Popular discussion of the enduring popularity of print often obfuscate the business issues of managing a company that is transitioning from print to digital.
Publishers have to distinguish between features, products, and businesses. Not all features can become full-fledged businesses. Sometimes the best business case for a feature is to link it to an established business, where it adds value to assets that are already in place.
A look back at some of Rick Anderson’s insightful pieces on the economic realities of journal prices and library budgets.
There will never be a “Netflix for books” if by that term one means a comprehensive collection. Book aggregations must serve the overarching needs of the publisher to generate revenue and are thus best viewed as simply one channel among many.
At some point book publishers will begin to copy the Netflix model of selling by subscription. This changes the nature of the business from one where products are sold to one where publishers attempt to monetize readers’ attention.