Disintermediate like it's 1999 • 17 October 2011 • The SnowBlog
Disintermediate like it's 1999
Back in the dot.com boom era there was much talk of 'disintermediation'. In case you don't know the word, you could think of it as meaning cutting-out-the-middleman-ation. In the late Nineties, the internet improved everyone's visibility of... everything, really. And sometimes you no longer needed a middleman to introduce you to someone you could do business with. Or, more importantly, perhaps you no longer wanted to pay for the privilege of what amounted to a Google search. This is the 'middleman as dating agency' role: matching buyers and sellers, clients to service-providers. In most cases, the middleman does more than just bring the two parties together. But how much more they do makes all the difference to whether they get disintermediated once buyers and sellers can find each other in other (usually internet-related) ways.
There's been a lot of talk recently of publishers being disintermediated by authors who self-publish, going direct to the retailers themselves. I don't think Amazon are the first to do the same thing from the other end, but given how they seem poised to take over the world - at least the book world (see previous post) - it's probably worth watching when they decide that part of the book supply-chain needs reconfiguring. The New York Times will give you the details if you're interested, but the gist is that Amazon are publishers now as well as... almost everything else (including sellers of sarcasm-inducingly expensive cables).