There was a time when technology venture capitalists would not touch a "content" deal. They only funded pure play technology companies. Gradually, as the Internet industry evolved, the notion of "paid content" brought about a fundamental change, leading to many content deals getting funded. Back in the summer of 2005, as I wrote about the emerging trends, I wrote a piece called Twenty-First Century's Best Venture, suggesting that the Harry Potter franchise was one of the best entrepreneurial ventures to have been built in this century.
Recently, as I wrote about Turbine, a gaming company trying to emulate the success of War Of Warcraft (11 million copies sold), and before that, TRION World Network, another multiplayer gaming venture, it made me pause and take stock of how far the venture industry has come in lavishly funding content companies.
In fact, the tables have turned. These days, no VC wants to invest in a semiconductor company. Are we then to expect 'content' in form of film and book franchises to be funded as well?
This week, I launched my maiden book franchise, Entrepreneur Journeys, with Amazon's BookSurge. No one other than BookSurge and me has put in any investment into this project. However, it has made me think deeply about the evolution of the book business, and where it is likely to go from here.
With the Kindle e-book reader being pitched as Amazon's iPod, it seems as though Amazon is placed extremely strategically to play the role that Apple played in disrupting the music business. On the other side, Amazon's Booksurge acquisition has brought them in-house capabilities to offer on-demand printing and publishing services to a wide range of entrepreneurial authors like me.
I was attracted by a number of factors that BookSurge offered: a royalty rate that is three times that of traditional publishing deals, a fast turnaround time, and most of all, Amazon's algorithm-driven merchandising capabilities. Of these, I am the most curious to see how these algorithms perform in the upcoming months to promote my book to the right audience of technology entrepreneurs.
At the same time, built in to the economics of this deal is the provision that I need to sell a third of the books to make the same amount of money. I like that too, although I want as many people to read the book as possible because I want to spread the message of entrepreneurship far and wide.
As the "on-demand" theme spreads further into the depths of various industries, this particular deal is one worth watching for its potential implications on the future of book publishing.
By Sramana Mitra