Anthony J. Pennings, PhD


Digital Distribution and the Future of Publishing

Posted on | December 1, 2010 | No Comments

Digital distribution, the electronic transport of media content by streaming or downloading, is a strong area of growth for e-commerce and looks to have a major impact on the future of publishing.

A Major Trend

Digital distribution has already been a major influence on the sales of music, movies, games as well as the sharing of user-generated content. Music downloads from sites such as Apple’s iTunes continue to challenge CDs for sales dominance. The International Federation of the Phonographic Industry (IFPI) recently said that digital purchases of music will account for one quarter of all worldwide sales during 2010. Movie services like NetFlix dominant the distribution of DVDs via a mail-order e-commerce platform and increasingly stream films and documentaries from their computer servers directly to consumer PCs. Cable TV and Telcos are also providing the digital distribution of video content via their on-demand services while provides a fascinating arena of user-generated content. The game business, which has surpassed the film industry recently in terms of total sales, also distributes a number of games digitally directly to PCs or video game consoles. News and informational content such as periodicals and magazines have also moved significantly to the Internet, although their viability has been questioned. Will the new mobile devices provide the difference?

The iPad and the Future of Digital Publishing

With newly available devices such as Amazon’s wireless reading device called Kindle and Barnes and Noble’s Nook we can expect increasing sales of digitally distributed publications. I already buy most of my books via the Kindle store but mainly to read on my Android-based Droid X cellphone.

Apple’s iPad has garnered first mover advantage in the area of digital publishing, providing the technical environment if not the business model for the future of newspapers and advertisements. Sir Richard Branson of the Virgin empire talked this morning on MSNBC’s Morning Joe about their new publication called “Project” on the iPad.

“Sadly for physically printed products, I think the future is in apps,” Branson told CNN in another interview.


Anthony J. Pennings, PhD has been on the NYU faculty since 2001 teaching digital media, information systems management, and global communications.


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    Professor and Associate Chair at State University of New York (SUNY) Korea. Recently taught at Hannam University in Daejeon, South Korea. Moved to Austin, Texas in August 2012 to join the Digital Media Management program at St. Edwards University. Spent the previous decade on the faculty at New York University teaching and researching information systems, media economics, and strategic communications.

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