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Organizational Fields and the Book Industry


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Organizational disruption in the publishing industry from a sociology of organizations and networks perspective. Firebrand Community Conference, 2010.

Published in: Business
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Organizational Fields and the Book Industry

  1. 1. peter brantley internet archive san francisco ca
  2. 2. concept of an “organizational field” (defined) often complex groups or sets of actors involved.
  3. 3. stable industry indicates stable network for both organizations and people
  4. 4. Disruption in core aspects: production, means, distribution of goods/services – creates conflicts
  5. 5. good example: digital rights for backlist titles rights to the latent rents were never arbitrated
  6. 6. confusing enough issue to be a major component of GBS proposal (“Author-Publisher Procedures”)
  7. 7. authors X agents X publishers roles suddenly become vague, technology makes apparent buried conflicts in contracts
  8. 8. outcome: rosetta, wylie v. random house well what is interesting ... ? books enter digital market.
  9. 9. the present condition of the book industry: a new threshold, for industry-wide no dominant paradigm for product
  10. 10. the automotive industry: imagine planes vs. cars (what if planes offered personal commuting alternative – wow!) ebook characterization is happening in shadow of historical print pattern
  11. 11. the efforts to build a new market stasis- determine the primary “axis of competition”: product | pricing | services
  12. 12. deep technology shifts usually remove the ability to focus on a single axis
  13. 13. digital (creation, distribution) have {many} {new} implications for ubiquity and control of products, services
  14. 14. fields that have become disrupted are naturally subject to the formation of new emergent biases in conduct. (there is no existing practice)
  15. 15. any newly introduced stresses produce unexpected outcomes evolving by positive feedbacks, counters are weak.
  16. 16. such as a tendency for progressive furthering of emerging monopolies
  17. 17. international rights will force new emergent practices uncertainties are easily introduced for digital books vs. print products
  18. 18. National historical book price fixing laws subject to stress from international firms because digital stresses different vectors
  19. 19. tensions exacerbated by complexities international vs national legal regime – changes in law difficult to negotiate something could emerge in EU or GATT / WTO context
  20. 20. strikingly uncertain right now in an international context: who will sell what to whom for what
  21. 21. this does not even touch on definition of redistribution or secondary markets national or international in context!
  22. 22. e.g. consider digital first sale! an issue common to software (shrink wrap licensing) less an issue for music, movies in the past (although might change)
  23. 23. or LENDING ... not as straightforward as buying a digital copy and putting it on shelf
  24. 24. digital lending requires a new coordinated technology infrastructure with access-based accounting systems quite different than traditional lending
  25. 25. and ... publisher recalcitrance to provide lending inventory to libraries due to perceived loss of a new revenue opportunity
  26. 26. might force establishment of new large library consortia acting as their own platform services providers – many outcomes might emerge.
  27. 27. “Hold Hands”, wickenden, Flickr
  28. 28. in organizational fields like publishing that have had a long period of stability implicit rules formed to govern action
  29. 29. typically bluffs are not called and brinksmanship is avoided (consider wylie v random house– agent and publisher work it out)
  30. 30. one can see this in technology: patents are usually cross licensed - not worth divisive shoot_foot_self
  31. 31. lawsuits typically signal a breakdown in normative practices within an organizational field
  32. 32. the core publishing industry dependencies established a rich set of interactions: author / agent / publisher / selling-agent
  33. 33. as historical patterns erode the early stage survivors of market disruption to rebuild using existing networks (e.g., R_Nash’s Cursor Books)
  34. 34. author / agent / publisher / selling-agent increasingly subject not to redefinition but re-articulation Not “what is a publisher” Now “what is publishing”
  35. 35. as industry, publishing is lucky it has laid claim to an obvious higher-goal: disseminating information
  36. 36. this reference point acts to reduce friction, mitigating damage from rent seeking
  37. 37. networks alter dramatically when powerful new entrants impact a disrupted organizational field – 1) technologies have changed, and 2) new domains have entered field
  38. 38. that would be Silicon Valley:  Apple  Google  Amazon
  39. 39. New entrants are not bound by any extant dependencies. Network “damage” occurs when new org field actors first interact.
  40. 40. Odds of engendering wholly unexpected consequences is dramatically multiplied. New actors predominately occupy distinct organizational networks, in different fields
  41. 41. It is this “asteroid from outer space” characteristic that makes the industry raw and exposed for the first time in decades
  42. 42. out of field (technology) disruption demands engagement with different industrial sectors, for radical change.
  43. 43. transmedia and web based delivery are examples where new entrants better able to produce, distribute
  44. 44. trying to mold oneself like plastic sheet wrap around disrupting agents (Absorb the Mongols!) is not a strategy for long term survival
  45. 45. Google's entrance into vending books (as opposed to mining them for data) is only part of a larger product portfolio to convenience its existing partners and to place pressure on valley competitors.
  46. 46. on the bright side ... we have stunning new range of opportunities to build new services
  47. 47. peter brantley co-founder, open books alliance director, bookserver project internet archive the presidio, san francisco, ca @naypinya (twitter)