Online Business Models
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Online Business Models
Web-Based Business Strategies and Monetization Models
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Future of Books (and eBooks) May Be Via Subscriptions

Future of Books (and eBooks) May Be Via Subscriptions | Online Business Models |
The launch of eBook subscription service Oyster has set the proverbial cat among the pigeons in the publishing world.  Publishers and authors are frantically trying to work out just what on-demand ...
Robin Good's insight:

From the original article by Mark Mulligan: "Subscriptions are clearly the best product set media companies currently have for monetizing the consumption era.

For the music industry they continue to raise as many questions as they answer, but for books they might just be the ticket to genuine digital prosperity."

Here's a few reasons why:

Book Subscriptions Offer a Much Clearer Path to Additive Revenue than Music - because books take longer to read than a CD does to listen, authors and publishers should see greater revenue margins.

Per-reader value versus per-title value - If an author or publisher is simply think in terms of 1 sale becoming 1 rental then it is a net-loss scenario. But if just over twice as many people read the book then it is a net-gain scenario. The more people that subscribe and the more that read more books – the Consumption Quotient -the more likely that subscriptions will become additive rather than substitutive.

The author also suggests that the book industry has a key advantage in that it can learn a lot from the mistakes already done by the music subscription industry and can avoid repeating them by paying attention to a few key elements such as:

  • Transparency
  • Curation
  • Discovery
  • Pricing
  • Video and multimedia native support

Insightful. 8/10

Full article: 

(Image credit: Subscribe road sign by Shutterstock)

Robin Good's comment, September 22, 2013 3:39 AM
Rodrick: print books are here to stay for quite some time still, as there will be, like in your case, always some demand for this unique medium. Print publishers will have to reorganize and rethink their business strategy to remain profitable.
Ghouti Kerzabi's curator insight, September 24, 2013 6:19 PM

Le lancement du Livre abonnement Oyster de service a mis le chat proverbial parmi les pigeons dans le monde de l'édition. Editeurs et auteurs sont frénétiquement essayer de travailler sur tout ce que la demande ...

chen kc's curator insight, October 10, 2013 12:40 AM like this video content...i like this....great visualise...subscription...?

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A New Model for eBook Publishing, Distributing and Earning: Screwpulp

Robin Good's insight:

Screwpulp is a new startup that wants to help independent book authors to get their books out there (in digital format), and... if the public likes them, to make also a revenue from their sales.

The business model is very interesting. It works like this:

1. Anyone can publish with Screwpulp and get an ebook out.

2. The first 100 copies of the copies are given out for free to individuals willing to review and rate the ebook.

3. The ebook now sells at 0.99 (or $1) until a thousand copies are sold.

4. Once a thousand copies are sold, price goes up to 1.99 until 10,000 are gone.

And so on.

Authors keep all of the rights to their works and retain 75 percent of the profit.

Find out more:

Free ebooks already available:*=free

Best sellers:*=bestsellers

More info for authors:

Mondfee's comment, May 23, 2013 8:26 AM
Thank you!
Yannick Mériguet's curator insight, June 11, 2013 12:18 AM

Un model de publishing qui parait très efficace. A essayer.

EZIA's curator insight, August 11, 2013 10:07 PM

With so many people trying to publish books, papers, memoirs - this new start-up may be the answer for getting your media to the masses.

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Publishers as Curators: A New Model for Doing Business Online — HBS Working Knowledge

Publishers as Curators: A New Model for Doing Business Online — HBS Working Knowledge | Online Business Models |

Robin Good: If you are looking for an alternative way to look at how your online publishing business could thrive in the future, you may want to take into consideration your local art museum. At east, this is what Assistant Professor Ray Weaver suggests.

Here's why:

From the original article: "...what Groupon is up to is much more sophisticated than just offering 50 percent-off coupons.

Groupon, along with companies like Apple, Facebook, and Progressive Insurance, is a leading example of firms that are thinking about customers in a new way—much like how a museum curator orchestrates the experience of patrons.

Weaver, an assistant professor in the Marketing Unitat HBS, believes that part of Groupon's success is borne of the careful way the company presents wares to its customers: providing a very limited amount of choices at a time, along with a brief, engaging description of each offering.

To that end, Weaver is exploring the idea that many consumer-centric web-based businesses would benefit from acting more like museum curators.


Curators don't just put the stuff out there.

They make choices about which pieces to put next to other pieces, and put little plaques next to them explaining why you should care," he explains. "They educate their 'customers' about what they're looking at. And that is the missed opportunity in many for-profit businesses today."

Good reading. Truthful. 8/10

Full article:

(Image credit: 

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Subscriptions May Be a Better Business Model for Online Independent Publishers | Reuters

Subscriptions May Be a Better Business Model for Online Independent Publishers | Reuters | Online Business Models |

Robin Good: A good short article by Felix Salmon at Reuters Blogs, highlights the importance of looking with different eyes at how to keep economically viable an online publishing venture that operates in a vertical niche.

He writes: "Professional-quality nanopublishing has never really worked online, because the ad-supported business model can’t make it work. In a world of micropayments, however, everything changes."

"...a niche long-form science-journalism website is never going to get the kind of scale which advertisers want.

Big-name brand advertisers want to reach lots of people lots of times. They’ll advertise on blogs, which can get audiences in the millions, but they’re not going to advertise on a site which only updates once a month or even once a week.

In general, the amount of inventory online is growing fast, and websites need to be able to keep up with that growth or start seeing their advertisers fall away, one by one.

With subscriptions, though, the math is much more compelling: if you get 20,000 people paying a buck apiece for that story, that’s $20,000, with no sales overhead; most of that money can end up going to editorial."

Insightful. 8/10

Full article: 

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New Business Model for Traditional Publishers? Paid Curated Selections of the Best from the Week

New Business Model for Traditional Publishers? Paid Curated Selections of the Best from the Week | Online Business Models |

Robin Good's insight:

The Atlantic launches this week a paid, weekly curated selection of its best stories called the Atlantic Weekly.

From AdWeek: "The Atlantic Weekly will collect the week's best stories from, The Atlantic Wire and The Atlantic Cities, as well as selections from its In Focus photo blog and an article from the magazine’s archive (reproduced as it originally appeared in print), reformatted as a magazine for the iPad and iPhone.

...will cost $1.99 for a single issue. Readers can also subscribe for $2.99 a month or $19.99 a year."

The reason for choosing this new direction sums up to this confession from editor in chief James Bennet: "Our concern has been that some of our better [online] pieces can get lost during the week, and that we’re not serving our readers as well on the weekend when there is time to lean back and digest a good idea."

"...will users pay for a magazine filled mostly with content that they can access for free on the Web?"

What do you think?

Original reporting from Adweek:

Tom George's curator insight, June 18, 2013 10:11 AM

Robin Good's commentary is far better than mine

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The Business of Information Refinement: How Journalism Can Leverage Big Data To Create Value and New Revenues

The Business of Information Refinement: How Journalism Can Leverage Big Data To Create Value and New Revenues | Online Business Models |

Robin Good: Extracting meaning out of big data, illustrating and visualizing relationships and links between apparently disconnected items and approaching the gathering of information for the purpose of surfacing what otherwise would not be immediately evident, may all be commercially fertile areas as some of the pionerring examples seem to show.

From the original essay, part of the Data Journalism Handbook: "Many journalists seem to be unaware of the size of the revenue that is already generated through data collection, data analytics and visualization.

This is the business of information refinement.

With data tools and technologies it is increasingly possible to shed a light on highly complex issues, be this international finance, debt, demography, education and so on.

...These technologies can now be applied to journalism...

But how does this generate money for journalism?

The big, worldwide market that is currently opening up is all about transformation of publicly available data into something our that we can process: making data visible and making it human.

We want to be able to relate to the big numbers we hear every day in the news — what the millions and billions mean for each of us.

There are a number of very profitable data-driven media companies, who have simply applied this principle earlier than others. They enjoy healthy growth rates and sometimes impressive profits.

a) One example: Bloomberg. The company operates about 300,000 terminals and delivers financial data to it’s users. If you are in the money business this is a power tool. ... This core business generates an estimated US $6.3 billion per year, at least this what a piece by the New York Times estimated in 2008. As a result, Bloomberg has been hiring journalists left, right and centre, they bought the venerable but loss-making “Business Week” and so on.

b) Another example is the Canadian media conglomerate today known as Thomson Reuters. They started with one newspaper, bought up a number of well known titles in the UK, and then decided two decades ago to leave the newspaper business. Instead they have grown based on information services, aiming to provide a deeper perspective for clients in a number of industries. If you worry about how to make money with specialized information, the advice would be to just read about the company’s history in Wikipedia.

c) And look at the Economist. The magazine has built an excellent, influential brand on its media side. At the same time the “Economist Intelligence Unit” is now more like a consultancy, reporting about relevant trends and forecasts for almost any country in the world. They are employing hundreds of journalists and claim to serve about 1.5 million customers worldwide."

If you are still doubtful that big data, information refinement, news curation and specialized info services are areas where it is going to be tough to create revenues, think again.

Recommended. 9/10

Full essay:

Data Journalism Handbook:

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Online Newspapers and Paywalls: It's The Relationship That Counts, Not The Traffic

Online Newspapers and Paywalls: It's The Relationship That Counts, Not The Traffic | Online Business Models |

Robin Good: At GigaOM, Mathew Ingram has a very good article on online newspapers and their rising problem with monetization.

If I had to synthesize its content and re-title it, I would write: "Traffic Is Worth Zero If You Are Looking for New Revenues - Try The Open Journalism Model".

Here a few key excerpts from the original article: "The problem for both the Post and the Guardian is the same as that confronting virtually every other major newspaper: print-advertising revenue, which a majority of papers rely on for the bulk of their income, continues to fall off a very large cliff..."

The alternatives, non-standard solutions, may be using the so-called Open Journalism model.

"Guardian editor-in-chief Alan Rusbridger described them fairly succinctly...

in a nutshell, readers can contribute by providing their time, their information or their money.

Ideally, a truly interactive digital-media outlet would make use of all three of these, in order to build relationships with readers that are about more than just a cash grab.

"...trying to increase the ways in which its readers can contribute to or become involved in news stories — including opening up its story-assignment schedule to the public for commentary."

"...think of the relationship with readers as being about more than just money, and then let the monetization flow out of that relationship, rather than the reverse."

"...try the “reverse paywall” method suggested by Jeff Jarvis and former Washington Post managing editor Raju Narisetti...

...that encourages readers to “level up” and provide either more information about themselves or more effort in a variety of ways, and then gives them benefits as a result."

Truthful. Insightful. 9/10

Full article: 

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The Startup Business Model Toolkit:

The Startup Business Model Toolkit: | Online Business Models | is a free web-based tool that has been designed to help entrepreneurs and startuppers organize, plan and structure their new activity. is made up of four modules that take care of specific areas including:

1) ocoach - online coach.

Here you can find a checklist to start your business, a to-do list to help you with completing planned tasks, and a progress chart to keep you on track.

2) sb.plan – (simplified business plan)

This is a simple and useful tool for collecting your thoughts, prioritizing your actions, and planning your business strategy.

3) b.model
The Business Model Canvas, is a strategic management and entrepreneurial tool. It allows you to describe, design, challenge, invent, and pivot your business model. It is a visual template pre-formatted with the nine blocks of a business model. 

4) bm.chart

This is a page populated by four charts focusing on Profitability, Revenues (bu Customer Segment or by Stream), Costs. It helps the user estimate his market size, revenue streams, and costs — faster than any spreadsheet and it allows you to

test the profitability of your ideas with a quick reporting dashboard.

Find out more: 

(Reviewed by Robin Good)

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