原題はPost-Medium Publishingで、原文はhttp://www.paulgraham.com/publishing.htmlです。

Post-Medium Publishing

September 2009

Publishers of all types, from news to music, are unhappy that consumers won't pay for content anymore. At least, that's how they see it.

In fact consumers never really were paying for content, and publishers weren't really selling it either. If the content was what they were selling, why has the price of books or music or movies always depended mostly on the format? Why didn't better content cost more? [1]

A copy of Time costs $5 for 58 pages, or 8.6 cents a page. The Economist costs $7 for 86 pages, or 8.1 cents a page. Better journalism is actually slightly cheaper.

Almost every form of publishing has been organized as if the medium was what they were selling, and the content was irrelevant. Book publishers, for example, set prices based on the cost of producing and distributing books. They treat the words printed in the book the same way a textile manufacturer treats the patterns printed on its fabrics.

Economically, the print media are in the business of marking up paper. We can all imagine an old-style editor getting a scoop and saying "this will sell a lot of papers!" Cross out that final S and you're describing their business model. The reason they make less money now is that people don't need as much paper.

数ヶ月前、喫茶店で友人を見かけたとき、私の手元にはニューヨーク・タイムズがあった (まだ週末にはたまに買うのだ)。帰るところだったので、これまで幾度となくやってきたとおり、それをあげようと思ったのだが、今回はちょっと調子を変えてみた。喫茶店を出るところだったので、いつも通りそれをあげることにした。ただ、今回はちょっと趣向を変えてみた。まるで価値がないものを渡されたと感じられるように「あ、昨日のニュースをプリントアウト、いるかい?」と新聞を差し出したのだ。(彼は「いらない」と答えた))
A few months ago I ran into a friend in a cafe. I had a copy of the New York Times, which I still occasionally buy on weekends. As I was leaving I offered it to him, as I've done countless times before in the same situation. But this time something new happened. I felt that sheepish feeling you get when you offer someone something worthless. "Do you, er, want a printout of yesterday's news?" I asked. (He didn't.)

Now that the medium is evaporating, publishers have nothing left to sell. Some seem to think they're going to sell content—that they were always in the content business, really. But they weren't, and it's unclear whether anyone could be.


There have always been people in the business of selling information, but that has historically been a distinct business from publishing. And the business of selling information to consumers has always been a marginal one. When I was a kid there were people who used to sell newsletters containing stock tips, printed on colored paper that made them hard for the copiers of the day to reproduce. That is a different world, both culturally and economically, from the one publishers currently inhabit.

人々は儲かると思えば、情報に代価を払うだろう。それが人々が株式情報のニュースレターに支払ったり、現代の企業がブルームバーグの端末やエコノミスト・インテリジェンス・ユニットのレポートに代金を支払う理由だ。だが儲からないのなら、人は情報に代価を払うだろうか? 歴史的にはほとんど見込みはない。
People will pay for information they think they can make money from. That's why they paid for those stock tip newsletters, and why companies pay now for Bloomberg terminals and Economist Intelligence Unit reports. But will people pay for information otherwise? History offers little encouragement.

聴衆が、より良いコンテンツはもっと高くたっていいと思っていたのなら、なぜ既にそれが売られていないのだろうか? 物理的なメディアの時代だって、そうすることはできたはずだ。じゃあ活字メディアやレコード会社は、単に機会を見逃していたのだろうか? いやむしろ、そんな機会などもともと存在していなかったのでは?
If audiences were willing to pay more for better content, why wasn't anyone already selling it to them? There was no reason you couldn't have done that in the era of physical media. So were the print media and the music labels simply overlooking this opportunity? Or is it, rather, nonexistent?

iTunesは? それは人々がコンテンツに代価を払う証拠では? いや違う。iTunesは店というより料金所だ。アップルはiPodでデフォルトの流通経路を支配している。アップルは便利な歌のリストを示し、1曲を選ぶと、それほど意識させずにクレジットカードから少額を引き落とす。iTunesは基本的にものを売っているのではなく、課税しているのだ。それが可能なのは販売経路を持っているときだけだし、その時でさえ大して儲からない。というのも、無視できる程度の料金でなければ成功しないからだ。いったん料金が苦痛となると、人は回避する方法を探し始めるし、デジタル・コンテンツでは回避はかなり容易だ。
What about iTunes? Doesn't that show people will pay for content? Well, not really. iTunes is more of a tollbooth than a store. Apple controls the default path onto the iPod. They offer a convenient list of songs, and whenever you choose one they ding your credit card for a small amount, just below the threshold of attention. Basically, iTunes makes money by taxing people, not selling them stuff. You can only do that if you own the channel, and even then you don't make much from it, because a toll has to be ignorable to work. Once a toll becomes painful, people start to find ways around it, and that's pretty easy with digital content.

The situation is much the same with digital books. Whoever controls the device sets the terms. It's in their interest for content to be as cheap as possible, and since they own the channel, there's a lot they can do to drive prices down. Prices will fall even further once writers realize they don't need publishers. Getting a book printed and distributed is a daunting prospect for a writer, but most can upload a file.

ソフトウェアは反例だろうか? 人はデスクトップ・ソフトウェアの代金に大金を支払っているし、ソフトは情報にすぎない。だが本当のところ私は、出版社がソフトウェアから多くを学ぶことはできないと思う。ソフトウェア会社は、(a) 顧客の多くが海賊版を使うと困ったことになるビジネス目的であり、かつ(b) 単なる情報であるにもかかわらず、メーカーも購入者もソフトを歌や記事とは別の扱いをする、という理由でたっぷり課金できる。フォトショップのユーザーは、ある歌や記事を欲しがるのと同じように、フォトショップを欲しがるわけではない。
Is software a counterexample? People pay a lot for desktop software, and that's just information. True, but I don't think publishers can learn much from software. Software companies can charge a lot because (a) many of the customers are businesses, who get in trouble if they use pirated versions, and (b) though in form merely information, software is treated by both maker and purchaser as a different type of thing from a song or an article. A Photoshop user needs Photoshop in a way that no one needs a particular song or article.

それが「コンテンツ」が情報なのに「ソフトウェア」とは別の言葉である理由だ。ソフトウェアは別の業界なのだ。ソフトウェアとコンテンツは、ライトなゲームのように、最も簡単なソフトでは境界があいまいになる。だが普通それらはタダだ。ソフトウェア会社のようにお金を稼ぐなら、出版社はソフトウェア会社にならざるを得ない。そして出版社であることは、ソフトウェア業界に進出するとき、なんの足しにもならない。 [2]
That's why there's a separate word, "content," for information that's not software. Software is a different business. Software and content blur together in some of the most lightweight software, like casual games. But those are usually free. To make money the way software companies do, publishers would have to become software companies, and being publishers gives them no particular head start in that domain. [2]

The most promising countertrend is the premium cable channel. People still pay for those. But broadcasting isn't publishing: you're not selling a copy of something. That's one reason the movie business hasn't seen their revenues decline the way the news and music businesses have. They only have one foot in publishing.

To the extent the movie business can avoid becoming publishers, they may avoid publishing's problems. But there are limits to how well they'll be able to do that. Once publishing—giving people copies—becomes the most natural way of distributing your content, it probably doesn't work to stick to old forms of distribution just because you make more that way. If free copies of your content are available online, then you're competing with publishing's form of distribution, and that's just as bad as being a publisher.

どうやら音楽業界の一部は、リスナーに視聴の会費を払わせることで、出版とは根底から距離を置きたがっているようだ。mp3 で入手できるのと同じものをストリーミングするだけなら、成功するとは考えにくい。
Apparently some people in the music business hope to retroactively convert it away from publishing, by getting listeners to pay for subscriptions. It seems unlikely that will work if they're just streaming the same files you can get as mp3s.


コンテンツを売ることができないなら、どうなる? 選択肢は2つだ。コンテンツを売るのはあきらめて間接的に儲けるか、人々が代金を払うような何かにコンテンツを具体化する方法を見つけるか、だ。
What happens to publishing if you can't sell content? You have two choices: give it away and make money from it indirectly, or find ways to embody it in things people will pay for.

The first is probably the future of most current media. Give music away and make money from concerts and t-shirts. Publish articles for free and make money from one of a dozen permutations of advertising. Both publishers and investors are down on advertising at the moment, but it has more potential than they realize.

I'm not claiming that potential will be realized by the existing players. The optimal ways to make money from the written word probably require different words written by different people.

映画の未来はより予測しづらい。広告に進化することもできるだろう。もしくは原点に戻って、たまの贅沢の観劇となってもいい。十分に経験を積めば、視聴者は家でドロボウした映画を見るより、それを好むかもしれない。[3] もしくはおそらく映画事業がすっかり干上がり、映画業界で働いていた人々は、ゲーム開発者として働くことになるとか。
It's harder to say what will happen to movies. They could evolve into ads. Or they could return to their roots and make going to the theater a treat. If they made the experience good enough, audiences might start to prefer it to watching pirated movies at home. [3] Or maybe the movie business will dry up, and the people working in it will go to work for game developers.

I don't know how big embodying information in physical form will be. It may be surprisingly large; people overvalue physical stuff. There should remain some market for printed books, at least.

I can see the evolution of book publishing in the books on my shelves. Clearly at some point in the 1960s the big publishing houses started to ask: how cheaply can we make books before people refuse to buy them? The answer turned out to be one step short of phonebooks. As long as it isn't floppy, consumers still perceive it as a book.

本を読むには、買うしかなかったときにはうまく行った。印刷された本を買わなくても良くなったら、出版社は、人々に本を買ってもらうために、より一生懸命になる必要があるだろう。ある程度の市場はあるのだろうが、どの程度の大きさかは予想しづらい。というのも、市場のサイズは人々の読書数のようなマクロのトレンドではなく、個々の出版社の才覚に依存するからだ。 [4]
That worked as long as buying printed books was the only way to read them. If printed books are optional, publishers will have to work harder to entice people to buy them. There should be some market, but it's hard to foresee how big, because its size will depend not on macro trends like the amount people read, but on the ingenuity of individual publishers. [4]

Some magazines may thrive by focusing on the magazine as a physical object. Fashion magazines could be made lush in a way that would be hard to match digitally, at least for a while. But this is probably not an option for most magazines.

I don't know exactly what the future will look like, but I'm not too worried about it. This sort of change tends to create as many good things as it kills. Indeed, the really interesting question is not what will happen to existing forms, but what new forms will appear.

The reason I've been writing about existing forms is that I don't know what new forms will appear. But though I can't predict specific winners, I can offer a recipe for recognizing them. When you see something that's taking advantage of new technology to give people something they want that they couldn't have before, you're probably looking at a winner. And when you see something that's merely reacting to new technology in an attempt to preserve some existing source of revenue, you're probably looking at a loser.


[1] 「コンテンツ」という言葉が好きではないので、その言葉を使わないようにしばらく努力したのだが、そのものずばりを示す単語が他にはまったくないと認めざるを得なかった。「情報」では一般的すぎる。
[1] I don't like the word "content" and tried for a while to avoid using it, but I have to admit there's no other word that means the right thing. "Information" is too general.

Ironically, the main reason I don't like "content" is the thesis of this essay. The word suggests an undifferentiated slurry, but economically that's how both publishers and audiences treat it. Content is information you don't need.

[2] ある種の出版業者は、ソフトウェア業界に参入しようとしたら不利な立場に立たされるだろう。たとえばレコード会社はおそらく、ソフトウェア会社よりカジノの会社になるほうが自然だとわかるだろう。というのもレコード会社を経営している人々は、ビジネスのスペクトルにおいて善良な側よりもヤクザ側に、より親和性があるからだ。
[2] Some types of publishers would be at a disadvantage trying to enter the software business. Record labels, for example, would probably find it more natural to expand into casinos than software, because the kind of people who run them would be more at home at the mafia end of the business spectrum than the don't-be-evil end.

[3] 私は今後、映画を映画館で観ようとは思わない。冒頭の広告が我慢の限界となった。
[3] I never watch movies in theaters anymore. The tipping point for me was the ads they show first.

[4] 残念だが、物理的に良い本を作るのは、ニッチの中のニッチにすぎないだろう。出版社はサイン本を売ったり、表紙を買い手の写真にするのと同様の便宜的な手段に頼ることのほうが多そうだ。
[4] Unfortunately, making physically nice books will only be a niche within a niche. Publishers are more likely to resort to expedients like selling autographed copies, or editions with the buyer's picture on the cover.

Thanks to Michael Arrington, Trevor Blackwell, Steven Levy, Robert Morris, and Geoff Ralston for reading drafts of this.