The "publishing" context of this blog has always referred to books. Every once and a while I stray into ebooks, or take a brief nod at audio or video publishing, but I've usually treated those alternatives as secondary or tertiary products. Part of the reason is that book publishing is my main business, but I also maintain a simplistic view that books are good and everything else, not so much. Whether we're talking about education or entertainment, books were always the first place I turned, so why would I suggest otherwise.
But when it comes to education, in recent years, the first place I turn is Google. And lately, when it comes to entertainment, the first place I turn is my Flip Cam. I don't know whether the publishing videos I'm making are educating anybody, but I'm sure entertaining myself.
The process has got me thinking about the alternatives available to publishers that I've mainly ignored since Amazon dumped Lightning Source ebooks, putting an end to my $500/month ebook business. I've just been too lazy to set up to sell ebooks directly myself, which is foolish, given that half of my Amazon ebook sales came directly from my website through Associates. It also makes me wonder if the entry barrier to video publishing will remain low for years, just like web publishing has remained an affordable option for authors.
A friend and fellow publisher is currently experimenting with podcasting as a way to reach his audience, and he hopes to get to the point where he can sell podcasts as a subscription service, the same way a publisher would sell newsletters or magazines. Given the amount of time most people spend sitting in traffic, podcasts may become to audio books what the Internet is to paper books. A source of up-to-date, rough around the edges information for professionals on the go.
This video publishing business I haven't quite got a grip on yet. It seems to me that the videos that dominate YouTube, and I'm speaking of the legitimate original content, are mainly or gross-out or titillation. I've been doing an extensive survey of the latter at great personal sacrifice and hope to have a report for the board soon. I'm sure there's plenty of room for good instructional or educational videos, but I'm not sure what the business model would be for the publisher, to justify the time invested. In my case, I'm hoping the videos one day might bring visitors to my website, but for the time being, it's my website that's sending visitors to the videos. I think it's important for all publishers to keep an eye on the alternative distribution channels for their works, but it probably doesn't pay to jump in with both feet unless you can see the bottom of the pool.