Category Archives: Disintermediation

David Byrne and the Independent Creator

I’m peeling this post off of a discussion I’m having on Facebook with Leora Kornfeld, who writes about Disintermediation as a Harvard Research Associate. I think this message is an important one for all independent creators to be thinking about as all content-based industries are changing around us.

Here is David Byrne’s Oped in The Guardian. In it, he argues that new media consolidation on the internet is squeezing the economic sustainability out of music broadcast.

And here’s my take on it:
I think he has a point about the economics of the new aggregators. It’s a little ironic to see a reference to the good old days of the record company fairness, since they were the posterboys of IP robber baronism. 

Now, it’s the tech aggregators turn. It may be an even less fair arrangement, due to a confluence of factors. The end result will probably depend on whether the winner-take-all model topples, or whether it stands. 

Also it’s probably more accurate to say that the new model is sucking the economic sustainability out of the middle and bottom rungs of a professional art form. Whether that translates to the “life” or not is a different question. 

Of course, both of the above questions are linked. Do new disintermediation models spring up to get around the reintermediation™ of Amazon and Pandora? Jeff Goldblum would say that life will find a way.

You’ll see many people in the tech world shrug and say, “Get used to it.” But this ignores the fact that there is no one single natural order of things. The rules (laws) governing business practices set the playing field. And those rules are set by governments.

When radio was new technology, for instance, payola was outlawed. This law was instrumental in the development of music businesses in the radio age. Without these laws, the record companies would have had an even tighter stranglehold on the entire industry and could have required even more onerous contractual terms.

Monopolies deform the marketplace, generally to the detriment all outside stakeholders. Disintermediation is undermining the power of the existing content oligarchies, but reintermediation is apparently on track to bring an even greater concentration of wealth and power into fewer hands.

Along the way, these companies will work to bend the rules in their own favor. So I don’t think that stakeholders outside the new oligarchy should simply “get used to it.” Our laws are ill-equipped to deal with the challenges of the digital age. And we should not leave the law-writing only to those with the highest concentration of wealth and power. History teaches us that they will try to increase their power by tilting the playing field. 

It’s possible that these companies will be prevented from becoming true monopolies through some market-based limiting factor, such as hubris, incompetence or outside competition. But it’s also possible that they win the winner-take-all game.

In that case, as with the monopolies of the last century, it may fall to governments to limit the power of these companies. It’s important for independent creators to stay informed and to advocate for their own best interests.

The DAM Book now available in PDF!

DAM_Book_Cover_Digital2As of today, you can now purchase The DAM Book, 2nd Edition as a PDF file for digital download. This is the same version published by O’Reilly in 2009, with a new cover. This should be welcome news for overseas purchasers, as well as the many people who have asked for the book in electronic form over the last few years. We’re really happy to be able to make this available.

Digital Download – $19.99

I know there are some questions, so I have put together a short FAQ.

Where can I buy the PDF?
What formats are available?
Speaking of versions, aren’t we due for a new one?
Are printed copies still available?
If I’ve already bought the paper book, can I still get a discount?
Can I buy from Amazon?
Why should I buy from you?
Did you say Special Offers?

Where can I buy the PDF?
At the moment, you can only purchase it from us. We’re selling through ContentShelf, which handles the transaction and download. This is our first time using this service, and we’ll be very interested in the buyer experience.

What formats are available?
The book is available as a paper copy and as a PDF.   It’s unlikely that we will make it available in any other electronic formats, for this version.

Speaking of versions, aren’t we due for a new one?
This book was published in 2009, so the software versions included in the workflow sections are several versions old. However the fundamentals in the book are still quite solid and useful. I’m planning on writing a new version, but have not worked out the details yet. If you’d like to be placed on our mailing list, send me a note.

Are printed copies still available?
Yes, there are a limited number of printed copies available. You can buy from Amazon or from us directly. If you buy directly from us, we’ll also provide a free digital download of the PDF.  (You can buy a printed copy from Amazon, but it won’t qualify for a free digital download.)

Order your book here, and we’ll send you a coupon for a digital download within 24 hours.

If I’ve already bought a paper version, can I still get a discount?
We will offer a free version of the PDF book to anyone who purchased it directly through our website. Sorry, this does not apply to anyone who purchased the book through Amazon or any other outlet.

Qualified purchasers can contact us here to request their coupon.  Please provide name, address and purchase info at the time of request.

Can I buy the PDF from Amazon?
O’Reilly also has rights to sell a digital version of the book. The book may become available on the O’Reilly site and/or Amazon. At the moment, DAMuseful Publishing has no plans to sell through Amazon or iTunes.

Why should I buy from you?
We will offer special discounts for people who buy directly from us.

It’s our hope and expectation that we will be able to make book writing and video training a sustainable business by selling direct. When we provide the retail part of the transaction, it helps to make our business sustainable.

Did you say Special Offers?
As a matter of fact, I did. We’ll start by taking care of past customers. Anyone who bought The DAM Book 2nd Edition directly from us will be eligible for a free download of the digital version. And as we publish more books and videos, we will continue to offer repeat customers some love in exchange for their loyalty.

Email directly to request a voucher. Remember to provide name, address and purchase info.


Victoria Bampton’s Lightroom 5 book now shipping

lr5-book1In nearly every Lightroom presentation I make, I strongly urge attendees to purchase Victoria Bampton’s Lightroom Missing FAQ ebook. It is a smart comprehensive guide to just about every tool in Lightroom. Even though I know the program extremely well, I find the book to be invaluable when I have a question about the definitive behavior of some tool I don’t use all the time.

The newest version of the book has just been released. So, if you’re a Lightroom 5 user, it’s time to get the new copy.

Not only am I a fan of Victoria’s clear writing and comprehensive grasp of the application, I’m also a fan of her self-publishing venture. She has published the book herself from the first version, offering an ebook along with an optional paper version. I know from my own experience that this is often the only way to make book writing a profitable undertaking. Of course there are great ancillary ways to profit from book writing, but the traditional publishing royalty arrangement is getting more out-of-reach.

So, yes, she is yet another example of successful disintermediation in the photo ecosystem.