The Keiretsu-Cooperative: A Model for Post-Gutenberg Publishing

Oxford Internet Institute Issue Brief, No. 4, January 2010

18 Pages Posted: 6 Jan 2010 Last revised: 7 Sep 2011

See all articles by Cheryll Barron

Cheryll Barron

affiliation not provided to SSRN

Date Written: January 6, 2010


This paper outlines a suggestion for a profitable, post-Gutenberg publishing model, one that puts bloggers at its centre. It avoids the chief risk of implementing pay-for-content plans, which is reducing site traffic, thereby reducing publishers’ attractiveness to advertisers. Its pay-to-own scheme allows digital media to live up to their democratic potential in the highest degree.

In the background for this proposal, communication by printed media has reached its limit as an agent of democratisation. Only a privileged minority had access to tools of printed mass communication at the close of the Gutenberg era, and before the widespread availability of inexpensive digital media, including the Internet. At the end of 2009, printed book publishing was a business in decline after years of low or no growth. Newspaper publishers were searching for business models to replace a modus operandi in which most of their revenue – which rarely covered operating costs – was derived from commercial advertising, with newsstand purchases and subscriptions in the US and UK commonly accounting for no more than a fifth of their sales.

At the end of the paper, four leaders in publishing who are or were recently associated with important British institutions – Bill Emmott (The Economist), David Goodhart (Prospect), Godfrey Hodgson (the Reuters Foundation Fellowship Programme, Oxford University) and Frances Pinter (Bloomsbury Academic) – react to the proposed scheme.

Keywords: Electronic publishing, Media revolution, Cooperative business enterprise, Keiretsu, Business model for e-media content generation, Bloggers vs. traditional print media, Post-Gutenberg publishing, User-generated content

JEL Classification: L82, P12, P13, O33, O34, Z10

Suggested Citation

Barron, Cheryll, The Keiretsu-Cooperative: A Model for Post-Gutenberg Publishing (January 6, 2010). Oxford Internet Institute Issue Brief, No. 4, January 2010 , Available at SSRN:

Cheryll Barron (Contact Author)

affiliation not provided to SSRN ( email )

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