Monday, May 21, 2007

Place your bets on the next best seller

So its official publishing is a gambling business and spread betting is real. A very well respected consultant James Lichtenberg who I once had the pleasure of working said the publishing was like two frogs mating. They created millions of spawn, which turned into thousands of tadpoles, which turned into hundreds of tiny frogs, of which a handful made it onto the bank where one was kissed by Oprah and became a best seller. The story being you needed the millions of spawn to make the selection process.

So we hear today that the founders of Media Predict (, and US publisher Simon & Schuster, plan to select a book proposal based on bets placed by traders in the new market.

Media Predict is soliciting book proposals from agents and the public and posting pages of them on the site. Traders, who are given $5,000 in fantasy cash, can buy shares based on their guess about whether a particular book proposal is likely to get a deal, or whether Touchstone Books, an imprint of Simon & Schuster, will select it as a finalist in a contest called Project Publish. If either happens within a four-month period, the value of the shares go to $100 apiece; if not, the share price falls to zero. Traders are not voting on the book they like best, but rather are placing bets on which they think will do well. The success of the site is dependant on it attracting enough traffic to make the bets meaningful. Similar sites in other sectors such as the Hollywood Stock Exchange, are reported as capturing about 25,000 traders a day.