Digital content - people don't want to steal. Unless you want them to.

Just read a great blog post "No Ebook No Sale" by my friend, Augusto Pinaud and commented there. Basically what he said is this - if you - PUBLISHER or AUTHOR - don't provide your content in a digital form - EBOOK - I won't read it. Augusto made the switch to Kindle and iPad and he doesn't need paper books anymore. I totally agree with his sentiment:
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We live in a digital age and we need digital content. Now.

For some reasons (piracy?) both the authors and publishers are afraid to publish their content in digital form. Even though iTunes Store has proven them wrong like million times, but they still hesitate it. Augusto quotes JK Rowling (the author of Harry Potter) as a person who's afraid to publish the books in digital form. Instead of fearing digital age, both authors and publishers must embrace it.

We live in a global, Internet-connected world, so better offer your content globally.

Once upon a time, when a movie aired in the United States first, it came to Europe in half a year. Now it's coming the next day, whether you like it or not. Either, because some publishers got smart and made a worldwide premiere the same day, or... which is still more likely, because the publishers and distributors got stupid... it's coming via illegal torrent networks - whether the distributors like it or not.

Come on guys - we have Internet now - we know that the movie is available over there... so if you're not making it available over here, we'll still watch it anyway. But then you won't earn a thing. Don't make us steal the content to watch it - we'll happily pay, but give us a chance!

Same applies to the TV series... and in most cases we in Europe are far behind there.

Convenience is the magical word - and both publishers and authors need to embrace it.

We love convenience. iTunes made it convenient for people to get their music directly to their digital players and people bought it. Although they could've downloaded it free off a peer2peer network. If you make something convenient for the customers - they will pay, and they'll be happy about the warm fuzzy feeling of staying legal.

As you know, I love audiobooks, I even listen to them while skiing, and although I could have downloaded them off a P2P networks, I actually subscribed to Audible and I'm paying for them. Audible makes my purchases convenient, offers great prices and promos... and gives me that fuzzy feeling of staying on a legal side and supporting the content creators.

C'mon guys, nobody wants to rob you publishers and authors... but not giving us the content they way we want, you're asking to be robbed. And we are your customers. And you should serve us, not penalize us. And customers are always right. Don't you think?
--> me I'm Michael Sliwinski and I'm an entrepreneur who's also the...
.. Founder of Nozbe.com - a time and project management web application
.. Editor of Productive! Magazine - a global PDF publication on productivity
.. and a blogger as well as a producer of a weekly 2-minute Productive! show.

Posted on Thursday, April 15, 2010 (business)

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Augusto Pinaud
Apr 15, 2010 17:59
Great Post Michael, I love that you said: "Convenience is the magical word - and both publishers and authors need to embrace it." and I agree, I have purchase all my movies, I have re-buy all those paper books that I love, I now send Amazon Gift Card instead of books when I give books away, and I avoid like the plague paper books.

Sadly, like in the music and movie industries, publishers and authors are unwilling to get the books and expand their market, the reality, is that internet and the global commerce has open the frontiers to something bigger, and they are not playing then.

I had a old friend that just publish a book that I want to read (mostly because my friend wrote it). I look for the book online and couldn't find it, so I contact the publisher, and ask for an electronic copy. Answer is we will not have it. I told them, that I would really like to read the book, but was not willing to pay shipment from Spain, so I thanks them for that, and decide not to read the book, (or maybe in the future look for it online). Two days later the publisher email me, and offer to send me the book for free. Sadly is going to be more expensive for them to do that, than send me an electronic copy or even better, sell me one...

Sadly I don't think the model of that publisher regarding ebooks will work for longer, I am at least for sure, not a target market for them.

And as in any other business, if you are not growing and you are not increasing sales, your business is dying.

Daniel Vasilios Nielsen
Apr 15, 2010 18:21
Great article, and i totally agree. I would love to buy movies and tv-shows, just as I buy music. But I will not go down town to buy a record. If I can't listen to the music within minutes of wanting it, I don't listen to the music. If I can't buy Mythbusters in my country on iTunes I watch it somewhere else. I pay for the Discovery Channel, but I am not watching it on my TV.

Why can't publishers see that the materials are out there and it is easier to find a pirated episode of The Simpsons than to set you Harddisk recorder in your living room...

I'll gladly pay!

Michael Sliwinski
Apr 15, 2010 19:16
I wanted to write this post for a while now. Augusto inspired me to do it today. Publishers need to embrace the digital world, not fear it. This whole thing of suing people for downloading digital content off peer2peer network is plain stupid and counter productive.

The thing is - when Napster showed up - the industry thought - lets sue everyone! Apple thought: let's make iTunes and make a pay-for Napster! And who won?

I'm Polish, I live in Poland... we still don't have access to music and movies on iTunes in Poland... because Polish industry fears it... again, plain stupid.

Paul Krefta
Apr 16, 2010 12:30
Polish industry doesnt fear I think - polish law jungle + mentality is bigger problem. Who is going to buy digital media in Poland - geeks, nerds, some rich people and that's all I guess unoftunately : (
Michael Sliwinski
Apr 16, 2010 13:03
I believe we shouldn't fear mentality all that much and believe more in people. Industry should try experimenting with digital media and see how it goes. Not flat-out assume people are thieves. I think the industry in Poland might be surprised, but I don't even see them trying at all. They just want to keep the status quo. And look how it's going out for them.

Thanks for your comment Paul, also thanks for commenting Daniel and Augusto!

Jan Rychter
Apr 16, 2010 14:07
I wrote a provocative blog post in a very similar vein a while ago -- http://jan.rychter.com/enblog/2009/9/17/why-i-will-steal-music.html

I was frustrated by the fact that in spite of complaining about piracy, music publishers do not want to make content available legally. And it isn't about convenience, it's about availability. iTunes, Pandora, Hulu, Netflix, Amazon MP3, these all aren't available in many countries (including roughly half of the European Union).

Michael Sliwinski
Apr 17, 2010 20:53
Digital media has to be both available to us everywhere in the world and has to be convenient for us to use it. The problem with peer-2-peer is that it's actually very convenient... so media providers must do a good job delivering it.

I totally agree with your article and your point of view, Jan. It's very frustrating that the industry deliberately wants us to steal content. They seem to be asking for it.

And you give good examples, too - people in Poland are not more of thieves than people in America. Yet in the USA you get digital content in so many ways you mentioned... Thanks for your comment, Jan! (and keep up the great work with your blog!)