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.