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Digital Strategy: Publisher Makes a Move August 14, 2010

Posted by David Dirks in Strategy.
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Not long ago I reported that the publishing industry was undergoing a traumatic change in business strategy.  Shocking right?  Not really, since the publishing industry is the talk of the town in business strategy circles.  Rather than embracing the digital realm or rather, the inevitable outcome, publishers of most paper-based media have been running away from it.  With the popularity of the iPad and other electronic devices growing stronger by the month, publishers have been slow to figure out ways to survive and adapt to a new revenue model.

Right before our eyes however, already there are a few publishers who are now embracing the transformation from paper to digital format.  Dorchester Publishing, Inc. is one of the first to really move into the digital arena in a big way.  Dorchester publishes mass-market paperback books, of which the majority are of the romance variety.  The            publisher recently announced that it would no longer offer print editions of those books.  Move over Guttenberg, the rise of the e-book is here.  Dorchester’s story was first reported by Publishers Weekly and of late, the Wall Street Journal.

Is this the start of a publishing stampede into digital book publishing?  I believe we are witnessing just that.  More publishers will follow once they get over their belief that a book just has to be printed on paper to be a book.  Publishers need to grasp that it’s the IDEAS and STORIES that books contain that are the critical parts, not whether it is distributed via digital or paper formats.

Apparently Dorchester has sat down and calmly figured out a new revenue model that will allow them to continue to develop and sell mass-market ‘paperbacks’ in a digital format.  I guess there is something to be said for saving considerable expense from not having to print on paper.

As the e-reader and pad-based computer technology advances and advances quickly, the day of the printed anything is toast.  You can thank Apple for making that happen when it launched the iPad…which this blog posting is being written from.

A few publishers are still clinging to the printed book strategy because they still can’t figure out how to create a new business model from the digital age.  Eventually though, smarter and cooler heads will prevail and they’ll lumber along playing catch up all the way.

Like life itself, business strategy is always in motion.  Failing to recognize that has doomed many a company.  Remember Polaroid?  The old Kodak?  Corporate creatures from an earlier age that failed to grasp the impact of the digital market for cameras.  Hey, they still sell digital cameras for a profit, right?  Right.

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