New Media: Movies, Books Now Coming "Directly" To You

One trend I'm seeing throughout the media industry is the cutting out of the middle man. Call it dis-intermediation, call it democratization: content distribution is being transformed. You can sell a song, publish a book, or even distribute a movie, without ever talking to one of the big old media companies.

And I'm not talking about burning CDs and selling them through your own small web site. I'm talking about real distribution, with professional marketing, and the potential to reach hundreds of thousands of people.

Apple has been doing this for a while on iTunes, allowing people who don't have record deals to sell their music. And now Apple has also started selling movies that never see a movie theater or DVD box.

Apple is now releasing its first full-length feature film, "Purple Violets"' direct to the consumer. Written and Directed by Ed Burns, users can download the movie for $14.99. This type of distribution avoids the costs of what's called "P&A" in Hollywood--prints and advertising.

Sure, you might have to advertise if you wanted to get a huge audience, but you don't have to spend millions on TV spots to sell enough tickets opening weekend to justify the cost of putting movies in theaters.

Now, Audible is also bringing content directly to consumers. Audible Inc,makes 140,000 hours of spoken programming from over 500 content partners available on its web site. Users can download individual books or subscribe for a book or two a month. But now the company is picking books to skip the print process, and bring them directly--audibly--to customers.

Audible produced a new book called "The Chopin Manuscript," written by seven different thriller writers, and available only on Audible. This is a win-win: Audible gets original content to attract listeners, and cutting out the publisher cuts Audible's costs in half. Still just a tiny part of the business, but the idea of producing original content is positive for its growth.

Look out for this trend--the media companies are slowly losing control of the process.

Questions? Comments?