expr:class='"loading" + data:blog.mobileClass'>


Sunday, August 26, 2012

Monetizing the Slush Pile

"Self-publishing has moved into the mainstream of our industry" --- Penguin CEO John Makinson.

Just a couple of my previous posts on the new uses and newly-earned professional status of self-publishing:

'Medium' A New Lightweight Publishing Platform and Democratized Distribution

Self-Published Books Are Dynamic ‘Business Cards’

For those who haven't read these posts, they provide excellent insight and info RE self-publishing today :)

Yes indeed, the old slush pile has always been ripe with relevant and talented work. And now the big publishing houses want to monetize this beautiful source (you know, the 'screw you' source the old traditional publishers kept on the back burner or ignored because they had too much control over writers and just did not have the manning or talent to handle the workload --- so, they made the actual writers feel inferior with rejections to cover their own ineptness).

Further proof of self-publishing legitimacy is evident by the traditional publishing houses seeking out self-publishing or publishing services firms to purchase --- to possess this capability in-house.

This insight from John Makinson, Penguin CEO:

Why self-publishing is no longer a vanity project

The rise of self-publishing marks a radical change for publishers, readers and writers

A few years ago, HarperCollins launched Authonomy.com, a website dedicated to "flushing out the brightest, freshest new literature around". Site members share their works in progress – and HarperCollins and others publish the best. Last year, Penguin US launched a similar site, Bookcountry.com.

There's another term for what Authonomy and Book Country do: "monetising the slush pile". It's a pretty cruel one, as the "slush pile" of unsolicited manuscripts has long been a fine source for publishers, and publishing lore abounds with stories of much-rejected classics finally being picked up. But the addition of "publishing services" (self-publishing, essentially) to both sites suggests that publishers intend to profit from all of this work, even if it doesn't reach their house standards.

This summer, Penguin acquired Author Solutions Inc, one of the world's largest providers of publishing services, or what might have once been called "vanity publishing"...

Read and learn more

Writers Welcome Blog is available on Kindle :)))

Sunday, August 19, 2012

'Medium' A New Lightweight Publishing Platform and Democratized Distribution

Here we go again --- a concept I’ve read about is either poorly explained or poorly conceptualized:) 

"lots of services have successfully lowered the bar for sharing information, but there’s been less progress toward raising the quality of what’s produced. While it’s great that you can be a one-person media company, it’d be even better if there were more ways you could work with others.” - Evan Williams

All the existing social media sites have their own little angle/s for presenting content and grading or ranking it. Enter a new social media site called "Medium".
I think (not sure - due to murky explanation) Medium proposes to foster improved quality content by having some kind of a people-interactive voting system focusing on content only. But, if you go through sites like Tumblr, Reddit, Stumble Upon, Digg, etc. I believe they already employ this concept in some ways.

Truthfully, the idea of quality content always grabs my attention, but, I don’t quite understand how the new social media site ‘Medium’ has anything new to offer.

At any rate, the two creators of Medium have good pedigrees according to Mathew Ingram posting on GigaOm blog and carried in Bloomberg Business Week:

Medium Advances Web Publishing, But It's No Twitter

Obvious Corp., the startup incubator that Evan Williams and Biz Stone put together after they left Twitter, launched an ambitious new effort on Tuesday called Medium—a lightweight publishing platform the company says is part of an attempt to rethink how (and presumably also why) we publish content on the Web in an age of what our own Om Malik has called democratized distribution. The two previous offerings from Williams and Stone took aim at a similar goal: Blogger was one of the first blogging platforms, and Twitter was the first network to capitalize on the concept of real-time stream-based publishing, or what some like to call microblogging. Is Medium going to be as revolutionary? That seems unlikely—but it’s still interesting.

Williams says in his introductory blog post that Medium represents only “a sliver” of what he and his team have learned about publishing and how it needs to be reinvented. As he notes, the idea that anyone could publish their thoughts for free from anywhere and have people read them was seen as revolutionary when Blogger first started in 1999, but now that ability is taken for granted. So what comes next? Williams suggests in his post that collaboration and the crowdsourcing of quality content are two of the core principles that Medium is based on. As he puts it:

Read and learn more

The Writers Welcome Blog is available on Kindle :)))

Monday, August 13, 2012

Combinatorial Publishing and Algorithmic Content

I, and I think most others, believe content is king in publishing. It is the driving engine, the heart that pumps life-giving functions to all the peripherals of publishing, blah, blah, etc.

The question raised and discussed in today's post is: can creative content be created by machine generated algorithms?

You are invited to read another post of mine Insight Into How SEO Affects Publishing and Content (and Ultimately Book Marketing)

But, back to combinatorial publishing and algorithmic content --- Dan Woods, Forbes contributor, makes these prognostications:

How Algorithmically Created Content will Transform Publishing

A recent conversation with Fred Zimmerman, a long time friend and publishing entrepreneur, woke me up to the fact that the a part of the publishing industry that has long resisted technology may finally be ripe for transformation. The key question is: Does algorithmic content creation that uses machine learning and automation have a role to play in content creation?
The first impulse of most people like me, who have spent much of their careers writing for love and money, is to loudly answer NO WAY. I firmly believe that it is impossible to replace the creativity of the human mind and the skill of writing learned over years with an algorithm.

But Zimmerman, who is CEO of Nimble Books, is pioneering a new technique he calls combinatorial publishing that can create a book that is useful in seconds for pennies. He persuasively argues that algorithmic content creation has an important role to play, even if the virtuosity of the human will always be the beating heart of content creation.

After talking to Zimmerman, I realized that my knee-jerk rejection of machine learning and automation frames the question too narrowly. He persuaded me that the following observations are true:

•Algorithmic content creation will play a role in creating types of content that we are not using now.

•Algorithmic content creation will accelerate and enhance the traditional process of content creation.

•Algorithmic content creation will support new types of hybrid content that is collaboratively created by humans and machines.

•Algorithmic content creation changes the economics of publishing.

•The automation pioneered by algorithmic content creation will improve traditional publishing.

It is important to note that publishing has been transformed in many ways already. Machines and automation play a huge role in helping find much of the content we read today through search and recommendation engines. Web publishing and e-books have changed the form that content takes.

Algorithmic Content Creation: A New Frontier

But a look a current practice for content creation suggests that there is much to be learned. Almost all the content we find through machine assisted means was created the same way that it has been for hundreds of years. A person wrote the content and it was then published using a system for mass distribution.

Read and learn more

Writers Welcome Blog available on Kindle :)))


Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Amazon a Good Investment? Let's Look at Some Indicators

Amazon's Low Operating Earnings Tell
A Story
For background RE this post please refer to my 7/27/12 post Amazon: Exploding Revenue, Tiny Profit on my Publishing/Writing: Insights, News, Intrigue Blog.

Amazon has been reinvesting 99% of its revenues in expansion of its online businesses, striving for 'empirehood' in all related venues as any new technology surfaces --- This leaves only 1% as operating profit.

This strategy is probably fine in some instances if carried out in thoughtful, well funded and measured steps. But, to play this game consistently over too long a period (driven by constant and immediate changing tech) can lead to overindulgence, over indebtedness and eventually arrive at a saturation point where they find they have 'bitten off more than they can chew.'

So, when they do want to keep more revenues as profit they can't as it is gobbled up in operating costs for their diverse ventures.

Some needed financial definitions can be found here: What Is the Difference Between Net Revenue & Operating Income? and What Is the Difference Between Retained Earnings and Net Income?

Jack Hough, columnist at SmartMoney.com, gives insight to Amazon's present and future growth and other financials in this article for The Wall Street Journal:
Amazon Might Not Be the Growth Engine Investors Think 

Just over a week ago, the online retailer Amazon.com AMZN -0.92%reported a 96% drop in second-quarter earnings and said it would miss Wall Street's forecast and lose money in its third quarter.

News like that can send a stock sliding, but Amazon has since gained 6.8%. Investors seem impressed with its 29% quarterly revenue growth and willing to wait for earnings to come around.

Perhaps they're being too patient.

Fifteen years after Amazon's stock-market debut, it still carries the astronomical valuation of some start-ups: more than 200 times this year's earnings forecast, versus 14 for the Standard & Poor's 500-stock index.

U.S. investors have a long history of bidding up shares of companies they are familiar with. Back in the 1980s, Fidelity Investments fund manager Peter Lynch encouraged people to "buy what you know."

Plenty of investors seem to know—and like—Amazon. About one-third of its shares are held by ordinary, noninstitutional investors—nearly double the rate for the median company in the Standard & Poor's 500-stock index, according to data from Thomson Reuters. Among 41 Wall Street analysts who cover the stock, only one recommends investors sell it.

The bull case for Amazon shares is that earnings are depressed because the company is spending to improve its services, and that earnings will multiply in coming years as that spending bears fruit and winds down.

Amazon's earnings are indeed likely to jump, but that expectation seems priced in and then some, making now a good time for shareholders to take profits.

Seattle-based Amazon is best known for its vast online store, which competes with discount retailers like Wal-Mart Stores WMT +0.98%. But Amazon is as much a technology company as a retailer.

It collects fees from other merchants that sell through its site, similar to eBay EBAY -1.47%. It also rents computing power to customers who want to run networks without the hardware investment, a business Hewlett-Packard HP -0.52%recently entered. And its Kindle reader and online video streaming put it in competition with Apple AAPL -0.17%and Netflix.

Yet in terms of financial performance, Amazon lately has been a mirror image of most S&P 500 companies. Profit margins for the broad market are near record highs, but revenue growth has slowed to a crawl.

Read and learn more 

Writers Welcome Blog is available on Kindle :)))



Thursday, August 2, 2012

Enter Stage Right: Video Publishing Intrigue

Can Amazon KO Netflix?
Open curtain on the next chapter of Amazon Intrigue (call it aggressive business practices or is it really good business practices as some claim?)

A clash of the video-streaming titans, Hulu and Netflix, has been going on for a short time --- now throw Amazon with an app for streaming videos into the mix and the clash goes a bit nuclear.

But, does Amazon really have the necessary library of movies to be competitive with the enormous Netflix? Seems the method of counting available streams (videos) are not standardized --- More intrigue.

Christopher Zara of International Business Times has these juicy details on the latest Amazon moves:

Amazon Moves To Pummel Netflix With Instant Video iPad App

Apparently not content with having dismantled the book-publishing industry, Amazon (Nasdaq: AMZN) has ramped up its efforts to assume dominion over the burgeoning world of video streaming.

The gargantuan online retailer on Wednesday released an iPad app that provides video streaming for movies and television shows available through its Instant Video service. The free app lets anyone with an iPad buy and stream movies and TV shows, while Amazon Prime members in the U.S. can watch them for free. It also allows subscribers to download videos they've purchased to watch them at a later time. The app's release comes just one day after Hulu made its Hulu Plus content available on Apple TV -- Apple's digital-media receiver.

Amazon's Instant Video service is already offered as an added bonus to subscribers of Amazon Prime, but the iPad app is seen as a major step for Amazon in its attempt to compete directly with Netflix (Nasdaq: NFLX). The latter has been in its own video-streaming war with Hulu, but with 24 million subscribers in the United States alone, Netflix is the market leader in video streaming. If Amazon gets its way, however, that will soon change.

"The immediate access to 120,000 videos may convince more people to sign up for Prime," wrote CNet's Lance Whitney, "even Netflix users like me who can't always find our favorite movies or TV shows available for streaming."

Netflix had long been concerned about the possibility of Amazon splitting off its Prime service into a direct competitor. In January, Netflix CEO Reed Hastings said during the company's fourth-quarter earnings report that he expects Amazon "to continue to offer [its] video service as a free extra with Prime domestically, but also to brand [its] video subscription offering as a stand-alone service at a price less than ours."

Read and learn more

Get Writers Welcome Blog on Kindle :)))