I’m currently involved with a startup in digital publishing. My work will involve bringing the design thinking perspective from other fields I previously worked in to a field that is notoriously conservative. So naturally when I read the post of David Pogue about e-book piracy, I was dumbfounded by this gem of an admission:
Traditionally minded publishers are very much opposed to the idea that abandoning DRM is a viable business strategy. When Tor (as have others) did provide their material free of the consumer hassling technology and noticed no increase in piracy, the go-to explanation is that their case is special and does not apply to other publishers.
Tor acknowledges that its science-fiction/fantasy reader community “is close-knit, with a huge online presence, and with publishers, authors and fans having closer communication than perhaps some other areas of publishing do.”
Here is my take, though: No kidding Sherlock!
When the main disruptive force of the internet lies in disintermediation,1 that’s where your business model needs to answer some pressing questions. And if you fail to see how creating a close-knit community that connects authors and readers is part of your new role in a digital environment, you deserve to be strong armed into irrelevance by Adobe, Amazon and their ilk.
Dear publishers: There is a choice to aim to be special, too! Create a better experience for readers. At least that’s what I’m going to do.
A fancy way to say: Making everyone in between producers and consumers obsolete. ↩︎
While we are on the subject of physicality in interfaces (see my last post) I urge you to have a look at what Andy Kirk wrote about tactile maps. These maps are a great example of design as problem solving and introduce you to several affordances that are grossly underrepresented in current design.1
The indigenous people along the arctic circle have overcome many challenges of the environment they inhabit. So that they don’t get lost at sea they designed a navigation tool to guide them along coast lines. Bear in mind that it needs to be reliable in the harshest of circumstances. Functional constraints clearly drove this design process. It just works.