Publishing’s Next Big Thing.
Ars Technica found it by accident, but I’m going to give it a name: Nanopublishing.
I would have called it Micropublishing, but Wikipedia says that name already exists. I hate it when that happens.
What Ars Technica has done is very different to the kinds of micropublishing we’ve already seen – because it worked. They repurposed content they’d already published online and made $15,000 out of it, for almost zero effort.
Now that someone has done it right, we have a model. A process that can be repeated. Lightning can strike twice.
If you don’t know the story – and you probably do know the story if you’re reading this – Ars Technica has published books to Kindle before. So, when John Siracusa delivered a 27,300 word review of the new Mac operating system Lion recently, it wasn’t too much of a conceptual leap to push it out using KDP (Kindle Direct Publishing).
And at $5.79, that’s five dollars of almost clear profit.
By the way, I stole all these facts from The Next Web (http://goo.gl/l1slC), before anyone accuses me of actually doing any journalism here. If any of this is wrong, don’t sue me.
Here’s the best bit. The Kindle version of the review sold 3,000 copies. In one day. $15,000 gross, for an article that people can still read online at Ars Technica for free. An article that they could have clipped to Instapaper and sent to their Kindle for free.
So why didn’t they?
Sending content via Instapaper to Kindle may well be free, but it’s very techie. It requires setting up and log-ins and tweaking to work. (EDIT – And Ars Technica makes it even more difficult. See the comment frombelow).
Amazon’s one-click Kindle purchasing, on the other hand, is really powerful voodoo. It’s tech that people get.
For 3,000 people, $5.79 was a low enough price point for a one-click purchase. And with overheads like this, 3,000 people is all you need – as long as the ingredients are right.
In this case, Ars Technica is well known for its deep technical content. The author, John Siracusa, has a track record of writing blunt, dry, technically savvy reviews for the site.
The release of Lion was an event within the IT community in general. For a sub-set of curious, enquiring Apple users, fans and system admins, it was much more than that.
The review offered a trusted and highly granular analysis of a very new technology, an early insight for an audience that might be expected to deploy the OS in high risk situations.
Breaking that down further into simpler categories, we have:
* A brand with expertise and authority.
* Highly specialist and/or time critical subject matter, dealt with in detail.
* A niche audience.
* An impulse price point.
* One-click delivery.
Could this be a replicable model? There is only one way to find out – and that’s to make more lightning.