"Low hanging fruit"

Is a phrase I dislike, almost as much as “leaving money on the table”. I tend to shudder when these phrases are used because bitter experience tells me that ‘low hanging fruit’ really only comes to us when we have put in a lot of effort. You need to be able to reach the fruit for it to be low-hanging: make sure that you are tall enough to reach it! Goose bumps from ‘money on the table’ for a slightly different reason. Consultants use the phrase as though it were a mistake to leave something on the table, but any good deal always leaves some of the benefit (ideally a good chunk of it) with the counter-party. A successful business will always leave lots of money sitting on the table. That way customers are satisfied and they will come back again next year.

These musings are sparked by today’s news that on behalf of our publishers we have sold institutional site licenses to the embassy of an Arabic nation in Eastern Europe, a Lycée in Alsace, a middle-sized British charity, the city library of one India’s biggest cities (yes India not Indiana!), and one British FE College.

I am certain that modestly priced institutional licenses, delivered via IP addresses which the clients supply to us, are a considerable market. Publishers simply have not twigged this yet. Only in the case of the FE College was there a visible promotional initiative from the publisher. In the case of the embassy there was an alert reaction from our support team — a matter of confirming that an institutional license, rather than an individual license for the ambassador was what was needed. These institutional sales are mostly happening because the customers are finding that the offer of an institutional license is there for the taking, and they are taking them up because they are there. Of course, Indian libraries will be taking lots of digital subscriptions in ten years time (and I should not be surprised that some are doing so now). But the subs will have to be at a reasonable and affordable price. That means leaving quite lot of money on the ……

I hate to say this, but book and magazine publishers who do not offer site licenses to their digital offerings (who do not have digital offerings so that they can offer site licenses to them) are — how shall I put this? — leaving a lot of money on the table, or if you prefer they are ignoring low hanging fruit….It is a funny old world.

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