The Printed Blog is Done: Is Anyone Surprised?

July 8, 2009

paperblogThe Printed Blog, a company founded to take blogs, print them and deliver them in newspaper format, has shut down due to lack of capital.  This New York Times story explains that Joshua Karp, the company’s founder, simply could not raise enough capital to keep the business afloat.  The company only lasted a little over 6 months.

Here is a quote from Mr. Karp that gives you a notion of where his idea came from.

“I thought maybe this would translate into a new, venture-funded model for newspapers, but no one believes print news will survive. If I had a penny left, I would bet newspapers will survive in printed form.”

In my opinion, this is a very basic misunderstanding of why blogs are so popular, and why print media is dying.  This “printed blog” idea seems to assume that the content of blogs is better than the content of newspapers, and that the format of newspapers is better than the format of blogs.  When, in fact, I think we all know that it is exactly the opposite from that.

In most situations, the content of newspaper articles is better than the content of most blogs.  But it is the blog format that makes it so appealing.  It is immediate, breaking news and information that would take a whole day to be printed and distributed in newspaper form.

So Mr. Karp, it is not that we love blogs so much but wish they were printed and handed out the next day, its that we love getting our information quickly and easily on our computer or cell phone.  It surprises me that the basic principal of printing a blog post was ever approved and thought to be a good business venture.

If you are looking to save the printing industry, look elsewhere.  If you are looking to start a company that takes the current printing industry and moves it forward, I don’t think you are going to find the answers in “print” form.  We don’t have time to wait for printed material anymore.


If You Force Me to Change, I’ll Fight You

May 28, 2009

newspapersWe have seen it time and again in business and in society as a whole.  If you force someone to change their behavior for whatever reason, they will fight back.  They will resist what does not come naturally, and they will hate you for pushing this change on them.  Lots of them will simply look for a new alternative that will allow them to keep up the status quo.

Governments can force corporations to change
the way they act by enforcing new laws and taxes and business activities.  And those businesses that can afford to do so, will fight back.

Companies can force consumers to change by reinventing a product or service that we have come to know.  Many times customers will fight the change, because it is new, and look for any way to get the products that they are already used to.

Companies can force their competitors to change
by shifting the way their industry behaves or creating a new model for success.  And those business that find themselves behind struggle to turn things around.  They fight the innovators, claiming that they are cheating or that they’re wrong.  They fight with politicians to get some protection.  And they fight with their own customers to avoid losing them (see if that makes sense).

Enter the printing industry in all their luster.  Enter newspapers and magazines and major publishers.  Enter paid content providers.

We are in the midst of a content revolution.  Advertising markets are down everywhere you look.  Major media companies that have relied on newspaper and magazine circulation to thrive are losing money in a hurry.  People don’t want to pay for their information, and advertisers don’t want to pay not to be seen anymore.

Too many online content providers are succeeding in a free model system.  The issue is that the publications that have been around and successful for so long as pay services don’t know how to react.  So most of them fight the change.  They ask the government for help.  They ask consumers to make difficult choices.  And they spend all day firing back at those free content providers that have made it work.

Publishers are being forced to change, and because of that, they are fighting that change.  It’s time to rethink distribution, rethink salaried reporters, rethink free vs. paid models, and rethink consumer behavior.

I can get free information on technology and small businesses via TechCrunch, on business and investing via Bloomberg, on the law via Above the Law.  They have made free information work by making money on other ventures or in other ways.  They are valuable to me, more valuable to advertisers, and they are winning.

Change has come.

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