The Unbundled Subscription Model: Media Moves to Sell Direct

When I began writing this column six and a half years ago, the industry was embarking upon a period of transformation. It was clear that content delivery revenue models would be undergoing unprecedented change. What was NOT clear was exactly what these models would turn out to be. Some recent events have shed light on nature of the sustainable revenue […]

Calculating the Publisher’s Cut in Subscription Services: Revenue Share vs. Breakage

“The Subscription Model” got a lot of airtime at BEA this year, as book publishers explored delivery models that have the ability to generate recurring revenue through subscriptions. The buzz was so pervasive that it was difficult to escape the discussion. Not only did BEA’s sessions cover subscription, the topic was also covered during the IDPF Digital Book and BISG’s […]

Session Description: Driving Value and Revenue Through Digital Collections (IDPF/BEA/Digital Book 2014)

Session Description: Digital Book 2014 (IDPF/BEA)
The whole is greater that the sum of its parts: Creating reference value by providing access to collections of related e-book titles.
Publishers and distribution partners have opportunities to create profound customer value by providing access to curated collections of related titles. A curated collection of thematically related and authoritative works represents a unified information resource […]

Improving Ebook Data Quality: A Frank Assessment and the Path Forward

Quality is never an accident; it is always the result of high intention, sincere effort, intelligent direction and skillful execution; it represents the wise choice of many alternatives.


The level of data quality in EPUBs is generally low. This is true whether the EPUB is generated in house or through a service provider. Publishers give ebooks short shrift. The […]

Intelligent Content Delivery

When new communications media emerge, the typical pattern has been to simply put old content into the new format. The filming of stage plays in early cinema or the reading of newspapers over the radio are two oft-cited examples.

However, I would argue that the most effective use of any medium is achieved only once the unique characteristics of that medium […]

It’s all about the Data: How Metadata and User Analytics Add Value to Online Subscription Services.

One of the my favorite bits of cinematic absurdity is from “The Graduate”

Mr. McGuire: I just want to say one word to you. Just one word.

Benjamin: Yes, sir.

Mr. McGuire: Are you listening?

Benjamin: Yes, I am.

Mr. McGuire: Plastics.

(As ridiculous as the scene may be, it is interesting to consider the value of this advice 47 years later. Those who invested heavily […]

Subscription Service Readiness Checklist: A Planning Tool for Book Publishers

The overarching question all publishers must ask, the existential über-question, trumping all others, is: Where will revenue and earnings come from in the future?     The answer to this question is fundamental: all other aspect pertaining to digital media – whether it is asset management, metadata solutions, or social media strategies – are dependent upon these future revenue dynamics.

For many book […]

Subject-Specific Solutions: A Path to More Effective Learning Technology

The advent of digital media has presented educational publishers with not only opportunities for the delivery of effective teaching and learning solutions, but also significant challenges that are well known by readers of this column. These challenges include the need to acquire within the organization’s new competencies, the creation of new partnerships with service providers, and the need to sort […]

Transformation’s End

Transformation’s End


2008 was the most significant year for print publishing in the past 40.  That was the year that ebook revenue took off, coincident with a decline in print sales.  An inflexion point was reached.  According to Price Waterhouse Coopers, by 2017, ebook sales are expected to eclipse print and audio books.

Print publishers have long dabbled in a variety of […]

Digital Delivery Services in Education: A White Night for a Grey Market

Digital Delivery Services in Education: A White Night for a Grey Market
Supap Kirtsaeng came from Thailand to the United States to study at Cornell. Much to his chagrin, he found that Wiley textbooks cost considerably more in the US than back home.  Seeing not only a less expensive way to get the textbooks he needed, but also a business opportunity, […]

The Insights of ‘Big Brother’

How Analytics Can Make You a Better Publisher

When a person interacts with a computer—whether browsing the web or using an ATM—the computer typically maintains some kind of record of the actions the person took with the system. This is sometimes referred to as “data exhaust”: information that is the natural byproduct of the human-machine interaction.

Sometimes the analysis of this data […]

Finitiv: A Key Publishing Partner for Creating Subscription Services

For some publishers, well-curated collections of content addressing a subject area in which the publisher has depth can become the foundation of significant recurring revenue streams through subscription services.

Content that resides on a content or cloud-based server can be dynamically delivered to customers by a range of web and mobile applications.
But web and mobile applications can be more than just […]

The IT Crowd

Technology folks have for decades gotten more than their share of ribbing. Much of the hilarity comes from the cultural friction between technical and the non-technical. This cultural divide was perhaps most cuttingly portrayed in the hilarious UK sitcom The IT Crowd, in which an IT staffer routinely answered the phone with the greeting, “Have you […]

Five Affordable Digital Media Projects for 2013

When publishing teams wax enthusiastic about their vision for digital media and technology, directors of finance groan and reach for their wallets. And it is sometimes true that great things cost money, whether it is a smash hit in the consumer app world or a transformative enterprise technology platform. But there are many aspects to moving digital capabilities forward, and […]

Addressing The Human Element of Digital Change

Ironically enough, success in digital publishing has more to do with people than machines.  Digital publishing requires publishing houses and their partners to work in materially different ways.  Digital publishing is not merely delivering an EPUB file along with a print-ready PDF.  Successful initiatives require the development of new skills, processes, and business practices.  Publishers that successfully execute these changes […]

“In-Sourcing” Production and Design: A Reversing Tide

Publishers have historically been an inventive lot, with a broad array of skills and a can-do attitude.  In the early centuries of publishing, they did whatever was required to put words on the page and into the hands of readers.   Gutenberg was a goldsmith by background.  This gave him the skills to create moveable metal type, the core technology behind […]

How to Grow Ebook Revenue: Raise the Bar on Quality

About 17 years ago or so, digital media folk were asking an important question: would consumers buy online?  Would consumers take the leap and actually enter their credit card information on a seller’s website? More specific questions also arose about the growth rate of online commerce.  In the course and fullness of time, we got our answers.  ComScore and the […]

Increased Threats to the iPad Coming?

It is ironic. As we enter 2012, a year that is by all accounts setting up to be “The Year of the Tablet!”,  we are likely to see the dimming of the preeminence of the iPad, the device that created the category in the first place.

We tend to forget that many jaded pundits scoffed at the launch of the iPad.  […]

Manuscript First: A more efficient, pragmatic path to cross-platform publishing

For many publishing organizations, one important topic is the way in which the same content is delivered to different media and different devices. This is sometimes referred to as cross-platform publishing.The modes of delivery that the market requires are broad, and may include print, Web/HTML, e-ink reader (e.g., original Kindle), LCD reader (Kindle Touch, Nook Tablet), tablet (iPad) and smartphone […]

Tear Down the Silo: 8 Tips for Uniting Digital and Print

While at times painful to acknowledge, digital media is highly disruptive to publishing. It forces us to rethink basic assumptions about the nature of our product offerings, and how to create and deliver them. Most now see that digital cannot be ignored and requires enormous change.

It’s one thing to recognize the importance of digital; it’s another to actually embrace it. […]