Publishing/Writing: Insights, News, Intrigue

09/04/2012

Intense Publishing Intrigue – Fighting for Privacy, Free Expression AND Profitability


Fighting for privacy, free expression and profitability all at the same time is, indeed, intense intrigue. It would turn my hair gray then take it away.

But, these big issues are facing the online social media sites/businesses every day — and how they are handled by the individual sites should determine their success or failure — Especially if they go public — It’s all related to trust of the users.

An example: Can we rely on these sites to publish our content (even unpopular) and protect our privacy; doing all this while still making a profit even if their sponsors are the target of the content? 

Twitter’s top legal beagle, Alexander Macgillivray, a young (40-year-old), Princeton and Harvard trained attorney and seasoned corporate lawyer, will demonstrate tonight how Twitter handles these online publishing problems:

Twitter’s Free Speech Defender  (The New York Times by )

Alexander Macgillivray, Twitter’s chief lawyer, says that fighting for free speech is more than a good idea. He thinks it is a competitive advantage for his company.

That conviction explains why he spends so much of Twitter’s time and money going toe to toe with officers and apparatchiks both here and abroad. Last week, his legal team was fighting a court order to extract an Occupy Wall Street protester’s Twitter posts. The week before, the team wrestled with Indian government officials seeking to take down missives they considered inflammatory. Last year, Mr. Macgillivray challenged the Justice Department in its hunt for WikiLeaks supporters who used Twitter to communicate.

“We value the reputation we have for defending and respecting the user’s voice,” Mr. Macgillivray said in an interview here at Twitter headquarters. “We think it’s important to our company and the way users think about whether to use Twitter, as compared to other services.”

It doesn’t always work. And it sometimes collides awkwardly with another imperative Twitter faces: to turn its fire hose of public opinion into a profitable business. That imperative will become far more acute if the company goes public, and Twitter confronts pressures to make money fast and play nice with the governments of countries in which it operates; most Twitter users live outside the United States and the company is already opening offices overseas.

That transformation makes his job all the more delicate. At a time when Internet companies control so much of what we can say and do online, can Twitter stand up for privacy, free expression and profitability all at the same time?

“They are going to have to monetize the data that they have and they can’t rock the boat maybe,” said Ryan Calo, a law professor at the University of Washington. “I don’t predict Twitter is going to lose its way, but it’s a moment to watch.”

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08/26/2011

Publishing as Manufacturing and the Tribalism of Literary Communities.


Richard Nash - Publishing Entrepreneur

Publishing needs to return to the basic concept of connecting readers with writers … and get away from selling book products to bookstores.

I like this concept! …  And, it is one discussed in an interview titled Revaluing the Book with publishing entrepreneur Richard Nash by Matt Runkle in the Boston Review.

Richard Nash “has created a social-networking platform called Cursor, which allows writers to form literary communities and post their manuscripts for members to read and react to.”

The interview:

Revaluing the Book

Richard Nash, former head of Soft Skull Press, insists that book publishing needs to return to the simple task of connecting readers and writers. He has created a social-networking platform called Cursor, which allows writers to form literary communities and post their manuscripts for members to read and react to. Nash also helms Red Lemonade, Cursor’s first imprint, which publishes work selected from its site. Matt Runkle spoke to Nash recently about publishing as manufacturing, the closing of Borders, and the tribalism of literary communities.

Matt Runkle: There’s a lot of worrying about the disappearance of the book as an object. Do you see the printed book in the same state of flux as the publishing industry?

Richard Nash: If people want something, why do they think it’s not going to exist? Not to get all sort of laissez-faire capitalist about this, but I’m going to have a moment of laissez-faire capitalism here and note that if people want to read the book in its printed form, then I predict there are going to be ways in which they can ensure that they will continue to get it in printed form because people are going to be willing to pay for it.

I mean the reality is that soon enough—even right now, technically—anyone will be able to get a digital version of a book and go and get it made into a physical printed book if they want. I mean right now, whether you’re using the espresso machine or—goodness gracious—3D printing, which is very, very, very much in its infancy, any kind of manufacturing over the next 10, 20, 30, 40 years is going to be able to be done as a hobby. So if you want a printed book, you will be able to get a printed book.

It has been a fascinating phenomenon in the discussion around publishing how adversarial people get around other people’s choices. So if someone says “I like an ebook,” a person will respond “Ohhh, I can’t believe—how can you do that?” It’s like that obnoxious person who you don’t want to go out to dinner with anymore because they can’t just order what they want, they have to comment on what you’re eating as well. What’s been epidemic in this discussion is that when both camps talk about their own preferences, they have to malign other people’s preferences too, and make grandiose extrapolations about the consequences of other people’s preferences for their own. If they like printed books, they should be buying the damn things instead of whining about other people’s preferred mode of reading. So I’m tremendously optimistic about the future of the book as an object. I think the worst years of the book as an object have been the last 50 years. 

What we have witnessed over the last 50 years is the progressive shittification of the book as an object.

MR: Why?

RN: When I started at Soft Skull in 2001 we were printing on 55-pound paper. By 2005, we were typically printing on 50-pound paper. By 2008, half our books were on 45-pound groundwood. And that’s because our print runs were going down. And even with publishers whose print runs weren’t going down, they were trying to save money. Because when the book’s primary purpose was not to be an object, but rather to be a mass-produced item for sale in big-box retail, then there’s going to be downward pressure on costs. And so what we have witnessed over the last 50 years is the progressive shittification of the book as an object—a process that is not external to publishing as it was practiced over the last 100 years, but has in fact been at its fore.

If you’ve got a manufacturing supply chain, then the dictates of manufacturing are going to be the ones that drive the business. And there’s certainly going to be some ad hoc occasional efforts not to do that: certain independent publishers will try to focus on quality, and certain individual books from other publishers might be tarted up for one reason or another, for marketing purposes. But those are the exceptions. Basically, when you’ve got an industry that is pushing out $25 billion worth of physical products into a supply chain, the vast majority of businesses are going to try to cut costs and increase revenues. And the simplest way to cut costs is going to be on the production side. So if the core of the business is no longer a supply chain, but rather the orchestration of writing and reading communities, the book is freed of its obligation to be the sole means for the broad mass dissemination of the word, and instead become a thing where the intrinsic qualities of the book itself can be explored.

MR: How did you come up with the idea for Cursor?

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05/21/2010

Can Social Media Be a Revenue Generating Business for Publishers ?



Social media is a rapidly growing phenomenon…And literally ALL publishing business decision makers are involved; however, they are struggling with just how to monetize the vast potential offered by these sites…As are the little guys, like myself !…But they have a good strategy formulating…

Matt Kinsman, Executive Editor of FOLIO magazine, wrote this insightful analysis in the May 2010 issue of FOLIO:

According to a 2009 Forrester Research study called “The Social Technographics of Business Buyers,” b-to-b buyers and decision makers are among the most active groups in social media. However, monetizing around that participation has been a struggle for b-to-b publishers.

Still, turning social media into a revenue-generating business is a priority for many publishers in 2010. As Cygnus Business Media looks to build value after emerging from its Chapter 11 restructuring last year, one of its top priorities will be harnessing what CEO John French calls “social business media.”

“Social media is the buzz word du jour but just like how everyone talked about Webinars and e-newsletters a couple years ago, everybody finds a new horse to ride,” he says. “We think social business media is as important as those previous developments but it’s a lot bigger. Business-to-business is a form of social media. The difference was in years past, it was done in print. We’ve gone from magazines delivering push content to getting the people out there to get together and talk.”

The next step is figuring out how to monetize social media around communities such as Firehouse.com, Officer.com and EMSUnited.com. As part of the relaunch of its brand, Demers Ambulances wanted to create a social business media “buzz” and purchased an integrated package in order to reach a targeted group of EMS professionals that included ads, e-blasts, blogs booth space, podcasts and Webcasts on EMS Garage.

“Getting manufacturers involved is one of the things we’re working on now, and we don’t have the perfect answer,” says French. “We’re trying to figure out the next best step. Our experience has been, it’s OK for a reader to see advertising from a manufacturer, they know they’re getting the magazine for nothing. The precedent has already been set. If there is an ad message in an online community it’s going to be OK, users realize without this the medium wouldn’t exist. Take the 50,000 people who got a magazine for the last 20 years. They didn’t know at the time but they were the beginnings of the community.”

Read more: http://alturl.com/2cqw

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