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?

EBSCO, Forbes, Time Open The Digital Divide.

Just when you thought the digital divide was getting smaller EBSCO, Forbes and Time are trying to pry it back open. One of the major database companies EBSCO is making a grab for even more money by creating a monopoly on some more commercial publications of popular magazines. The content for titles such as People, Forbes and Time has already been paid for by advertising and subscriptions, but now those publishers and ESBCO want to charge you even more for access to them. This especially hurts public libraries, which could hurt efforts to close the digital divide – creating a further gap between the poor and the wealthy. You may not use your public library but many depend upon it.

EBSCO has recently made an exclusive deal to gain a monopoly on the content of many popular magazines. The publishers of these magazines were concerned that public library users were accessing their content for free and not subscribing to their publications. Because of this they have been seeking a strategy to recover lost revenue.  Don’t the libraries subscribe for the benefit of their communities?

These pubs told the database vendors they were going to go with one, and only one aggregator and that they wanted a high price for their content. EBSCO at a very substantial cost won the bid.  Now they will be the sole provider of content for such titles as: Time, Time for Kids, History Today, People, People Espanol, Sports Illustrated, Sports Illustrated for Kids, US News & World Report, Entrepreneur, Forbes, Fortune, Harvard Business Review, Kiplinger’s Personal Finance, Money, Discover, New Republic and New Scientist.

So if your state or district or school does not purchase an EBSCO database, you will not have access to the current issues and back archives of these publications. With federal, state and local budget cuts many libraries are unsure of whether they can continue all their database subscriptions.

Sam Brooks, senior vice president of EBSCO Publishing, defended the company’s advocacy of library interests and its policies for creating premium products. Brooks was clearly proud of EBSCO’s achievement in collecting “the most important general periodicals” by which “many libraries can save money by avoiding full-text database vendor duplication.”

Should one company be allowed to have a monopoly on information? Think of how much tax dollars will be spent  by all the libraries across the country to line the pockets of these large for-profit corporations.