Technology Disruption

Technological disruption is a phenomenon of disruptive technology (disruptive innovation) that causes changes to orders and systems in new ways. Those who continue to use the old way will be affected by disruption. One of the impacts is not being able to compete with those who have innovated in new ways.

Many people think that since 2020 we are in an era of catastrophic technological disruption. The COVID-19 pandemic has led to massive technology involvement in various sectors such as education, health, business, etc. The book publishing business is also affected by this disruption. They must adapt to technological innovations so as not to be left behind.

Amazon’s Story of Technological Disruption

Jeff Bezos, CEO of Amazon, once said, “You don’t want to be Kodak.” This statement refers to the giant photography company that is now being crushed by technological developments. He believes that companies that do not want to adapt to consumer needs and technological developments will be destroyed. It turns out that Jeff’s statement was born from a challenge in a meeting with two plates of sushi.

Quoted from a book entitled “Working Backwards: Insights, Stories, and Secrets from Inside Amazon”, in 2003 Jeff and several of his colleagues from Amazon were invited by Steve Jobs, the leader of Apple’s company at the time. In a casual meeting that began with talk about the music industry over sushi, Jobs announced something. Apple has launched its first Windows application, iTunes. With this application, anyone can buy digital music from Apple without having a Mac. Jobs also stated that many CDs sold on Amazon would become obsolete music formats such as cassettes, but would still be a business opportunity as antiques.

Jeff, who felt offended, used this as motivation. He realized that technology could be a disruption. Technological developments change consumer needs and lifestyles. Companies must be able to adapt and innovate if they do not want to be left behind.

Jeff wanted original innovation that truly delivers value to Amazon consumers. But it is not easy. For four years after that meeting, Jeff and the team, including Jobs, continued to have discussions. Finally, by 2007 Kindle was officially launched and sold out in less than six hours.

Amazon, which focuses on business as e-commerce with a focus on selling printed books online, innovated with the Kindle. Kindle is a tablet-shaped e-reader that allows consumers to store all e-books on one device and also buy books, magazines, and newspapers through the Kindle Store at low prices. One of its uniqueness is that there is no distraction because this gadget is specifically for reading books.

Since the Kindle was launched, book sales in the United States have experienced a three-digit increase in e-book sales in 2013. Technological developments that have changed people’s reading styles have made Kindle a solution to their needs. Amazon’s decision to innovate has proven to make it grow even more without being eroded by technological disruption.

Edutech Disruption in the Book Publishing Industry

Amazon has taken the right and fast steps to avoid the technological disruption craze. But it turns out that the launch of Kindle by Amazon is also a disruption for many bookstores and publishers. In a journal entitled E-Books: A Tale of Digital Disruption, it is explained that the presence of Amazon in the world of book publishing is suspected of being the cause of the bankruptcy of existing bookstores. Those who do not want to innovate feel threatened that they will be affected by the disruption.

Technological disruption has indeed attacked various business sectors, including book publishing in Indonesia. The Chairperson of the Indonesian Publishers Association (IKAPI) revealed that the number of bookstores in Indonesia, in 2005 reached 5000, and only 1000 remained in 2015. The number continues to decline due to the shift in public interest to e-books. According to him, conventional book publishers must have the courage to change their mindset so they don’t go bankrupt because publishing costs are getting more expensive while sales are declining.

In reality, many bookstores and publishers are out of business today. One of them is the Gunung Agung bookstore which is under PT GA Thirteen. The legendary book store and publisher, which was established in 1953, will close all remaining stores at the end of 2023 due to increasing monthly operational losses.

Technological disruption has proven capable of tearing down publishers that have lasted decades. Therefore exploring digital products is no longer an option but a necessity. One example is the Gramedia publisher, which sells its books offline and online and has provided 12,000 ebook titles for its subscribers to enjoy.

Edutech Challenges and Opportunities for Textbook Publishers

Many stores and publishers of textbooks also went bankrupt. The reason is the development of edutech which makes students more comfortable scrolling through ebooks on their gadgets rather than opening printed book pages. Students are also more interested in audiobooks and videobooks which allow them to understand the content without having to read it themselves.

In this challenge, textbook publishers have the opportunity to innovate so that they can maintain and even develop their businesses. These opportunities include:

Publishers can expand production to publish audiobooks and videobooks that are more attractive to students.

Textbook publishers already have relationships with schools that facilitate the marketing process.

Textbook publishers already have a lot of content so they can take advantage of the edutech trend, namely cloud-based infrastructure such as LMS to add value to product sales.

To realize these opportunities, publishers certainly need time and cost to be paid. Sometimes this becomes an obstacle so that publishers delay their innovation. However, partnership or collaboration with other parties can be an option. Katalis.App is an Open edX-based Learning Management System (LMS) application that is ready to partner with you in dealing with edutech disruptions. has experience working with publishers to digitize content/books with fast go-to-market without large up-front investment and technical complexities. Contact us here for further discussion.

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