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You can't take sides!

We spend a lot of time explaining ourselves to funders and prospects. In one of our first "real" presentations we were describing why readers will get better value from the improved reading experience of Tizra sites, and publishers will be attracted by that superior usability combined with really flexible and sophisticated selling and management tools. Someone jumped right in at that point and asked "whose side are you on, publishers or readers?" I tried to "unask the question" and say that we were on both sides, but was greeted by a flat contradiction -- "You can't be on both sides you have to pick who's more important." This dichotomy of sides seems to contaminate a lot of thinking in the "content industries", and it's fundamentally flawed. Simple economics gives the answer: Publishers and customers are fundamentally on the same side. The publishing industry generates value for readers, who pay for that value via the market. Of course there is tension: Publishers want to optimize their income and cost. Readers want find the lowest price that gives them the value they require. But almost by definition, a publisher's best interest is aligned with the needs of their customers, the readers. That means that user interaction is critical as is selling the most useful information package and helping people find stuff easily. More flexible marketing tools don't just improve publisher returns, but create user value by letting publishers make better products. The biggest place this goes wrong is in the area of DRM and piracy. Not every potential reader will be become a customer. Unethical potential readers may even become pirates. The thing to remember is that pirates are not customers, and many may not even be potential customers. I don't have unrealistic ideas about fraud, piracy, and value delivered. In over a decade of web site building and hosting, I've seen my share of piracy problems that have had to be solved. But almost every guard against piracy inconveniences readers, and reduces the value delivered. Detecting piracy is also usually pretty easy, because serious piracy has to steal a lot of data, and that's something that can be detected by a computer. I'm happy knowing that our selling tools are helping readers to buy information at the granularity that best meets their needs. I'm also happy that by encouraging publishers to think first of customers, and only secondly about potential pirates, I know we are representing the interests of both groups, and that trying to make the reader experience better is a great way to help publishers find customers.


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