Wall Street Journal NOT going all-free: Quick e-book-related thoughts

WSJlogoJan2008 Alas, the WSJ is not going to be all-free. Maybe someday? For now, the recession could cut into ad dollars. Same for ad-supported e-books, such as those from Wowio? I can see Wowio-style services growing, but not at the same rate as with a healthy U.S. economy. Another reason for Wowio going international?

TeleBlog readers outside the U.S. are eager to try out the service. While the U.S. economy is number one, other nations are catching up, and a more global orientation might provide steadier revenue growth. Am I right in recalling that perhaps half of Google’s revenue is from outside the States? Who knows, might Google someday snap up Wowio?

Speaking of newspapers: If real journalism fails as a business, should the government step in, written about in Tech Crunch and elsewhere. Absolutely not!

And speaking of Wowio: Later today or tomorrow I’ll have more tips for enjoying Wowio’s free books on your XO.

4 Comments on Wall Street Journal NOT going all-free: Quick e-book-related thoughts

  1. Agree that government-sponsored press is not the answer to any question I want to have answered. As always, I’m intrigued but skeptical about the advertiser-supported model.

    Think about this–there’s a reason Wowio is US-only. Maybe it’s partly because the US is rich and US companies like to advertise. The way advertising works is, it only pays to people who are rich enough that they could afford to buy the books (or whatever) if they wanted to. Who’s going to pay to advertise to poor African countries where the average income is a few hundred dollars a year? Even in America, a show can get great viewership but if it doesn’t have the demographics, it’s history.

    As you’ve said before, we need multiple revenue models. The advertiser model is intriguing for a subset of products (and I would have thought that the WSJ’s demographic would be highly appealing to advertisers) but it’s not the only model.

    Rob Preece
    Publisher, http://www.BooksForABuck.com

  2. Thanks, Rob. Yep, I’d hate it if one model prevailed for books, and in fact, if forced to choose one model, I’d go with the present one—well, a mix of that and free public domain books.

    As for overseas advertising in books, India alone has a HUGE middle-class with tens of millions of tech-savvy, English-reading people.

    The very poorest countries? I doubt that the pickings would be that big to begin, but it would be a way to whet people’s appetites there for more.

    Glad to see your comments still coming on free vs. paid. Gives me a chance to remind people I don’t see advertising as a panacea, just one more alternative.

    Thanks,
    David

  3. Why are we talking about Africa and India, here? India has a lot of money in their middle class, but that’s because they have a lot of people. Individually, their purchasing power isn’t as great as some people might be led to believe (although they’re growing fairly quickly). If a service like Wowio were to go international, the marketing spots would be places like Britain, France, Germany, Japan and other countries with highly developed economies. It would also have to offer books in the local language (Britain wouldn’t be a problem, of course). But there’s no reason an advertising model wouldn’t work in these other countries.

    It’s too bad about the Wall Street Journal, though. I would have loved to have full access. I frequently read the free content and occassionally find a copy of the paper to read. It’s not worth it for me to pay for it, though. I don’t play stocks and the business news isn’t of such great concern to me beyond how it effects the economy. But the big news items can be found anywhere on the Internet. The WSJ had excellent writers, though, and good analysis. There’s so much squandered opportunity by neglecting a public that would love to read the paper for free. They made the argument (according to the NY Times) that the subscription model ensures an audience of “business elite” that companies pay a “premium” to reach. But I’m sure there’s just as big of an “elite” audience (intellectually speaking) who doesn’t feel compelled to subscribe to the paper at all. It’s foolish to assume advertising revenues would decrease by opening up the paper. I have high hopes for the advertising model in the future of free online literature.

  4. SpiderMatt: Excellent point on Europe. I could just as well have given EU countries as examples, although I’d guess that India has more English-language readers. Also thanks for your thoughts on the ad model. As I keep saying, we need all kinds of models for e-books and other content—whatever works! David

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