The Heath brothers are at it again. I'm talking about Chip and Dan Heath, Fast Company columnists and authors of the excellent book, Made to Stick (see my review here). Every time I read one of their articles I spend the rest of the day thinking about how their observations affect my world.
The latest issue of Fast Company features a Heath article called Get Laziness on Your Side: How to sway people's decisions with the gentlest of nudges. At first it reminded me of the bookclub model where a member's non-response led to another book in their mailbox. That's yesterday's approach though, so what's tomorrow's model?
Google and Amazon come to mind. Both are rapidly building up an enormous inventory of e-content, Google with its Book Search and Amazon with their Search Inside program. Currently both programs are free to everyone, but both have limits on how much content any one person can see from any one book. Advertising and book sales are generally cited as the way these services can be monetized, but what about a paid subscription option as well?
I could see a premium version of either of these services where customers pay a flat fee for unlimited online reading access. Instead of hitting the 5%, 7% or whatever content ceiling each publisher has put in place on these services, the paid model would be uncapped. Reading an entire book on your computer screen isn't the most pleasant experience, so I'm not sure many people would use this to keep up on all the latest novels. But reference information, quick how-to's, etc., lend themselves quite nicely to this approach.
The price has to be right, of course, and publisher buy-in is critical. This model already exists with services like Books24x7 and Safari, btw, but I'm talking about leveraging the power and major brand names of Google and Amazon.
An enormous number of information seekers are already using Google and Amazon for free, so can they use the Heath logic and nudge enough of these seekers to a paid model? I think so, assuming the right pricing and content options are available.