Progressive Publishing

This idea’s been brewing for about 5 years, ever since I spilled out some proto-ideas on a train ride with a pharma training professional (who has urged me to “follow the light” on this one – thanks, Susan!)

We all see how the new on-line/social networking tools have radically changed publishing. Here’s where I think it COULD lead:

Context: The bits and pieces

We used to see published materials as somewhat static: a daily newspaper, a monthly magazine, a completed book. There were authors, there were bloggers, there were journalists, there were speakers (with some overlap among them). Media came to us in various formats and from various scattered sources. Often these publications had with a short shelf-life (expired relevance) or a long shelf-life with little ability to update (books with second or third editions).

Current: Multi-channel and Evolved communications

Now, with blogging (especially), we see that people can publish immediately, iteratively, collaboratively, and build an audience over time. Some authors are launching blogs in conjunction with books, or, increasingly, using their blog to build a platform and audience which makes publication of a traditional book more successful. We’re living in a transitional period where “fixed” published media is becoming “mixed” published media, and the mix is getting richer (printed words, blogs, micro-blogs, pictures, videos, etc.) Chris Brogan‘s blog, speaking engagements, and upcoming “Trust Agents” book is a prime example of this approach, as is Greg Verdino‘s upcoming book.

Ahead: Progressive Publishing and Personal Subscriptions?

SubYouWhere is this heading? Here’s what I think. We’ll no longer think of blogs and books and YouTube channels as distinct and discrete entities. Let’s say you have been writing on a specific topic on a blog for years and there is traction there. Your blog pre-builds your audience, which is enhanced by a YouTube channel with brief videos, Twitter blurbs, etc. Then you decide to write a book, but here’s the deal: for the ($22.95) price your customers not only get a copy of hard-back book, they have access to a private network where you progressively share new, updated, and enhanced content – the publication is now a progressive process. Yes, there is free stuff out there to continue to hook new customers, but people are no longer buying a fixed entity (this edition of this book) – they’re buying progressive thought over time. Including, perhaps, the thoughts of others in the community built around the publication.

Information is moving too rapidly to remain in fixed formats. That’s why I think progressive publishing is inevitable.

What does evolve into further? Personal Subscriptions. Let’s say I think Chris Brogan (or Ann Handley, or Valeria Maltoni, or David Meerman Scott, or…) is worthy of being “followed” as one of my inner circle of advisors. I now pay to subscribe to that person (not just buy their product), and with enough subscriptions, that person is now free to crank out, progressively, a ton of great content and advice in multiple formats to their own growing community. Keep up the good work, the subscriptions continue and grow. Falter, and people vote with their dollars annually. The music industry may very well head in this direction as well.

None of these concepts is particularly new or earth-shattering – a lot of this is happening in various ways already. It just seems to me that it’s moving inexorably toward a different publication model, one that is person-centric rather than product-centric, one that is progressive rather than fixed or staccato.

Your thoughts? Would you pay to “subscribe” to key thought leaders? What new models of publishing do you see developing?


Subscribe to the StickyFigure blog

Connect with Steve Woodruff

About Steve Woodruff
Steve Woodruff is a blogger, a Connection Agent, and a consultant in the pharma/healthcare industry. He specializes in helping people and companies make mutually beneficial connections.

5 Responses to Progressive Publishing

  1. I couldn’t agree more with your take on this. The benefits of an organic publishing model are very significant for both the authors and the readership in terms of refining ideas and making them workable. There are people that are great at ideas but not the implementation and there are others who know how to make ideas work but don’t necessarily have the best ones. Bringing the different strengths together will benefit many more. Great way to ensure credit where credit is due too.

    There is one downside: often great ideas are expressed before their time and they are often clearer even if (paradoxically) not understood fully. When people hear things the second or third time it is really good to have the original to refer back to. Not great for the authors though!

  2. Love the thinking, Steve.

    The evolution from FIXED to MIXED is excellent.

    Just building on your ideas:

    Hasn’t the BOOK already become the BLOG in the sense that individual posts are pages in that now interactive, ongoing book.

    We then assemble or aggregate the pages into FIXED publications if and when it will add value to our audience to do so.

    Also, IMO, we already PAY to subscribe to key thought leaders in the sense that we give them our ATTENTION, CLICKS, VIEWS etc. They then convert that currency into hard cash.

    Best, Robin

  3. Ben Dawe says:

    I think you’re on the money Steve in the sense that authors are now the leaders of content brands that surpass individual channels and revenue lines. However, there’s a large and huddled cohort of traditional content folk wondering if the level of “free” that comes with purchased content is sustainable. Is it really just an evolution towards extinction for the dinosaurs formerly known simply as writers? More than likely. The people who are widely read in the future could well be mediocre writers with outstanding entrepreneurial skills.

  4. Dave says:

    I think group writing fictional stories may be a popular thing in the future with a blog as the format. A story written my many authors that never ends. Maybe you could publish the first part of the story free then have people subscribe to contribute/read.

  5. Pingback: Is This the Future of Knowledge-Sharing? « StickyFigure

%d bloggers like this: