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Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Publisher Lulu Plans IPO to Raise C$50-C$70 Million

Pav Jordan, writing for Reuters, has announced the proposed expansion of the popular self-publisher: Lulu...This is an interesting turn of events for talented but non-celebrity writers that have been abused and outright ignored by traditional publishing houses over the past 40 years or so (longer than this writer wants to remember!)...Could this be another reason for the growth of digital publishing...ignored writers seeking publication through non-traditional means ?

Pav Jordan says:
Lulu Ltd, a company that helps authors get books into print via the Internet, plans to raise as much as C$70 million ($69 million) in an initial public offering in coming weeks as it targets wider distribution and new products.

"We believe that our open publishing model has significant growth potential. We believe we have an opportunity to create a new market and reach new content creators and buyers," the company said in a prospectus filed to SEDAR, the Canadian document filing system for companies.

Lulu.com allows authors to publish their work themselves, and to receive an 80 percent cut on any profits. Authors, including businesses and publishers, can submit manuscripts ready for publication or can hire Lulu's services for consultation.

The model is not entirely new to founder Bob Young, the Canadian co-creator of the hugely successful open-source software firm Red Hat, which rose to become a Fortune 500 company and major rival to Microsoft.

Lulu, which sells authors' books on demand, individually or in bulk, sold 2.64 million books in 2009, up from 2.3 million in 2008 and 1.76 million in 2007.

The company sees itself as a direct challenge to traditional publishing channels that favor best-sellers that need to sell thousands of copies to turn a profit.

Life is returning to Canadian capital markets as the global economy stabilizes and fears of a double-dip recession fade.

But market conditions are demanding, and investors are seen rewarding only the most attractive issues, like the IPO planned by Athabasca Oil Sands Corp for close to C$1 billion.

The Lulu offering is being led by Genuity Capital Markets and CIBC World Markets Inc (CM.TO) and is seen raising between C$50 million and C$70 million.

A spokesman reached at Lulu.com declined to comment beyond the contents of its public filing. Bankers were not available for comment either.

About 35 percent of the proceeds are to go to pay down more than C$19 million in debt, according to the prospectus.

About 25 percent of the proceeds are to be used to expand distribution and sales and marketing activities, and to attract more content. Another 25 percent will be used to add new products, features and functionality in order to broaden market appeal. (Reporting by Pav Jordan; editing by Rob Wilson)

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Apple's iPad Has New Competition from Germany's Neofonie's WePad!



BIG news! Neofonie, a German company, has supposedly come up with a more technically inclusive (e.g. includes "flash video") slate PC (multi-media device) called the WePad that will not be as restrictive RE formats as Apple's iPad.

Markus Goebel, reporting for TechCrunch (Europe), details some of the big news about the 12 April 2010 unveiling of WePad PLUS who they already have on board among other things:

Billed as an iPad competitor, the WePad is not vaporware, but is in fact, The Chosen One. At least, that’s the view of some, who are hailing the WePad as the saviour of the German print publishing industry.

While Apple is still racing to the wire to secure enough media content partnerships for the iPad before its launch this week, the WePad has already bagged Europe’s biggest publisher, Gruner + Jahr.

Bernd Buchholz, CEO of Gruner + Jahr, presented the first German-born slate PC at last week’s annual press conference for his company. Unfortunately, there is only a very dark photo of this event on Facebook (see below), but you can find new professional shots on sites like Areamobile.


Axel Springer, publisher of Europe’s biggest newspaper BILD is also in talks to use the WePad, says the latest rumour quoted by German newswire DPA.

But Buchholz must have jumped the gun, because the WePad’s creator Neofonie had scheduled all official announcements about the WePad’s hardware and media partnerships for April 12.

That didn’t hold Buchholz back from presenting a WePad version of Stern, one of Germany’s biggest magazines which sells 900,000 copies. Other similar versions of Gruner + Jahr magazines like Geo or Gala are in the making. They will be marketed at similar prices like their print versions and the launch date is just some months away. Apart from the text and pictures of their print issues, the WePad versions will be full of audio, video and Flash and also interwoven with the magazines’ websites.

It seems that Gruner + Jahr is not the only publisher who believes in the WePad’s success. Neofonie CEO Helmut Hoffer von Ankershoffen is “happy about the first big advance orders from companies”, he wrote on the WePad Facebook site (5,709 fans). Gruner + Jahr has officially announced a plan to license the WePad’s epaper software, that Neofonie developed on their behalf, to other publishers. The WeMagazine publishing software is platform independent and apparently works with several devices or user interfaces, including the iPad and normal computers.

The underlying strategy is clear: “We insist on our sovereignity of products and contents”, Buchholz said in his Thursday’s speech, clearly hinting at recent problems. Apple removed the Stern iPhone app in November without warning from the App Store due to objections over photo galleries featuring too much nakedness. The Association of German Magazine Publishers (VDZ) warned that such intrusions might represent a move towards censorship.

German publishers are also disgruntled with Apple’s pricing policy. Buchholz said they need to “get in charge of pricing”. Apple’s regulations have the absurd side effect that an iPhone version of Germany’s most important news magazine, Der Spiegel, will cost more than the print version. Its price will soon jump to €3.99, after the €2.99 introductory offer is over, while the paper sells for €3.80.

Therefore Gruner + Jahr appears to be at the helm of establishing a totally competing platform to the iPad. “We are in talks with nearly all big and small German publishers, also with [our big competitors] Springer and Burda”, Buchholz said in a press conference after his speech.

Oddly, Gruner + Jahr has jumped the gun before the official April 12 event, and the WePad’s hardware spec is now getting out there. Gadget geeks have posted interesting links, such a possible WePad prototype running Windows. It also appears that the WePad will be made by OEM Pegatron, a company connected to the iPhone, ironically.

So far Neofonie isn’t very helpful on what ebooks formats will be supported. Its latest product sheet says again that the iPad uses a “proprietary Apple format for iBooks store” while, they claim, the WePad is better for supporting “all open formats, additionally premium formats”. This repeats their statement which was criticised after our latest TechCrunch post.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Analysts Ask if the iPad Can Live Up to Its Hype


Can the iPad add value and worth to the Apple stock when it is offered for sale in five more days on the 3rd of April ? Will there be a place and demand for the iPad between, say, the already hugely successful Apple iPhone and the various tablet computers? Not to mention the iPods, etc, etc, etc...

Brad Stone of the New York Times drills down into the numbers through interviews with investment analysts and tech experts and gives us a slam-bang peek at likely sales figures and stock growth prices:

When the Apple iPad goes on sale on Saturday, most of the major questions surrounding the device will have been answered, save for one: can it live up to the hype?

Apple fans have breathlessly awaited Apple’s entry into the tablet computer market. Since the company unveiled the iPad in late January, investors have jumped on the bandwagon, too, running up Apple’s stock more than 10 percent.

Part of that rise can be attributed to the steady rise in sales of the iPhone and the company’s Mac computers. But much of it clearly has to do with tablet fever. On the day this month when Apple made the completely unsurprising announcement that the iPad would go on sale on April 3, the stock jumped nearly 4 percent.

Expectations are clearly high. Now the iPad has to meet them.

Apple has given no public indication of what kinds of sales it expects, or what may constitute success. But at the iPad introduction in January, Steven P. Jobs, Apple’s chief executive, implicitly set a lofty standard. He said the iPad would offer an experience that was superior to that of netbooks, a rapidly growing category of inexpensive and lightweight laptops that accounted for $11 billion in global sales last year.

He also said that the 75 million people who own iPhones and iPod Touches already knew how to use the iPad, which uses the same operating system and touch-screen interface.

But analysts and investors are searching for their own ways to judge the iPad over the short and long term. Their projections vary, but many Apple analysts seem to think the company will sell around a million iPads by the end of its quarter in June, and around 5 million by the end of 2010.

Analysts acknowledge that a certain amount of guesswork goes into those projections, in part because it is not yet clear what kinds of applications and content will be available for the iPad from media companies and outside developers.

“The reality for the iPad is going to be determined by what apps are made for it,” said Gene Munster, an analyst at Piper Jaffray. “People are debating the use case for it, and the use case will be largely determined by the apps. A lot of people are still on the fence whether this is a legitimate market or not.”

There are other variables at work. For example, it appears the iPad will initially be available only in Apple’s stores and at Best Buy. How quickly will Apple begin selling it through other retailers, and in countries other than the 10 it named this year?

Will Apple allow American wireless carriers other than AT&T, like Verizon, to offer data plans for the 3G version of the device? And how quickly might Apple lower the iPad’s price, or introduce models with new features like a built-in camera?

In considering how the iPad may affect Apple, analysts must also navigate the fuzzy topic known as cannibalization. Consumers who spend $499 for the cheapest iPad model might be buying it in lieu of a $999 MacBook laptop or, more likely, a $199 iPod Touch.

Many analysts are looking to historical precedent to gauge the iPad’s prospects in the market. Back in 2001, iPod sales started out slowly; Apple sold only 372,000 of them in its first year, then around a million in the second, after the opening of the iTunes Store.

After the iPhone’s introduction in 2007, which inspired a similar media frenzy, Apple sold 1.4 million handsets in its first two quarters, and then 6.1 million during its entire first year.

But the iPhone may be a poor example: people were already comfortable buying cellphones. Few people have ever owned a tablet computer. The iPad is something almost entirely new to most consumers, more akin to, say, the Kindle from Amazon.com or the Apple TV set-top box. Those devices each sold less than a million units in their first year.

Achieving the mass-market penetration — and cultural impact — of the iPod and iPhone is ultimately Apple’s biggest challenge with the iPad. “They are going to need to target mainstream users who might otherwise decide to purchase an e-book reader or a netbook,” said Michael Abramsky, an analyst at RBC Capital Markets. “If they are successful in starting to convince those kinds of folks, and getting beyond the early adopters who will line up for anything, then it has the potential to blossom.”

But even in those best-case situations, the iPad most likely will not change Apple’s overall financial picture anytime soon. A. M. Sacconaghi Jr., an analyst at Sanford C. Bernstein & Company, predicts that the iPad could contribute about 28 cents a share to Apple’s bottom line in its first full year of sales. The iPhone, by contrast, is responsible for about $8 of earnings a share.

“It’s going to be pretty small from a financial impact initially, but the range of ultimate outcomes for the iPad is pretty big,” Mr. Sacconaghi said.

Investors are also trying to keep their expectations grounded. Erick Maronak, chief investment officer for the $1.2 billion Victory Large Cap Growth Fund, which counts Apple as its biggest holding, said he was looking forward to the iPad — but still banking on the iPhone.

The iPad “is yet another example of how the innovation with Apple continues, and that they have not grown complacent,” Mr. Maronak said. “But the much bigger driver is that this is going to be a pretty big year for the iPhone.”

All the iPad and iPhone optimism leaves many analysts and investors wondering what, exactly, disappointment might look like for Apple. If Apple sells only half a million iPads during the next two months, or less than 2 million by the end of September, it could conceivably damage the company’s stellar reputation with Wall Street — and Mr. Jobs’s air of infallibility in selecting and entering new markets.

“There’s always a risk,” said Charles Wolf, an analyst at Needham & Company, who points to past Apple failures like the Mac Cube and Apple TV, but nonetheless believes that the iPad will sell briskly.

If the iPad does fail to sell, “it could impact the stock,” Mr. Wolf said. “But I doubt it would be the end of the world.”

Sunday, March 28, 2010

What’s So Hard To Understand About Random House’s Strategy?


Does Random House (RH) have the right approach to establishing digital content pricing, especially eBooks? RH is successfully moving the digital pricing needle from the retailer to the publisher...where it probably belongs and will be more beneficial to writers and other creative people...Just this bloggers opinion.

Mike Shatzkin, The Shatzkin Files, has his usual intelligent analysis on this subject:

Since Apple made its iPad announcement last January, five of the Big Six publishers have been featured participatants. That not only means they’re making content available for the iPad “form factor” (color and connectivity like the iPhone, screen size like the Kindle) but also that they’re buying into the new “agency model” for sales. As anybody who cares about this stuff already knows, under the agency model the control of pricing to the consumer moves from the retail point of contact to the publisher.

In return for that control, the publisher lowers the “established retail price” and, although the stated margin to the retailer is reduced from 50% to 30%, the effective margin rises because the retailer sells at that publisher price, not something substantially less. And the publishers going to agency are happily accepting less for each book sold to gain that pricing control and price stability across all retailers.

Random House has been prominent by its absence from the group. And some people, including some who are really well-informed about publishing, wonder “why?”

I wonder why they wonder.

Although it is certainly possible that iPad book sales will be startling right out of the box, that’s not really likely. Unlike the Kindle, which is purchased by consumers solely for the purpose of reading books, the iPad will attract customers for all manner of reasons and, actually, reading books would be pretty far down the list for most people. Although there are pockets of skeptics, I’m sure most publishing people accept that the iPad can grow into a very robust bookselling channel but it isn’t clear how long that will take or whether narrative text will be as much a beneficiary of the device as books that are more complex presentations of words and pictures.

In the short run, which from this seat looks like some months, if not a year, Kindle and Amazon are still likely to be the leader in ebook sales, and other established ereader platforms that are optimized for text (Nook, Sony Reader, the new ereader from Kobo) will remain important. By holding themselves out of the new channels, continuing the current policies of “wholesale” discounting, and allowing the retailers to set prices, Random House will be maximizing their short-term sales and profits. Assuming they maintain their publisher-established prices near their current levels (and why would they not?), Random House will collect more money for each ebook sold than their competitors do while the public will will pay less for each Random House ebook they buy than for comparable titles from other publishers.

That’s a pretty significant short term advantage. Why wonder why somebody would do that?

Of course, most publishers hope — if not believe — that the proliferation of new devices and platforms combined with the more widespread use of the agency model setting retail prices will disperse the ebook market among many more players. Will Apple or any other player hold it against Random that they were slow to make the change if they decide to join the party after it really gets going? My hunch is “no.”

And that may be Random House’s hunch too. They may be making a perfectly conscious and rational gamble that the sales they’ll lose in the short run by not being on the iPad will be more than compensated for by margin they’ll make through higher wholesale prices and greater sales through lower retail prices than any of their Big Six competition in the still-dominant Kindle channel.

And if Amazon is willing to retaliate against a publisher’s print business over dislike of their ebook policies, wouldn’t they also be likely to favor the books of a big publisher that cooperates with them when everybody else doesn’t? Couldn’t that add a further incremental edge to Random House in the short run while the iPad book-reading audience is still ramping up?

I have read nothing to tell me whether Apple would or wouldn’t accept Random House books on the wholesale model. (The other publishers embraced the agency model; they didn’t need to be talked into it.) If they do, Random House could persist with this strategy for a long time, even when they start putting books on the iPad. Even though their “listed” ebook prices would be considerably higher than their competitors’, the prices at which they’d be offered to the public could be lower.

If this all works the way the agency publishers envision, we’ll have a multi-platform, multi-retailer, price-stable ebook market before too long. If that happens, Amazon may tire of paying more for Random House books, whether they sell them for less or not, and the wholesale model with retail price reductions is not a palatable combination for publishers. But that’s not imminent and for the foreseeable future, all the Random House position means to them is more revenue per copy and lower prices to the consumer.

There is a school of thought that ebook consumers are very sensitive to price. Starting with the appearance of the agency model next week, ebook prices to the consumer for (usually author-) branded frontlist titles are going to rise. It will be interesting to see if the IDPF (International Digital Publishers Forum) reports of sales show any change in the trend line starting with the reports of sales in April.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Will Easy iPad Magazine Publishing Upset Big-Name Mag's?


There is new technology emerging that is making magazine publishing on the iPad almost as easy as selecting and pushing a button!

Kit Eaton, writing for fastcompany dot com, explains some of the new intriguing technology:

We've heard a lot on the iPad's potentially transformational powers for publishing, and we've seen some custom-built magazines and newspapers already. Now WoodWing has a tool that makes turning a mag into a PadMag almost automatic.

WoodWing has just unveiled its iPad Digital Magazine Production system, and it's primarily designed to leap off the Adobe InDesign platform (commonly in use to generate printed mags) and take content produced within that system and transmogrify it into something that'll look excellent on Apple's upcoming WonderPad. But when its full iPad Tools suite launches, it'll also enable the same sort of content tweaking from a Flex and HTML5 solution too (for those users who haven't forked over the $200-odd for Adobe's product.)

The idea's pretty simple: You take the magazine art from InDesign, then load up WoodWing's Content Station, and manage the art and text into the particular layout you wish for the iPad magazine version. This art, of course, can be animated, video or dynamically-linked to live Web data in nature, making the most of the dynamic presentation skills allowed by the iPad's powerful graphics skills.

Unlike some other systems, WoodWing notes that this process is particularly simple because it's very drag-and-drop based, and doesn't require any programming skills--like knowledge of JQuery, for example. This completely streamlines how it all works, of course, and makes making an iPad mag simple for those who aren't expert publishers. When you've cajoled your content into the right format, you click the "export" publish button which swishes it off to a "delivery server." A branded e-reader app on the iPad then connects back to that cloud server and downloads the magazine content to the tablet.

Who's this for, though? We know people like Wired are already working on crafting their own iPad app since they already have much of the expertise in-house. WoodWing is probably aiming at the second-rank magazines with publishers who are keen to get a toe-hold in the iPad magazine e-publishing business without too much difficulty or expense. Fanzines are also another obvious target market. But since this system seems so simple, it could be a hugely disruptive little innovation: All it would take is for a fresh new science magazine publisher to produce excellent content, master WoodWing's system and get a magazine on sale at a lower price than, say, Wired, and it could quickly steal chunks of Wired's potential market. After all, the magazine industry is being turned on its head by Apple, so this sort of maneuver is much more likely.

What we can also infer is that WoodWing is tapping into a whole new tertiary market that'll grow up around the iPad. There's already one like it for the iPhone, offering to craft you a specialized-content iPhone app to promote your own publications or other forms of media. But since the iPad's much more capable, we can probably expect WoodWing's magazine effort to be followed by a hoard of others.




Friday, March 26, 2010

The Long Game

Today's post is about "other life stuff"...There is a hidden message in here that also applies to your writing career...See if you can make the connection!

This astute analysis "The Long Game" is offered by one of my most respected journalists, Andrew Sullivan of the Atlantic Magazine:



I stumbled upon this Roger Cohen article from November. It's interesting. That wasn't a great point in Obama's term, and I think he represented the conventional wisdom quite well. Reading it helps clarify for me how much stronger Obama's position is now. The fundamental question in the article is, "Can Obama close anything? Is there a middle game?"

Let's take a quick glance at the current landscape: Obama has passed the biggest reform of our health care system in decades, including near universal coverage; for all the criticism Obama took about the length of his Afghanistan deliberation, including that he was projecting a lack of resolve that would undermine the cause, we now have an undeniable momentum that's likely making some a little too optimistic; the Administration's efforts in Pakistan have resulted in some very positive trends, including an increased willingness to take on the Taliban; the reset with Russia has resulted in a new nuclear arms treaty, along with moving the Russians far closer in line with us in terms of sanctions on Iran; the economy is poised to start creating jobs; so on and so on.

It really is too easy to forget that anything meaningful or hard requires a long game.

But no one should doubt Obama's talent, strength, and ability to adapt to the job by this point. Perhaps I'll be proven wrong very soon, but I think we're entering a new stage in terms of coverage.

Concrete, big achievements tend to act as anchors. News cycles faster than ever before, but now there's an undercurrent of undeniable success and progress.

What I find remarkable was the discipline with which Obama didn't take the bait from the far right and play this game on their terms. It took the British Tories a decade and a half to lose the "Nasty Party" label. Even now it haunts them with moderate voters. Maybe America is completely different and an anti-gay, anti-green, anti-universal healthcare, pro-torture right can ride success in this country. But I suspect that Obama has called this one right; and once confidence returns that he can deliver, the energy will return.

Shorter version: the GOP just had a premature political ejaculation. Obama, meanwhile, has just got his groove on.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

5 Million Dollar Advance for Political Book!


I thought five million dollar advances were things of the pre-recession and pre-digital era...They appear to be making a comeback!

Matthew Flamm, reporting for Crain's New York Business, says Penguin Press has made the final BIG bid on a new book about the upcoming 2012 presidential campaign by the authors of the best-seller Game Change (Mark Halperin on left in picture and John Heilemann on right).
Matthew Flamm:
Book publishers must think the 2012 presidential campaign will be even more eventful and historic than 2008's. The Penguin Press, an imprint of the Penguin Group (USA), has just emerged as the winning bidder for the next election-year book by John Heilemann and Mark Halperin, authors of the current best seller and media sensation Game Change.

The price: a whopping $5 million-plus, according to several executives with knowledge of the bidding.

The deal was reached earlier this week between Penguin Press Publisher Ann Godoff and literary agent Andrew Wylie and his associate Scott Moyers. Despite Game Change's success, which has been fueled by the book's wealth of 2008 campaign gossip and revelations, publishing veterans were shocked by the payout.

“This is presidential memoir level money,” said one executive familiar with the deal.

Others wondered about the wisdom of betting large on an election season that is still a long way off, and which may not match 2008 for drama, intrigue and soap opera plot twists.

At more than $5 million, the deal is one of the biggest in recent memory, and harks back to a period before the recession ate into book sales and put pressure on houses to hold down costs. But the giant price tag is also representative of a trend among publishers toward making bigger bets on known commodities.

Published in January by HarperCollins—which dropped out of this week's race after its initial offer was turned down—Game Change has been on the New York Times Best-Sellers List for the past nine weeks.

It has sold 356,000 hardcover copies according to Nielsen BookScan, which tracks about 75% of the retail market.

Spokespersons for The Penguin Press and Penguin Group could not be reached, nor could Messrs. Wylie and Moyers.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Querying the Johnny Cash Way


A little more about persistence in a writer's querying process. NEVER GIVE UP!

Author Bob Mayer, ex-green beret, writer of over 30 novels and writing instructor, has written an incisive piece on GENREALITY Blog RE querying by comparing an audition scene in the movie Walk The Line to a writer's querying a publisher.

Bob Mayer:
Early in the movie Walk The Line, Johnny Cash and his two band-mates go for an audition. I recommend watching the movie and focusing on that scene. Here is the dialogue, with my comments in parentheses:


Johnny Cash singing a cover of an old gospel song—within 15 seconds he is halted:

Producer (read agent): Hold on. Hold on. I hate to interrupt… but do you guys got something else? I ‘m sorry. I can’t market gospel (read generic vampire novel, clichéd thriller, whatever). No more.

Johnny Cash: So that’s it?

Producer: I don’t record material (rep a book) that doesn’t sell, Mr. Cash… and gospel (a book like that) like that doesn’t sell.

Johnny Cash: Was it the gospel or the way I sing it? (was it the book or the writing?)

Producer: Both.

Johnny Cash: Well, what’s wrong with the way I sing it?

Producer: I don’t believe you.

Johnny Cash: You saying I don’t believe in God?

Bandmate: J.R., come on, let’s go.

Johnny Cash: No. I want to understand. I mean, we come down here, we play for a minute… and he tells me I don’t believe in God.

Producer: We’ve already heard that song a hundred times… just like that, just like how you sang it.

Johnny Cash: Well, you didn’t let us bring it home. (you didn’t get to my hook, climactic scene, whatever)

Producer: Bring… bring it home? All right, let’s bring it home. If you was hit by a truck and you were lying out in that gutter dying… and you had time to sing one song (write one book), huh, one song… people would remember before you’re dirt… one song that would let God know what you felt about your time here on earth… one song that would sum you up… you telling me that’s the song you’d sing? That same Jimmie Davis tune we hear on the radio all day? About your peace within and how it’s real and how you’re gonna shout it? Or would you sing something different? Something real, something you felt? Because I’m telling you right now… that’s the kind of song people want to hear. That’s the kind of song that truly saves people. It ain’t got nothing to do with believing in God, Mr. Cash. It has to do with believing in yourself.

Johnny Cash: Well, I’ve got a couple songs I wrote in the Air Force. You got anything against the Air Force?

Producer: No.

Johnny Cash: I do.

Bandmate: J.R., whatever you’re about to play… we ain’t never heard it.

Within fifteen seconds of singing the song he wrote, the producer knows he is looking at a star.

What did Johnny Cash Do?

He tried even though the odds of rejection were high. We hear the scary statistics all the time about the slush pile. You can’t let that stop you. There are people who won’t query because they’re afraid of rejection. In essence, they’ve just rejected themselves. I heard a very weird statistic: 90% of people who have a one-on-one with an agent at a conference and are requested to send in their material, never do. There are many reasons for this, but the #1 barrier is fear. Why even do the one-on-one if you are never going to follow through?

Johnny Cash walked in the door even though he was afraid. We’re going to discuss fear a lot in this book. We’re also going to discuss ways you can overcome fears.

He went even though his wife didn’t think he had it. There is a scene earlier where he and his band-mates are on the porch playing and Cash’s wife storms off and locks herself in the bathroom. She tells him he’s wasting his time and he needs to get a ‘real job’. Some of us have heard the same thing, haven’t we?

He stayed after being rejected. Most people think rejection is the end. It’s actually a beginning. Use rejection as motivation. Rejection is an inevitable part of a writer’s life. I just got a rejection last week from a publisher with whom I’ve sold over a million books.

He stayed. He got hit with a double rejection: not only was the song not good, his singing wasn’t good. How would you feel if someone told you not only was the book not good, your writing wasn’t either?

Even though he was angry, he was respectful. I just sent the editor who rejected me a polite thank you email for taking her time to look at the material.

He asked questions. I watch people pitch agents at conferences and many rarely ask questions. They’re so focused on pitching, they aren’t using the time as a valuable learning experience. When Cash asked what was wrong, he got a response that allowed him to focus. In that email, I not only thanked the editor for her time, I asked a couple of questions that might give me a way to try a different approach.

He listened. Earlier this year I got some other rejections on a different manuscript. Looking back, I remember my agent making a comment when I was first talking about the idea. I didn’t listen carefully enough to what she was really saying, because in retrospect, what every editor said in the rejection letter was what she had said two years ago. We’re going to cover communication in Force Seven. Listening for the real message is a key skill successful people have.

He used his PLATFORM and tried again. We’re always hearing the buzzword Platform. A lot of people feel they don’t have one. You do. If you watch the movie, note the look on Cash’s face when he’s singing the gospel song about his “Peace Within”. He’s not peaceful. He’s angry. That’s his character arc in the movie: finding peace within. So when he finally sings the song he wrote, he’s singing an angry song. Because his platform right then is anger: over the death of his brother; the fact his father blamed him for it; and he hated his time in the Air Force, being away from his girlfriend (and losing her). Basically, he used his real self and mined his emotions. That’s your platform.

He conquered his FEAR. He not only walked in, he stayed, he succeeded.

He CHANGED. He walked in with one plan, but when it didn’t work, he quickly changed that plan.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Digitize Me, Baby!...

...Says Joe Nassise, an international best selling author in the horror genre with numerous other writing accolades, writing for Genreality Blog. Joe has an excellent outlook on why writers should diversify and use every available media to propagate their work:

I’ve long been a proponent of diversification when it comes to my writing career. I’ve written original novels for major US publishers. I’ve written original novels for major foreign publishers. I’ve dabbled in writing comics, written role-playing game supplements and rulebooks, and have ghost-written for a major on-going series. I’ve even put together a project strictly for the mobile phone market. The more irons I have in the fire, the more successful I will be, has always been my thought process.

Which is why over the last week I made the decision to jump into the digital realm with both feet. Noting the success that fellow writers such as Joe Konrath and Lee Goldberg have had with selling their back list on Amazon.com, I followed suit and created Kindle editions of several works, including my debut novel Riverwatch, a novella, More Than Life Itself, that was previously only available in the UK market, and all three books in the Templar Chronicles series – The Heretic, A Scream of Angels, and A Tear in the Sky.

To help them stand out from the crowd, I commissioned new cover art, something eye-catching and provocative. Along with adapting them for the Kindle, I also used Smashwords to create editions in other formats, most notably for the Sony Reader and the various Palm devices.

I must admit I hemmed and hawed over putting up the Templar books. The first, The Heretic, is the only one that has seen publication in English. (Editorial changes at my publisher prevented the next two books from seeing the light of day, despite the fact that the series hit the bestseller lists in Germany, was optioned for film production, sold to three different books clubs, and was adapted into a comic book series.) I was concerned that making them available in digital editions would prevent them from selling elsewhere, but when it came right down to it, I finally decided that I really didn’t have a lot to worry about in that regard. And more importantly, I wanted the fans of the series to finally be able to have their questions about the fate of certain characters answered for them.

Next week, I’ll also be serializing Riverwatch for free on my website and the first of several different iPhone apps of my works should be available on iTunes.

The point of all this is to try and reach readers that I might not have reached otherwise through more traditional means. Do I know what is going to work and what is not? Of course not – but that’s the point of diversifying like this in the first place, to test the waters and see where they take me.

So tell me – what new mediums/formats/platforms are you most interested in?

Monday, March 22, 2010

Rush Is On to Be First in iPad Apps


Companies, individuals, dogs, cats and even some aliens , I'm told, are tripping all over themselves to get apps on the iPad!

BRAD STONE and JENNA WORTHAM, writing in the Technology Section of the New York Times, sheds some light on all those clamoring to be a part of this new media-changing device:

It can be difficult to write software for a gadget without being able to touch it. But that has not stopped developers from rushing to create applications for the Apple iPad.

For small start-ups and big Internet and media companies alike, the iPad, and tablet computers in general, beckon as the next wide open technology frontier.

For many of them, getting apps onto the iPad will be a challenge, at least at first. Apple has provided only a few companies with iPads on which to design and test their software before the device’s release on April 3.

The rest have had to make do with software running on a Mac that mimics the iPad, a disadvantage when dealing with a device that Apple is pitching as a new way of interacting with media.

The few companies that did receive the device — including Major League Baseball, The Wall Street Journal and The New York Times — have been subject to Apple’s long list of rules. The companies must agree to keep the iPad hidden from public view, chained to tables in windowless rooms. This although the basic look of the iPad stopped being a secret in January.

And Apple has told all other developers who have downloaded its iPad programming tools to remain silent about their apps until later this month.

Apple’s addiction to secrecy does not seem to have damped enthusiasm among developers.

“There’s something about the newness of the iPad that’s driving an even greater level of excitement than what existed in the last year for the iPhone,” said Raven Zachary, president of Small Society, an iPhone software company in Portland, Ore.

Mr. Zachary has organized workshops for iPhone developers and plans to do the same for the iPad. “People see this as an opportunity to do things that have not been done before and get that first mover’s advantage,” he said.

Some companies are even opening up and talking about their iPad plans, risking Apple’s reprisal. Sure, they are salivating at the prospect of the iPad’s 9.7-inch screen and fast processor — but also at the demonstrated willingness of Apple customers to pay a few dollars to get apps onto their devices.

Amazon.com and Barnes & Noble are working on apps for buying and reading electronic books, even though both companies sell their own e-reading devices and Apple will offer its own iBooks app. The expectation is that the iPad will give a big lift to the e-book market, benefiting the whole industry. Neither company was given an iPad for testing.

“We have actually developed a tablet-based interface that redesigns the core screen and the reading experience,” said Ian Freed, vice president for Kindle at Amazon. “Our team had some fun with it.”

The Kindle app for the iPad, which Amazon demonstrated to a reporter last week, allows readers to slowly turn pages with their fingers. It also presents two new ways for people to view their entire e-book collection, including one view where large images of book covers are set against a backdrop of a silhouetted figure reading under a tree. The sun’s position in that image varies with the time of day.

At the offices of Barnes & Noble’s digital unit in New York, 14 developers have occupied a windowless room since January, completely redesigning the company’s iPhone app for the iPad, according to Douglas Gottlieb, its vice president of digital products. The developers hunch over Macs around a big table, and printouts and notecards are taped up on the walls.

The new app will let users flip through books quickly with finger swipes and customize fonts in multiple colors and sizes. Mr. Gottlieb said the company was talking to publishers about adding multimedia to digital books.

Apple said last week that it was starting to accept submissions from iPad developers who want the chance to get their apps into the App Store before the iPad’s release. But both Amazon and Barnes & Noble say they plan to wait and test their software on an actual iPad before submitting it for Apple’s review.

Developers know from experience how important timing can be. Some of the earliest developers to release programs for the iPhone were also the most successful. Then the number of apps in the App Store — currently 150,000 — became overwhelming. A developer who is out in front with an application that is tailored for the iPad stands a better chance of getting noticed.

But there is the chance that an app that ran just fine on the simulator will have glitches or just feel wrong on a real iPad. Many developers say they do not want to take that risk.

“As much as we’d love to be there on Day 1, a misstep could kill the train before it even gets out of the station,“ said Wade Slitkin, chief executive of Panelfly, which makes a digital comic-book reader for devices like the iPhone and has deals with publishers like Marvel Comics and Sterling.

There are real-world factors that may go undetected with a simulator, like the weight of the device and how people hold it. To compensate, engineers have been printing out sample pages and pasting them onto magazines, “to get a feel for holding it in our hands,” said Stephen Lynch, chief technologist at the company.

Shervin Pishevar, founder of SGN, a mobile gaming company, tried to get a jump on the competition by attending the iPad’s unveiling in San Francisco in January, then spending every possible moment using one in a demonstration area. Mr. Pishevar said he believes that the large iPad screen will allow families to sit around the device and play turn-based Monopoly-type games.

His company is also developing games that players will operate by linking an iPhone or iPod Touch to the iPad over a wireless network and using the smaller device as a game controller — somewhat like the motion-sensitive remote for the Nintendo Wii.

“We are going to be able to build games and entertainment applications that are as good as a console-type game,” Mr. Pishevar said.

Among large media companies, The Journal, The Times, Time magazine and NPR will have apps for the iPad available when it goes on sale, according to people briefed on those companies’ plans. Natalie Kerris, an Apple spokeswoman, declined to comment.

Most of the existing apps for the iPhone will run on the iPad as is, either stretched to fit the screen or in a smaller window. But many developers are focusing on revamping their most popular iPhone titles for use on the iPad.

Neil Young, co-founder and head of the iPhone gaming studio Ngmoco, said his company was updating several games, including a multiplayer game called Charadium where players draw items and take turns guessing what the picture is. It will get new controls and a roomier blank pad to draw on.

“There are so many more places to touch on the screen,” he said. “We can have a lot more fun with it.”


Sunday, March 21, 2010

Texts Without Context OR Mashed-up Fragmented Mish-Mash!




Are copyright laws and intellectual property things of the past? Are they fading into the past as we rush, giddy and awestruck, into the new-tech, fast-and-fun world? Will well-researched and fact-checked content give way to piecemeal, out-of-context and mashed-up text that is empty of fact?

Michiko Kakutani of the New York Times has a lot to say about this growing problem:

In his deliberately provocative — and deeply nihilistic — new book, “Reality Hunger,” the onetime novelist David Shields asserts that fiction “has never seemed less central to the culture’s sense of itself.” He says he’s “bored by out-and-out fabrication, by myself and others; bored by invented plots and invented characters” and much more interested in confession and “reality-based art.” His own book can be taken as Exhibit A in what he calls “recombinant” or appropriation art.

Mr. Shields’s book consists of 618 fragments, including hundreds of quotations taken from other writers like Philip Roth, Joan Didion and Saul Bellow — quotations that Mr. Shields, 53, has taken out of context and in some cases, he says, “also revised, at least a little — for the sake of compression, consistency or whim.” He only acknowledges the source of these quotations in an appendix, which he says his publishers’ lawyers insisted he add.

“Who owns the words?” Mr. Shields asks in a passage that is itself an unacknowledged reworking of remarks by the cyberpunk author William Gibson. “Who owns the music and the rest of our culture? We do — all of us — though not all of us know it yet. Reality cannot be copyrighted.”

Mr. Shields’s pasted-together book and defense of appropriation underscore the contentious issues of copyright, intellectual property and plagiarism that have become prominent in a world in which the Internet makes copying and recycling as simple as pressing a couple of buttons. In fact, the dynamics of the Web, as the artist and computer scientist Jaron Lanier observes in another new book, are encouraging “authors, journalists, musicians and artists” to “treat the fruits of their intellects and imaginations as fragments to be given without pay to the hive mind.”

It’s not just a question of how these “content producers” are supposed to make a living or finance their endeavors, however, or why they ought to allow other people to pick apart their work and filch choice excerpts. Nor is it simply a question of experts and professionals being challenged by an increasingly democratized marketplace. It’s also a question, as Mr. Lanier, 49, astutely points out in his new book, “You Are Not a Gadget,” of how online collectivism, social networking and popular software designs are changing the way people think and process information, a question of what becomes of originality and imagination in a world that prizes “metaness” and regards the mash-up as “more important than the sources who were mashed.”

Mr. Lanier’s book, which makes an impassioned case for “a digital humanism,” is only one of many recent volumes to take a hard but judicious look at some of the consequences of new technology and Web 2.0. Among them are several prescient books by Cass Sunstein, 55, which explore the effects of the Internet on public discourse; Farhad Manjoo’s “True Enough,” which examines how new technologies are promoting the cultural ascendancy of belief over fact; “The Cult of the Amateur,” by Andrew Keen, which argues that Web 2.0 is creating a “digital forest of mediocrity” and substituting ill-informed speculation for genuine expertise; and Nicholas Carr’s book “The Shallows” (coming in June), which suggests that increased Internet use is rewiring our brains, impairing our ability to think deeply and creatively even as it improves our ability to multitask.

Unlike “Digital Barbarism,” Mark Helprin’s shrill 2009 attack on copyright abolitionists, these books are not the work of Luddites or technophobes. Mr. Lanier is a Silicon Valley veteran and a pioneer in the development of virtual reality; Mr. Manjoo, 31, is Slate’s technology columnist; Mr. Keen is a technology entrepreneur; and Mr. Sunstein is a Harvard Law School professor who now heads the White House Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs. Rather, these authors’ books are nuanced ruminations on some of the unreckoned consequences of technological change — books that stand as insightful counterweights to early techno-utopian works like Esther Dyson’s “Release 2.0” and Nicholas Negroponte’s “Being Digital,” which took an almost Pollyannaish view of the Web and its capacity to empower users.

THESE NEW BOOKS share a concern with how digital media are reshaping our political and social landscape, molding art and entertainment, even affecting the methodology of scholarship and research. They examine the consequences of the fragmentation of data that the Web produces, as news articles, novels and record albums are broken down into bits and bytes; the growing emphasis on immediacy and real-time responses; the rising tide of data and information that permeates our lives; and the emphasis that blogging and partisan political Web sites place on subjectivity.

Read more at http://alturl.com/zej4

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Amazon Wrangles Publishers as iBookstore Grand Opening Looms


With both Apple and Amazon pressuring publishers for deals on content for their digital devices, what will happen to consumer prices for digital books, magazines, games, etc?...Gee shitski, don't you just LOVE the intrigue? Whatever does happen, this writer can't help but think it will be be good for all concerned!

Kindle looks over after taking a deep drag on his cig, stares deeply into iPaddy's eyes and whispers "Was it good for you, too, you Digital Tiger,you?"

Katherine Noyes of MacNewsWorld writes on this intensifying subject:

Apple's newest charmed pair, the iPad and the iBookstore, will amble onto the publishing scene in just a couple of weeks, and Amazon is justifiably fearful. Its popular Kindle may quickly become a has-been, and it could lose hard-won ground in the e-book marketplace. What's a giant to do? Twist a few arms. If publishers bow to Amazon's latest terms, will e-book prices rise or fall?
With an unwavering focus on Apple's (Nasdaq: AAPL) forthcoming iBookstore, Amazon (Nasdaq: AMZN) has begun pressuring e-book publishers to sign three-year contracts that ensure no competing retailers will get better prices or treatment.

That's according to a recent report in The New York Times, which cites two industry executives with direct knowledge of the discussions.

The new tactics come hard on the heels of Amazon's conflict with Macmillan earlier this year over the publisher's switch to an agency model, whereby retailers such as Amazon act as agents of the publisher and earn a 30 percent commission on publisher-set prices. Those prices, Amazon asserted, were "needlessly high."

Amazon's stock tumbled following that well-publicized conflict, in which the e-tailer even stopped selling Macmillan books temporarily in protest.

The titles were soon restored to Amazon's virtual shelves, but the latest round of pressure tactics raises the question of how far the company would be willing to go to compete with Apple's iBookstore, which will launch in the United States with its iPad device on April 3.

Five of the 'Big Six' for Apple
Apple, in fact, has been applying similar pressure to publishers participating in its iBookstore, The New York Times reported, including five of the "big six": Macmillan, Simon & Schuster, Hachette, HarperCollins and Penguin.

Only Random House has not yet signed on, The Times said.

Such publishers will use the agency model for iBookstore sales , allowing them to set prices as long as they pay Apple 30 percent. Typical prices under that model are $12.99 to $14.99 for most newly released titles.

Apple does stipulate, however, that publishers must not allow other retailers to sell their e-books for less than their iBookstore prices, according to The Times.

Whereas Amazon ultimately agreed to let Macmillan set its own prices, it has typically tried to keep its titles at $9.99.

"My sense is that consumers have been very happy with the pricing model Amazon has established," Kurt Scherf, vice president and principal analyst with Parks Associates, told MacNewsWorld.

"It's very easy to compare an Amazon digital title with hardback or paperback, and I think that's part of the reason why Amazon has had the success it has had," he added.

'Publishers Will Have More Power'

Amazon's business and reputation both suffered as a result of its conflict with Macmillan, Susan Kevorkian, program director for IDC's mobile media and entertainment service, told MacNewsWorld.

So, if it chooses to limit access to the works of publishers who won't sign its contracts, it will be hurt even more, she predicted.

"As the e-reader market grows, publishers will have more power in the marketplace because they control copyrighted work and can dictate payment terms for it, and because more retailers -- and options for consumers to buy digital books -- will emerge to challenge Amazon and Apple," Kevorkian explained.

Amazon is "still in the content business," she noted, so it "needs to offer as wide and deep a selection of content as it can in terms of physical and digital books -- the latter to keep Kindle competitive."

Going forward, retail price competition in digital books is "more likely to be at the expense of retailers' margins than publishers' revenue and profits," Kevorkian concluded. "The takeaway here is that publishers will set digital book prices, and retailers will need to follow suit with their pricing, rather than dictating retail prices to consumers."

Amazon on Thursday also launched its new Kindle for Mac, a free application for reading Kindle books on Macintosh computers.

Neither Amazon nor Apple responded by press time to MacNewsWorld's requests for comment.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Barnes and Noble Ushers In New CEO


More intrigue and drama in the publishing world. Changes are a-going-on! Crain's New York Business reports the following bit of drama:

New CEO William Lynch, who was promoted from president, helped launch the company's electronic book store and oversaw the introduction of its electronic book reader, the Nook.

Bookseller Barnes & Noble announced a chief executive switch Thursday, elevating the president of its Web site to lead the company and replace Steve Riggio.

The company said Thursday that Mr. Riggio will be actively involved with the company and will stay on as vice chairman.

New CEO William Lynch helped launch the company's electronic book store and oversaw the introduction of its electronic book reader, the Nook. It is crucial technology that the company is counting on to boost sales and ward off intense competition from online retailers and from rival e-readers like the Kindle and now the iPad.

Mr. Lynch, 39, has served as president of Barnes & Noble's Web site since February 2009.

Barnes & Noble is under pressure from shareholders as sales at its stores flag. Los Angeles billionaire Ron Burkle has blamed company management.

In February Barnes & Noble blocked an attempt by Mr. Burkle, whose Yucaipa Cos. holds a 19% stake in the company, to amass more shares.

"William came to us as a skillful leader in e-commerce who, in a short period of time, has done a superb job in quickly establishing Barnes & Noble as a major player in e-commerce and digital content," Chairman Leonard Riggio said in printed statement. "Given the dynamic nature of the book industry, William is uniquely qualified to lead the company's transition to multi-channel distribution and drive the continuing expansion of our e-commerce platform, eBooks and other digital content and products."

Steve Riggio is the brother of Leonard Riggio, who is the company's biggest shareholder.

The company also promoted Chief Operating Officer Mitchell Klipper, 52, to CEO of its retail group.

Last month Barnes & Noble, based in New York said the launch of the Nook helped spur online sales, but weakness at its bookstores led to a drop in profit during the fourth quarter.

Its outlook for the beginning of this year left many investors disappointed.

In premarket trading, Barnes & Noble shares edged up 12 cents to $22.45.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Enhanced E-Books: A Boon for Readers, a Headache for Agents


Sarah Weinman, reporter on the publishing industry for Daily Finance dot com, wrote an interesting article on the perceived complexity of how literary agents will deal with the rights issues of enhanced digital-books and the resulting contracts.

John's Note: This blogger thinks agents are, indeed, making a mountain out of a digital-book molehill. They should just keep focused on the fact that content is king and the creators of that content are the literary gods and have all rights period. Writers need to contract with agents that get them the best contracts...You know, the contracts that allow them to keep their rights...except for those they wish to sell...at good prices, of course!

Sarah Weinman reports:
For hundreds of thousands of excited customers who pre-ordered Apple's (AAPL) much-hyped iPad, D-Day (April 3) is drawing near. And as it does, one word we're hearing a whole lot of lately is "enhanced." After all, with the price of new electronic books settling north of $9.99, and with book-related applications for mobile devices more popular than games, publishers are convinced they need to add value to make a sale (or lots of sales).

But when the definition of what is a book or an e-book expands to include all manner of enrichment, that also opens the door for an assortment of headaches about rights and contracts -- making a complex situation even more fraught. And the prospect of navigating the rights issues of these enhanced e-books is confounding literary agents in New York and London.

David Baldacci, Enriched Edition

One author who already sells novels in massive quantities is the thriller writer David Baldacci, but that isn't stopping his publisher, Grand Central -- a division of Lagardere's (LGDDY) Hachette Book Group -- from tricking out the e-book edition of his new Deliver Us From Evil when it's released on April 20, along with the hardcover and a standard e-book edition. This "enriched" version will include passages cut from the final text, research photos, an audio interview, and video footage of Baldacci at work, according to the Associated Press -- and at $15.99, it will cost a dollar more than the standard text-only e-book. (The price of the enhanced edition will drop to $12.99 after a few months.)

Baldacci thinks the choice is clear: "Based on my hundreds of book tours and thousands of questions we get on our web site, I know that readers are looking for exactly what is on the enriched eBook," he told publishing blog GalleyCat.

The enhanced Baldacci e-book is one of several projects Hachette will release over the coming weeks, including a NASCAR-oriented app, a synchronized text/audio edition of Michael Connelly's crime novel Echo Park, and a standalone app version of David Foster Wallace's thousand-page magnum opus Infinite Jest. "One reason the book is so famous is because of the footnotes," says Maja Thomas, senior VP of Hachette Digital. "We thought, wouldn't it be great if, when a footnote appears, there's a symbol in the e-version of the text, and if you tap on it, you can go right to the footnote, and then tap back into the text at any time."

Book Buyers and DVD Buyers

A proliferation of enhanced editions poses bigger questions about the market for e-books with extra material. As with DVDs, the idea behind enhanced e-books seems to be that some consumers will prefer the bare-bones edition.

And literary agents on both sides of the Atlantic are gnashing their teeth over the prospect of enhanced e-book editions being a separate right from standard e-books. If standard and enhanced e-books are classified separately, the battle will begin again over whether authors can hang onto those rights -- and whether publishers even have the rights to the enhanced editions at all.

British publishing trade magazine The Bookseller outlined the quandary this week. Some publishers, like the independent Canongate, negotiate deals individually. Others, like Hachette's U.K. arm, prefer to keep all digital rights. But agents are shaking their heads over the idea of equivalency between a text-only e-book and a more sophisticated edition enriched with audio and video.

An enhanced e-book, United Agents's Jim Gill told The Bookseller, "seems to us an all-encompassing category that some publishers are seeking to throw a rope around at the moment, potentially covering anything from incidental music with an e-book edition or author interviews, right out to highly designed and produced iPhone applications." His agency, Gill said, would "no sooner naturally sell those rights to a book publisher than we'd sell them film rights."

Conflicts With Hollywood?

And it's not just a case of making a mountain out of a digital-book molehill: U.S. agents have similar qualms. One agent familiar with the situation described a Hachette presentation to a consortium of agents last week as a pitch for the publisher getting the full rights to enhanced editions. "Film companies are likely to view these rights as part of the multimedia rights, which they often try to 'freeze,' or acquire when they option or purchase film rights," the agent says. "And so these kinds of books might conflict with a movie deal."

Hachette's Thomas doesn't see a conflict. "All the things we do are based on the book," she says. "We're not trying to create characters, scenes -- anything that's beyond the book." If an author wants to give Hachette additional material, as Baldacci did with maps and locations for Deliver us From Evil, they're free to do so, she says. "Almost all [our] agents and authors have been absolutely delighted," Thomas says. "This is not something we charge off into the sunset and do on our own."

'Not a Zero-Sum Game'

Brad Inman, CEO of Vook, a San Francisco-based startup that has produced multimedia-enhanced books for such publishers as Atria, doesn't see this potential conflict as a problem. "Industries going through gut-wrenching change have all kinds of fears," says Inman, whose company received $2.5 million in seed money late last year. "We have heard this, but it has not stopped anyone from working with us. Only a handful of books are made into movies."

So far, Vook has concentrated primarily on adapting properties whose rights may not conflict with movie options already in the works: genres like self-help, non-fiction, and novellas by bestselling authors like Anne Rice. "In the end, this is not a problem for us at all," Inman says. "This is not a zero-sum game. It is about expansive opportunities."

As publishers invest more time and money to create enhanced editions, the need for specific contractual terms becomes more necessary. And however the discussions go between publishers and agents -- and book and film executives -- at least there's a sense that the understandable difficulty could ultimately pay off.



Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Happy Saint Patrick's Day! Some Astute Irish Literature




Happy Saint Patrick's Day to all who visit my humble blog today! And for those who do, I offer some Irish wit and wisdom:

In dreams begins responsibility.
- William Butler Yeats (1865-1939)
Irish Nobel Prize-winning poet

If the whole human race lay in one grave, the
epitaph on its headstone might well be: `It seemed
a good idea at the time.'
- Dame Rebecca West (1892-1983)
Irish-born author and journalist

You've got to do your own growing, no matter how
tall your grandfather was.
- Irish Proverb

Why should you never iron a 4-leaf clover? You
don't want to press your luck.
- Daryl Stout

May your blessings outnumber the shamrocks that grow, and may trouble avoid you wherever you go.
- Irish Blessing

As you slide down the banister of life, may the splinters never point in the wrong direction!
- Irish Blessing

You never miss the water till the well has run dry.
- Irish Proverb

Half a loaf of bread is better than no bread at all.
- Irish Proverb

Remember even if you loose all, keep your good name; for if you loose that you are worthless.
- Irish Proverb

GOD KEEP MY JEWEL THIS DAY FROM DANGER
From tinker and pooka and black-hearted stranger
From harm of the water and hurt of the fire
From the horns of the cows going home to the byre
From teasing the ass when he's tied to the manger
From stones that would bruise and from thorns of the briar
From evil red berries that waken desire
From hunting the gander and vexing the goat
From depths o' seawater by Danny's old boat
From cut and from tumble --- from sickness and weeping
MAY GOD have my jewel this day in his keeping.


THE FIDDLER OF DOONEY by W.B. Yeats

When I play on my fiddle in Dooney,
Folk dance like a wave of the sea;
My cousin is priest in Kilvarnet,
My brother in Moharubuiee.

I passed my brother and cousin,
They read in their books of prayer;
I read in my book of songs
I bought at the Sligo fair.

When we come at the end of time,
To Peter sitting in state,
He will smile on the three old spirits,
But call me first through the gate.

For the good are always the merry,
Save by an evil chance,
And the merry love the fiddle
And the merry love to dance;

And when the folk there spy me,
They will all come up to me,
With "Here is the fiddler of Dooney!"
And dance like a wave of the sea."
An Irishman is never drunk as long as he can hold
onto one blade of grass to keep from falling off
the earth.
- Irish Saying

Every St. Patrick's Day every Irishman goes out to
find another Irishman to make a speech to.
- Shane Leslie

May the road rise to meet you,
May the wind be always at your back,
May the sun shine warm upon your face,
The rains fall soft upon your fields
and, Until we meet again
May God hold you in the palm of His hand
- An Irish Blessing

May you have warm words on a cold evening, a full
moon on a dark night, and the road downhill all
the way to your door.
- An Irish blessing

Ireland is rich in literature that understands a soul's yearnings,
and dancing that understands a happy heart.
- Margaret Jackson

A good laugh and a long sleep are the best cures
in the doctor's book
- Irish proverb
In order to find his equal, an Irishman is forced
to talk to God.
- Stephen
Braveheart

The most beautiful music of all is the music of
what happens.
- Irish proverb

When I realized what I had turned out to be was a
lousy, two-bit pool hustler and a drunk, I wasn't
depressed at all. I was glad to have a profession.
- Danny McGoorty
Irish Pool Player

I have never liked working. To me a job is an
invasion of privacy
- Danny McGoorty
Irish Pool Player

One of the worst things that can happen in life is
to win a bet on a horse at an early age.
- Danny McGoorty
Irish Pool Player

To please himself only the cat purrs.
- Irish Proverb

May those who love us love us
And those who don't love us
May God turn their hearts,
And if He doesn't turn their hearts,
May He turn their ankles,
So we'll know them by their limping.
- Irish Prayer

Irish Drinking Quotes

Saint Patrick was a gentleman...Who through
strategy and stealth...Drove all the snakes from
Ireland...Here's a drinkee to his health! But not
too many drinkees...Lest we lose ourselves and
then...Forget the good Saint Patrick...And see
them snakes again!
- Unknown

The Irish ignore anything they can't drink or punch.
- Irish Proverb

Drink is the curse of the land. It makes you fight with your neighbor.
It makes you shoot at your landlord and it makes you miss him.
- Irish Proverb

Only Irish coffee provides in a single glass all four essential food groups:
alcohol, caffeine, sugar, and fat.
- Alex Levine

Work is the curse of the drinking class.
- Oscar Wilde

An Irishman is never drunk as long as
He can hold onto one blade of grass and not
Fall off the face of the earth.
- Old Irish toast

Here's to cheating, stealing, fighting, and drinking.
If you cheat, cheat death.
If you steal, steal a woman's heart.
If you fight, fight for a brother.
If you drink, drink with me!!
- Irish toast

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Online Presence Strengthens Newspapers

Here's one example of how going online has actually strengthened the economical position of three newspapers now owned by The Tennessee Valley Printing Co.

Bayne Hughes of the Decatur Daily News reports:

While newspapers elsewhere are struggling in a bad economy, publisher Clint Shelton is moving to put his newspapers in a position of strength.

Shelton became publisher of The Decatur Daily in January upon the retirement of his father, Barrett Shelton Jr.

The younger Shelton has spent the last year merging the operations of three newspapers under the umbrella of the Tennessee Valley Printing Co.

The Decatur Daily’s parent company will celebrate its one-year anniversary on March 31 as owner of The TimesDaily in Florence. The company bought the Moulton Advertiser in October 2007.

Introduced by Mark Maloney, Shelton told the Rota­ry Club of Decatur on Monday that 2009 was one of the “most exhilarating of my career.”

Director of Operations Scott Brown is leading a merger of the papers’ printing, circulation, human resources and classified services.

The TimesDaily’s former parent company, the New York Times, used a call center in the Philippines to deal with customers’ circulation problems.

The Daily now has a call center in Decatur for the three newspapers.

Customer satisfaction

Shelton said the call center has been particularly well received in Florence because customers talk to a Southern voice when they call with a complaint.

On April 1, the company will convert to a Publishing Business System for retail advertising and circulation billing and the Advanced Technical Solutions system for classifieds.

The new classifieds system will allow customers to cross advertise between the three papers and add a searchable database for readers.

The company has been building its online presence and now has nine Web sites.

These include each newspaper’s site and additional sites that focus on areas such as car sales, jobs, real estate and prep sports.

Before the purchase of the TimesDaily, the Sheltons were saving money to replace an aging offset press that The Daily bought when Clint Shelton, 46, was not yet a year old.

But he got a call that the TimesDaily was for sale and bought the newspaper. The purchase solved The Daily’s press problem.

Because the TimesDaily’s press is 14 years old, the first major transition after the sale was the merger of the printing and mailroom operations of The Daily and the Florence paper at Florence.

On the Net

The Tennessee Valley Printing Co. now has nine Web sites:

decaturdaily.com: Local news

timesdaily.com: Local news

moultonadvertiser.com: Local news

tnvalleywheels.com: Autos

tnvalleyhomefinder.com: Real estate

tnvalleyjobfinder.com: Employment

tnvalleysearch.com: Local news and business search

tnvalleynow.com: Contests

tnvalleypreps.com: High school sports

Monday, March 15, 2010

Lights, Camera, Action!...Visualizing Your Writing

I just read an insightful post from GENREALITY Blog by Carrie Vaughn, a writer working on a series of novels about a werewolf named Kitty, among other things.

Her post deals with imagining scenes in your head in realistic detail before writing them down; and how watching the recent Academy Awards, with all it's behind-the-scenes revelations RE how the many technicians converge to produce a work, enhanced her imaginative ability to apply to her writing.

I thought the whole post was neat and will present her learning enhancement here. Now you have a more professional reason for watching the Academy Awards:

Quick show of hands: how many of you talk about writing as “describing the movie playing in my mind?” Lots of us do it. I’m one of them. We see scenes playing out in our minds, we think they’re cool and amazing, and that’s the story we want to tell.

Watching the Oscars last weekend got me thinking. The broadcast did some little asides about how some of the behind-the-scenes technical bits work — art direction, cinematography, editing, and so forth. The show does similar things every year so that we’ll know what the heck they’re talking about, why sound design and sound mixing are two different awards, and so on. It occurred to me that we as writers need to pay attention to this. Because it’s not enough to describe the scenes playing in our minds. That would be like pointing a camera at a stage, clicking the “on” button when the play starts, and never moving, tracking, zooming in, making sure the sound is recording properly, and so on. I’m sure we’ve all seen enough homemade videos of school dance recitals and the like to know exactly how well that goes over.

We need to make a lot of the decisions that filmmakers have to make — about the angle and point of view we watch our scene from and whether to shoot wide or tight (cinematography); what the set and costumes look like, what the whole look and mood of the scene is (art direction, costuming, make-up); what else is going on in the scene (sound, visual effects); when scenes start and when they end (editing); and who’s actually playing the parts in the scene (acting, casting).

While I start with the movie in my brain, when I’m writing I try to think about the effect the scene has on the reader, and what effect I want the scene to have on the reader. Do I want them to feel joy? Grief? Do I want them to feel a cold creeping dread, or a sudden shock? This is where my technical analogy comes in. We can slow scenes down by adding more description, by making the sentences longer. We can speed them up by writing shorter sentences, by moving the action along quickly. Who is the viewpoint character? Why? Do I want to focus on that character’s thoughts and emotions (the tight shot), or do I want the larger sweep of action (wide angle)? Am I writing too much? Do I need to cut something? Add something different?

It’s all worth thinking about.

And now I can tell people I’m watching the Oscars because it’s research, and not for the celebrity gossip and mocking of gowns. (And am I the only one who thought Jennifer Lopez’s dress looked like it was made of bubble wrap?)...

John's Note: I missed the Academy Awards this year...but, I sure wish I had seen Jennifer Lopez's bubble wrap dress...cause she has some nice BUBBLES to display!

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Technology's Relevant Opportunities for the Written Word.

The SXSWi (South by Southwest Interactive, for the uninitiated) Conference kicked off Friday in Austin, Texas and many professionals in all the fields associated with new digital media and tecnology converged to discuss it's affect on publishing, marketing and retailing of books, magazines and other forms of the written word...among other fascinating things.

This conference is actually an offshoot of the 20 year old more famous SXSW music and film conference.

Pete Miller will be blogging for Jacket Copy (a bookish blog for the Los Angeles Times) from the SXSW Interactive festival in Austin, Texas. Pete gives a little history and explanation of this unique conference:

Last year I was invited to join a discussion at the South by Southwest Interactive Festival about the future of book publishing. An offshoot of the more famous music conference, SXSWi has built a sizable reputation of its own. Designers, programmers, futurists, bloggers and marketers convene each March to compare notes on new innovations, fresh uses of old technologies and the state of the community. They are consumed, to put it lightly, with the social implications of our digital future.

Unlike the International Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, SXSWi isn't, at its heart, a trade show. There is little or no corporate hoopla (yet). Attendees are here to foster debate and celebrate the do-it-yourself ethos. When it launches a product, it is usually of the grassroots, open-source wiki variety. Twitter broke out here -- something the festival is especially proud of.

The publishing panel was organized by colleagues of mine at Penguin publishers, and their invitation a kind of nod to my dual identity in the business. A bit of a rare bird, I work weekdays overseeing the publicity department for Bloomsbury, a midsized Manhattan publisher, and weekends behind the counter of a used bookshop I own in my Brooklyn neighborhood. While others would discuss the marketing and editorial and authorial aspects of the publishing process adapting to the digital upheaval, I would speak on behalf of the promotion and retailing of books.

SXSWi is as innovative and influential as Penguin is venerable and global. That I was asked to join a panel of other publishing executives and media experts (including their author, Clay Shirky) was in itself a peculiar decision. There were far more qualified strategists within the profession working for Penguin and other large publishers. I don't want to portray myself with false modesty as a boob in the woods, Pa Kettle touring a human genome lab. I have been in publishing for 20 years, long enough to straddle the two eras without being blindsided by change.

It turned out my role was not to explain what Bloomsbury was doing to face a paperless future, but to explain the industry challenges of promoting authors into a more disarrayed digital marketplace. Books are still around and will be so in multiple formats for the foreseeable future. How do we make readers aware of them if authority (a.k.a. book criticism) is slipping in the print media and migrating with middling success online? Is bottom-up social networking (a.k.a. consumer reviews) the only solution?
On the other hand, as a bookseller (albeit a low-wattage one) I suppose my comments would be judged with some sort of gravitas. I mean, reading is all about the end user. But can the bricks-and-mortar indie coexist with e-retailing? Shaky ground, indeed.

It isn't necessary to rehash the ensuing hijinks (I did that then), but let's just say we made a spectacularly bad impression. Perhaps it was the ambitious program name, “New Think for Old Publishers.” Perhaps it was the lack of a PowerPoint presentation instead of our single slide saying "The Internet is the largest group of people who care about reading and writing ever assembled in history. Now what?" Maybe it was the mere presence of “industry” types on stage, extolling the virtues of the publishing process to an audience of cool self-actualizers.

But as each of us cluelessly rattled on behind the comfort of our analog microphones, a flurry of keystrokes below were pounding out a parallel dialogue, one that was playing out live via Twitter feed across the lit-blogosphere and making my colleagues Back East blanch in embarrassment.

Was this a fair first impression? The playing field in Austin wasn't exactly level. We were labeled arrogant insiders, but new to the SXSWi scene we felt more like pimply teenagers on a prom date with a surly cheerleader.

Undeterred, publishers arrived back in New York bruised but better equipped for punishment. According to Kelly Leonard, executive director of online marketing for Hachette, it appears there are 20% to 30% more representatives from the industry converging on Austin. Last year she practically begged Hachette to let her attend. Now her retinue is five. Collectively, they are intent on demonstrating that publishers can adapt with the times, that we are not just music execs in tweed jackets.

This year, I am back in Austin to absorb the creative impulse celebrated at SXSWi and to enter the open dialogue about technology's relevant opportunities for the written word.

Yet I can't help but carry with me a seed of skepticism for that blind valedictory spirit. Jaron Lanier -- the acknowledged father of virtual reality and no slouch in the innovation department -- laments in his recent book "You Are Not a Gadget" that the open-source movement far too readily dismisses traditional media as dinosaurs. He calls it the "blaming the victim" syndrome; I call it the "I told you so" mentality.

For the next few days I will be looking for the kind of conversation that is about solutions and not about blame. My questions about the crowd and cloud publishing remain; hopefully this time I will find the answers...Peter Miller

Friday, March 12, 2010

Are They Ebooks or Digital Books?

I never thought about this question before, but, a distinction is emerging. E-books are thought of as licensable entities that come with possible restrictions and digital books are digitized library collections. Lorcan Dempsey, who writes Lorcan Dempsey's Weblog (on libraries, services and networks)explains the difference in more detail:

I was in a meeting with a group of folks from research libraries the other week. I was interested in a particular terminological issue: 'ebooks' and 'digital books' were each being used in conversation. I asked was there a pattern of consistent use here. 'Not complete consistency' was the answer, but there was certainly a tendency to use 'ebooks' for materials available for license from external providers, and a tendency to use 'digital books' for materials digitized from library collections.

So, in this context, it is easy to see how each expression has a different - if overlapping - set of associations. Ebooks may evoke an environment currently fragmented by provider platforms, with restrictions on use, and managed in a licensed e-resource workflow. They are for reference, information, reading. Digital books may evoke a digital library environment, an aspiration to provide higher level research services based on text mining, entity identification, and so on, and various funding and cooperative initiatives which aim to increase the corpus. The Monk Project or the international Digging into Data Challenge are examples of a direction here.

Over the next few years, it will be interesting to see how these environments evolve as ebooks/digital books grow in number and usage. Ebooks and digital books - to continue to use these ambiguous terms - will become more important in the practice of research and learning. There are at least three big drivers in the environment the group above was discussing. The first is around moving physical collections to the cloud as libraries balance service between local collections, shared offsite collections and digital collections. There are early discussions about policy and service frameworks within which libraries can reduce their print inventory and the opportunity costs associated with it (see here for example). The second is around the demand environment, as books in digital form offer a better fit with research and learning workflows which are increasingly network based. The increasing availability of books in digital form supports patterns of discovery, analysis and use now common with other resources. Think for example of the practice of 'strategic reading' (or 'reading avoidance') where researchers are found to prospect the literature broadly in a digital environment, searching, consulting abstracts, scanning for terminology, diagrams and so on (interestingly described by Renear and Palmer here). For many purposes, people will prefer the digital versions and will shift use. This is not to say that people will not continue to read physical books, but it is interesting to consider the pattern of adoption (and continued development) of the journal literature. The third is around the environment of supply, where there is major current activity. The post settlement Google Books institutional product offering, Amazon's attempt to 'iPodify' books, the rise of the iPhone, and a range of other developments point to rapidly changing opportunities.

So the relationship with the book literature is going to change in significant ways, which may make the ebook/digital book distinction advanced above less relevant. In fact, Google Book Search already moves beyond it in important ways. And libraries are exploring various syndication models (with Amazon, for example, or Kirtas) or in collaboration with publishers such as the the Cambridge Library Collection, for example. Fragmentation, of technical platform, of format, of business model, and so on, will complicate service provision..

This poses major questions for libraries at all levels. From a (current) workflow point of view, we will see a shift of more activity out of the 'bought' materials workflow into the 'licensed' materials workflow. From a collections point of view we will see a rebalancing between local, shared and third party print and digital provision in ways now being worked through. There are bigger issues, already with us with the journal literature, about the curation of the scholarly record, about sharing of materials, and about assuring the type of access that is compatible with use and re-use in research and learning.

I think that libraries may be underestimating the impact and pace of change in the book world ...

Bloomberg And Wiley Forms Book Publishing Alliance - Quick Facts

An interesting tidbit of publishing business news from RTT News, Global Financial Newswires:

Bloomberg L.P. announced that John Wiley & Sons, Inc. (JW-A: News ) will be the exclusive global publisher of Bloomberg and Bloomberg Businessweek branded books to be marketed as "Bloomberg Press, a Wiley imprint." Wiley plans to publish the content using all media platforms including print, e-books and digital.

John's Note: What is the difference between e-books and digital? They're both digital, are they not? I will address this in tomorrows post.

Wiley and Bloomberg will work closely to extend the Bloomberg and Businessweek brands to long-form content in books and other formats. With Wiley as the new global publisher and distributor of Bloomberg Press titles, Bloomberg and Wiley will leverage the core strengths of the Bloomberg Press imprint and bring an unparalleled selection of titles for business leaders, finance and market professionals as well as academia.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

What Is The Biggest Opportunity and Threat To Publishers?

And the answer is, according to Jason Fell of FOLIO magazine: new technology!

Yes, all the new e-readers and iPads, etc, have opened up all kinds of new opportunities and venues for publishers...but, like roses, they come with some thorns!

From Jason Fell today:

“I’m far more worried about 500 million people on Facebook than I am about 2 million people watching Fox.”

That’s what CNN U.S. president Jonathan Klein said Wednesday during the opening keynote of Bloomberg BusinessWeek’s two-day Media Summit, held here for the seventh year. An overarching topic of a number of the sessions was about the confluence of traditional publishing/advertising/distribution with emerging technologies. In his discussion with BusinessWeek editor Josh Tyrangiel, Klein, who led CNN to its most profitable year in 2009, said the company’s growth areas are online (including CNNMoney.com), mobile, U.S. cable, and said it is placing a “greater emphasis” in online video.

But while evolving technologies are offering CNN some of its biggest opportunities, Klein said they also are facilitating its biggest threats. “The competition I’m really afraid of are social networking sites, not only because of the sheer numbers of people who engage in Facebooking and Tweeting,” he said. “It used to be that Internet prime time was daytime, but now you come home and you engage in the world of Facebook, and so that’s just an alternative that threatens to pull people away from us. On top of that, if you think about it, the people you’re friends with on Facebook or the people you follow on Twitter are trusted sources of information.”

The conversation surrounding the merging of content with new technologies, and the inherent difficulties associated with it, continued during a morning workshop. One panelist, Spin magazine founder Bob Guccione Jr., said that while “print is not dead,” the wave of new tech coupled with the economic fallout has weeded out the industry’s most “inferior and inadequate” publications. “There are a lot of boring, generic, afraid, unimaginative, unopinionated magazines and the market is telling us that we don’t need them,” he said. “And e-reader devices have not yet scratched the surface of ‘saving print.’ They’re not the future of magazines. Magazines are the future of magazines. The people who make them need to find better new ways to captivate their audiences, or they will fail.”

But one way some publishers are hoping to “captivate” audiences is by producing content for the new crop of e-reader devices. Bob Nell, director of business development of Sony’s digital reading business division, said a lot of the necessary details, like revenue sharing models and content control, are still being hashed out. “Should the publisher control the iterations of their magazine across different platforms and control pricing, etc.? That’s all playing out,” he said. “Generally, I think the publishers should manage all of that.”

The Advertising vs. Pay Wall Conundrum

What would a conversation about the collision of traditional publishing and new technologies be without talk about ways to monetize it? Panelists kicked off an afternoon workshop called “Models for Change: Experimenting with Subscriptions, Pay Walls, Display and Search Advertising, Syndication, Live Events and Brand Extension Opportunities,” by dredging up Wired editor Chris Anderson’s well-known “freemium” concept—offering basic content/services online for free while charging a fee for premium features. “Unless the price of creating content becomes free, just because content is online doesn’t mean it should be free,” argued CNNMoney.com senior vice president of sales Liberty Carras. “When value becomes established, content is something that should be charged for.”

While developing multiple content platforms and diversifying revenue streams is a top priority for publishers like Conde Nast, Julie Michalowski, the company’s vice president of business development for its consumer marketing division, said the publisher is not considering erecting any pay walls. “What we want to continue to do is to build digital relationships so that we can have a multi-channel relationship with our consumers that includes print and includes other ways that they want to access us,” Michalowski said. The trick, she said, is for publishers to find a balance between “discoverability and profitability.”

Marc Ruxin, executive vice president and chief innovation officer at McCann WorldGroup San Francisco, said publishers and advertisers need to develop new ways to make online advertising effective for both parties. One example he noted was allowing the consumer to determine the types of ads they want to see on the sites they frequent.

“Content has been subsidized by advertising since day one, but display advertising doesn’t cut it now,” he said. “New models need to emerge to continue to support content creation.”