With apologies for the distasteful cat reference, content creators (authors, publishers, editors, marketers, photographers, teachers, you get the idea) have more ways to represent, package, and sell digital content than they did just a few years ago. In fact, there are so many ways of even talking about digital content that we usually begin meetings with clients and prospects by defining the terms we all use. This exercise alone reveals the myriad ways of attacking this and often results in creative thinking about other ways of monetizing digital "stuff."
Let's start with a straightforward example. A magazine publisher with a number of special interest magazines has three titles on woodworking. Of course, the publisher can digitize each issue of those three titles and sell the digital editions. But their customers might want to purchase articles that hit on their interests across those three titles. And why shouldn't they be able to? Why shouldn't a reader be able to create their own package of articles and pay just for those instead of having to subscribe to all the content of all three titles? It's akin to what my mother would do with her home decorating magazines--she'd go through them and rip out pictures of things that interested her and put them in a file: the precursor to Pinterest.
Now some might say that the reader above needed access to all the articles to see which ones were of interest. That's true enough. But if the reader finds that articles written by a certain author are consistently ones that are of interest, why not allow that reader to sign up for all articles published by that author, regardless of the publication where the article appears?
Or, back to our woodworking example: perhaps my interests in woodworking are not bowls, cups, and spoons, but cool-looking crown molding around my house. So I essentially want to ignore the articles about making tableware out of wood and just see articles about decorative molding. And those could be across magazines, couldn't they?
The metadata is in place to do these kinds of custom packaging. But the articles have to be broken out of the magazine issue and treated like digital content which can attach itself to any package where the criteria fit. I know marketers are thinking about this sort of thing because I talk with them about how Advantage can help them achieve it.
At the other end of the complexity spectrum we find packages of packages, where a customer can put together a "package" of things they'd like to purchase at a "package price." So a customer could put into their custom package subscribed products, access to content, member dues, ebooks, and also predefined packages of varying components, such as digital and online versions of a journal or magazine, as just one example. Other examples of predefined packages could be a book or subscription with registration to a conference. Or an ebook with membership. The possibilites are endless, and that's a good thing, since marketers' creativity knows no bounds.
I have just focused here on magazine or special interest publishers. There are other segments of publishing and other industries which have very different views on the packing and selling of digital content. We'll be exploring those in another post.