The economics of choice

After I wrote about the potential value of offering content in multiple formats and across multiple channels, I read Eric Hellman’s perceptive analysis of demand curves and their implications for publishers.

Without much conjecture, Hellman illustrates how libraries help publishers cost-effectively and profitably reach a wide cross-section of readers whose willingness to pay for content would otherwise make them unprofitable for publishers. He extends this analysis to defend both channels and formats.

Contrast Hellman’s analysis with a recent post by Rich Adin, who proposed a “21st century publishing model” on An American Editor. His thinking was reposted on Teleread, and comments appear on both sites.

Adin argues that the e-book pricing controversy could be solved by eliminating the paperback format. It is probably more than the “modest proposal” it claims to be, and it elicited a range of less modest reactions.

Hellman’s analysis allows for a more robust content future; Adin’s proposal defends the prevailing model by limiting choice. I’m betting on the more robust content future.

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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