| June 29, 2010

Some Good News for Publishers


I was in mid explanation mode last week in a meeting with a senior director of one of the largest publishing houses in the world, who also happens to be a well-known journalist. During the presentation of what worldreader.org is doing, he exclaimed,  “At last, at last. Some good news I can finally associate with e-readers!”

During the last 24 months, publishers have associated most things to do with e-readers as something of a threat. They have collectively had to come to terms with the implications of Digital Rights Management, free books, delivery on request, potential piracy, not to mention squeezed margins. There have been more than one or two analogies with the music industry and the initial mismanagement of digitally distributed music.

Given that context, it is understandable the reluctance of the publishing industry to proactively embrace what is happening.

Publishers are sad to see this go

The good news for publishers is that worldreader.org will be correcting the fact that many people in the world have never had access to a genuine choice of reading.  We aim to encourage the development of a literary culture in every market that we enter. We will implement systems to assist people to write and to read in their own language. Beyond that, we will be effectively contributing to the education of a whole generation of new readers.  What does this mean for publishers?  Quite simply, it means a creation of a new market.  No wonder my publisher friend had such a positive reaction!

This is good news for publishers worldwide. It is obvious that established publishing companies will have to adapt their business model, and they should.  According to a recent article in The Economist, publishers who sit back and do nothing stand to lose a lot in this critical moment in history.   The other day, a colleague of mine illuminated the current publisher’s dilemma with digital books with the following question: “Does Airbus hate the fact that there is gravity?” If publishers work with Worldreader.org, together we can open up new markets.

For the publishing industry a “new” reader is a new potential consumer. But as anyone following this blog will know, a new reader is a walking, talking and digitally connected asset for any country or community that wants to compete for and make influence upon their own future. And that also is good news.