Afraid of Digital? History Says Run To It, Not Away

A report by the American Association of Publishers just announced that net sales revenue from ebooks exceeded that of hardcover books for the first time. Remember when many publishers and authors were scared of eBooks and fought against digital publishing? As late as 2005, J.K. Rowling did not permit any of the six Potter books to be released in electronic form.

But publishers are not alone in their fears. Remember the music industry and all their lawsuits against digital music? They weren’t just suing services like Napster, but suing thousands of individual music fans. In 1998, the Recording Industry Association of America filed a lawsuit claiming the Diamond Multimedia Rio PMP300 player violated the 1992 Audio Home Recording Act.

Then there’s the journalism profession. They didn’t want anything to do with news on the web and tried to preserve their old business model while others set the standard of free news on the Internet. First the readers left, then the advertisers. A recent article in The Online Journalism Review said it this way, “America’s newspaper chains missed their moment of opportunity to use their scale to dominate the information business online.” Now they’re trying to play catch up online and on mobile by trying to convince people to pay subscriptions again.

Today marketers are at the crossroads these other industries faced in the past. Social Media Marketing is about giving up control – something corporations and marketing people are not used to doing. And that means open, responsive “social” interactions – not using facebook as an event calendar or a place to post static press releases.

Are we going to learn from history? Or let fear hold us back?