Friday, October 14, 2005
Steve Taylor : Out of Bounds Church - Making a living on the Internet and a txtPod?

I met Steve Taylor for coffee yesterday, it's always fun talking with Steve. Conversation usually ranges wide and far. Yesterday we began with his new book (just launched belatedly here in NZ on Wednesday, how come the launch in Melbourne was before here;) at $25 (US16.99) it's well priced, I haven't had time to read it yet, but it looks good, with sidebars and pictures. I expect I'll take it on the planes to SBL...

One topic Steve and I often return to is "how does anyone make a decent income from publishing on the web". Though we basically agree, we come at the question from opposite ends. I love the way the Internet allows me to "talk" to loads of people, by nature and nurture I am a teacher and love communicating ideas (incidentally the Amos Commentary has broken the 1,000 visitors ["distinct hosts"] a day mark, that's over 10,000 successful requests each day, making it surely the most consulted commentary on Amos ever ;) Steve is a Church-planter (turned pastor and teacher) and he sees more clearly the need to pay for the time taken preparing resources. We bemoaned the lack of a decent "business model" for web publishing. Steve might try adverts, for the commentary series we may try sales of citable editions...

However, maybe David Carr's dream (in the NY Times no less) of the future of newspapers could provide the answer... Carr argues that as the iPod is reviving the music industry with a new 99c/tune business model, and the dreaded digital (so copyable) DVD has allowed Hollywood to profit from the back catalogue (the long tail effect...) so a txtPod (not his term, I hereby lay claim to the name ;) could revive the sagging business of newspaper publishing!

Carr writes:
Print's anachronisms, whether it is the last-mile delivery, the slaying of forests, or the sale of thick packages that most consumers use only small slices of, make change inevitable once a better answer is available.

Consider if the line between the Web and print matter were erased by a device for data consumption, not data entry - all screen, no baggage - that was uplinked and updated constantly: a digital player for the eyes, with an iTunes-like array of content available at a ubiquitous volume and a low, digestible price.
If the "low digestible price" for data to a txtPod could help the print publisher it could also help Steve and me, at least as long as the txtPod can also present pictures and sounds... And Ben Vershbow at if:book thinks it will have to:
The thing is, online reading is quite different from print reading. There's a lot of hopping around, a lot of digression. Any new hardware that would seek to tempt people to convert from paper would have to be able to surf the web. With wireless networks and mobile web, this feature would not go un-used (the new Sony PSP portable gaming device has a web browser).
So, maybe, just maybe, Jakob Nielsen's fabled "Year of the Micropayment" is just around the corner, a glimmer in Steve Jobs' eye...

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