February 10th, 2007

The Rapid Transformation Of Publishing Economics

by

The death of print publishing is coming, it’s just a matter of whether it happens in 5 years, 10 years, or 15 years. I’m betting it happens sooner than anyone expects. Colin Crawford, the SVP of online for IDG, posted some stunning figures:

Today the absolute dollar growth of our online revenues now exceeds the decline in our print revenues. This occurred in the US in 2006 and in Europe during the last quarter.

With this change in the revenue mix and the higher margins from our online businesses – the company is more profitably today than it has been previously.

and

In the US, our online revenue now accounts for over 35% of our total US publishing revenues. Next year, for many brands online revenues will be greater than print revenues, if fact they already are at some of our key brands and by 2009 – approximately 50% of IDG’s US revenues will come from online.

When you think about how fast the fundamental business model of publishing is changing, it’s truly mind boggling. These numbers are already moving faster than anyone expected last year — the rate of acceleration will continue to exceed expectations. Colin goes on to say:

The brutal reality that we’re facing today is the costly process of dismantling and replacing legacy operations and cultures and business models with ones with new and yet to be fully proven business models. However, we face greater risks if we don’t transform our organization and take some chances.

Print publishing is kept alive today only by inertia, because dismantling the business is a huge cost to bear, not because the business itself has any sustainable rationale. The efficiencies of digital distribution of information will soon reduce print publishing to an art form. There will be plenty of artistic reasons to publish in print, but for news and business information, it will become an utterly irrational undertaking.

Comments (26 Responses so far)

  1. a small publishing company) as well as several other senior level people in publishing I’m involved or acquainted with so they could see what he revealed…and think about this piece of evidence with respect to their own businesses. Then Scott Karp posts about Colin’s writing and goes further to discuss the rapid acceleration in the death of print publishing. When I posted back in October about one clear death rattle for the printing industry — namely prepress behemoth Banta closing a big shop four

  2. a small publishing company) as well as several other senior level people in publishing I’m involved or acquainted with so they could see what he revealed…and think about this piece of evidence with respect to their own businesses. Then Scott Karp posts about Colin’s writing and goes further to discuss the rapid acceleration in the death of print publishing. When I posted back in October about one clear death rattle for the printing industry — namely prepress behemoth Banta closing a big shop four

  3. The Rapid Transformation Of Publishing Economics Posted 113 minutes ago The death of print publishing is coming, it’s just a matter of whether it happens in 5 years, 10 years, … [Link]

  4. 199 Cranberg wants a serious probe of why the press failed in its pre-war reporting (Link) 2 Feb 11, 2007 niemanwatchdog.org 200 The Rapid Transformation Of Publishing Economics (Link) 2 Feb 11, 2007 publishing2.com 201 The Perils of a Digital Life (Link) 2 Feb 11, 2007 blogcritics.org 202 List of redundant expressions (Wikipedia) (Link) 2

  5. a small publishing company) as well as several other senior level people in publishing I’m involved or acquainted with so they could see what he revealed…and think about this piece of evidence with respect to their own businesses. Then Scott Karp posts about Colin’s writing and goes further to discuss the rapid acceleration in the death of print publishing. When I posted back in October about one clear death rattle for the printing industry — namely prepress behemoth Banta closing a big shop four

  6. The Rapid Transformation Of Publishing Economics

  7. + Discussion: Publishing 2.0, Tinfinger, Deep Jive Interests, PaidContent and Technovia

  8. an interesting story about the decline of print.

  9. sur les TIC dans 85 pays du monde. Prenant acte de l’évolution elle se définit maintenant comme “une compagnie d’information centrée sur le web et complémentée par des expos et des publications sur papier”. Scott Karp de Publising 2.0 reprend le billet et ajoute qu’à son avis, la publication sur papier est maintenue en vie parce que ça coûterait trop cher de la démanteler. Il pense que la transition (c.-à-d. le déclin du papier) se fera beaucoup plus vite que prévu.

  10. papier spécial dans lequel sont incrustés des cristaux de colorant activés par l’imprimante, de s’affranchir des cartouches d’encre. La question économique de l’impression papier, commence à se poser. Comme l’affirme sur son blog, Scott Karp de Publising 2.0 : « Il y aura plein de raisons artistiques de publier sur papier, mais pour les nouvelles et les informations concernant le monde des affaires, cela deviendra une entreprise totalement irrationnelle.

  11. other noise, it did make one critical point: that against the emerging models that are proving so disruptive to traditional media, neither incumbent content owners nor distributors have any “legacy advantage”. Equally notable to my eye, acerbic Publishing 2.0

  12. 10 – The Rapid Transformation Of Publishing Economics

  13. først. Det bliver jo online og typisk pÃ¥ amerikanske websteder. Det har bare taget papirmedierne alt for længe at fÃ¥ fjernet “old news” fra egne nyhedssider. En masse bloggere/journalister skriver om Infoworlds død pÃ¥ papir. Jeg kan anbefale “The Rapid Transformation of Publishing Economics”

  14. Aanbevolen leesvoer The Rapid Transformation Of Publishing EconomicsNew Revenue Stream For Bloggers: TextMark SMS AlertsThe Dealmakers of 2006How-to videos find their niche: the InternetBusinesses to start in Second LifeNintendo’s Blue Ocean Strategy: WiiOnline verkoop digitale content naar 8,3 miljard euro

  15. [...] Scott Karp’s opinion is that print publishing is on its way to die. I think it *will* suffer in an unimaginable huge-train-wreck-in-front-of-millions kind of way for their investors, but it won’t die completely. Much like other media forms, particularly radio, print publishing will be forced to evolve … except faster than anyone has the stomach for (particularly investors, ironically). And like radio, “print-only” plays will find a niche. Really small niches, but niches all the same to survive. [...]

  16. Going, going … but gone? When Google is selling newspaper ads?
    When newspapers are refocusing on local and using print to support online?

    I began my migration from print to the web in 1994 and I’m still astonished by the foolishness of dead tree media companies. But they’ll continue killing trees as long as there’s an audience, and there will always be an audience for print. Smaller and more specialized, perhaps; but dead, no. IDG and other business publishers are special cases. It’s hard to imagine supermarket checkouts of the future without celebrity and weight-loss mags and tabs. Local newspapers will gradually convert to free circ and will drive traffic to online community sites.

    Just as predictions of the demise of television are premature, I think the same applies to print. We should continue to focus on making ours the best and most powerful medium and use non-interactive media to our benefit.

  17. People are very attached to books. You don’t have to turn them on, plug them in or recharge their batteries. They are convenient and user friendly. I’m guessing they will last much longer than you imagine.

    I agree, though, that up-to-the-minute information will be delivered almost exclusively digitally, and magazines will migrate online. But books will exist in the next century.

  18. [...] Bonus Link II: Scott Karp says: [...]

  19. Ok so a few days ago you feigned horror at the thought that Google might not succeed in the offline advertising world, but then in this post you say how quickly old world media such as newspapers are going downhill. What is the big deal about Google not doing so well in offline advertising if papers are losing ground as fast as you claim here?

  20. Ryan,

    “Feigned horror”? How horrible.

    What is the big deal about Google not doing so well in offline advertising if papers are losing ground as fast as you claim here?

    Ask Google investors who need Goog to hit its aggressive growth targets?

  21. [...] Scott Karp weighs in with his opinion on the future of print: [...]

  22. [...] 26 February 2007 The Rapid Transformation Of Publishing Economics » Publishing 2.0 Link: The Rapid Transformation Of Publishing Economics » Publishing 2.0. The Rapid Transformation Of Publishing [...]

  23. Scott, I work for a major magazine publisher in Australia, and I publish on the subject of innovation in publishing at my site, http://www.skunktank.com. I’ll fess up that I quoted you in this piece, at http://skunktank.typepad.com/weblog/2007/02/paths_to_growth.html, but respectfully. I agree with your sentiments, but there needs to be a good substitute product ready to replace the incumbent. Nevertheless, Australian mags have now hit ‘peak print’, so the slow decline is about to begin. This aside, I am enjoying your work, so thanks.

  24. [...] 2.0 – distributing books on the web 14Feb07 From Scott Karp’s Publishing 2.0: The death of print publishing is coming, it’s just a matter of whether it happens in 5 years, 10 [...]

  25. [...] (by Rafat) that InfoWorld will cease to publish in print. Colin Crawford at IDG foreshadowed this rapid transformation. The new about InfoWorld is extremely significant for two [...]

  26. [...] it Op het weblog publishing 2.0 van Scott Karp een item over de vermeende neergang van het uitgeven van [...]

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