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About Sam Vaknin

Sam Vaknin ( http://samvak.tripod.com ) is the author of Malignant Self Love - Narcissism Revisited and After the Rain - How the West Lost the East. He served as a columnist for Central Europe Review, PopMatters, Bellaonline, and eBookWeb, a United Press International (UPI) Senior Business Correspondent, and the editor of mental health and Central East Europe categories in The Open Directory and Suite101.

Until recently, he served as the Economic Advisor to the Government of Macedonia.

Visit Sam's Web site at http://samvak.tripod.com
Will Content Ever be Profitable?

THE CURRENT WORRIES

1. Content Suppliers

The Ethos of Free Content

Jamaican OverDrive – LCD’s in LDC’s

OverDrive – an e-commerce, software conversion and e-publishing applications leader – has just expanded an e-book technology centre by adding 200 e-book editors. This happened in Montego Bay, Jamaica – one of the less privileged spots on earth. The centre now provides a vertical e-publishing service – from manuscript editing to conversion to Quark (for POD), Adobe, and MS Reader ebook formats. Thus, it is not confined to the classic sweatshop cum production centre so common in Less Developed Countries (LDC’s). It is a full fledged operation with access to cutting edge technology.

The Medium and the Message

A debate is raging in e-publishing circles: should content be encrypted and protected (the Barnes and Noble or Digital goods model) – or should it be distributed freely and thus serve as a form of viral marketing (Seth Godin’s “ideavirus”)? Publishers fear that freely distributed and cost-free “cracked” e-books will cannibalize print books to oblivion.

Bright Planet, Deep Web

www.allwatchers.com and www.allreaders.com are web sites in the sense that a file is downloaded to the user’s browser when he or she surfs to these addresses. But that’s where the similarity ends. These web pages are front-ends, gates to underlying databases. The databases contain records regarding the plots, themes, characters and other features of, respectively, movies and books.

The Idea of Reference

http://www.britannica.com

There is no source of reference remotely as authoritative as the Encyclopaedia Britannica. There is no brand as venerable and as veteran as this mammoth labour of knowledge and ideas established in 1768. There is no better value for money. And, after a few sputters and bugs, it now comes in all shapes and sizes, including two CD-ROM versions (standard and deluxe) and an appealing and reader-friendly web site. So, why does it always appear to be on the brink of extinction?

Internet Advertising – What Went Wrong?

The decline in Internet advertising – though paralleled by a similar trend in print advertising – had more serious and irreversible implications. Most content dot.coms were based on ad-driven revenue models. Online advertising was supposed to amortize start-up and operational costs and lead to profitability even as it subsidized free access to costly content.

The Miraculous Conversion

The recent bloodbath among online content peddlers and digital media proselytisers can be traced to two deadly sins. The first was to assume that traffic equals sales. In other words, that a miraculous conversion will spontaneously occur among the hordes of visitors to a web site. It was taken as an article of faith that a certain percentage of this mass will inevitably and nigh hypnotically reach for their bulging pocketbooks and purchase content, however packaged. Moreover, ad revenues (more reasonably) were assumed to be closely correlated with “eyeballs”. This myth led to an obsession with counters, page hits, impressions, unique visitors, statistics and demographics.

The Future of Electronic Publishing

UNESCO’s somewhat arbitrary definition of “book” is:

“”Non-periodical printed publication of at least 49 pages excluding covers”.