“Loving to read as a strategist”. Episode 19. Publishing Industries and the Internet. Part A.
Have a beautiful week. We wish you a blessed and amazing adventure with your reading goals. Today´s post is extended (in the slides), and it is simple too. I have focused on using Porter´s 6 forces framework to understand the current big picture of publishing. Given the vast nature of the publication industries, we decided to divide our original episode into two parts. The first part named Part A is about understanding the publishing industry. I have tried to make a big effort to make an abstraction of the whole panorama because we didn´t desire to go down into details, but that doesn´t mean those particular fragments aren´t critical. We simply decided to show you what is most relevant for the time being. The second section (Part B) will follow next Friday.
The publishing industry is going through the most delicate structural transformation since the times of Gutenberg. In the beginning, when the press revolutionized the world, anyone who could read and write, and was able to create a manuscript or a pamphlet could go to any printing press establishment and pay for the printing and diffusion of the content. Through the years, the publishing business evolved and survived wars and crises. With time, the publishing companies consolidated into the most famous big publishing companies. What we know now as the traditional business model of publishing went through loops of continuum consolidation and ended up condensed in the hands of big publishers as we know them today (we already covered who are the top publishers in the world). I can´t think of any other industry like this one, which has not only adopted every new invention concerning publishing and printing in accelerated terms. With the Internet, the fundamentals of the operations and the value chain of the different publishing segments have been dramatically disrupted. And it is not because we have changed the paper for the virtual screen. When publishers thought that it was just a change of the surface in which we deposit words or figures, that was the moment in which they got it wrong.
The disruption of the NAIQIs (Nanotech, Artificial Intelligence, Quantum supremacy, and the Internet) in the publishing industry were not conceived to change the platform of reading, the disruption of the NAIQIs has touched those who write the content, the thoughtful artisans of words, which means the authors. Not even the change from writing by hand to a mechanical writing machine, then an electric writing machine, then a computer has affected the authors. All these inventions never touched the minds of the creators. But currently, the authors ‘capabilities are being directly affected, influenced, and slowly damaged by the technologies. And Internet platforms and applications are making this slow process of destruction a public scenario: The public medium for the good and educated author´s annihilation.
Authors in the digital era. Before the arrival of the Internet, the good authors, or the lucky ones who were chosen by agents to work with the big publishing players, had a huge mountain to walk the talk. Willingly, it has never been easy to be selected as an author by these companies. Thousands of authors have tried, failing the intent. Many authors who dreamt of being printed, never arrived to accomplish that goal. The high quality of the author was measured in terms of the “best-selling” potential. Those prospective authors who weren´t able to get selected by the big publishers had to work as journalists, film script writers, screenplay content producers, in other publishing staff positions or administrative jobs, or in whatever was available. Even if they were capable to self-publish themselves by their own means. The traditional publishing business model (before the Internet) has always served unique writers, in which the filter for selection has always been the potential for high sales.
The Internet opened the door for other paths, and other business models, in which the author was not filtered by the traditional publishers, but he or she could directly DIY-publish. Any of you can open an account with Amazon and self-publish your e-book on Kindle in less than 10 minutes and begin to collect royalties/commissions immediately. But e-books aren´t the panacea yet. Not in developed economies. Not in poor countries either. With the arrival of social media platforms and applications, the potential of the e-book was blocked. The audiences aren´t reading books, but substituting books as a leisure activity (see slide number 17). Our world literacy level of an 8th-grade student doesn´t allow the organic market growth of books for demographic causes. So reading long books is becoming hard and difficult. People are opting to have fun with films and streaming videos, instead of reading. As we have already discussed this topic, the Internet is the backbone of this disruption. Most publishers saw the internet opportunity coming and are now big conglomerates of other media. They understood this was going to happen a long time ago. The big publishers have already been preparing for anything, but mainly they have diversified into other screen-media businesses. Though the impact of social media on our minds was not well measured by anyone, not even by consulting corporations of top caliber in the world. The digital addiction of my generation (generation X) and millennials occurred in such a way that Generation Z’s dependence on screens is sickening them, in their mental capabilities. Their brain is already damaged, and also, the top intellectual producers of books, the authors didn´t see it coming. Authors had the faith that by opening new channels for publishing through the Internet, their historic and consistent economic troubles and lack of opportunities were going to end. Not at all. On the opposite, new applications and Artificial intelligence-powered writing toolkits are taking the role of the authors, editors, agents, and those traditional reviewers of books. For the first time, no one knows who the real creator of the content is or will be: a machine or a human, or a quasi-human. On the other hand, when an author exposes publicly his or her art writing capabilities by writing as I do, anyone all over the world can take the author’s work for granted, copy, paste, make up the paragraphs, readjust the ideas here and there and then re-sell under a new “short-story” without even trying to give credits or at least provide the source reference of the ideas. The same applies to video or audio creation. See slides 10 and 11 above.
From publishing to content creation. Once the big publishers decided to support digital content creation, around 20 years ago, they opted for a specific corporate strategy for growth in terms of vertical growth, and in terms of diversification to the new Internet-related industries, but not in terms of horizontal geographic growth. The goal was to jump into diversification in other media (screen-supported businesses), barring the traditional role of the authors. Other metrics of success were imposed immediately. Social media only exacerbated them. These metrics of success were adopted by social media or internet platforms that are not in the ownership hands of the authors. Little by little, the traditional writers were replaced by the new “content creators” from the Internet, who could show success using these new metrics: such as the number of followers, visitors, likes, amount of subscribers, etc. Social media’s key performance indicators of triumph for content creators have barred the role of the “well educated under scholar rules” authors, and the imperious gamble is putting authors under a checkmate that no one saw coming. We are at expense of the majority of the population who have basic skills and who are not educated. The audiences of social media with a non-discernment mindset, (90% of adults barely reach an 8th-grade literacy level) have killed the authors’ traditional role, not because they wish to, but because the majority can´t discern, given their lack of proper literacy. In this context, the worst deprivation for good authors is coming. And more low negotiation power for the authors will emerge with the new self-publishing alternatives. The cannibalization is occurring not because of low-cost pricing (which is also another issue), but because of the business models that are destroying the well-educated author, and massifying the role of the new emerging content creators in the hands of anyone who can sell the most in video screen platforms. The rule of the non-educated audiences is then applied to destroy the excellent educated authors at their roots.
Good literature creation, like other visual arts, is being critically ill because of the NAIQIs. A crisis of behemoth proportions to literature will come if proper regulation doesn´t stop or filter this situation. To open new channels for authors doesn´t mean to open them to anyone, but to those who have been prepared and working hard to elevate their artworks under the traditional standards. The null new standards or zero ordinance in literature is hurting the publishing industry at its core. Authors are taken the worst part. When a publishing company is closed (newspapers or magazines) hundreds of authors get into poverty. When they run to self-publishing alternatives or social media platforms to expose their work, the competition is global (not local), and the process to find the blessing from advertising, or from audiences will never come under the current circumstances. A well-educated author is not chosen by the non-educated audiences, who read poorly and will always choose the most effortless content. The cannibalization occurs at the conceptual and structural level against the meaning of a good author. Somehow the reputation of the big publisher in the traditional model was the factor of confidence support to authors who were published by them. To be published by these big corporations, in comparison to self-publishing gave them a stamp of approval. Once you remove the good reputational filters of the big publishers and other traditional larger publishing houses related to academic circles and scholars, the authors know by heart that their role is being critically hurt. Please read all the slides that I prepared for you today.
The migration to the digital platforms of content has not been strategically well designed. In each step of the last 20 years, we forgot that regulation and sticking to high ethical standards around the content creator should be the priority. If authors (as the main suppliers of publishing) are hurt, the whole industry cannibalizes itself. The authors’ well-being, happiness, and integral economic condition (achieving at least a middle-class status, between US$70K to US$220K income per year) should be what matters the most. Additionally, to strengthen the local production of authors, using each language of each author signifies more than a book for that specific country, but a cultural development for the country of origin of that author.
The Corporate Strategy of the publishing industry. The expansion of the publishing industry should have never been to eat itself through the adoption of new technologies or through the fight-back response of utilizing other content platforms on the Internet. What has happened, is that by doing it, long reading has been substituted. The expansion of literature should have been to develop the literature creation and the reading businesses in developing economies. Generating the literature authorship as strong and transparent economic sectors in developing countries should have been the rule of thumb before the Internet. That would have been a huge difference for the planet 20 years ago. We are still not too late to repair these corporate strategy issues related to authorship in poor nations. To do this requires going to the roots of our languages. In my case, I am not a foolish person because I can´t write in perfect flawless English, otherwise, all the English-speaking ambassadors who come to our poor lands should receive the same insult category of “stupid”. Which is not the case. Each language from each nation deserves recognition. It merits a strong construction of their reading-writing industries in which our intellectual brains could be stamped forever in a book or a series of books. The majority of developing nations require to start the literature industry, evading the mistakes of the developed rich nations. That is where the future growth will come. A new generation of local authors is required to educate their own people in the process: to help their local audiences to rise from an 8th-grade literacy to Literacy 5. Well, this is it for today.
Announcement: An overview summary and mapping of the industry drivers, critical issues, challenges, trends, and opportunities will proceed in our next 20th episode “Publishing industries and the internet Part B”. Why the D2C publishing model has organic flaws that need to be addressed will also be answered in Part B, next Friday.
Strategic Music Section
Music Reading chill-outs
We have started to explore the definition of “reading fluency”. Professor Timothy Rasinski from Kent State University has defined this term in a noteworthy manner. We become fluent readers when we can read texts accurately, automatically, and with the appropriate prosody. Today we will explore the term prosody. According to Rasinski, the last component of fluency that links word recognition to comprehension is prosody. In our dictionaries, we find the definition of prosody as the metrical structure of a verse or a particular system of versification. When we land into verses, we immediately are connected to poems. So how could it be that we can read prose under the poem verses? Well, the answer is: prosody happens silently in our minds when we read silently.
It simply happens: We read words in any form of text with expressions, emotions, emphasis, and phrasing that reflects, amplifies, or diminishes the meaning of the text. Otherwise, we would read in plain stagnant mode. “To read with appropriate prosody (orally or in silence) is the jewel crown of our reading experience. Each of us must develop his or her own set of prosody, with our intonation, pace, and smoothness. Our own melodic accent of reading in our minds. Proficient readers have developed excellent levels of prosody through the years. Many because they had role models during early childhood (mom or dad or reading teachers) who read to them aloud since pregnancy and throughout their childhood.
Our music for reading today is from a contemporary pianist. His name is Brian Crain. https://www.briancrain.com/about/. For the next 10 episodes, we will select contemporary solo-piano virtuosos, who can help us with their original or composed melodies as perfect background music for reading. My aim is to show you examples of musicians who can help you to relax for long-reading books.
See you next Friday 18th of November, with the 20th episode of the saga “Loving to read as a strategist: Publishing industries and the Internet Part B”. Thank you for reading to me.
“Loving to Read as a Strategist”. Illustrative and non-commercial image. Giphy source from Nazaret Escobedo
Sources of reference are utilized today.
I utilized all these references to understand the contextual situation of the publishing industry. Some elements of these authors have been included in the slides.
Disclaimer: Illustrations in Watercolor are painted by Eleonora Escalante. Other types of illustrations or videos (which are not mine) are used for educational purposes ONLY. All are used as Illustrative and non-commercial images. Utilized only informatively for the public good. Nevertheless, most of this blog’s pictures, images, or videos are not mine. I do not own any of the lovely photos or images posted unless otherwise stated.
Episode 19th total amount of words: 2,610
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