Monday, November 30, 2009

What publishers should understand about "Nowism", one of the world's leading trendwatching organizations came up with the trend "Nowism" in their November report. Relevant to any company focused on consumers the trend description offers a lot to learn for companies involved in the book industry as well.

Nowism is described as: "Consumer's ingrained lust for instant gratification is being satisfied by a host of novel, important (offline and online) real-time products, services and experiences". Key in the description is "instant gratification": consumers wish to instantly get something the moment they actually want it. claims, and I tend to agree with them, that this lust for instant gratification is nothing new but has been and still is ingrained in the mind of consumers. However, with digital technology progressing consumers no longer have to physically go to a business outlet for their intant gratification but their desire can nowadays be satisfied via a multitude of digital platforms and services.

Nowism explains the popularity of smartphones but also the growth in the e-reader segment. Small (if possible pocket size) devices with wireless connectivity allow consumers to satisfy their lust for information/content/entertainment 24 hours a day, 7 days a week and at any location around the world. The attraction of these connected devices as a tool for instant gratification for the consumer also brings an enormous potential for companies involved in the content and media industry.

For authors, publishers and book retailers it means that the digital revolution we are in is not just a transition from paper to ebook. These parties have to realise that the complete Reader Experience is being affected by digitisation: from orientation to purchase of a book and from reading to sharing experiences. For every element of the Reader Experience consumers are looking for instant gratification:

orientation:  looking for book reviews /recommendations on the (mobile) internet
purchase and delivery:  delivery of an e-book should only be 2 mouse clicks away
reading:  having the option to read from multiple devices
sharing experiences:  sharing via social media / digital book clubs

At the end the company that can best satisfy consumer's lust for instant gratification during the complete Reader Experience will become the winner of the digital revolution. I expect that in many cases these winners will not have made their money from paper books....

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

What publishers should understand about "digital natives"

As mentioned in my previous post I want to take a closer look at important trends shaping publishing, now and in the future. Before turning to Nowism, a trend described only recently in the November briefing of, it is better to start off with an oldie: "digital natives" versus "digital immigrants".

These terms were first used by Marc Prensky in 2001 (!) to describe the radical and structural difference between his students  and the teachers. Prensky dubbed his students as "digital natives":  “native speakers” of the digital language of computers, video games and the Internet. As a result of their continuous interaction with digital technology Prensky concluded that: "todays students think and process information fundamentally different from their predecessors:
"Digital Natives are used to receiving information really fast. They like to parallel process and multi-task. They prefer their graphics before their text rather than the opposite. They prefer random access (like hypertext). They function best when networked. They thrive on instant gratification and frequent rewards. They prefer games to “serious” work".

What does that mean for the teachers being in the "Digital Immigrants" category? "As Digital Immigrants learn  to adapt to their environment, they always retain, to some degree, their "accent," that is, their foot in the past". This means the teachers will largely stick to their pre-digital-age programmes (ie. what worked for us, will work for them as well) creating a disconnect with their students.

Moving to publishing the parallels with Prensky's education environment are striking. "Digital natives" are all consumers below the age of 30 while the "Digital Immigrants" are the publisher's executive teams. Nowadays paper products no longer fit the prefered way in which digital natives consume information:
fast: real-time news updates
parallel: access to multiple apps at the same time
graphics: video over text
random access: hyperlinks
networked: social media
instant gratification: instant access to informatie (including mobile access)
frequent rewards: recognition for contribution.

The publisher's executive teams are trying to adapt to the changing environment by adding bits and pieces of the digital age to their offering. However they do so from a pre-digital-age background and perspective trying to put their past success in a new jacket. Murdoch's continued struggle to adapt his News Corp businesses to an internet dominated by Google exemplifies the struggle of digital immigrants to come to grips with the digital age. The question arises of course whether today's publishing CEO's are able to lead their companies into the future successfully or whether more digitally adapted or even digital native CEO's are needed....

Next time Nowism, any comments on above?

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Nowism: Consumer trends should lead developments in publishing industry

The above title may seem logical to most of you; isn't it an obvious statement for all companies and industries? It should be obvious indeed but after attending 2 publishing related conferences last week it appears to me many parties have forgotten about this including the organisers of such conferences.

In both conferences the time spent on changing consumer behavior is close to 0. Instead the companies involved discuss defensive moves, what should be the price of an e-book and how can democracy survive without quality journalism. It is clear that the position of the companies involved is used as the starting point of discussion rather then the consumer.

In the coming weeks I want to focus in my blog on consumer / market trends that have an impact on how consumers (you and I ) "consume" content in the future. It is difficult to tell how the future will look like but by understanding the consumer trends it will be easier to judge in which direction we are heading. Starting point will be: Nowism, a trend described in November 09 briefing. Read it, it is an excellent briefing giving a lot of important clues to the publising industry on how to act in the coming years.
Let me know how you think Nowism will impact the publishing industry.