Thursday, October 09, 2008

Groundhog Day

Remember the CDRom debacle of the mid 90s and the dotcom crash of 2000? We may believe today is Grounhog Day.

The market has a canny way of bringing us back to reality, making us face the facts and of exposing false dawns.

Many believed that CDRoms where going to replace paper and offer a smart innovative consumer interface to all information needs. We all know the excessive monies that were lavished on what know look very questionable projects. Fingers were burnt and publishing confidence took a knock. As a result when the Internet started to take hold and grow, publishing initially held back and were overly cautious.

In the late 90s Amazon’s demise was wildly predicted by the publishing sooth sayers. However, by then it was established and those who held back were playing catch up. The dotcom crash was less about the Internet and services but about valuations and predicted returns. Some believed their own words and thought that all that was needed was a web site and money would pour in and company values would soar. It took the impact of dotcom to bring home reality. Today we all understand the Internet better and have returned, adopted it and are moving forward.

Then came the second dawn of the ebook, web 2.0 and mobile explosion and although many sensible paths were being taken in publishing, some were once again caught in the hype and in danger of once again handing over the keys of the chocolate factory to the kids.

Today we face a wake up call. We are not going to build a ebook sector on a small number of titles, it’s like trying to create a market in a vacuum. The ereaders as presented today are clearly transient technology and are certainly not a ‘must have’ accessory unless you work in publishing or are a journalist! However, the market will right itself, confidence will return, consumer demand will change.

We believe that today is about preparing for change not change itself. Anyone who thinks they are going to make a fortune for an ebook today is either smoking or knows something we don’t and that well may be true, but is unlikely. Therefore we all have to look internally and make the changes to enable us all to respond with agility it the future whilst protecting and making what we do today, work smarter.

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