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BoSacks Speaks Out: The Best Publishing Formula for Monetizing Success

BoSacks Speaks Out:

By Bob Sacks
Published: February 17, 2009

BoSacks Speaks Out: For those that know me, I’m a humble man. Well, at least sometimes. But not tonight. I have been telling my readers for over 17 years and my listeners at every lecture I have given that there is a successful monetized Internet model for publishing in the near future. Some have now begun to call it micro-payments. That is not my formula, but it is not far off either. Micro-payments may be part of the financial solution, but there are two facts that for some reason are completely overlooked or just absorbed into the mind of the body politic.

The first obvious lesson to learn is that nothing is for free. You cannot connect to the Internet for free. You cannot get data, information, news, music, pictures or anything else for free. Someone somewhere is paying for your connection to the Internet. So let’s be honest, nothing is and has ever been free. It is a stupid urban legend to think otherwise. I pay almost $100 a month for “free information”. Does that sound free to you? When I travel, and I travel a lot, I spend even more for connections in airports, in hotels, or in Starbucks. Connecting to the Internet is not free, so let’s get that straight right off the bat. Free does not exist.

Second point is that Cable TV is not free either. Yes, it seems free and there are hundreds of channels, but they ain’t free. It just feels that way because you don’t pay for the services as micro-payments. But you willing almost happily pay a monthly fee for the connection that includes hundreds of channels, movies, music, news and all sorts of information.

Now let’s be creative and add the two thoughts or concepts together. I call it consortium publishing. It is a monetized model of information distribution based on the cable TV model.

Just like cable TV there are tiers of participation. The basic program is for $5.95 a month, (fill in your own number here,) for which you get one local newspaper, one national paper and two magazines of your choice. Those magazines can be in print or preferably as digitally rendered magazines.

The next tier is the silver package. For that package you get one local newspaper, two national papers and five magazines of your choice plus two eBooks a month.

With this formula you work your way up to the Platinum package. For $89.00 a month you get everything ever published.

That is it. That is my formula for success for the publishing industry for the next 100 years. Will it be easy? No, nothing is easy. And the old time management regimes must first pass away for it to be a reality, because it is clearly too radical. But this, friend, is the future business platform for the information distribution industry. I have heard no other sensible solution that can tie all the loose elements together.

I’ve laid out the superstructure for you. Now, as Captain Jon Luc said on the Enterprise, make it so!



By Michael Josefowicz on Feb 18, 2009

Jean Luc,

My bet is that Amazon will make it so on the Kindle 2.0, 3.0 etc. They will be the Time Warner or Comcast of books.

Publishers will still Print stuff for thinkers and as tokens of tribal membership and a way to create important social events.

Thinkers because Print fixes facts and information. Once fixed they can rumble in the brain and sometimes a new idea happens. Since the only place you are forced to think is school, so that means K-12 and post graduate ed.

For tokens 'People like us buy that" or "wouldn't that be the perfect gift for X" or the self published book "look at me, I'm a writer"

For social events, its "let's buy that book to read with the kid at bedtime" or "let's form a book club so we can discuss X (which usually turns out to be a great dinner and gabfest.)


By Michael Turro on Feb 18, 2009

"For $89.00 a month you get everything ever published."

Sounds great, but that 89 bucks is never going to be enough to work out the royalty distribution operation for everything ever published. Remember, now everybody can be a publisher. How is dear old granny - who runs a nice little blog on oatmeal cookies - going to get her piece of that 89 bucks? Wouldn't be fair for BigCo to charge me 89 squids and not cut granny in on it - even if I am her only reader (and btw - I read her more often than I read the New York Times).


By Michael Josefowicz on Feb 18, 2009

From the Amazon kindle 2.0 copy at Amazon..

"Our vision is to have every book ever printed, in any language, all available in under 60 seconds on Kindle. We won't stop until we get there."

Granny will make her living by doing personal appearances, getting hired as a consultant, turning her blog in to a book a lulu.com and selling it to her readers, and a teeny little bit from adsense and the same from Amazon.

Problem with the 89 squids is that it doesn't work. If the NYTimes couldn't do it, and Bloomberg gives it away, who is going to pay for words? it's read for free, pay for print.


By Michael Turro on Feb 18, 2009

MJ - I'm with you on that - read for free, pay for print - MT


By Michael Josefowicz on Feb 18, 2009

Just one more cent: Adam, you gotta get an edit button.

The $89 is not for the words. It's the convenience and the saved hassle. And it's the perception of access to whatever you want, whenever you want it.
Access is power. People will pay $89 or some number to buy the perception of power.


By Michael Turro on Feb 18, 2009

Hmmm... still a bit confused as to where my $89 is going.

Am I paying a publishing co? If so how will they have rights to "everything ever published"?

Am I paying an ISP? If so how do they determine where my money goes? Are they monitoring what I'm reading online? If I spend 35% of my time on unknown blog #1 will they send 35% of my $89 to unknown blog #1 and NOT send anything to the NYT - which I NEVER read? If they do send 35% of my $89 to unknown blog #1 how will the proprietor of that blog handle the payment? They have no EIN or SS# associated with their blog - in fact unknown blog #1 want's to remain anonymous.

Questions, questions.


By bosacks on Feb 18, 2009

I am fascinated by some of these responses..including yours. How many channels do you have on your cable TV. 100, 200, 300. How many of those do you watch? Who tracks what you are watching? How do they know whom to charge for what? My expressed system is not perfect but it is workable.

You go to a laundry list of the "services" you desire and you pick from your tier what you want.
It is simple and somewhat workable.


By Michael Turro on Feb 18, 2009

Not really - In cable tv my subscription fee is collected by the cable company. They use that fee to offset the payments they make to the channels they have on their system. It's a finite system that is rather plainly written out with contracts between content providers and service providers. I know exactly where my money is going - I get an updated list every month - sent digitally to my set top box.

The Web is an infinite system. There is no real workable way for content producers to get paid unless they initiate and process that transaction with me directly. Sure there are third parties that help us both along in making the transaction - but there is no way that a service provider could serve as an umbrella clearing house for those transactions. It's just not feasible that a service provider - or anybody - could actually offer everything ever published for $89 or any price. Working out rights issues alone would take decades and cost more than the bank bailout.


By Michael Josefowicz on Feb 18, 2009

"working out the rights issues" is why Apple sold a gezillion iPods and reinvented the music business. Hard problems get big payoffs.

RE: " In cable tv my subscription fee is collected by the cable company." a little search replaces results in

In "Anybook, anywhere, anytime" my subscription is collected by Amazon.com."

Obviously they have the infrastructure to keep all the money flowing to whoever they decide it should flow to, in whatever amounts are part of the deal.

Given that they have now integrated a digital printing company and renamed it Booksurge, I think they have all the bases covered.

Anyone see anything that is missing?


By Michael Turro on Feb 18, 2009

Apple hasn't even come close to working out all the rights issues that would allow them to sell every song ever recorded. In fact, the amount of music NOT on iTunes far exceeds the amount that is there.

By the same token Amazon does not have access to everything ever written - the amount of material Amazon CAN'T sell is far greater than the amount they can sell.

How would you keep the money flowing to someone who has no bank account, no home? In the digital world that person can and often does do some rather profound publishing. See: http://thehomelessguy.blogspot.com/

Like it or not the new publishing world is infinite and diverse. Certainly your models can and will work at some level for some businesses - but many of those who try to implement them will find that new and unseen competition will make it near impossible to turn a profit.


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