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Sunday, January 30, 2011

The Legitimatization of Self-Publishing

Pictured: 78 Yr. old Stanley Gordon West
Self-publishing is coming into it's own. The process is self-empowering, exposes old publishing faults (and some real charlatan practices) and is disspelling long-held myths.

"I hereby knight thee Sir Self-publishing...
Rise and assume your armor of legitimacy."

I believe you can self-publish (digitally AND print) without giving any money to so-called self-publishing outfits; rather they be "vanity" presses or the newly-minted "we-edit-for-quality-and-don't-publish-just-anybody" types...hybrids of the "we-are-the-only-ones-who-know-quality-and-what-should-be-published" traditional publishers.

Am I advocating the application of NO quality standards? Definitly not! But, there are other sources available to writers (many free) to gain this input and editing, etc. from other than these centralized-services, self-publishing houses (they are adequate if you just don't have the time). It just takes research, establishing good professional relationships through social media, etc.

Here is a revealing article on the maturation of self-publishing and how one writer played, and is playing, a part:

By Kim Ode of the Minneapolis StarTribune

Authors rewrite the book on self-publishing

It's more popular than ever, but success depends on more than writing. marketing.

Not so long ago, the way to get a book published was clear: Submit your work, twiddle your thumbs, get back the manuscript, send it out again. Eventually, if you were very good, or very lucky, a publisher would bite and, eventually, you'd be holding a book, no longer a mere writer, but an author.

Today, the digital world has ignited self-publishing, changing everything. Why wait for New York when you can plunk down your money and get a finished book in just a few months?

Make no mistake: It will be your responsibility to market it. (John's Note: Hell, new writers had this responsibility under traditional publishing, too). Many reviewers and bookstores won't take you seriously. And you may never earn back your investment, which could be as high as $20,000. Is it worth it? Apparently, it's at least worth the risk. In 2007, about 134,000 books were self-published in the United States. In 2008, that rose to more than 285,000 and in 2009 soared to more than 764,000. (John's Note: With POD and other tech, I don't believe one need pay this kind of money. Remember my commentary in paragraph 3 & 4 above).

In contrast, traditional publishers produced about 288,000 books in 2009, almost stagnant from 289,000 the year before, according to the firm R.R. Bowker, which tracks the book industry.

Read and learn more

Friday, January 28, 2011

Bad Literary Pirates Cause Book to go Viral...and That's Good!

Talk about turning the tables on the bad guys...

Bad guys pirate a new author's debut novel; novel turns out to be a well-conceived and well-written fantasy masterpiece; novel goes viral due to tons and tons of illegal downloads!

A scenario made for a novel story itself...Hell, this would make a great screenplay...Just an idea.

The new fantasy fiction author is J. S. Chancellor whose first novel Son of Ereubus (book one of a trilogy) was published by Rhemalda Publishing in November 2010, just two months ago.

More details provided by PRWeb.com:

Small Press Publisher Takes Advantage of Literary Pirates

Small press Rhemalda Publishing debuted three titles during 2010, one of which was pirated−and it went viral.

Just two weeks after Rhemalda Publishing released Son of Ereubus, Book One in the new Guardians of Legend trilogy, author J. S. Chancellor’s epic fantasy book was stolen by literary pirates. The stolen book went viral, with staggering numbers of downloads from multiple sites. Rhemalda Publishing had to make a choice--use valuable resources to take up a fight against the pirates or find a way to use it to its advantage.

Rhemalda Publishing and Author J.S. Chancellor teamed up by posting a request on Chancellor’s Facebook fan page for readers who had downloaded the book illegally to consider posting a review of the book online.

When asked how she felt about her debut novel--which she had worked 14 years writing and perfecting-- being pirated, Chancellor responded, “I’m not Stephen King, folks…and I’m flattered that someone out there, somewhere, thinks it’s good enough to steal. Honestly. But that warm fuzzy feeling, like a good strong night’s worth of drinks, leads a vicious migraine and one hell of a stomachache.”

Now, months later, the reviews are coming in and they are not being shy, stating that J. S. Chancellor's book, Son of Erebus, will sit on shelves next to the likes of Tolkien, Barker, King and Goodkind. The book is quickly gaining notice. Although coming in a less desirable way, the attention garnered by the pirating "attack" has hoisted interest in the book.

Read and learn more

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Bookstores Will Survive--But NOT in Superstore Mode

I always deeply suspected that bookstores would never disappear. You see, while completely new technology is exploding the digital publishing business and e-books, guess what? That same technology, and some morphed from it, has leaked over into the print industry as well, resulting in faster and more cost-effective production costs in POD (print-on-demand), improved paper and inking, delivery, etc.

I further suspect that a whole parallel "printed-word tech world", still in it's forced-infancy, will blossom and produce some future, mind-boggling results.

Although bookstores will never disappear completely, the old superstore model will...The surviving bookstores will be locally defined and driven...just like the old neighborhood bar & grille.

Jim Milliot, co-editorial director of Publishers Weekly, has this to say:

Digital Book World: Publishing CEOs Optimistic About the Future

The five publishing executives who took part on Digital Book World’s CEO panel Tuesday morning all agreed that while the industry is undergoing unprecedented changes, their companies are moving to adapt to new realities. Their view was consistent with a survey contacted by James McQuivey of Forrester Research that found 83% of publishing executives believed their company is capable of managing the digital transition.

McQuivey presented highlights of the study just before the CEO panel Tuesday, which also found that 80% of execs believe their staffs will need retraining to compete effectively in the digital marketplace. McQuivey also presented some research findings, including the estimate that consumers spend $1 billion on e-books in 2010, a figure that should reach at least $1.3 billion in 2011. The consensus among those surveyed was that e-books would comprise half of all trade book units by 2014, and 53% said they expected print sales to decrease this year.

The CEOs agreed that they face many challenges, but said there are many opportunities as well. Jane Friedman, CEO of Open Road Integrated Media and former CEO of HarperCollins, said the industry is “vitale and vibrant,” adding that at no point in her career as she seen such change and that things will never go back to the way they were. “It’s the end of the beginning”of the digital transition, Friedman said. Macmillan’s COO said publishing is entering a “golden age,” but added that the question is will it be a golden age for publishers. He noted that unlike some other media industries, publishers have been handed a great gift--millions of devices in the hands of readers that provides publishers the opportunity to create new products. The publishers that prosper, Napck said, will be those that adopt the new skill sets needed to publish in a new marketplace.

While many questions loom over the creation and delivery of digital content, the immediate question confronting publishers in what is happening in the distribution of print books, Thomas Nelson CEO Michael Hyatt said. With the number of bookstores shrinking, publishers will need to find new ways to allow consumers to discover books, Napack said. Just putting books in Amazon is not marketing, he said, adding that publishers will need to more effectively use social media to promote their titles. Hyatt warned that social media can’t be treated as a broadcast medium, but rather needs a targeted message.

Most panelists agreed that the downsizing of the bookstore chains meant that independent booksellers have a chance to mount something of a comeback. Napack said that while independent booksellers’ market share will remain relatively small, their role in bringing books to market will increase in importance. And while there will be fewer bookstores in the future, Napack said he believes there will always be physical bookstores.

Panelists also touched on e-book pricing, with all agreeing with Friedman’s statement that “free is not a business model, it’s a marketing model.” While the “post-agency” e-book price seems to have settled around $9.99, Napack expected there will be a range of prices moving forward. Hyatt observed it would be “mindless” to settle on one price.

Read and learn more

Monday, January 24, 2011

Where the Hell is the Publishing Industry?

News media publishing...Why are they still "pushing" things at us from old business models (lengthy diatribes with one or two nuggets hidden within and paywalls nonetheless!) instead of designing platforms that allow us to "pull" short, packed, relevant content that applies to our most fervent interests (also probably with paywalls...If only we could do something about those paywalls).

The only danger with chopped news pieces is the possibility of misinterpretation... The "rest of the story" or hidden "reason why" is sometimes missed. But, at least those in a hurry will get the headlines. The writing has to be superior.

Paul Armstrong, the creator of @themediaisdying, writing for paidcontent.org, has some interesting thoughts on this subject in the following referenced article. He champions brevity, but does so in a rather lengthy, rambling (but very interesting) article.

Sometimes, Paul, it takes wordiness to be concise! (Figure that one out)...

Anyway, I enjoyed Paul's sharp mind and views on this issue:

@Themediaisdying: The Brutal Truth From Two Years In The Twitterverse

The facts for the publishing industry are clear – the vast majority of media outlets are declining in one or more ways.

Two years ago, I registered @themediaisdying - a Twitter account through which I tweet links illustrating the industry’s challenges to nearly 25,000 followers. Now, as it enters its third year, some things clearly have changed - and others still desperately need to…

Running @themediaisdying network remains straightforward - evidence for its eponymous premise, tragically, pours in. Despite new technologies and bursts of advertising confidence, the velocity of publishing outlets going under, online-only or changing publishing schedules gives only temporary relief to those in an industry that is now, in my view, fundamentally doomed unless a mindset is changed.

Here’s what I’ve learned…

The brutal truth
“What is the brutal truth?” is a demi-mantra I have started applying to all my communications and strategies, when working with clients and thinking about big issues.

For example, when I sat down to write this, I mind-mapped the topics I could cover, left it for a day, went back and underlined the words ‘chore’ and ‘commitment’ with a battered Sharpie. Boom.

The brutal truth, rightly or wrongly is this: consuming news remains laborious and a significant time/space commitment, whatever your age or situation. Obvious? Perhaps. But then, why do outlets continue to bang away with long-form content that deploys minimal information-imparting mechanics? Is it all they know?

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Digital Age Presents an Opportunity Not Threat for Printed Matter

Printed books (including non-academic books) are not dead. In fact they are growing by 15% to 18% per year in India, China and other Asian countries...And Asian countries are cutting edge in new digital tech, which encompasses all the new eReaders, eBooks and ePublishing platforms.

"Technology is merging things, but the book is still at the center"...Indian critic Sunil Sethi.

Some key, insightful and juicy perspectives are jumping forth from the Asia-Pacific's largest annual literary event, the DSC Jaipur Literary Festival, taking place right now between 21-25 Jan in Jaipur, India. This event is attended by literary giants from all over the world.

Want to publish a printed book to a large market? Go global and publish in India!

This from Reuters by Henry Foy:

The book is dead? Long live the book, authors say

Rubbishing those who hail the digital age as the end for books, publishing industry players and best-selling authors on Saturday hailed a new dawn for publishing, with India's voracious readers at its forefront.

Book sales have been squeezed in recent years by e-books and the huge success of Amazon.Com's Kindle reader, but India's booming publishing market is proof of the physical book's staying power, said participants at Asia's largest literary event, the DSC Jaipur Literary Festival.

"You read something on Twitter and you know it is ephemeral," said Patrick French, a best-selling historian and biographer who has written extensively on Asia. "Yet the book is a solid thing. The book endures."

Regional language novelists and poets rubbed shoulders with Nobel laureates and Booker Prize winners at the seventh festival to be held in the historical pink-tinged city of Jaipur, the capital of India's northwestern Rajasthan state.

Hundreds of book lovers attended a debate on the fate of printed books in the sun-drenched grounds of a former palace as part of the free five-day event.

"The idea of the book dying comes up all the time. It's wrong. I think this is a wonderful time for books, to enlarge the audience of the book and draw in more readers," said John Makinson, Chairman and CEO of the Penguin Group of publishers.

Read and learn more

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Who Controls Social Media?

From outside the publisher's world, no one should control social media from my blurred point of view. Speaking just as an outsider (my specialty) and everyday web surfer, I like to think everything "internet" is open and free with no underbelly of strategic plotting behind every damn piece of content to "hook" me into doing something that I probably really don't want to do in the first place.

Just let social media develop naturally and be formed (and, yes, controlled...if there must be any control) by those visiting for their own enjoyment and seeking like-minded folks.

But, realizing that many things (if not all) on the web are free due to a secret source of monetization coming from some damn hidden place, I have to put on my magic pragmatic glasses and peer into the sucky-sucky world of internet control for money, money, money. You know, advertising and marketing...with actual content coming in last most of the time.

So, going undercover inside the publisher's world with my magic glasses, I found some interesting insights into this topic from Matt Kinsman, executive editor at FOLIO magazine...Insight further honed from his attendance at the MPA's (Magazine Publishers of America) Social Media conference yesterday:

For Publishers, Who Are the Gatekeepers of Social Media?
Who gets the keys to the engine, edit, sales or marketing?

Ten years ago, as the prospect of monetizing Web sites started becoming a reality for publishers, different departments butted heads over prime real estate: editorial wanted it for content; sales wanted it for advertising; marketing wanted it for promotion.

Today, as the emphasis shifts away from publishers serving their audience on their own Web domain into places that are daily destinations (such as Twitter and Facebook), publishers are again faced with the question of who controls what (and it's even more important today because social media offers the chance to directly engage with--or alienate--your audience).

That was a key debate at MPA's Social Media conference yesterday. "Should all stakeholders be given the capability to tweet?" asked Matthew Milner, vice president of social media at Hearst, and moderator of a session called Who Controls Social Media at Your Magazine Brand? "And is the ultimate stakeholder necessarily editorial, or marketing, or could it even be the technology department, which may ultimately own the cost of social media?"

For Time Inc., social media is very much an editorial enterprise (last fall, a survey by The Wrap found that five of the 10 magazines with the most Twitter followers were Time Inc. brands). The publisher even maintains a team dedicated to fine-tuning Twitter captions. "Social platforms can be remade in your own image," said Jim Frederick, managing editor of Time.com and executive editor of Time.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Google and Market Monopolization

Google is the biggest search engine in Europe with 90% of the market.

Apparently, while pushing hard to capture this market, Google tripped over some of the anti-trust laws in the European countries.

Google has already reached anti-trust settlements/agreements in France and Germany and is in the process of settlement with Italian publishers.

FIEG (Italian Federation of Newspaper Publishers) filed suit against Google in 2009 for market monopolization when it came to distributing online news. Prior settlements have resulted in more content control for the publishers and more transparency in ad revenues gained from publishers' sites.

Well, holy shitwowsky, I hope Google is learning its lessons finally and that the U.S. is keeping a sharp eye on this.

Here are more details reported in Monsters and Critics dot com (M&C) , a fine source for world news and current affairs:

Italian publishers, Google reach deal on online news

Italy's anti-monopoly agency formally ended a complaint against Google Monday after the company reached a deal with Italian media groups on content management and advertising revenue, reported government and business groups.

The deal, proposed by Google in response to a complaint filed by the FIEG publisher's association in 2009, will give Italian publishers more control over content used in Google's online news service and require more transparency about ad revenues linked to those news sites.

FIEG had accused Google of market monopolization when it came to distributing online news.

FIEG President Carlo Malinconico greeted the opinion, noting it was the first time Italy's AGCM competition authority had dealt with the question of Google's relation to the publishing industry.

But the deal will not be certain until legislators pass new laws to reflect the agreement.

Read and learn more

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Books with Manila-Folder Covers

A new, more-or-less traditional, print publisher...actually, a derived, "next phase" or evolved print publisher...is using print-on-demand (POD) just like the self-publishers of old did (you remember the old, self-publishing, vanity types where everyone got published for a price).

POD is definitely the way to go in today's environment for any print publisher to avoid wasted money and overhead on printed books that don't sell...duhhh.

This new, treading-new-ground publisher is Publication Studio based in Portland, Oregon. The outfit has a very stripped-down business model but is the brainchild of Matthew Stadler, a literary novelist and publisher with a national reputation...who also selects the books for editing and publication. Not just anyone gets published here.

Mary Ann Gwinn, book editor at The Seattle Times, reported the following:

Seattle-area writer Matt Briggs has published six books. In 1999 his first novel got a half-page review in The New York Times Book Review, the literary equivalent of winning the lottery.

That's the good news. Here's the rest of the story:

•The initial print run of his first book, "The Remains of River Names," was 600 copies. Because of the national exposure it immediately sold out, but the publisher never printed another edition.
•Briggs' novel "Shoot the Buffalo" was accepted by a prestigious New York publishing house. Then the publisher changed its mind. In 2001 another publisher, the now defunct Oregon publisher Clear Cut Press, picked it up, but it took until 2005 to see publication. In 2006 it won the American Book Award.
•Before "Shoot the Buffalo" was published in this country, Briggs had sent it to a literary agent in Northern Ireland. He never heard back, but two years later he got an after-the-fact contract — the book had been published without his knowledge. "Someone had gone through the book and inserted physical descriptions of the characters. I was horrified," he recalls. He had to threaten a lawsuit to halt its publication.

Briggs still writes books. But this time around he's trying something different — for his new novel, "The Strong Man," set during the first Gulf War, he's being published by a Portland-based publisher called Publication Studio with a very stripped-down business model.

Here's the way publishing used to work, when it worked well: Author writes book, gets an agent. Agent submits book to publisher. Publisher likes book, pays author decent advance, prints up copies of book. Reviews ensue. Book can be found in bookstores, readers buy books. Readers (hopefully) like book and tell their friends. Author and publisher make money.

This model has been fractured. Advances are anorexic. Bookstores are thinner on the ground. Newspaper reviews, once the mainstay of highlighting a book, have declined. There are now thousands of books blogs, but a relative few of them can get the word out to more than a few readers.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Microsoft's Free Web Publishing Tool: WebMatrix

Microsoft, in my humble opinion, is stepping back into the glory ring with today's unvailing of WebMatrix...Yep, just call Microsoft Rocky 100 on this caper.

This is a free publishing tool geared to all the "non-professional" programmers that want their own websites to publish from but have no expertise or budget to speak of (my category exactly!) ...but Webmatrix is powerful enough for professional agency web designers!

This shouts VALUE...and could greatly assist us talented(?) but poor writers!

Sharon Chan of the Seattle Times has this report on the WebMatrix:

Microsoft launches free Web publishing tools WebMatrix

Microsoft launched free Web publishing tools today in a new software suite called WebMatrix.

The software is targeted at Web developers who may be using free open-source software to build websites. WebMatrix includes tools for running a website, including a Web server, database and Web frameworks. It also includes a tool for running search-engine optimization reports to help developers make their sites more prominent in Web searches. It's available in nine languages.

The WebMatrix tools work with free Web publishing platforms such as WordPress, Joomla!, DotNetNuke and Umbraco.

"The target audience for WebMatrix is the universe of web developers that aren’t already hard-core .NET and ASP developers," said Jon Rooney, senior product manager with the Web platform team. He said the tool is powerful enough for Web designers working at agencies to use.

Read and learn more

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

O'Reilly Tools of Change (TOC) 2011 Publishing Conference to Examine future publishing trends

In the apocalyptic publishing era, one area of publishing has not only survived but has risen from the ashes: STM publishing (Science, Technical and Medical). This is mainly visible in the rapid growth in budgets for academic libraries over the last 15years or so.

But, so many publishing roles and functions have been blurred or actually obliterated by new technology that a deep analysis of future publishing trends by publishing experts and other visionary thinkers, both in business and academics, is needed.

One such deep analysis (O'Rielly's TOC 2011) is taking place February 14-16, 2011 at the Sheraton New York Hotel & Towers in New York City.

Details provided here by Knowledge Speak dot com:

Publisher O'Reilly Media, US, has announced that the forthcoming O'Reilly Tools of Change (TOC) for Publishing Conference will explore the new world of publishing without boundaries. The event is scheduled for February 14 - 16, 2011 at the Sheraton New York Hotel & Towers in New York City.

Programme chairs Andrew Savikas and Kat Meyer have announced the programme for TOC, which will bring together stakeholders from the global book publishing and technology ecosystems. TOC's programme will seek to integrate the visionary with the proven and practical, bringing together the people who are shaping publishing's future. This year the conference will reportedly feature topics that push the boundaries of how we define 'publishing', and insight into what's next for the publishing industry.

Read and learn more

For more details and insights on the STM publishing industry and market here is a great link: http://alturl.com/waopw

Monday, January 10, 2011

These 'LinkedIn' Secrets Helpful For Writers Too!

LinkedIn is a social media site for professionals that can open many doors. Unfortunately, the site is not being utilized to its fullest potential by most members...and I am as guilty as the next!

But, I have an excuse...I'm lazy but talented...or is that too damn old and lazy?

Anyway, I read this great article by Kristina Jaramillo in Website Magazine detailing five great plans-of-attack for maximizing your ROI with LinkedIn:

LinkedIn Secrets to Success
Read and learn more When you land on this Website Magazine link, you must press the content tab and then the "LinkedIn Secrets to Success" title...

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Self-Publishing Ins and Outs

There seems to be some confusion about self-publishing. And if there is one thing I'm an expert on it's confusion! I was born with the trait of confusion...and with hard work over many years I have earned my black belt in the state of confusion.

But, back to self-publishing itself. So-called vanity presses are NOT self-publishers. The only ‘self-publishing company’ is you — by definition (per following article).

Exhaustive self-publishing resources and research are given by Tony Cagala in his article for the Ramona Sentinel:

“Anybody can write,” Ernest Hemingway once remarked. “All it took was hard work.”

For many budding authors, it isn’t the writing that’s the hardest part. It’s finding a publisher that is.

Traditional publishers, armed with such terms as marketability and salability, have seemed to maintain an unbreakable control over what is or is not published.

But over the past 30 years or so, there has been an increasing trend in self-publishing, a method that allows authors to pay for their own works to be printed.

In today’s technologically driven world, becoming a published author is easier than ever before, said Dan Poynter, a self-published author of over 70 books, including the “Self-Publishing Manual: vols. 1 and 2.” He is also the creator of the self-publishing resource website, parapublishing.com. (John's note: bookmark this link)

“Computer technology makes the writing faster, researching easier, and production is less expensive than it used to be,” Poynter said. “You may start by publishing your book as an e-book — at no charge. With Amazon and other companies you have access to potential buyers around the globe.”

Ramona resident Peter Zindler, an engineer for the U.S. Department of Defense, has written and sold several self-published Christian-themed novels and inspirational books.

“The beauty of self-publishing,” said Zindler, “is that you can publish one or 100 (books). It gets writers the opportunity to see their work out there. Artists have a great opportunity to paint a painting and go to an art show. Writers don’t have that opportunity, but now with self-publishing they do.”

“If I want a book, I lay out $3.20 and $2 for shipping... It’s really a great, great tool,” Zindler said.

Zindler is also the host of a writers’ critique group of self-published authors and poets.

In 2007, Zindler was the only published writer in the group, he explained. They now have seven published writers in the group, six novelists and one poet, with 19 books among them, he said.

“Three years ago only 125,000 books self-published,” Zindler said. “Two years ago they came up to some 200,000 titles. Last year there were 754,000 titles ... almost four times the amount. Next year, I believe, it’s going to be over a million. The Internet has leveled the playing field for writers.”

But as the self-publishing business grows, so too does the confusion about what it actually means to be self-published.

Read and learn more

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Borders's Woes Could Help Barnes & Noble

This post gives an insight into the book publishing/selling financial, deal-making world of SURVIVAL.

Boarders's booksellers is squarely on the slippery slope named "last Chance"!

Borders, unlike Barnes & Noble, have not aggressively pursued the digital, ebook market and as a result are not positioned to quickly pull credit based on future market share growth in the ebook world.

Check out the wheeling and dealing Boarders has been involved with to avoid bankruptcy and to better position themselves in the event bankruptcy becomes inevitable in this Reuters article by By Tom Hals and Jennifer Saba:

Borders meetings with publishers could seal fate

* Borders planning more meetings next week-source

* Most publishers have stopped shipping books-source

Bookseller Borders Group Inc (BGP.N) is floating the idea of treating the money it owes publishers as a loan, a way for the company to rework its finances, a publishing source said.

Borders, the second-largest U.S. bookstore chain, which last week said it was delaying payments to some vendors, began meetings with publishing houses on Tuesday and has planned more meetings for next week, said the source.

Borders, whose sales have plummeted in the past three years, warned investors last month that it could face a cash shortfall early this year.

"The idea is that what they owe is considered a loan that they would pay back with interest," said the source, who requested anonymity because the business relationship with Borders is confidential.

A Borders spokeswoman, Mary Davis, declined to discuss the details of those meetings and said on Wednesday that the company is not experiencing a liquidity crisis.

The meetings could determine the bookseller's fate, with publishers playing a role usually reserved for lenders or bondholders of distressed companies.

Read and learn more

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Facebook Valued at About 50 Billion!

A little business and finance tonight RE a major source used by writers and publishers.

Facebook is used by many artists to promote their works...I'm particularly bad at it! I need to really get motivated and learn how to use FB more EE (efficiently and effectively). Seems I'm just running out of gas, procrastinating or too damn lazy!

FB is absolutely blasting into the stratosphere, financially speaking, but may be getting greedy, too damn secretive and over-reaching by getting investment capital through an investment fund vehicle offered by Goldman Sachs (Goldman Sachs? Aren't they in the Greedy & Devious Who's Who Hall of Fame?).

You see, by not going public with an IPO (Initial Public Offering) and selling stocks on the open market, FB can stay private and don't have to disclose financial information as long as they have less than 500 investor owners-of-record. Goldman Sachs would only count as one investor no matter how many of their clients bought shares through their offered fund vehicle.

A matter being looked into by the SEC (that's the Securities and Exchange Commission...NOT the Southeastern Conference in College football...my favorite)

More details from Bloomberg News through Crain's New York Business:

Facebook, Goldman deal may draw SEC scrutiny
Securities and Exchange Commission is scrutinizing the market for trading shares of closely held companies, including Facebook.

Goldman Sachs Group Inc.'s plan to offer clients up to $1.5 billion in Facebook Inc. equity may invite U.S. regulators to take a closer look at whether the owner of the world's most popular social-networking site is circumventing disclosure rules, securities lawyers said.

The Securities and Exchange Commission, whose rules require any company with more than 499 investors to disclose financial information, is already scrutinizing the market for trading shares of closely held companies including Facebook, according to a person familiar with the inquiry, who declined to be identified because the matter isn't public.

Goldman Sachs invested $450 million in Facebook and is planning to create a special purpose vehicle for its clients to make additional investments worth as much as $1.5 billion, according to two people familiar with the matter who spoke on condition of anonymity because the deal is private. Some private companies avoid crossing the disclosure threshold when investors' funds are channeled through a single entity, such as a private equity firm or hedge fund.

“The real question is, what are the details of this special purpose vehicle?” said James Angel, a finance professor at Georgetown University's business school in Washington. If the investment is designed to circumvent the rule, “the SEC should be looking very closely at it.”

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Institute for the Future of the Book

The six year old Institute for the Future of the Book is the brainchild of Bob Stein (pictured), who is a newly discovered (by me) pioneer in digital publishing and all kind of pre-current digital reading devices and software.

He has an interesting vision of the future and value of book content, all of which I'm not in accord with, but is nonetheless worthy of consideration and discussion.

Some refer to Bob Stein as a deep thinker, and he may well be...at least a helluva lot deeper than this old, shallow, ex-whiskey-swilling, skirt-chasing adventurer and sometimes writer!

As is related in the following article: "...his institute has received funding from the MacArthur Foundation and is affiliated with the University of Southern California, but it resembles a scrappy start-up. Stein founded it in his kitchen while he lived in Manhattan, and it now has its offices in a garden apartment behind his house in Brooklyn."

Details in this article from Nathaniel Popper of the LA Times through HeraldOnline (Rock Hill, S.C.):

A deep thinker changes how people think about books

In 1992, virtual eons before the Kindle and the iPad, Bob Stein created software that let a reader flip through an electronic book on a laptop computer.

To demonstrate the program at conferences, Stein would lie down on stage as if reading in bed.

"Publishers would see this and they would think it was cute, but they didn't think it had anything to do with them," he recalled.

Now that the revolution is here, Stein says publishers should embrace what he sees as the inevitable result: the evolution of reading from a solitary pursuit into a communal, electronically networked activity - something he calls social reading and writing.

The advantages of digital technology "are so weighted toward collaboration that people will tear down the existing structures and build something new," Stein said while sitting among the jammed but now rarely touched bookshelves in his Brooklyn home.

Head of the ambitiously named Institute for the Future of the Book, Stein is one of a collection of programmers, philosophers and other deep thinkers who debate where things are heading in online venues such as a conference titled Books in Browsers and an online discussion group called Read 2.0.

"Bob's ambition is really to change how people think about the book," said Brian O'Leary, a founder of consulting firm Magellan Media.

Stein, 64, has a history tied to media innovation. In the early 1980s he worked on an effort to create a digital encyclopedia for home-computer maker Atari.

Read and learn more