Publishing: Providing value via vetting rather than distribution

This 26-Year-Old Is Making Millions Cutting Out Traditional Publishers With Amazon Kindle.

Interesting story about a writer publishing her novels directly to the Kindle via Amazon and apparently making quite good money at it. Without an official publisher.

One thing I’ve noticed on Amazon is that a lot of these indie novels are crowding out those by mainstream publishing houses in the ‘Recommended for You’ lists. I’ve found with the few indie novels I’ve sampled that they are poorly written and/or edited, which makes it hard for me to get into the story.

Publishers going forward are really going to have to embrace their role as a filter of good stuff, making sure that what they publish is truly good. Anyone can make their own content available. Publishers are going to provide value through vetting much more than distribution.

Elitist? I don’t think so. When everyone is online, those that help find the signal in the noise are going to be in a good position to provide value.

Example of Providing Options Beyond Basic Online Subscription

I made a short screencast of the Wall Street Journal’s website today,, looking at the subscription pricing model the publisher has in place. There is a great lesson here for associations about offering premium options that give new value to those who purchase it without inherently devaluing the base subscription.

eReaders and Association Publishing

Reggie Henry, CIO of ASAE & the Center for Association Leadership, posted the following to Twitter this morning:

Looking at all of the e-reader apps at CES just begs the question of when are we going to rethink association publishing…

Interesting question!

About six years ago a board member of a scientific society with significant publishing operations asked me how I thought the Web would change scholarly publishing. I answered that the peer review process was unlikely to go away, unless we change how we do science, but that the medium in which scientific content is published will continue to change over time. In short: don’t abandon peer review but do be very open to changing how your content is delivered.

I believe the same holds for the new round of innovation coming with ereaders and tablet PCs. The core value of association publications won’t be degraded. However, you have to follow your markets in how they choose to access content. If you don’t, you’ll fail to realize a tremendous amount of potential value.

For example, any journal that doesn’t have an online version somewhere (paid or open) has relegated themselves to obscurity at this point.

I expect ereaders and tablets to integrate quite well with the Web while introducing newer forms of content presentation that will be unique to the platform. Therefore, this transition probably won’t be as drastic and problematic as the print to Web transitions proved for a lot of publications, especially if they already have a strong online presence.

What do you think?