The forgotten consumer

Book: A Futurist's Manifesto includes a contribution from Jacob Lewis, who is the co-founder and CEO of Figment, an online community for teens and young adults to create, discover, and share new reading and writing. Writing about "The forgotten consumer", Lewis begins by describing an experience buying crudely pirated paperbacks in Brindisi, Italy. He goes on to note:

"Piracy will always exist. But piracy doesn’t occur just because books are digital. As the Brindisi sellers showed, it doesn’t take much more than a Xerox machine to copy a book, and if someone were really inclined, it would be easy to enter the text into a word processor, just as it’s easy to take a camcorder into a movie theater and copy a movie. Piracy doesn’t occur because the process is easy—it occurs because there’s an available and exploitable market. And it’s more likely to occur if pirates are serving a market that has restricted access to the content it wants. The more we restrict access—whether by territory, by price, or by format—the more likely it is that we’ll find our content in the wrong hands."

Figment, inspired by the power of community evident in the early and surprising success of Japanese cell-phone novels, is building a community of both writers and readers. Earlier this year, the site claimed 220,000 registered users, with 13,000 more added each week.  About 1,000 new works have been posted each day.

The third section of the book includes 11 examples of what Hugh McGuire calls "projects from the bleeding edge". A relatively new addition to that list, Figment offers a platform that aligns consumption and creation in a way that is organically appealing to its intended audiences.

About Manifesto: You can now read Lewis's chapter online, where it is hosted on the PressBooks site. The complete book can also be purchased in print, digital and bundled formats through O'Reilly Media and in print and digital formats at major book retailing sites. I've noted elsewhere that the royalties for the book are being used to fund the development of PressBooks, and for that reason I encourage you to consider buying the book.

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.