Technology Review recently published a very interesting article on the Four Principles for Crafting Your Innovation Strategy. Using the home movie rental business as a case study, TR shows how companies like Blockbuster are suffering due to their lack of timely innovation, while companies like NetFlix are already deep in making their current business model obsolete and positioning themselves to be the winners of the future.
For example, years behind the curve, Blockbuster is only now getting into the RedBox-style vending machines and their DVD-by-mail service came 5 years after NetFlix debuted and still only has 25% of the membership. Meanwhile, NetFlix has been investing heavily in internet-streaming and is years ahead of its competition. One company reacts in response to a dire present, while the other company creates its own rosy future.
I bring that up here to apply toward the publishing industry. It’s well known publishers are being manhandled right now. Companies like Walmart are telling them what they can sell a book for, and Amazon is well on its way to becoming the iTunes of the digital book industry. Publishers have less and less money to spend on new, innovative authors, and is responding by taking the sure bet on celebrity authors and derivative rehash.
In response, many authors (like myself) have decided to give up on the traditional industry and try to build our own businesses through self-publishing. And it’s not because of the state of the publishing industry. On the contrary, there is so much opportunity right now for the independent author. Services like CreateSpace and Lulu can help us with on-demand printing, while BookBaby can help us get set up on all the major digital platforms all for very reasonable or even no fees. Facebook and blogs help us reach our readers, and viral marketing makes spreading the word even easier.
Of course all this is known and authors know what they should do now. The question is… what’s next?
What will the publishing industry look like in 2021? Where will people get their books? In what form will books come? What roles will big companies and small independents take? And the most important question for authors… what can we do now (like NetFlix has) to help shape the future instead of belatedly react to it?
That’s what I’m thinking about…