The CITE, a blog published by the National Association of College Stores, takes a look at the intersection of education and technology, highlighting issues that range from course materials to learning delivery to the student experience. Comments, discussion, feedback, and ideas are welcome.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Reinventing the print business model

While enticing people to come to their conference, Publishing Business' interview with Brian Kelly, editor, U.S. News & World Report is an interesting read. Here are a few excerpts that booksellers might find reminiscent of our own industry:

By far, my favorite quote in the short piece (and what might get me to attend the conference to see this guy) was the following:
Kelly: In moments of weakness, I still wish the good old days would come back, but then I slap myself back to reality. The most unsettling thing was to come to the conclusion—about five years ago—that the old ways were gone for good, that the industry changes were fundamental and nothing would be the same again. Once I accepted that, my job became creating something new, and that made my stomach feel a lot better.
One on how even top companies can be quickly eclipsed by technology-based change:
News weeklies are one category that has been hit particularly hard by shifts in the marketplace, including the way consumers get their news (and what—or if—they’ll pay for it). So, while it may have been a sad day for news weeklies, it wasn’t necessarily shocking when U.S. News & World Report first announced in 2008 that it would shift from its weekly frequency to bimonthly in 2009, and then later announced that it would shutter its monthly print publication entirely, after 60-some years as one of the top news magazines worldwide.

One on changes in business models:
Kelly: We were fortunate that we had developed a strong website and had other print products, so we knew that we had a good business and a large audience beyond print subscriptions. The subscriber business model just didn’t work for us. I thought about having a proper wake, but in this climate you can’t afford nostalgia.

So if I were to take some lessons away from this for the college store environment (and associated/related industries), they might include concepts such as: it is time to stop thinking about how things used to be and begin to embrace new ideas and the future. The importance of having a strong website/ecommerce presence and developing a diversified mix of products. Our future role is to not to shepherd the past to the grave, but to create something new that will will revitalize our businesses and our channel.

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