important
projects like Google Earth is OK by me, except its plans for books...
I know a number of journalists who are growing increasingly concerned about the sustainability of their careers. Those working for offline publications tend to worry more than most, and with good reason, given the tide of bad news in this space.
But despite the problems with business models, there will always be a need for journalists. It isn’t game over for journalism, not by a stretch, it's just that the game is changing. Old media journalists will need to learn some new skills and adapt mindsets to accommodate changes in their industry.
An incident happened last week — I tweeted a caustic expletive directed at DoubleClick knowing that only my tribe would read the invective. What realization occurred that would have me throw political correctness out the window? It was the moment when I realized DoubleClick behaved as if their advertising was more important, perhaps more desirable, than the actual published content that I had clicked to experience. Or, maybe the ad platform/producer just isn’t aware of how their technology rubs up against other technologies...
Newspaper publishers want the best of both worlds. They want the traffic that Google can deliver, but also think that the search engine owes them something. Specifically: “A fair share of the revenues being generated through the commercial exploitation of our content”.
Well, newsflash: Google owes the newspapers nothing. And now it has openly told the newspapers how to block web pages from the search engines by using the robots.txt no-inclusion protocol. If they want to, that is. There’s a barrier for those who want it. Now put up, or shut up.
Of course this isn’t new to anybody, but Google’s stance, as paidContent puts it, “effectively raises a middle finger to the 169 signatories to the Hamburg Declaration on Intellectual Property Rights, including Dow Jones managing editor Robert Thomson and News Corp Europe CEO James Murdoch”.
It’s going to be interesting to see if even one of those 169 signatories, or any other major newspaper, is actually brave, dumb and ballsy enough to take Google up on its offer. What’s the betting? I’ll wager that not one of them will go ahead with this.
Twitter is a publisher’s dream. It is a huge echo chamber that can drive a lot of quality traffic to articles, especially if the retweets take off.
Retweets are referrals. The 'RT' abbreviation is a strong call to action. People trust their virtual friends to steer them in interesting directions, otherwise they wouldn’t be following them in the first place. As such retweets can generate lots of clicks, and they can quickly go viral.
In addition, there are a range of websites orientated around retweets. Think Digg, but instead of ‘diggs’ you have ‘retweets’, and usually these links are displayed in order of popularity (and not buried / subject to a complex algorithm to determine front-page status). These sites can be traffic drivers too. One of my favourites is the excellent TweetMeme.
So, considering the opportunity here, how can publishers make the most out of Twitter, and optimise the retweet factor?
We are proud to announce that Econsultancy scooped another gong today when it won the Product of the Year award at the SIPA UK conference.
Since the floor has fallen out of print circulations at many newspapers, editors are paying greater attention to the layout of their web sites. What they're finding isn't pretty.
For years if a newspaper had a website, it most likely served as a digital dumping ground for the print product. Design and
functionality wasn't a key concern because most readers still got their
news in print. Times have changed, but unfortunately many newspapers
Management Today editor Matthew Gwyther is the latest print media veteran to stick the boot into Twitter, labelling it “a tedious fad we would do well to pull the plug on”.
He lambasts the “news editors at the national newspapers” for wading into Twitter without adequate resources “to do it properly”, while accusing them of being “desperate to keep up with the Joneses”.
“The result is an unwholesome mess - a garbled Babel of nonsense that leaves you screaming for a return to the times when we could read all about it the day afterwards over our Cornflakes on a page of newsprint.”
Word to Matthew: you can read it afterwards! You don't have to tune in to Twitter! It will all become clear the next day.
But there’s a place for Twitter – and a place for real time reporting too...