Book Review: The Content Machine by Michael Bhaskar


The publishing industry is in crisis. It always has been. The publishing itself won’t go away as it is one of the major accomplishments of the humans in the whole history. But even if publishing itself survives, the publishers may vanish if they fail to adapt themselves to the new digital age.

The viewpoint mentioned above has been the Michael Bhaskar’s motivation for writing his groundbreaking book titled The Content Machine.

There would be no way to analyse the current state of the publishing industry or predict its future, without looking at the trends of this industry in the last centuries.

Such a trend analysis is not easy for this industry as no one has a clear definition of publishing. May it be better to say: no one had a clear definition. Because reading Michael Bhaskar’s book would show you that the claim stated on the front cover is true. His book is a major step towards a theory of publishing. Something that covers the whole history of publishing from the printing press to the digital network.

The traditional definition of publishing is to make something public. However making something public in the digital era is much easier and cheaper than before. Therefore, publishers have to find a new role in the new age considering the old competencies.

Despite many people who believe that publishing industry is and has been an old-fashioned traditional industry, Michael Bhaskar believes that publishers have been frontiers of education and development for centuries, and it would not be so hard to hold this position if they try to adapt themselves to the changes.

In the digital age with so many free and easy-to-use high reach digital channels, everyone can be a micro-publisher. So the traditional publishers have to create and deliver more value to survive in the new economy.

Bhaskar has a recommendation there: Publishers have to find the audience and develop the market for the content. This is the service that every content owner and micropublisher would crave for.

Till now, advertisers were believed to have such a role. However, reaching the audience in the world of content overflow is something much more sophisticated than copywriting and selling channels. It seems advertisers themselves have to redefine their role to be able to defend their territory in the new age.

Michael Bhaskar has a three-part solution for the publishing challenge: Publishers have to filter the content and choose the ones with the best quality. Then they have to frame it in a digestible format for the content consumers, and the last and most important part of their mission is to amplify the content to be heard in the current noisy world of digital content which not every voice is heard by the audience.

Here you can find a summary of Michael Bhaskar’s theory of publishing in the digital age: Filtration, Framing & Amplification (Pdf format)