The Death of the Publishing Industry?

By | July 8, 2010

In the past few years there has been a lot of talk about how newspapers and magazines are being replaced by online content, and that print media will soon be a dead industry. While it is true that the game is changing, and not many of the changes are good for the big publishers, keep in mind that devices like the iPad, Kindle, and iPhone open up a whole new market for them. Consider these examples from my own life:

1. I have read the print version Wall Street Journal over the years at libraries, hotels, and airports but never subscribed to it. I just don’t have the time to sit and read it in my house each day. I did try subscribing to the online version online for a year, but found most days I did not have time to read it. Now, I subscribe on my Kindle, and am very happy with my subscription. I bring my Kindle with my everywhere, so although I don’t read the Wall Street Journal every day, I love having it available when I have free time. Yes, reading it on my Kindle screen is even worse than my PC screen, but overall I enjoy it much more because of how much I just appreciate being able to read it whenever and wherever I want. If I am waiting at an airport, I would probably buy the print edition that day instead of reading it on my Kindle, but that does not make me regret my electronic subscription in any way. My point with all of this is that for 25 years I had loved the Wall Street Journal but never paid to subscribe. Then, the day I bought my Kindle, I became a paid subscriber.

2. For the past 20 years, I read an average of only 2-3 books a year, most of which were gifts people gave me. Since I bought my Kindle, I read 2-3 books per month (mostly business books, usually $10-$15 each), because having them on my Kindle allows me to read them at more opportune times. I especially love not having to bring a stack of books with me when I go on vacation, and not having to worry about being in a situation where I run out of books to read.

3. After I bought my Kindle, I canceled all of my print magazine subscriptions and subscribed to those same magazines on my Kindle instead. An extra benefit to this is that if I ever move, I don’t need to deal with changing the address for all of my magazine subscriptions. And, because I love reading on my Kindle so much, I even subscribed to a bunch of new magazines that I never subscribed to before.

4. Sometime when I am reading a book or magazine article on my Kindle, the author recommends a related book, and I buy it. In the past, I probably would have written down the book name and remembered to go to a book store and buy it (or order it online), but the Kindle allows this with a few clicks, so I do it.

5. I subscribe to several blogs on my Kindle, such as I used to read these blogs online for free, but I now pay a small fee (like $2/month) for the convenience to read them on my Kindle. In fact, people can even subscribe to my blog on their Kindle. Before devices like the Kindle came out, who would have thought people would pay to read blogs?

I know all of my usage is not typical of the normal reader, but soon, books and magazines and newspapers will be available in multimedia form, so for example when you read about Steve Jobs giving a news conference to launch the new iPad 2.0 5G 3D solar powered model, you will be able to click on a highlights video of his speech, download the audio file, view a photo of the new device, or maybe try a 3D holographic demo of it. All of this will make the books/magazines/newspapers much more enticing and competitive, and without the high costs of the old school printing and distribution, publishers might be able to make the same profit as they did back in their glory days.

It is hard to predict the future of any industry, but it is very possible the publishing industry may adapt to all the new technology and change along with the times, avoiding the collapse that many people are talking about.

8 thoughts on “The Death of the Publishing Industry?

  1. Anthony

    Eric we are living in fascinating times … I would add

    that we are witnessing the death of some “PROfessions”.

    The gateways to certain professions are coming down and

    allowing people with a passion for a topic to compete with

    those that just do it for the paycheck. Guess who will win ?


    1. admin

      I agree. Also, there is a huge amount of research (given in many of the popular business books right now) about how professionals and experts are wrong a lot, and are no better than non-experts at predicting and assessing things.

  2. John

    The game has definitely changed. In late 2005, I began buying many geographically discriptive domains when I saw the market shift. What do you advise on approaching a publishing company (eg regional newspapers, tv stations, magazines) to let them know that I have the names on the market?

    1. admin

      I have never tried that approach, but it can’t hurt to try. I would guess though it would be difficult for you to get in touch with the right person at each company who would be able to make a decision like that.

  3. John

    Thanks for the response. I have one domain that I got in 2006. It is a geographically descriptive domain with a generic category keyword. The trademark office recently issued a trademark to a local company that claims that they began using it as their business name in 2009. I was surprised that the trademark office approved their request since it had denied other requests for geographically descriptive trademarks from this same region. None of the domains I own have any trademark words on them. I did research before I registered them. What would you advise on contacting them and offering the domain?

    1. admin

      Since you registered the domain first, they probably don’t have the right to take it away from you, but on the other hand they could block you from using it for anything relating to their business. It can’t hurt to email them and ask them to make you an offer for it.

  4. John

    Thanks again. Unrelated to the trademark. I sent an email earlier this week and asked for an offer from an organization responsible in the promotion of an extremely successful shopping center. The domain is also geographically descriptive. The center’s name abbreviated matches the domain. I had it before the center became known by that name. I received a reply that the marketing department would rather have me set a selling price than to make an offer. I know that if it is properly promoted the website owner will benefit economically both online and offline. The surrounding businesses and the owner of the center will also benefit. I would want to set something reasonable. What is your advise on setting a price for the current domain market? I was thinking about a price range compared to your Comedy Club domain.

    1. admin

      I usually use to get an idea of an asking price. If that gives too low a price, just give them a high price and let them make a counter offer.


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