Monday, 28 July 2008

Anyone think there's a future in paid content?

The received wisdom is that newspapers will save themselves via the Internet and other platforms.

But that's going to have to revolve around getting advertising CPMs up, because the idea of future generations paying for general interest content seems a poor one to rely on, given how there is already a perception that Internet = Free.

Combine that with a new moral compass on copyright among the young, and a willingess to rip even highly specialised content (once considered the saviour for the paid content model), well, then it's back to the drawing board on paid conent models.

Witness this little peach (which as an author I feel super about, but understand):

First it was song downloads. Now it's Organic Chemistry.

After scanning his textbooks and making them available to anyone to download free, a contributor at the file-sharing site composed a colorful message for "all publishers" of college textbooks, warning them that "myself and all other students are tired of getting" ripped off. (The contributor's message included many ripe expletives, but hey, this is a family newspaper.) All forms of print publishing must contend with the digital transition, but college textbook publishing has a particularly nasty problem on its hands. College students may be the angriest group of captive customers to be found anywhere. Consider the cost of a legitimate copy of one of the textbooks listed at the Pirate Bay, John McMurry's "Organic Chemistry." A new copy has a list price of $209.95; discounted, it's about $150; used copies run $110 and up. To many students, those prices are outrageous, set by profit-engorged corporations (and assisted by callous professors, who choose which texts are required). Helping themselves to gratis pirated copies may seem natural, especially when hard drives are loaded with lots of other products picked up free.

International Herald Tribune
New York Times

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