Forbes Expands Contributor Approach

Unconventional model moves to e-books

Two years after Forbes Media made a radical break with traditional journalism by letting outside contributors and advertisers publish content on its site, it’s taking the model a step further by having contributors publish e-books under its name.

The first, however, is by Lewis DVorkin, chief product officer of Forbes and architect of the contributor model. Called The Forbes Model for Journalism in the Digital Age: Training a New Generation of Entrepreneurial Journalists, it compiles DVorkin’s posts on his journalistic approach. It's being sold starting June 6 for $4.95 via Amazon, Barnes & Noble and Hyperink, a startup funded by Andreesen Horowitz that's helping Forbes determine the content for its e-books.

Forbes isn't the first publisher to see the opportunity to give its brands more legs through e-books, but it stands out because of the unconventional contributor model it started adopting two years ago. The approach has been accused of watering down the financial news brand, doing content on the cheap by using unpaid contributors and most of all, confusing readers by letting brands blog under the Forbes banner. DVorkin, for his part, explained Forbes' latest initiative this way: “The larger point to me is to support entrepreneurial journalists. What we’re really attempting to do is help journalists have a voice on Forbes and other platforms.”

DVorkin’s e-book will be followed by two more, also by Forbes contributors. Mike Federle, Forbes’ chief operating officer, said he doesn’t have a set number he’s looking to publish in total but said he sees them as “significant moneymakers because of the volume with which you can put out books. The sales cycle is very short. With e-books, just like stories, they can keep bouncing at different times based on the relevancy of the product.”