Image via Wikipedia
A scene from this year’s STM meeting at Frankfurt Book Fair: an audience member, presumably a publisher, asked Larry Sanger, a founder of Wikipedia and now founder of Citizendium, what the business model of collaborative environments could be.
Something in my brain began to smoke, a short-circuit. Maybe it was the jet-lag.
I consistently hear people at publishing meetings ask what the business model is, as if it’s arch and wise to ask how to commercialize an innovation rather than offering a positive statement affirming that we can create options. I hope these people are in the minority, since this is a mindset that doesn’t strike me as fitting our trade. We’re publishers. We’re supposed to be the ones who know how to make a business out of the convergence of audience and content. We’re supposed to be the experts. Instead of us asking academics or philosophers, they should be asking us!
There are publishers actively working to find the business models that will commercialize the convergence of new audiences and new forms of content, creating enduring new offerings that sustain themselves and create wealth. But even those seem hobbled by a reluctance to embrace the subscription model, to scale advertising, or to assert licensing rights. If we don’t invent the business of the future, we will have it dictated to us.
This contrast was especially salient coming as it did on the eve of the largest book fair in the world.
Now, let’s do some publishing!