The Obvious Solution for Publishers

Publishing faces unprecedented challenges these days, with the decline of bookstores and the rise of the Internet and ebooks. The ultimate difficulty may, in fact, be the digital dilemma.

Music, videos and news have been digitized, and which has sent those industries into chaos. And all sorts of other information have been digitized and liberated on the Internet for the greater good of the planet–at the ability of content providers to make a living, which ultimately has a negative effect on new content produced and so a negative effect on the planet. But I digress.

What is a publisher to do?

The problem seems to be that publishers produce a product that is all too easily digitized. Oil, however, can’t be digitized. Haircuts can’t be digitized. Coffee, taxi rides, cigarettes, cough syrup and clearing blocked toilets can’t be digitized either. The solution for a publisher, then, is obvious.

Publish goats.

Goats can’t be digitized. Sure, you can have a digital picture of a goat, just as you can have digital picture of an unplugged toilet. But the picture does you little good if your actual toilet is stopped up.

Likewise, a picture of a goat is no substitute for an actual goat, which produces milk, climbs on sheds, eats all manner of weeds and eventually can supply you with a summerful of yummy BBQ.

I mentioned this to a colleague from another publisher (though I am not normally in the habit of divulging such lucrative trade secrets). He replied, “Yes, but what’s the market for goats?”


Author: Andy Le Peau

I've been an editor and writer for over forty years. I am passionate about ideas and how we can express them clearly, beautifully, and persuasively. I love reading good books, talking about them, and recommending them. I thoroughly enjoy my family who help me continue on the path of a lifelong learner.

8 thoughts on “The Obvious Solution for Publishers”

  1. Wow, Andy! I see all kinds of possibilities with this product strategy. For one thing, every goat would be unique, so the publisher’s price could be higher. And readers would be able to customize the goat once they have it–based on diet, exercise, training and other factors. We could also sell ancillary products, such as goat-sized sweaters or goat feed (think of those as book jackets and editorial updates). Also, readers who buy more than one goat would soon have a whole library of goats that interact with each other. We could start a subscription program to capitalize on this. One downside to that, though: In theory readers with a library of goats might be able themselves to produce more goats. This could drive the original publishers out of business over the longer term. So perhaps we should consider some kind of DRM–or GRM, as the case may be. I’m looking forward to talking more about this idea at our upcoming planning retreat!

  2. Sally

    I like the way you think. Hadn’t thought about that reproduction angle, though. It’s kind of the pirating thing all over again. Doh!


  3. Apparently, goats have been pirated already, according to this post from the maritime security blog, The Eagle. I don’t think that we will need to worry about this kind of activity from our typical readers, though.

  4. Add to it the misery that the Underground History of Education shows that our children are being dumbed down and made visual so they don’t want to read. Our grand daughter, a brilliant imp, complained of being bored as in school is boring (4th grade). Soon our audiences will not be able to understand sustained discourses; they must have entertainment, a poor substitute for mental and soul food. The answer: A Great Awakening which sensitizes people to the spiritual and the thirst for sound knowledge…the cause for books…and, o yes, they need jobs to earn money to buy books. But 20 years ago I wrote a paper showing how there woul be no jobs in the future..due to automation, robotics, and computerization. I just didn’t figure that they had planned 90 years ago to move the jobs elsewheres in the last decade of the 20th century and said so…in a play…. written by a son of the Archbishop of Canterbury!

  5. Wow! That means that Eisenbrauns has an advantage, after all, our logo is an Ibex (a mountain goat). I didn’t realize that a logo from 2000 BC was so cutting edge!


  6. Andy: Your colleague is apparently woefully behind in his knowledge of goat markets (which is good for us!). There is a large goat market in China and India, in particular. If we can leverage the competition between the two (what country doesn’t want to be known as the goat capital of the world?), your plan could be pretty successful. Though it might, of course, require moving our offices to China. IVP-Shanghai, anyone?

  7. Lisa

    Very astute global thinking! And goats don’t need to be translated! What a cost savings!


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