In my last post I wrote about how the book digitizing effort is trying to monetize underutilized books online.
For anyone contemplating exposing data or capabilities via APIs to create new revenue streams, there are some important implementation lessons that can be learned.
In Norway’s Bookshelf project, their free online books can only be read online and only in Norway, and cannot be downloaded or printed out. Similarly, with APIs you need to have a way to control who can access your data and from where. API Identity, API authorization and other API security considerations are a must.
Make it (at least something) free
Google must operate under copyright laws, but it has found a way to freely expose extracts or snippets under ‘fair use’. Similarly, you cannot expect uptake of your content or capabilities if some of it cannot be consumed easily and en gratis. Give at least some of what you offer away for free to spur adoption. Technically, this means being able to control what can be consumed at a granular level.
Google, Bookshelf, and Europeana have ideas about how they’ll monetize books they put online, but they are still experimenting with the right business models. Executives shouldn’t wait for an iron-clad business model to present itself… you won’t figure out the right model unless you are ‘in the game’.