The dangers of bundles
Medium CEO Ev Williams has written about his thoughts on the future of publishing
, and he reckons it’s all about end users paying more. The rationale makes sense. When advertisers subsidise media, the audience gets the raw end of the deal.
Williams points out that not every publisher will be able to charge an individual subscription fee. Only big names and highly specialist outlets will have that privilege. He sees bundled subscriptions that package a bunch of titles together as the solution for most publishers.
These bundles are likely something we’ll see more of. We can already see the likes of Blendle
making inroads in parts of the world. But I do wonder in a broad sense, where the written word will figure in people’s purchasing decisions. If they have to buy subscriptions for music, movies, TV shows… maybe video games and social media services too. It all adds up. Will people want to buy multiple bundles of written content?
And if we choose different subscriptions to our friends, will we miss out on information other people will know? And does that just increase the filter bubble effect we already see in action thanks to only hearing the views of the narrow types of people we tend to follow on social media? And if we can’t afford them, and rely on free, ad-funded aggregators give us the highlights of paywalled content, do we trust the agendas of the aggregators?
I’m inclined to believe it will all work out more or less fine, over time. But given our experiences with social media over the past couple of years, we should go into any big shift in media consumption with our eyes open to the risks.