Publishing Is Not Dying

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Is there still life in the old girl yet?

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If marketers want to produce content, they need to think like publishers. After all, content isn’t an extension of marketing, it’s an extension of publishing.

I am hardly the only one to make that case, but skeptics are still vocal in their disagreement. “Aren’t publishers failing?” they say. How can I hold up a struggling industry as a model? If publishing is a viable model, why aren’t publishers making money?

These sentiments are common, but they are not based in fact. In truth, publishing is flourishing, creating massive new fortunes for entrepreneurs and more choices for consumers. It’s also attracting large investments by established companies and venture capitalists. Though not everyone prospers, there has never been a better time for publishers.

First, the obvious: a new breed of online publishers has been generating hundreds of million dollars of value in very short periods of time. “Mommy blogs” created an entirely new category. Bleacher Report was sold for over $175 million in just five years. The Huffington Post was sold for $315 million in just six years. And it’s not just the financial results that are impressive — Huffington Post has won a Pulitzer Prize, as has Politico, a news organization launched in 2007.

These examples are not mere exceptions, but part of a growing trend. Publishing start-ups are hot. Vox Media, a venture-funded publishing start-up, recently lured Ezra Klein away from theWashington Post. Andreessen Horowitz just announced a $50 million investment in Buzzfeed. ESPN recruited Nate Silver to run his famed data journalism blog, FiveThirtyEight, under its umbrella. Clearly, there’s no shortage of opportunities in online publishing.

Sure, you may say, tech-savvy startups are doing great, but old-line publishers, like magazines and newspapers are doomed. Aren’t they?

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