The Hard Truth About Digital Publishing Software
One of the most attractive aspects of digital publishing was supposed to be lower production costs. Software developers haven't received that memo.
First to market was Woodwing, which offers a reasonable rate for licensing but the cost to use their back end content management service is $25,000 per year. This is sure to cut out the smaller publishing houses.
Adobe followed with its Digital Publishing Suite. This software has the ability to be the leading choice by publishers, but they too unveiled an aggressive pricing structure. So much so that Adobe released a second pricing structure within a couple weeks due to overwhelming negative feedback from publishers.
Their current tiered pricing for monthly fulfillment leaves little wiggle room for small publishers to utilize their product. The problem falls between the first and second tier. The first tier is for 25,000 issues per month, followed by 250,000 per month in the second tier. The first tier requires a $5,500 upfront payment for the year while the second tier costs $33,500. Again, the small publishing house is sure to be cut out.
Another newcomer, Neno (developed by Sevnthsin), offers an attractive software package but their pricing is also geared more toward mid-sized to larger publishers with fees ranging from a minimum of $1,500 a month to a one-time charge of $25,000 for access to source code or up to $100K for development services.
High prices are not uncommon with technology. We've seen it for decades. Think of the original prices for VCRs, DVD players and plasma televisions. They have all fallen dramatically since then and as a result gained critical mass. The difference is these products benefitted from cheaper components that allowed for quicker and cheaper manufacturing. Publishing software doesn't face these barriers.
A lower barrier of entry into the industry is imperative to drive innovation. It wasn't the large media companies that drove innovation on the web. Instead, the future was paved by newcomers like Yahoo!, Gawker Media and The Huffington Post. Independent companies will probably drive innovation in digital publishing as well.
There are already other software options rolling out and the market is there for the taking. The software company that offers the combination of a quality product and reasonable pricing structures is sure to rise above the rest and innovation will follow.