Watch this video:

Compelling, no? But my question is - why are these CEOs of multi-billion dollar businesses spending time, money and effort on this video? If they were busy creating, thriving, growing, as indicated, do you really think they would be so concerned with a few hundred bloggers, pundits, and critics that announce publishing is dead? Truth is, nobody really thinks publishing is dead - newspapers, books, and magazines will be around for quite some time yet. But there is a loud voice that has been warning everyone that the digital era changes the game. So what should publishers and other businesses in similar situations do?

Re-invent or defend?

Why waste time and energy on defense? Do you think this video is going to cause people to rush off and buy more magazines?  Do you think it will slow down the pace of change and digital delivery of content? I don’t think so. Instead of whining and defending the past, they should spend more time and energy on re-inventing. Chris Anderson, Editor of Wired isn’t wasting time, he’s re-inventing.

Other companies, like Blockbuster, have chosen to live in the past. I recently had a terrible customer service experience at Blockbuster and all I could think - here is a company that has a shrinking market and a business model that cannot survive, and they cannot even provide decent customer service? Blockbuster would rather defend their past and spend time on creating more convoluted and complex return policies. First stating  ‘no late fees’ with a complex set of rules/conditions and now the geniuses have decided to make a return to ‘late fees’? It is not a surprise to see them struggling. While wasting time protecting their existing business model, companies like Netflix and Vudu are whizzing by. Does anyone think that renting physical DVDs is an industry that will grow? Certainly not Walmart, who simply decided to purchase Vudu and enter the market of digital movie delivery. No whining, no living in the past, simply re-inventing. 

Same can be said for Amazon, the largest seller of books. It would be easy for Jeff Bezos, owner of Amazon, to sit back and whine about the book industry and try to defend publishers and the medium of the printed book. Instead, Jeff chose to re-invent the industry with the first commercially, affordable e-reader; the Kindle, with a simple cost-effective delivery mechanism. Just as Apple did with the iPod, Amazon has done with books, and now all other book retailers/publishers must play catch-up.

It will be interesting to see which companies will not only survive but thrive in this digital revolution. It’s an ongoing battle and ongoing opportunity. Which companies do you think are doing well or struggling in this transition?