Publishing/Writing: Insights, News, Intrigue

02/01/2015

A Declining Market for Printer and Publisher Alike? Maybe, Maybe Not – But Changes Are Afoot


Boy on Toilet Reading Paper - f5a5fe54-5e44-45c0-accd-0af459edc30aAll of us are biased in some way. Most of our biases come from two root causes: One, our need to make a living and provide for our loved ones and family. And two, our comfort zone – which is created by our upbringing and what we are familiar with or used to – like mom’s home cooking or our workplace routine and procedures.

So, when our way of making a living is disrupted in some manner or our workplace routine is changing due to, say, newer technology that threatens our very existence and forces change, our ‘biases’ kick in. These biases are deeper in some than others and actually prevent those affected from more immediate acceptance of needed changes.

These types of biases are prevalent in the publishing industry today.

Tonight’s research article comes from BoSacks of The Precision Media Group.

Key excerpt: ‘The lineal, multi-article, traditional experience is changing to a non-lineal, three dimensional collection of editorial material organized by both humans and algorithms that change for the individual person by the second. Every editorial offering will be delivered as a unique and ever-changing personal assortment of information and entertainment. The only exception to these new rules of publishing will be books. They are exempt from this observation, as the book format demands traditional styled and numbered pages, be they print or digital.’

 

BoSacks Speaks Out: The Answer to Publishing’s Enigma of Survival

All of us show bias when it comes to what information we take in. We typically focus on anything that agrees with the outcome we want – Noreena Hertz

 

Many of the people who read this newsletter are in one way or another devoted to the process of print. Some of them are printers, some of them are publishers and most of them have a strong and deep bias, which is clearly and understandably centered around making a profitable living. In fact, we all, regardless of what our profession is, have a biased point of view that is skewed by our need to make a living. In this discussion, I am not in any way saying a bias is wrong, just that it exists and aids us in forming our opinions.

Actually this bias comes twofold. Not only is it based on our need to make a living and feed the family, but also to be in our comfort zone. This comfort zone is, for the most part, like Mom’s cooking. By that I mean that the things we learned early when we were growing up are filled with a nostalgia that makes us feel most comfortable with what we knew and experienced then, something along the lines of Mom’s cooking. If you didn’t grow up in an internet era your comfort in it is less than the screenager who has never experienced lack of instant access to any and all information.

My friend Samir “Mr. Magazine™” Husni, Ph.D. who is the founder and director of the Magazine Innovation Center at the University of Mississippi’s Meek School of Journalism,

is filled with bias and exuberance about the printed magazine. He finds and counts every new magazine he can and declares the wonderfulness of the magazine business. His love and bias for the product is infectious and fun to watch. And it is the grand diversity of the ever diminishing magazine product that will continue to keep Samir and my printer friends busy for many years to come.

In fact most of my printer friends are doing quite well, even in an age where the printed magazine is in decline. And that is one of the main points of this essay. A fair and honest profit is still achievable in a greatly declining market for printer and publisher alike. I say bully for them that can continue to stay afloat and be at the top of their game when page counts are in a steady and predictable decline.

But, you knew there was a “but” coming, didn’t you? The majority of the reading public is leaving print behind. Even major magazine media associations are focused on the digital future of making a profit from reading and not on the ways in which we operated in the past.

I have said many times that print and printed magazines are not going to go away, but their numbers will increasingly become smaller. I am starting to think that the very format of the magazine whether print or digital is also in decreasing demand by the public.

Five years into the venture of offering digital magazines, Next Issue Media’s Morgan Guenther, the company’s chief executive officer says, “No one has heard of us.” Guenther suggests that the number of subscribers is “well into the hundreds of thousands.” I am very suspect of that comment and wonder, how much of those are actually paid by the consumer and how much of the “hundreds of thousands” are sponsored? We don’t know. It is surely worth reporting that Next Issue just raised $50 million from the private equity firm KKR and is preparing for a big marketing push. This will perhaps help, but I expect the resulting numbers to be underwhelming.

It seems that the mobile platform is increasingly the platform of choice for most readers, and it will continue to alter the future of the magazine format. The magazine industry will by necessity sell their product by the single article and not by the curated group of reading materials as in the past. The single article sales platform will include audio, video and reading components once known as articles. It is possible to foresee subscriptions to total niches that include articles from multiple publishing sources and not the traditional magazine concept. This would align with formats like Google news, a listing of articles from multiple publishers offered as a one source shopping spot for news, entertainment, and instructional/enthusiast “articles”.

So, now back to the bias discussion. Is it possible that we publishers have a bias for the format of a traditional magazine? In the 21st century is it possible that curation of reading materials will be distributed in an other than the old-style magazine format? From my observations that seems to be a strongly developing trend.

Take your pick from Facebook to Buzzfeed, from Circa to Upworthy, from Printerest to the web pages of People and Time – these reading experiences are not formatted as traditional magazines. Facebook has a billion people reading without pagination as we understand it. There are indeed pages in those reading platforms, but not a single folio.

These observations do not in any way sound a death knell for print or for printed magazines. But they are a suggestion that the predominant way we will read and gather information is not only digital, but unhinged from the concept of continuous pages. Is it possible to imagine that, for the most part, the public’s reading will not be as our forefathers read?

The lineal, multi-article, traditional experience is changing to a non-lineal, three dimensional collection of editorial material organized by both humans and algorithms that change for the individual person by the second. Every editorial offering will be delivered as a unique and ever-changing personal assortment of information and entertainment. The only exception to these new rules of publishing will be books. They are exempt from this observation, as the book format demands traditional styled and numbered pages, be they print or digital.

 

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02/23/2013

A Narrow Conception of Literary Purity


Literary Purity. Does it exist?

Oh, what can you do with a title like that? Many thoughts and images may flash through your mind, but one theme triumphs, right?

I think the above title is an example of words painting a pretty accurate picture of the inner essence of what the article/post/prose is going to be about — Something to do with people’s prejudices or restrictive view/s of what true literature really consists of (that alone would fill a dictionary).

But, in what way are we going to be talking about the disintegration of ‘pure lit’ (if, indeed, there is such a thing)?

How about taking A Narrow Conception of Literary Purity and mix in the ingredients:

literature, prose, pictures and aesthetic corruption.

Visual literature.

Music of the language.

Shake well and pour straight up and you have a fine concoction that tastes something like tonight’s post.

Sam Sacks, who writes the Fiction Chronicle for the Wall Street Journal and contributes to The New Yorker, has this insight:

Bring Back the Illustrated Book!

It’s curious how much of literature we are conditioned to consider  unliterary. Few would contest the canonization of “Bleak House,” “Vanity Fair,”  “The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn,” and “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland,” but these classics have something in common we may be prone to disregard: each  was published with profuse illustrations, and in each case the author relied on  the artwork not only to enhance the aesthetic appeal of the book but to add  meaningfully to the story.

Some of the art from the golden age of the illustrated novel remains a vital  companion to the text. It is nearly impossible to go down Lewis Carroll’s rabbit  hole without envisioning John Tenniel’s drawings of a  ranting, bucktoothed Mad Hatteror of Alice  eerily elongated after eating the currant cake. George Cruikshank was such a  brilliant artist that his emotive  illustrations for “Oliver Twist” retain a tenacious hold on the imagination.  But we almost never find them in contemporary novels (on the rare occasions that  they do appear it’s as ironic anachronism—in Susanna Clarke’s “Jonathan Strange  and Mister Norrell,” for instance, or Umberto Eco’s “The Prague Cemetery,” both  of which are pastiches of nineteenth-century genre fiction). Even as graphic  novels enjoy a surge of newfound critical appreciation, the common consensus  seems to be that pictures no longer belong in literary fiction. It’s reasonable  to ask, Why not? What do we know that Dickens and Twain didn’t?

It may easy to dismiss the tradition of Victorian book art because of its  origins in cartooning. Undoubtedly, many illustrators were caricaturists in the  tradition of William Hogarth, whose raucous urban tableaux used comic  distortions to point up moral lessons. But we need only look at “Vanity Fair,” written and illustrated by William Thackeray, to see how much playful  complexity can exist within the trappings of caricature. Thackeray had aspired  to be a cartoonist before he took up writing (he unsuccessfully applied to  illustrate Dickens’s “The Pickwick Papers”), and his wonderful drawings play a  sneaky, editorializing role throughout the novel. Some are of children playing  with dolls, framing the story as a kind of metafictional puppet play. As the  anti-heroine Becky Sharp progresses in her conquest of the venal English  aristocracy, Thackeray depicts her as a man-eating mermaid, a female Napoleon,  and the  notorious husband-slayer Clytemnestra—this last portrayal was controversial  even in its time because it implicates Becky in a murder that the text leaves  ambiguous. The author is very much toying with us as he stages his  entertainment.

Dickens was dependent on artists, but when he began working with the  relatively unknown H .K. Browne (who signed his work with the moniker Phiz), he  found an illustrator willing to abide an imperious amount of supervision. Browne  has never been credited with deep artistic gifts, but under Dickens’s  overbearing instruction, his drawings began to subtly communicate the themes and  motifs of Dickens’s mature novels. Their collaboration became an essential  element of Dickens’s preparations for writing. The pair travelled together on  fact-gathering trips. Letters between them show how dictating the contents of  each panel illustration helped Dickens plan out his characters’ physical and  symbolic dimensions. In a letter to the illustrator during the composition of “Martin Chuzzlewit,” for instance, Dickens wrote, “I have a notion of finishing  the book with an apostrophe to Tom Pinch [the book’s quietly good-hearted hero],  playing the organ.” Browne’s lavish frontispiece places at its axis Tom at the  piano, and shows the novel’s other characters in miniature dancing a kind of  roundelay to Tom’s music, stressing his moral centrality.

I suspect that most fiction writers would instinctively agree that  interacting with visual representations of a book in draft can help give shape  to evanescent impressions or inspire new ideas. (In the most famous instance, F.  Scott Fitzgerald “wrote in” the image of T. J. Eckleburg’s haunting optometry  billboard after seeing Francis Cugat’s dust-jacket design for “The Great  Gatsby.”) Nevertheless, a stickier problem lies beneath the writerly distrust of  publishing fiction with illustrations. The real backlash to the universal custom  began around the turn of the century. In his 1909 foreword to a reissue of “The  Golden Bowl,” Henry James sought to explain it (brace yourself, as this is the  most Jamesian of Jamesian sentences). The danger of pictures of people and  scenes, he wrote, is that “anything that relieves responsible prose of the duty  of being, while placed before us, good enough, interesting enough and, if the  question be of picture, pictorial enough, above all in itself, does the  worst of services, and may well inspire in the lover of literature certain  lively questions as to the future of that institution.”

This is one of the earliest articulations of the existential anxiety that  still preys on novelists today. Basically, James was worried about movies. If  prose was going to lean on the crutch of pictures, however charming, it was  going to quickly find itself surpassed by far more dazzling mediums of visual  entertainment. Literature needed to apply itself to doing the things that  photography and film could not—it needed to evoke a scene’s inner workings.

In her 1926 essay, “Cinema,” Virginia Woolf reëmphasized the distinction  between visual stimulation and the ineffable conjurings of prose. When we watch  a film version of “Anna Karenina,” she wrote, “eye and brain are torn asunder  ruthlessly as they try vainly to work in couples.… For the brain knows Anna  almost entirely by the inside of her mind—her charm, her passion, her despair.  All the emphasis is laid by the cinema on her teeth, her pearls, her velvet.”

Read and learn more    

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02/16/2012

History Says: Book Publishing Will Survive Digital Age


Book Publishing Survival?

How many times have you heard the old adage ‘if history is any indication …’

Well, I found a little history and intrigue RE the publishing industry that points out its numerous fights for survival against medieval digital-age-like challenges 🙂 The results of these scrimmages may point to a future outcome a little different than envisioned by some today enamored with all things digital. 

From Bloomberg.com by Ellen F. Brown:

Why Book Publishing Can Survive Digital Age

Word on the street is that the publishing industry is under attack by technology. Amazon.com Inc. has launched a bare-knuckled assault against independent bookstores. Print-on-demand firms make it possible for anyone to get his work on the market, and thus threaten to render agents and editors obsolete. And with e-books priced so low, how can authors and booksellers earn a decent living?

Yet the publishing industry has a long history of weathering these sorts of challenges, and its past offers some optimism for the future.

In the 1920s, drug, grocery and department stores gave booksellers fits by offering popular titles at cut-rate prices. An old industry yarn tells the story of a flapper looking to buy lipstick. She walks into a bookstore and excuses herself when she realizes she had made a mistake. “I’m sorry,” she says, “I thought this was a drugstore, I saw books in the window.”

Also problematic was the Book of the Month Club, a distribution company founded in 1926 that sold inexpensive hardcover versions of popular books through mail order. Within 10 years of its founding, the club had almost 200,000 members. Ten years later, there were more than 50 imitator clubs in North America with more than 3 million participants.

And, of course, there was the ultimate competitor to bookstores: public libraries. Throughout the first half of the 20th century, communities across the U.S. funded the construction of facilities where books could be had for free, albeit only on loan.

Then came the “paperback revolution.” According to Publishers Weekly, word spread at the 1939 American Booksellers Convention that “some reckless publisher” was going to bring out a series of paperback reprints of popular novels to be sold for only a quarter a piece. The industry was equal measures aghast at the nerve of such a plan — American readers had proved notoriously resistant to paperbacks — and terrified that it might succeed. Major publishers fretted that, if the books proved popular, the reprints would kill hardcover sales of the featured titles. Most booksellers refused to stock the series, unwilling to compete with their existing inventories of full-priced books.

Undeterred by the negative buzz, publisher Robert de Graff advertised his New Pocket Books directly to readers with a mail-order coupon system and to wholesalers who sold magazines to newsstands and grocery stores. He touted his books as small enough to be carried in a pocket or purse and “as handy as a pencil, as modern and convenient as a portable radio — and as good looking.”

The industry watched with amazement when the books sold like wildfire. Skeptical publishers couldn’t remain aloof for long in the face of such obvious success and rushed to produce their own lines of paperback reprints.

Read and learn more

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10/15/2011

The Transubstantiation of the Printed Word


Physical bookshelf space was a bottleneck … really an inefficient flaw … under the old printed word publishing model. Not only bookshelf space in the bookstores, but also bookshelf space in the homes of buyers with limited space.

There is a solution, albeit one that will be resisted by some.

This by Mark O’Connell in The New Yorker:

The Book Scrappage Scheme

In a panel discussion on the continued rise of e-books at the Frankfurt Book Fair last week, Evan Schnittman of Bloomsbury Publishing made an obvious but nonetheless important point. “Print has an inherent flaw,” he said. “It needs shelf space.” It’s a truth that most readers bump up against at some point, especially those who live in small apartments and have to undertake periodic culls in order to free up space for new acquisitions. A company called 1Dollarscan, however, has come up with a somewhat radical solution to this problem. To bibliophiles, this particular cure might seem worse than the disease, but there’s no denying that it is a practical solution to a practical problem. Here’s how it works: you ship them your books, and they scan and digitize them into fully searchable PDF files before recycling the hard copies (i.e. pulping them). As the company’s name suggests, they charge a dollar for every 100 pages they digitize. The service’s appeal is obvious. You free up shelf space for new books (or for things other than books) and you get to keep the actual text itself, which you can access on a computer, tablet, e-reader, or smartphone.

1Dollarscan is the American outpost of a service called Bookscan that has been running successfully in Japan since last year. (Here’s a video of the process in action; it’s in Japanese, but you’ll get the idea.) Like most of his compatriots, the company’s founder, Yusuke Ohki, inhabits a very small living space. In 2010, he decided that his two thousand or so books were occupying more of his tiny Tokyo apartment than he was willing to put up with. He was also concerned about the prospect of his two young children being buried under an avalanche of paper and toppling shelves in the event of an earthquake. “There were lots of news in Japan that bookshelves were falling over in bookstores,” as he told Forbes, “and that people died after being stampeded by books after huge earthquakes.” He decided to scan his entire library into his iPad before getting rid of all the hard copies. Within months, he was running a company that did something similar for the paying public, and employing a staff of a hundred and twenty to do the scanning and shredding. The company took off partly on account of the Japanese e-book market lagging far behind that of the English-speaking world—murky copyright laws, higher prices, and the technical trickiness of rendering Japanese characters on e-reader screens have all been contributing factors. The fear of collapsing shelves invoked by Ohki has surely spread and intensified since the massive earthquake earlier this year; this, too, will have added to the success of his company. In a recent article on 1Dollarscan, the Economist pointed out that the reason the pages are discarded after scanning has to do with “the ambiguous borders of American copyright law.” When a book is scanned for the first time, the company does not retain a master copy; for copyright reasons, it must treat each copy as a unique item. In other words, every time they get a paperback of “The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo” or “The Da Vinci Code,” they have to go through the entire process anew.

Read and learn more

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07/12/2011

Tablet, E-Reader Addicts Also Want Print


Printed Books Still Desired

This is not surprising to me at all … I have posted many times RE the NON-demise of the printed word.

John’s Note: I tried to link to all past posts on ‘printed word’ or ‘print’ but WordPress is giving me trouble tonight! Just go to the “search this site button” at top of this page and enter ‘print’ for my past discussions. 

Oh, the printed word has definitely gone through changes … but, think about it … these changes were brought about by what? Why, the ‘printed’ word itself, of course … only in a different format (digital), that’s all.

A study on this very issue is presented in an article for FOLIO Magazine by Executive Editor Matt Kinsman:

Study Says Tablet, E-Reader Users Haven’t Given Up Print

Few magazine apps in the App Store don’t have at least one reviewer clamoring for a subscription package that bundles print and app, and now a new study from GfK MRI suggests that rather than abandoning old media, tablet and e-reader users might still be print’s best audience.

John’s Note: By the way GfK means ‘Growth from Knowledge’ and MRI means ‘Mediamark Research and Intelligence’

According to the study, tablet owners are 66 percent more likely than the average U.S. adult to be heavy users of printed versions of magazines, while e-reader owners are 23 percent more likely to be heavy print users.

The study also says men are more likely to own tablets while women are more likely to own e-readers (although I still dig my Kindle and I’ll arm-wrestle anyone at GfK MRI or Yudu who makes fun of me).

Read and learn more

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03/25/2011

A Growing Love Affair: Authors and Ebooks


“How do I love thee? Let me count the ways…” Elizabeth Barrett Browning wrote these immortal words and I’m going to borrow them to introduce a counting of the ways authors are loving ebooks more and more!

One of my favorite mentors and writing-publishing-advice-givers is Joanna Penn from that great country “down under”…Australia.

Joanna has put together a comprehensive list of 10 reasons why authors love ebooks and it is so clear and concise that I want to repeat it here. A real eye-opener:

10 Reasons Why Authors Love Ebooks 

You might have noticed that ebooks are being talked about a lot at the moment. The growth of ebook readers and ebook sales plus the success of Kindle authors have made headline news in even the most traditional press. A few days ago, bestselling thriller author Barry Eisler announced that he was turning down a half million traditional publishing deal to self-publish, primarily because of the potential of ebook sales. And do I need to mention Amanda Hocking’s Kindle millionare status?

If you’re not convinced yet, here are ten reasons authors love ebooks and at the bottom, introducing my new multi-media course on ebook publishing if you’re ready to poke your toe into the water.

1) Ebook sales are growing which means the number of readers is growing. I’ve certainly been noticing more ebook readers on the train and also people in my office are buying the new Kindles and loving them. Ebook sales have been reported to be up 115% this year, and even though that’s growing from a small base, the pace of adoption is speeding up. Your book can be available to this growing market.

2) You can reach readers globally. This is amazingly exciting when you think hard about it. Anyone can now publish their book on Amazon.com, the biggest bookstore in the world, or on a site like Smashwords, also open to all.  Anyone can buy your book as long as they have some kind of digital device to read it on. Since Kindle app, Stanza and other apps are now on the majority of smart cellphones, it won’t be long before even the developing world can be reading your books (since cellphones have a much larger penetration than computers). I’m in Australia and yet my major market is in the US, thousands of miles away. Some US authors I’ve spoken to have said how well their books sell in Europe. It’s a small world when our work is digital. Brilliant!

3) You can publish your book within 24 hours – and for free. Speed to market has to be one of the most annoying factors of traditional publishing. It can take 18 months – 2 years to reach bookstores after you’ve finished writing a book. Perhaps that can be chopped down to as little as 6 months but with ebooks, you can publish to the Kindle store within 24 hours. You should absolutely be using professional editing, cover design and formatting but once the book is ready for the market, you can publish fast and easily. Oh yes, and it’s free to publish on Amazon and Smashwords. They just keep a small % of sales.

4) Ebook readers buy more books. I know this from experience as I read at least 3x more books now than I did before because the price enables it. My husband just bought 5 novels over the rainy weekend which he devoured. They were indie priced at $2.99 and so there’s not even a question that’s a bargain. New books in Australia are around $30 each. The price alone means that people will read more books electronically. There are also studies out that show this too, so it’s not just my opinion!

Read and learn more

03/23/2011

Tablet Computer World to Explode to 200 Million/Yr Sales by 2014!


More Tablet Computers Coming!

Good news for writers and publishers…but a vastly more crowded dance floor for the Apple iPad.

Why is this good news for writers and publishers?

Simply because of the HUGE rebirth in the popularity of reading that the tablets (as well as the singular e-readers such as Kindle) have generated.

AND, the resulting demand for constant new content.

PLUS, the ease and speed of access to books and all other written media COUPLED with the ever-increasing streamlining of the actual publishing process.  

I have some numbers tonight that will rock your socks! A study conducted by PRTM (PRTM = Pittiglio, Rabin, Todd & McGrath, by the way) claims that there are 104 tablets currently for sale or in development. With 17 million tablets sold in 2010, PRTM forecasted 200 million tablets to be sold annually for 2014!

How bout them figures? 

Stefanie Botelho writes these details in FOLIO magazine: 

Tablet Market Expands With New Competitors

Samsung and RIM will release tablets within the next four months.

RIM and Samsung have announced release dates for their versions of the tablet computer, with the RIM Blackberry Playbook on sale on April 19th and the new Wi-Fi version of the Samsung Galaxy tablet line launching June 8th.

Both companies are looking to grab a hold of a piece of the iPad-dominated tablet market. Apple’s second version of the iPad was unveiled in San Francisco on March 2nd, and shipped March 11th. Reportedly, Apple sold 14.8 million iPads in 2010.

The RIM PlayBook will feature a 7 inch screen, Flash compatible video and front and rear cameras. The 16GB version will be available for $499, a 32GB for $599 and a 64GB with a price tag of $699.

The PlayBook will have Wi-Fi capabilities, but they cannot utilize 3G without being connected through a Blackberry phone.

Read and learn more

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03/08/2011

Inside the Numbers of Digital Content…Making It Pay


I’ve always thought (hell, make that knew) that ‘content’ was king…and, therefore, the basic ingredient to any successful writing/reporting venture online OR off.

The trick in the new online, digital paradigm was making it profitable…Therein lies the rub. 

It’s not too often that an insider gives up any real tangible figures or metrics highlighting just how their business is doing…where it started from and how it is becoming successful. 

Surprise!  Henry Blodget (pictured), CEO of financial news and analysis site Business Insider (which was just named a Top 25 Financial Blog by Time.com) has done just that in this article for FOLIO magazine by Matt Kinsman:

At FOLIO:, we’re used to having to cajole publishers to share metrics to back up the case they’re making for their own success. But every now and then someone lays it all out, understanding that solid revenue, net income and EBITDA (Earnings Before Interest, Tax, Depreciation and Amortization) figures go a lot further than phrases like “synergy” and “relationship with our audience.”

Kudos then to Henry Blodget, CEO of financial news and analysis site Business Insider (which was just named a Top 25 Financial Blog by Time.com), who shared the type of proprietary financials that keep most PR heads up at night in a post making the case for the viability of “digital news” as a business. (The admissions come on the heels of Huffington Post’s $315 million sale-or as one talkbacker to Blodget’s post wrote, “The headline on this post should be: Dear AOL, For your consideration, we’re an excellent Web property too!”)

The stats: Business Insider generated $4.8 million in revenue in 2010 (up from $39,495 a couple years ago), mostly from advertising. The company was profitable in 2010 (making $2,127), but Blodget warns it will dip back into the red over the next few quarters, due to aggressive investment, spurred in part by New York State’s capital tax. “Making $2,127 feels about 2,127 times as good as losing money,” he writes. “And it makes us confident that, if we keep working hard, and we keep getting better, we’ll be able to build a successful business and a truly great product someday.”

The Costs Of Making Online Content a Real Business

While we’re definitely in the “aggregation”-oops, sorry, I meant “curation” age-many online startups are investing in staff and resources in creating original content (which is more than can be said for many of their peers coming from traditional media).

Blodget [pictured] acknowledges the knocks against HuffPo’s content (paying a few big name writers while plucking content from low-or-unpaid bloggers, generating SEO-bait) but he also says that with HuffPo expected to grow another $20 million to $50 million in revenue that it “will likely hire a lot more New York Times staffers to go with the ones it has already got. In other words, HuffPo will keep getting better.” (HuffPo did just snap up political writer Jon Ward from News Corp’s The Daily).

Blodgett doesn’t reveal what he’s paying to generate content, but says “We didn’t make that profit because we’re a sweatshop, by the way.” He claims a 25-person newsroom, (which is larger than many magazines which are generating far more than $4 million and splitting four or five people-if they’re lucky–across print AND digital).

He writes

“Our newsroom salaries for full-time employees, for example (which include bonuses and benefits) are now higher than at many companies in the traditional news industry. Because the digital news business is quite different from the traditional news business, we often promote from within, and we’ve had the huge pleasure of watching folks who joined us as interns grow up to take leadership positions. True, we can’t yet toss around the $300,000-$500,000 a year per brand-name columnist that Huffington Post and Daily Beast are now reportedly tossing around. But, in future years, if we keep doing what we think we can do, we should be able to pay our top people a lot more than we do today.”

Read and learn more

 

02/24/2011

Publishers and Digital Content


Duncan Stewart, Director of Technology, Media & Telecommunications (TMT), Life Sciences and GreenTech for Deloitte Canada Research, has written an article for The Globe and Mail (a Canadian news site) titled Publishers of digital content face uphill battle; then proceeds to show the opposite in the body of the article!

At least he does so in this writers humble opinion.

Duncan begins by pointing out how the brick-and-mortar-ink-on-paper publishing industry has had a bad time due to digital innovation during the last few years (he is an ink-on-paper book fan)…Then, through relating his own very formidable reading habits while on a business trip for Deloitte in France, Belgium and Turkey, details how he reluctantly began reading much more accessable digital content.

Sounds like publishers of digital content just may be on the downhill side of any battle. He does touch on digital publishers’ dissatisfaction with some of the evolving digital distributors’ pricing models for subscriptions, etc…but, these kinks will all flush out with the oncoming deluge of more keen competition…Just growing pains.

The point is, digital publishing has arrived and is gobbling up market share.

Don’t get me wrong, I still feel that ink-on-paper books will always be with us…as will (mostly indy) bookstores…Just as one of many other players on the block and with totally revamped and more efficient distribution models (such as POD, more tech paper, etc).

Here then is Duncan Stewart’s fine piece, Publishers of digital content face uphill battle:    

The publishing industry has not been having fun in the last few years. Newspapers, magazines and books were hurt by competition from the Internet and the changes caused by consumers choosing digital content rather than traditional ink on paper. The industry has literally been decimated: roughly one in ten developed world publishers from 2006 isn’t even around any more.

With two of the world’s largest tech companies, Apple and Google, wooing them with new subscription pricing plans last week, one might think their business is about to get better.

One would be wrong, listening to the publishers’ comments in the press.

Before we get to that, let me share a story about my recent travels and reading habits. For the last two weeks I was giving a series of Predictions talks for Deloitte in France, Belgium and Turkey: trains, planes, and my suitcases were already close to 23 kilos! On only my third day, I finished the last book I had packed, and snagged the last Stieg Larsson book and David Mitchell’s latest, The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet at Gagliani, a great English language bookstore in Paris.

By Turkey, I had finished those and English bookstores were not to be found. Although I am old fashioned and prefer paper books, my iPad was starting to look like the best, or at least the only, choice. In the mood for some trashy thrillers, I saw that Alistair Maclean’s entire oeuvre (if one can use that word about his novels) was available as eBooks.

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12/02/2010

Digital is Growing Up


A little visionary post tonight…As much as I can envision the future anyway (being retarded makes it difficult).

We talk about “traditional” print publishing today as old hat. Well, not too far into the future the new tablet computers, eReaders and other mobile devices will be “traditional” or old hat also. Just like the old bulky camcorders (remember them?) have given way to more diminutive devices.

After all, who will need ANYTHING you have to carry to compute on, or receive data on, when you will probably be able to think, or command in some other way, data molecules right out of the air into holograms for such tasks!

Ouch! All this prognosticating has left me drained! But, to get back to the present, just how is the state of digital publications doing after their first introduction about 10 years ago (damn has it been that long)?

Here is an article by Matt Kinsman of FOLIO magazine that examines the “Digital Editions: The State of the Industry”:

As the digital edition industry near 10 years of age, Nxtbook Media recently wrapped a survey called “Digital Editions: The State of the Industry,” which polled 233 publishers on their overall satisfaction with digital editions as audience tools and revenue generators, and how mobile apps and tablets will influence their strategy going forward.

Interestingly, Nxtbook concluded from the results that there is great latent potential in digital magazines from the perspective of the publisher. In terms of priorities, Nxtbook believes, publishers are more focused on increasing circulation for digital magazines and selling advertising more effectively into the format, than they are on apps and mobile solutions.

When it comes to the circulation of their digital magazines, about 40 percent reported modest to great satisfaction. On the other hand, 38 percent were somewhat dissatisfied while 22 percent were quite dissatisfied.

However, b-to-b publishers seem more pleased with digital magazines at this point than their consumer counterparts, with 50 percent saying they are somewhat to greatly pleased with their digital circulation.

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