Thursday, October 07, 2010

eBooks: Yet Another Technology Looking For Business Models

Bill and Melinda Gates during their visit to t...Image via Wikipedia
CNet: New study suggests e-book piracy is on the rise
It started with music. Movies and books will not be spared, are not being spared. It is a mindfood thing. The Internet is like this vast farm custom made for the production and consumption of mindfood in its various forms.

The first instinct of the industries has been to fight the technology. It is not true that people seem to have this unbeatable thirst to steal that which comes out during the night that is the internet. People like the convenience of the digital format. In digital formats these products - books, movies, music - take no space. Your device does not count, it is not music, it is not a book, it is no movie.

Just like the pharmaceutical industry does not have the same static price globally - it charges less in the poor countries and even gives it out for free in some - the textbook industry has to be the same way.

Maybe the price of that eBook is not $9.99. Maybe the price of that song is not 99 cents. Those prices have to go down. And they have to go even further down in the Global South.

And then the industry has to make peace with the fact that there will be some leakage. Like Bill Gates said a long time ago about China, "We want them to pay for our software, but if they are going to steal it anyway, we want them to steal our software." That has to be the spirit. Have you even been to a supermarket where some guy/gal is standing outside an eatery giving away free samples? It might be just one bite, but it is good business. I get the impression even free is a business model. When you are not raking in the cash, you are giving stuff away for free and you are building your brand.

Even when people don't give you cash, they give you mindshare. The whole advertising industry revolves around that mindshare. Don't complain when you get it.

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