Your Industry Changed (Again) Yesterday

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so many devices, so much money to be made

So everyone heard that Adobe introduced some new tools for us to merrily sink our cash into, yes? Good! Let’s talk about the astounding changes in business that are happening to us right now, and seemingly every week. But first, I’d like you to read something from Clay Shirky wrote in April of last year: The Collapse of Complex Business Models. I’ll wait while you pretend to read.

Clay wrote last year about the incredible and implausible collapse of complex business models that have no choice but to be complex. The scenarios are all very, very frightening, and very real—and hopefully we’re learning to avoid. I’m no Adobe fanboy, but the steps they’re publicizing are kind of amazing. They’ve essentially redefined publishing—an industry decidedly edging towards a business collapse—without making the artists and artisans using their tools relearn anything. in just a little under eighteen months. That’s bananas.

We all have heard about the astounding touch apps for Android and iOS devices released yesterday, and maybe I’ll talk about those later, but I’m more interested in the step they took with their Digital Publishing toolset through InDesign. As of now, we can all buy a single-object license from them for $395—which isn’t much, when you carve it out of a design budget—and use that license for a full year’s worth of trial-and error submissions with Apple’s famously nitpicky App Store.

Let’s look at that licensing with an example. Say you’re designing and distributing a typography book. You can buy a $395 license from Adobe to publish your InDesign on iOS objects. Once you submit your object to the App Store, the timer on your license starts, and keeps on going until your final submission. So assuming you get rejected for Apple policy or content violations a couple of times, your license gives you plenty of time to correct your errors. When you need to create an updated version of your book (say for a second edition), you buy another license.

What I like about Adobe’s pricing is that they’re forcing capitalism to happen. They’re forcing people to look at more realistic pricing for their content, which is great, because let’s face it: $0.99 apps are almost totally unrealistic to someone who’s spending months and months developing new content. Maybe this puts me in the republican camp, but I like the idea of a forced minimum price for an artist-created digital object.