A new-media Christmas
It’s no secret that new media is taking the hammer to old media, but this was the year the fight came straight to my Christmas tree.
First, my mom -- one of the most avid book purchasers I know -- got a Kindle.
Then, even the traditional media gifts under the tree turned out to be new media knock-offs. The one book was Cake Wrecks, a whimsical volume of pictures of professional cakes gone awry based on an eponymous blog. There was also a Susan Boyle CD with a cover proclaiming, “As seen on YouTube.” Seriously? I realize that more than 100 million YouTube viewers saw her “Britain’s Got Talent” performances. But if you liked her because of the internet videos, how likely are you to buy an old-fashioned CD instead of downloading the music (or videos)?
Together, the gifts were an odd reminder that the Internet now leads, and other media are trying to figure out how to get in on the action. I don’t know the solution, but I can’t imagine that creating Internet knock-off products is the long-term winning strategy.
This week, Amazon put numbers behind the trends, reporting two interesting facts from the holiday season. The Kindle is now the company’s most gifted item ever. And, for the first time, electronic books out-sold physical books on the site on Christmas Day (Amazon stock immediately climbed on the news).
Obviously Christmas Day e-books sales are just the trailing indicator of all the excited Kindle gift recipients. Nonetheless, this sure seems like a massive warning bell for the publishing industry. CEO Jeff Bezos previously announced a self-publishing program in which authors can sell Kindle books on the site and keep 35 percent of the proceeds (which, as Bezos notes, sounds small but is more than most authors currently receive). This smells an awful lot like what the music industry went through over the past decade.
We don’t need a lot of additional evidence that the media world is changing by the day. But if Christmas at my house was indicative, change is coming even faster that we think.
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