Agile, now

Last fall, Thomas Nelson contributed titles on its fall 2009 list to our ongoing research into the impact of piracy on paid content sales. We have not yet developed enough data to report any consolidated findings for the titles, but along the way I’ve come to read and appreciate a blog written by our primary contact, Tod Shuttleworth.

Last week, Tod posted a interesting assessment of the challenges facing book publishing. The Inevitable Decline of Traditional Book Publishing reminded me of something I say fairly frequently to periodical publishers: content is not too expensive; it is too narrowly deployed.

In the realm of books, the format that worked well for a long time is no longer enough. Print is not dead, but print alone probably is.

Content agility, which we’ve been studying through our XML in publishing project, is critical to develop to serve the markets and uses that we know about and the ones we have not yet figured out (but will need to).

If I had one thing to add to Tod’s post: anything that we publish today that is not “agile” across platforms, markets and uses will either incur additional, downstream costs (or) be essentially lost in an increasingly digital world. Most content has a shelf life measured in years. Failing to develop agile content today will challenge publishers for the life of that content.

This is the urgent call: preparing to meet the demand for new formats and uses will take time. That’s why it’s important to be underway already, as Tod is doing at Thomas Nelson.

About Brian O'Leary

Founder and principal of Magellan Media Consulting, Brian O’Leary helps enterprises with media and publishing components capitalize on the power of content. A veteran of more than 30 years in the publishing industry and a prolific content producer himself, Brian leverages the breadth and depth of his experience to deliver innovative content solutions.

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