1. cmcpress
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    cmcpress Senior Member

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    Publishing, Licensing and the Long Tail

    Discussion in 'Publishing' started by cmcpress, Oct 28, 2010.

    One interesting thing that's happened in music is that Publishing deals have changed drastically recently. Generally the Publishing industry is about 10 years behind the music industry as regards their reaction to the internet age.

    Nowadays it's much more common to see a licensing deal than it is a publishing deal. And the deal need not be exclusive either. There has been a rise in deals which grant exclusive use of the name which attaches with it the use of the content itself. So for example a piece of library music could be called "The winged Fairy" and that would constitue one licensing deal.

    Then the author can take the work to another licensing agent and call it "the bewinged supernatural being" but in all intents and purposes it is the exact same content.

    One of the negative impacts is that with the same content available through different distributors it's sparked price wars - dropping overall values.

    Why are publishers allowing this?

    Because of something called the long tail:

    The long tail means that for distributors the amount of content you have defines your income - so rather than making high volume sales on one product you make a high volume on small sales of products. The products that sell the most generally tend to be high niche products.

    And of those products that sell the most are cheaper priced and generally from artists who have a large back catalogue.

    Applying this, then to authors - the amount of revenue you create, the number of outlets you have and the size of your back catalogue are the driving forces for generating income.

    This has really put the wind up the Publishing industry. At the moment several large publishing companies are trying to secure a deal with Apple to distribute books over ipad -combined with Amazon et al. This has an enormous impact on paper sales which are now in freefall.

    Has anyone here any experience in this phenomenon? Have you tried to e-publish?
     
  2. SashaMerideth
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    SashaMerideth Contributing Member

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    The long tail is a modern myth. While there is marginal value in making available thousands of items that one or two people may purchase, it pales in comparison to the returns that making available one item that thousands of people will buy. Data storage costs money, data transfer costs money. Selling at a loss and making it up with volume only equals more loss. Low margins on hot items, high margins on cold ones, so your long tail is expensive.

    With ebooks, I wholly support the idea, however I have already picked up a couple ebooks that I wish I hadn't. Formatting an epub isn't that hard, yet people still get it wrong. Many self e-publishers won't consult an editor or even run it past someone else to look over before slapping it up on several of the dozens of e-book sites. It is still a fledgling industry and only some book publishers are doing things right.
     
  3. cmcpress
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    cmcpress Senior Member

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    Interesting you saying that because with mp3 sales it appears to be working (for the distributors and labels anyway). The key thing with the long tail is keeping distribution, storage etc.. costs low - and for a company like apple the cost per song is minute because of economies of scale.

    marketing budgets also factor into this - and, unsurprisingly the marketing budget for a big ticket item is likely to be the n factor more.

    Sure, the long tail relies on there being large scale popularity for a number of other products in order for consumers to arrive in the first place.

    As part of one project i'm talking to a media finance / investment firm right now for a project and they're very confident (with the right marketing and proof of demand) that the long tail model works.

    Agreed on editing.

    What i find particularly interesting is the notion of self publishing opportunities for writers - much more than with self pub in paperback. Although obviously then this leaves you wide open to piracy...
     
  4. SashaMerideth
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    SashaMerideth Contributing Member

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    Piracy is a fact of the Digital Age. The MPAA and RIAA are trying to fight piracy in all the wrong ways, and trying to keep a death grip on their works, while passing on the scraps to the artists, RIAA especially. DRM is a broken concept, heck, HDCP, the optional un-breakable encryption between HDMI devices has been broken, permanently.

    If your business plans don't account for piracy, then you will lose vast quantities of money. The pay-what-you-want model, and free ebook with hard copy seem to be good ways of working with the spectre of piracy. Oh, don't offer a more crippled product than the pirates can create, that's one reason DVD and blu-ray piracy is rampant, the pirates create a better quality product than you get on the disc.
     

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