Publishers, that is enterprises devoted to bringing to life the intellectual work of content creators for commercial ends, thrive in the world of digital distribution when they most skillfully manipulate three key levers that are entirely within the publisher’s control: 1. The timing of release and point of first access, 2. The digital list price and associated price multipliers for access models across vendors and 3. The selective deployment of digital rights management. I believe the primary objectives of a publisher in the educational space should be to simultaneously maximize revenue return to authors and creators and drive exposure and usage of the published content. The three-levers available to publishers should be continuously monitored, skillfully adjusted, and then measured by reader/viewer/listener engagement and usage and royalty return to authors and content creators.
We have arrived at the moment we need to sell our new product concept to senior leadership. We have completed customer discovery and established a concept that satisfies a significant unmet need for our customers. We have established with a representative mix of our publishing partners a model they will support with licensed content. Finally, we have considered the strategic, technological and go-to-market context of our business and we know our new product concept is aligned with our companies’ strengths and growth objectives. A well-constructed business case, presented with confidence, is the critical next step to take our proposed product from conceptual to development.
Publishing and content creating businesses may not get a lot of attention from venture capital, but they are bedrock providers nonetheless. Building new products that leverage content in ever more meaningful ways for higher education library patrons demands we celebrate the role of publishers and content creators and that we build their perspective into our products. But we must also challenge and refine the publisher perspective when an opportunity to broaden access, improve affordability or enhance research outputs is in the balance. In short, new product development in the higher education space must be done in a give-and-take partnership with publishers and content creators.
New product development practice is simultaneously creative and grounded in the specific context of the business where you operate as a product manager. There are infinite problems and needs you will uncover in customer discovery, but relatively few of these will be an ideal fit to pursue for your company or organization. Content-based, technology enabled products, such as are the focus of this series, will only succeed if they are built to: 1. Fit the business strategy, 2. Can be supported by the existing technology powering the business and 3. Can be delivered by the organization’s marketing and sales structure and teams.
My focus is very specifically on supporting product managers tasked with building products that incorporate content, licensed or originally published, into learning and/or research solutions. My experience with bringing content and software and services together in solutions to support learners and researchers is the unique context and contribution of this series.
My desire to support content creators, large and small, across all media types from video, music, books, podcasts and more to grow their library distribution businesses fueled my decision to launch my new enterprise: www.parkerthepublisher.com.