Warehouses and Stores
As a creator, Bodega strives to empower you. Most of the digital content systems that currently exist have you give your content to a publisher then controls where it can be delivered on your behalf. Unfortunately, this usually means that when you upload something to a specific online store, that becomes the only place people can get it from.
This is actually a fairly odd result if we compare it to how things works in the atom-based economy. Out in the physical world, people make things and they tend to pass it through a wholesaler to distributes it to multiple retailers. Rarely is the creator tied into any sort of exclusivity with the wholesaler, and retailers tend to have choices in their wholesale partner. Today's online content systems work a lot more like Walmart: warehouser, retailer and often looking for exclusivity. Walmart's model is good for Walmart, but often not so much for others.
With Bodega, there are no exclusivities, no accidental platform lock-in. You put your content in a digital warehouse where it sits with all the other things people have added to it. The warehouse is run by the server and its job is to orchestrate between creators and distributors. When you add content to the warehouse, a process we refer to as publishing, it becomes available for stores to display. The warehouse itself, however, is not the store itself.
What this means in practice is that you can publish your content in one place and multiple stores may choose to carry it. (Or not .. it is up to the store owner, but more on that in the next blog entry.) You may even choose to open a store for your own content. Consider the following scenarios:
Let's imagine a fellow named Joe. Joe writes technical books covering software he knows quite well. He'd like to publish his work, but his choices are limited. He can put it on RainForest, the giant bookseller website, and let them take a large portion of the profit. This doesn't seem very fair because most of the people who want Joe's books know about them because Joe promotes his work into the relevant communities. RainForest is just a transaction provider at this point, but making money as if they were a retailer. So instead Joe puts his books into a Bodega warehouse and then opens a Bodega store on his website. Without having to handle transactions, downloads or anything like that, Joe is now selling his books and keeping nearly the entire sales price. That itself may be good enough, but then the real magic happens: Make·Play·Live's store which can be accessed on Plasma Active devices, includes Joe's books. Joe may have no idea what Make·Play·Live or Plasma Active is, but his books have found another outlet. Joe may decide to co-promote some books from his fellow authors, and selects some of them to show up in his store on his website as well; Joe makes a small commission on those sales as well .. but more on that in the next blog entry.
Now let's meet Alice, who is a software developer targeting Linux. She'd like to put her software in an "App Store" but sees that there is one option but it only services one distribution and doesn't seem to turn much volume. She bemoans the fact that even though her software runs on all sorts of distributions, there's no way to get it there without somehow getting her application in each distribution's package management system, and even then it really is not the same user experience as an App Store provides. So Alice decides to put her applications into the Bodega warehouse, and since any distribution can have a store that uses that warehouse her app is no longer stranded in a "one distro" solution. Multiple Linux distributions can provide access to an entire App Store, and by bringing together these dozens and dozens of smaller markets, Alice can start to see distribution reach that makes sense.
Oh, and those distros also have Joe's books .. because they're awesome too. This is the next step in the evolution of online content distribution mechanics, and it is driven by the simple idea that the store should not also be warehouse.
You choose the type, you describe your content
When you publish content into the warehouse, you have a lot of control over what happens at that point. This starts with the type of content you are uploading. So if you are publishing an application you might see this:
It knows to ask you for the platforms it supports, category (e.g. 'Education' or 'Communication'), a content rating (Everyone, Adult, etc) as well as screenshots and icons. Great! But what if you are publishing a book?
Aha! Now it has fields for front and back covers, and skips the platform thing. The magic here is that this can be done for any kind of content. You can add your own tag of type "assetType" and then use that for your content. The warehouse managers can then promote your type even further by defining the tagging and image rules. (In future, I'd like to have even this step able to be done by content partners.)
Bodega has no internal bias as to what kind of content it hosts. So if you want to publish Battle for Wesnoth add-ons to a Bodega warehouse, you can.
Beyond these basics of type and essential tagging rules, you can then go about tagging your content with all relevant tags. There are mimetype tags, language tags, descriptive tags, genre tags, author tags ... these tags help stores know how to organize things into nice arrangements and people can search by these tags, so it is quite important to be accurate and comprehensive. When you add a tag that does not exist, it is automatically created for you. You can add, edit and remove tags at any time.
More on this process can be found in the Manager app documentation.
Setting your price
Pricing is obviously part of describing your content, but I wanted to cover it separately since it often is the source of some confusion, so I'll try to be extra clear.
You don't have to put prices on your items. You are welcome to make your things available at no cost.
If you do set a price, that's what you get. Store and warehouse spiffs are added to that. They do not come out of the price you set. You are defining how much you want. The final price includes the store markup, and typically that means you end up with 70-80% of the final sale price.
You can sell things which are licensed under Free culture terms. Just because your software is GPL'd or your wallpaper is CC BY-SA does not mean you can't put a price on it. People buy bottled water all the time. Why? Convenience. Bodega is a convenience for people, and on top of that .. a lot of people also get the idea that just because something is "libre" does not mean you didn't put effort into it and so it should be "gratis".
Otherwise, there isn't much to say about pricing.
An interesting feature of Bodega is the concept of "partners". While you use your normal everyday Bodega account to log into the manager application, to start publishing content you have to create or join a partner. Partners allow multiple people to work together on content, both for publishing and for stores.
You don't have to ask for permission to create a partner: it's as simple as going to the Partners tab and hitting "New Partner". To get going with publishing and distribution (more on that in the next blog entry), you hit the "Request" link; this is there to ensure that the terms of service are understood and accepted and so that people don't use Bodega as a personal backup solution. ;) Typically requests are approved by the warehouse the same day.
With a Partner set up, you can assign different roles to different people within the partnership. These roles include:
- Partner Manager:
and role assignment
- Store Manager:
and managing stores
- Content Creator:
and managing assets
- Validator: Content
approval and curation
- Account Manager: Managing the financial aspects of the partner (e.g. bank accounts)
Following the action
The manager application also provides access to a variety of statistics so you can follow the success of your assets: how many downloads, how many purchases, how much earned. Using the nice built-in graphs you can compare multiple assets and control the time frame you are looking at.
Each asset you upload also gets a tag in the discussions forum and it becomes available for rating by other Bodega participants. We'll be adding to these tools over time as we feel this full communication cycle is really important to both creators and consumers alike.
Ok, but how does this all come together?
So far we've looked at the benefits for people using Bodega to get content and people adding content to the Bodega warehouse. How does this all come together? The missing piece of the puzzle is the storefront. The next blog entry will cover how all of this comes together to allow content to be integrated into websites, on mobile devices, in desktop applications, into games and .. well .. whatever else you might imagine. See you then!