Missing the boat

At the end of March 2009 I posted "Publishing's real problem", which considered whether consolidations and staff cuts would be enough to help magazine publishers restore their operational and fiscal health. In it, I wrote:

"Readers really don’t care how a media company is organized.  They want to be able to find and consume content wherever, whenever and however it can be obtained."

I concluded that more than scale and cost-cutting was needed:

"Editors have been slow to see that in their new roles, they need to think not just about what is to be published, but how that content will be discovered and consumed… Already out of date: media models that focus on reducing the cost of providing content in narrow channels.  Think instead about investing in and gaining the revenue benefits of more robust models built around content agility."

Although my post that day focused on a magazine publishing example, it came to mind earlier this week when Penguin and Random House announced plans to merge. Some of the announcements and analysis have talked about innovation, but it still seems an afterthought. If a $1.9 billion company needs to fold in a $1.8 billion company to create enough scale to innovate, I think we're missing the boat.

An additional note: For a different, more extensive assessment of the merger, I recommend "Random House + Penguin: What the Merger Means for Publishers, Authors, Readers", written by Jason Ashlock and Adam Chromy of Movable Type Management. It appeared this week on MediaShift.

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.