September 30, 2001 6:29 PM   Subscribe

Contentville goes Splitsville. Steven Brill's online newsstand -- originally funded with $130 million from CBS, NBC and Primedia in February 2000 -- closed their doors today. In a memo to his staff, Brill wrote, "My idea for Contentville just didn't work." I'm guessing that heavy competition from other online retailers and an abundance of freely available online content did them in.
posted by waxpancake (9 comments total)
It's sad. Contentville was much maligned because Brill is such a figurehead but it was actually very useful - specially the dissertations and academic reviews.
I hate the attitude! It's so easy to gloat and schadenfreud about the internet it makes me sick.
People who have stood up to be counted - Brill's Content is now a quarterly and may soon die, despite it being so compelling and useful - should be praised and mourned accordingly.

Great James Romenesko's website only exists thanks to Poynter. Will it be next?

Methinks we should count our blessings but also be sad when web things - even those we hate - die.

And thank the Matt for flying in the face of reality...

*starts weeping and returns to warren*
posted by MiguelCardoso at 7:18 PM on September 30, 2001

rather surprising: I heard their ads on NY radio just a few days ago. Free-standing e-commerce is fast collapsing on itself; soon a blackhole.

My Amazon demise prediction for early 2002 is, unfortunately, on course and on schedule : (
posted by ParisParamus at 8:07 PM on September 30, 2001

ParisParamus: you're usually right. But this time I hope you're deeply and truly wrong.
You have no idea how important Amazon is to people who live outside the U.S. and the U.K.

It's life itself, only faster and cheaper. I'm probably one of their best customers, yet I feel(and know)I've ripped them off something awful.

Bezo kind as to retract.(Tell me it's nothing but a hunch)

Or take a little easily understood Portuguese:

Vade retro, Satanás!
posted by MiguelCardoso at 8:16 PM on September 30, 2001

MC: I'm sure there will always be retailers with Web sites who can ship what you want, probably as fast as Amazon. As the .com universe has contracted towards black hole status, I've lost all my anger towards flawed business model .com companies. So, more than ever, I do hope I'm wrong.
posted by ParisParamus at 8:52 PM on September 30, 2001

Poynter supports Media News by paying Romanesko's salary, which I don't think is over $100,000 a year, and by hosting the site — if the numbers in this post are right then Brill spent like $250,000 a day for 18 months. If one of these models is sustainable, it's going to be Poynter's...

Does it amuse anyone else that the "we're closed" page at Contentville has a "Contentville — Readers Rejoice" logo?
posted by nicwolff at 9:18 PM on September 30, 2001

Amazon are really fast. Next-day fast. Plus they're dedicated and often post books when they're available, at their own cost. Their customer service is human and helpful.

I'm a book freak and have tried all the other retailers - American,British, French and Belgian - but no other retailer even comes close.

Amazon - at least - is the best thing that has happened to me since the Internet began. I used to wait weeks and pay fortunes for books. Now all I have to do is answer the door.

I must have ordered at least five or six thousand books from them and they have never fucked up.

All the others - specially Barnes and Noble - are pathetic. I have 16% of the 22-volume O.E.D. to prove it.

Enjoy it while it lasts. It's more of a public service than any public service I know.

And I do hope you're wrong; but I fear you're right.

I've lost all my anger towards flawed business companies

So have I. Is that a bad sign or what?
posted by MiguelCardoso at 9:24 PM on September 30, 2001

I have 16% of the 22-volume O.E.D.

I hear that's just the right amount to correct a slight skew in your foundation (depending on how big your house is, of course).

I don't think Contentville's business model was all that flawed; it's just that content is still very expensive to produce (well, good content, anyway) and manage, and it's a long-term investment for a consumer-oriented company. That is, it helps build long-term customers, but doesn't necessarily sell them anything in the short term.

And no one can afford any long-term investments these days.
posted by mattpfeff at 11:24 PM on September 30, 2001

Brill's Content is SO GOOD. I really hope it doesn't go away...
posted by glenwood at 6:57 AM on October 1, 2001

"I'm guessing that heavy competition from other online retailers and an abundance of freely available online content did them in. "

Unfortunately, that is the same "free content" that is rapidly going away as companies desperately try to go commercial (Britannica, Salon, etc.) or simply go away. So, when the competition goes away at the same time you do, there isn't anybody left standing who still has anything offered to the customer, for free or for fee. That is the cruel reality that advertisers are going to have to wake up and notice. I as a website owner have tens of thousands of monthly viewers who are tuned into one specific topic. If you don't advertise with me now and keep me afloat, and I manage to somehow _not go under_ then when you wise up and come asking to advertise you are going to be very surprised when you see what my rates are.
posted by johnmunsch at 10:49 AM on October 1, 2001

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