Good post about the importance of understanding business ecosystems. I've made this point myself a lot to publishers, but Joe Esposito makes it very clear here:

"But the lesson of Borders is not about the advent of new businesses and threats; nor is it about the many mistakes made by the Borders management, so many that you can only shake your head in wonder. (The saga of Borders is beautifully chronicled in Business Week.) The real thing to take from Borders’ collapse is that the old infrastructure will not always be there. In one stroke trade publishers lost a huge chunk of their distribution network. That network was not simply sitting around patiently, waiting for publishers to get their digital game plan ready. The distribution network collapsed before the publishers were ready and suddenly unleashed a number of forces for which no publisher was truly prepared."

I like to think O'Reilly was more prepared than most, but the disruption isn't yet over. The lesson I've been trying to get across, which Joe also hammers on, is that the mechanisms for print to be distributed to customers may go away before the demand is completely gone. Business is an ecosystem. During the transition, the costs of manufacturing and distributing print books will be going up at the same time as the infrastructure for delivering them goes down.

The print book will likely be going the way of the LP and the CD and the DVD in far fewer years than most people understand.
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