BoSacks: The Profit Prophet: Darwin's Laws of Publishing
Most people in publishing don’t know that Charles Darwin had a few comments on our industry. My favorite: “It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent, but the one most responsive to change.”
The publishing business jungle is a funny place. There are times of feast and times of famine. We have gone through a long period where it was relatively easy to feast on the available products in the food chain. Advertisers and readers were plentiful, and the system could support a wide range of diverse and unusual species. But, having grown up in times of plenty, not all are prepared for times
We now have reached a tipping point in the world of print publishing. It is not that all print will die, but it is possible that much of it won’t survive, at least not as creatures of a printed jungle. The giant Newsasaurus Rex is becoming extinct right before our eyes. And it is in times like these that the giants fall first. Next might be the Gigantous Womanservisaurae, which was preceded by the Youngae Missaurae. The true survivors will be the nimble, fleet of foot and niche scavengers.
So what is the criterion for survival after the economic comet hits? Superior content.
Mediocre content, which was plentiful during feasting time, is fading fast in print. There is still plenty of room for poor, indifferent and mediocre content on the Web, where the entry fee and distribution costs are minimal. But in the print world, there is little or no room or time left for mediocre products. Darwin’s “natural selection of publishers” is now taking place. If print is to survive, it will be with fewer and better products.
Let’s add Newton’s law of publishing dynamics here, too. For every job that technology eliminates in the print world, an equal and just as important job is created in the digital world. U.S. Census data has shown that although the print world is suffering job losses, the digital world is expanding.