Mike’s speech to a packed house at Hachette, as part of a lunchtime lecture series known as The Publishing Point. Delivering what proved to be a thought-provoking and farsighted view of the future of the book industry, Mike had some clear advice for those planning a long career in publishing: the companies that will succeed will be those that focus on building compelling content for well-defined “vertical communities.”
Speech given at BEA 2009. Focusing on the changes that will take place in publishing in the next 20 years. With a look back to the last 20 years, we are able to look forward and predict not only how publishing will be in the future, but also how information will be shared.
The basic premise under which we’re operating here, I’ll summarize for those of you have never heard or read my work before, is that horizontal, format-specific media entities are oh, so 20th century, and won’t work very deep into the 21st. The reason for that is the web, which almost forces vertical organization. Horizontal presentations across subject matter — like CBS, Random House, or The New York Times — were the products of a capital-intensive, limited-distribution universe
There is a big picture and a long arc within which our day-to-day activities are taking place. The 20th century consumer media were horizontal in their subject matter — that is, very broad — and format-specific. In the States, that means entities like CBS or NBC in television, The New York Times, or Random House. All of these companies provide content across the full range of human subject interests, but they pretty much stick to their formats: broadcast, newspapers, and books, respectively
We’re going to start with a view of what digital technology could mean to the overall world of communication over the next decade or two. What the history of the Internet seems to be telling us so far is that we will see a growth in niche organization — what people like to call “community” on the web — and a corresponding decline in horizontal media, which is much more threatening to magazines, newspapers, and broadcast than it is to us in the book business. But it will change us too