Wednesday, 21 March 2007

Hey, me newpapers's not on sale no more

Gobbledigeek had lunch with one of our old hack friends yesterday. He has been a journo for many years and still hankers after his pieces appearing on paper, newspapers and books. It's only 'real' then he reckons. Got us thinking how it used to be the case that 'proper' authors got published on paper and only then after a sage-type editor had decided that they came up to the mark.

If you ask a webby how you publish something, it's dead easy. A post is an article, a blog a publication. There's no one sagely giving bloggers approval to publish.

Unlike record companies, book sales seem to be not only holding up but getting bigger with the advent of the web. We all know the irony about Amazon being successful online selling what is 'old media' stuff. Answer me this, why are books as popular as ever?

Newspapers in the UK are suffering from dropping sales year on year, here's the link to the wiki on the history of British newpapers. Over the next five years, newpaper publishers are going to have to completely change their business model (oh, stop it).

Newspapers' weakness is no 'long tail'. Gobbledigeek! @:) A huge range of products that each sell in small numbers, but when you add up all the little sales, you make big money. Record companies don't suffer from that - old songs are still fab. And book publishers too have a great long tail from their back catalogue as long as it contains gorgeous stuff - Winnie the Pooh, Sense and Sensibility, Hamlet, The L Shaped Room, Uncle Tom's Cabin, you get the picture.

The people running papers are so used to controlling the content and distribution that there's lots of evidence to say that they're not really getting it. This week, the editor of one of the UK national newpapers was complaining in some speech that everyone seems to be talking down the newspaper industry. Well, er, right. We say those talkers realise that the old business model is breaking up. Get in with the zeitgeist!

Here's a clue chaps: don't think controlling content, think sharing content; don't think whole newspapers, think individual articles; don't think paper and deadlines, think mobiles/web/anyotherwayofreachingyourpunters; don't think journo primadonnas, think ordinary people with something to say.

(Reminds us of a topic for a future post - the breakdown of traditional 'authority' - or why the bank manager, the council, the policeman, the teacher, the parent, the MP etc are all seen as irrelevant by anyone under 30.)