Breaking Media Apart: Textbook Rentals by the Chapter
I think we’re finally getting a handle on digital media content. Yes, I know we’ve been at it awhile, but now it seems there’s a growing sense that digital media, produced by legacy content companies, doesn’t have to conform to the old wrappers. Book. Magazine. Broadcast program. Newspaper.
Latest example: A new UK e-textbook aggregator, Reference Tree, is offering to rent e-textbooks by the chapter. So why rent the whole book, when you only need part of it? Why buy a whole magazine, when you want an article? Why not get a series of video or audio segments, which may have been broadcast over a week’s time on separate “programs”, in one product? Why buy a subscription to print newspaper for a month when you only want its education or neighborhood or politics coverage, and that can be “packaged” separately and digitally for you?
Google atomized content in one way, blowing up the newspaper (and magazine) package, and presented it in bits. Now we’re starting to see ways — Kindle Singles, I think, is best vision of what can now be done (“The Newsonomics of Kindle Singles“) — to reassemble those bits every which way in ways that make consumer sense. Moreover, they may well offer new consumer propositions and business models as well.