It started with music, but has been slowly spreading to other industries. The digital takeover shows no signs of slowing. All businesses and industries go through changes, but what makes this time different is the force behind the change. This time, users are driving publishers to change how they do business, or face being shut down. Consumers, or users, have more power than ever before. With the click of a button, users can now purchase, upload, and instantly enjoy music, information, news, and books.
Take, for example, the music industry. Thanks in large part to the popularity of Apple’s iTunes and iPod, music has gone digital. Record labels tried everything to stop it from happening, but the users had made up their minds. They no longer wanted to buy CDs, records, or tapes, they wanted MP3 players and digital content. Instead of the record labels being in charge, the users had taken over. As time has passed, new benefits emerged. Users and musicians can connect and collaborate like never before. Social media gave musicians a powerful platform to promote their music and image while giving fans an outlet for sharing their opinions and fan art. Users are able to become much more involved in the music and culture than ever before.
Users become their own publishers online. Anyone with a video mode on their cell phone can take a quick video, upload it to their computer, edit it with easy to use video editing software, and then upload it to any of the thousands of websites they choose. There are entire websites that are full of information, videos, and games created by users. Promotion is even easier. With the click of a button, posts and links can be shared on countless social media sites where thousands or even millions of people will be exposed to them.
Mobile devices such as cell phone, iPads and tablets, and digital book readers have been changing the way users find information including news, weather, and sports. As the sale of traditional print newspapers continues to slow, the industry has been finding ways of embracing the transition. They realize users are much more receptive to targeted ads and hyperlocal news, now made possible on digital devices.
The book publishers are still trying to figure out the best way to approach the transition from hard copy to digital. Clearly, it is beneficial for them to create and distribute digital copies due to the money and time that is saved by not having to print the books. However, there is still some concern over the pricing. Some ebook reader manufactures and publishers want to charge the same amount for the digital copy as they do for the hard copy. Others, such as Amazon and the Kindle, charge a much smaller fee for digital books. Users will once again be the deciding factor. It will be up to them to decided which device they want to buy and what price they want to pay for the digital books.