Is the CD-ROM Publishing Industry in Decline?
I'm going to present a broad overview of what has been going on over the past year. It's no mystery-the December 1996 issues of Indelible News (www.indeli bleink.com), CD-ROM Professional (www.onlineinc.com), and BusinessWeek (www.businessweek.com) featured editorials that only confirmed what everyone observed in 1996. The CD-ROM/multimedia publishing industry is shaking itself out-but is it getting better or going downhill?
There are several issues. Perhaps the most obvious is that, while there are more CD-ROM titles available than ever, we now have fewer publishers than before. The past year has witnessed many consolidations, acquisitions, and actual collapses. Typically, it is the smaller publishers that have been disappearing, with many midsized publishers being scaled back, consolidated, or acquired by larger ones.
When retail outlets only have shelf space for 250 titles at the most, it will not come as a surprise to find that smaller publishers have difficulty competing and that the shelves will be dominated by Disney, Mattel, CUC, Microsoft, SoftKey, and the like. The October 1996 issue of New York-based Jupiter Communications' Digital Kids newsletter quotes sales statistics from PC Data that bear out the consolidation trend-a mere 10 or so imprints were reported as controlling a full 50 percent of …