In an article earlier this week explaining why she won’t be self-publishing anytime soon, Edan Lepucki paused to enumerate the hurdles facing traditional publishers. The last in her list was “how to make people actually pay for content.” The phrase suggested to me one more challenge she might have added: “How to stop thinking of your customers as peons and thieves.”
It’s troublesome enough that media should be so concerned with how to make people pay. But the phrase implies something worse: that if people aren’t paying for content, they must be stealing it.
I have no issue with paying for content, nor do I think content should always be free. But I’d rather think of the challenge this way: how to create content so good, and a distribution mechanism so simple, that people want to pay for it.
The content market is no longer about control, but collaboration, about equal exchange. The longer traditional media thinks in terms of how they can make their customers do things, the closer they are to extinction.
Write, er, right on!
By the way, have you looked at Flattr? They are trying to bridge the gap between the free model and the must-pay model for content.
Thanks, Robin. I hadn’t heard of Flattr–a fact which doesn’t bode well for a project nearly two years old. As Mathew Ingram suggests, micropayment systems have a long history of falling short, and the odds against Flattr succeeding are “astronomically low.” Too bad–it’s a nice idea.
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