Thursday, May 31, 2007

Sign of the times

“Are you watching I am on the screen over here? Now what is your name ?”
Next the pen writes and signs the book and your favourite author has saved themselves the journey and they haven't even left home!

This week comes the announcement that Dean Koontz is to perform his first ever UK book signing in Waterstones Piccadilly on 23rd June while he remains 6,000 miles away in his home in Los Angeles. Just think you will not only see the man but how he lives and his soft furnishings.
The LongPen technology was first unveiled at last year's LBF and again this year and is too be used by many at this week’s BEA. After all who wants to go to New York for a trade show?

So no more gruelling publicity schedules and environmentally unfriendly air miles or car journeys. But will it really be the same?

Even the rock stars turn up for the street promotions. Should authors alienate themselves from their fans or is this actually increasing their appeal? Will their be a two tier signing schedule – the virtual one for the famous and the physical one for the not so famous? Will the events be restricted to the chains and big stores who desperately need something to pay for the footage and not touch those smaller stores who make signings successful?

Amazon to provide 'lightening' service on POD

Amazon Booksurge subsidiary has announced agreements with major publishers including; HarperCollins, John Wiley & Sons, McGraw-Hill, Pearson, Springer, Gale, Oxford University Press, Cambridge University Press, Princeton University Press, SAGE Publications, Kensington, Hal Leonard, LexisNexis, and the International Step by Step Association (ISSA).

Booksurge aims to follow a true print on demand mode and not the current short print run dominated one. It aims to deliver next day and therefore the same service as it offers physical books.

It will therefore be interesting to see how this works out in a world where the rights reversal debate is all about the long tail on demand and being never out of print and the environmentalists have yet to wake up to the facts that although it cuts down on the current ‘print just in case’ over production, POD paper is far from ‘green’ and the process is very environmentally un friendly.

Friday, May 25, 2007

The Cat's out of the Bag

Following on from our blog earlier this week there is now lots of fresh noise around rights reversals.

This classic quote from the Bookseller Bulitten of yesterday ‘S&S Uk could follow parent’s rights grab’ ‘UK publishers, meanwhile, are calling for the whole concept of rights reversion to be heavily revised or even scrapped. "Why should it be that way? If you buy a house and you don't go to it, you don't stop owning the house," said one publishing c.e.o.. "It seems to be based on a weird notion of punishment, where you're punished for not trying hard enough." ‘

Its understandable that the publisher wished to remain unknown, with a arrogant quote like that I would too.

Authors create the wealth and content, others merely add value to its development, marketing and distribution to the consumer, who pays and are the only ones who put money in. Authors will use publishers to get exposure and maximise their revenues and opportunities but once a book is past its attention span they should be able to reclaim their rig, is wrong. It does not maximise the opportunities for the two people that actually count – the author and the consumer. The author gets lost in history and although they may be found via a search engine their creation is out of their control. The book may have been a huge success in its day but the publisher has no intent to promote it again to a new audience. The consumer also can’t enjoy it as they will never find it. The marketing theory that new is good and deserves money and attention and old isn’t is strange at a time when the classics are been rejacketed and produced by everyone standing.

The real threat is that the technology is providing the opportunity for authors to do more themselves. They can promote themselves and sell they content direct through pod models. Maybe the publishers are merely trying to get the cat back in their bag?

We already have the Ophan works Act in the US, or to the cynic, the licence to hoover or google old works or scan first ask later. We all know how hard it can be to establish copyright ownership after time once works go out of print. Given all this, why can't a sensible and fair solution be found and the rectric become positive and less adverseral.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Facebook Leaps Forth

At a time when all marketing eyes are either watching the move by the search engines into traditional advertising space or experimenting with social networks comes the latest figures on the later’s performance. It appears that not just the Labour party’s hopeful Deputy Leaders are using this channel.

According to a Hitwise report, MySpace still accounts for roughly 79% of social networking traffic. However, since the September 2006, Facebook has experienced a traffic increase of 106%! We must however note that they opened up their collegiate service in this time to all Internet users, so the increase may just be a blip.

Year over year growth is signioficant with Facebook 126% traffic increase and 184%. Again these figures look astounding but must be viewed in terms of their positions as relative new startups. The I nteresting insight is that MySpace accounts for roughly 24% of the traffic that hits sites such as Bebo, Facebook and Imeem. So social networkers are not satisfied with using only one platform and users appear to join all the new spaces as a way to meet even more people.

The message to online marketers is that the sector is growing and that there appears to be a clear need for users to maximise their reach to their ‘friends’. It will be interestingtoi see if this is that same with respect to other growing site Second Life.

Amazon Buys Brilliance

Amazon has acquired Michigan audiobook publisher Brilliance who have a catalogue of over 1,000 audio titles and releases 20 to 40 new titles a month.

Amazon's subsidiary CustomFlix will now support both standard CD and mp3-CD audiobook formats in its "disc on demand" service which produces audio titles on CD on demand. The question it raises is when this model will flip into audio downloads. Was Brilliance bought for it content and list? Does this now make Amazon a publisher and fill in the last space in the value chain?

Reality is that it is probably now time that Amazon wants to stop referring audio customer to Audible and the move is one more part of the jigsaw before Bezos takes on Steve Jobs’s iWorld.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

DK travel to create 'My Guide'

We all said that travel would be one of the first trade genre to move at speed into the digital era and further evidence of this was seen this week with their announcement that they will provide flight search functionality on their web site and enable consumers to create their own guides.

The personalised guides are clearly a move towards ‘My Book’ and will feature maps, travel tips and guides to local attractions. My Guide will be standard A5 format and printed on perfect bound, glossy paper. The price is unclear and whether the consumer will contribute their pictures, comments and ratings remains in the future.
Visitors can already produce their own PDF versions of the guidebooks and it envisaged that the new glossy versions will be available within days of ordering and will be more user-friendly.

It is easyto question whether retaining the ‘book’ concept is appropriate and whether a glossy bound book is required over a loose leaf compilation. Irrespective bold steps are being taken and it now down to establishing the sales channel and consumer awareness.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Who's Copyright is it?

Today we read from the excellent Booksquare blog about Simon and Schuster’s approach to changing the rules about rights reversals. It is reported by Booksquare that Simon & Schuster have announced that it is changing its standard contract to retain rights to a book for the entire length of a copyright. Simon & Schuster recognise they will now own the rights to a work and are able to distribute it for 70 years after the death of an author for works created after 1978. This change raises many questions, such as, whether electronic rights are deemed subsidiary rights or remain primary rights and the impact of this change on royalties and permissions in a fragmented world.

Authors, by default and law, own the copyright to their work. Publishers merely acquire the right to publish or distribute the author’s work.

Publishes will argue that the move is good for authors and that the technology now enables this natural change. They are all embracing print on demand technology and this in turn is presenting by the authors and publishers the opportunity to keep their books alive, available and selling in the marketplace in a way that was not previously possible. The new Simon & Schuster language essentially means that as long as a book exists in the publisher’s “catalogue”, the publisher owns the rights.

Let’s get real. Publishers make mistakes, not all books make it first time round and some need a second opportunity. This could be viewed as locking up the art works in the vaults merely for the sake of owning them. The majority of contracts today enable the rights to revert back to the author once the title has gone out of print. There may be a period where the reprint is under consideration but once out of print the option exists but in the world of POD, titles may remain always “in print” and this now makes this a major digital issue. Will the publisher continue to market and actively sell the “long tail” of titles as they move from in-print to POD, or just put it on the pod bookshelf and deprive the author of republishing it with someone who cares about it and is willing to invest in it? Will they literally sit on it and wait for the search engines to find it and collect the money for nothing.

We could work together to protect the interests of the creators of wealth, the authors, or as we fear , just turn a blind eye and hope that fair practice will prevail

Monday, May 21, 2007

So where do you advertse?

An interesting article from Gavin O’Reilly in the Independent last week. He argues that far from the death of newsprint the industry is seeing increased circulation and advertising.”These days it is nearly impossible to find a media analyst who actually reads a newspaper or who can see anything other than doom and gloom for the industry.”

He cites circulation not just in India and China, with paid circulation growing globally by 1.9 per cent in 2006, with sales of 510.4 million copies a day. The number of paid-for titles he reports are at a record 11,142, up 3.1 per cent on the previous year. The there is the rapid growth in free dailies - titles such as thelondonpaper, 20 Minutes, Metro and the rest - which together distribute 40.8 million copies a day.

Finally he states that newspapers and magazines are actually the largest advertising medium with a combined 42.3 per cent share of the market.

Interestingly, UK research company TGI, claim that newspaper readership has grown by 2.1 per cent over the past five years, with readership among 15-24 year olds growing by 6.9 per cent and readers over 65 growing by 3.7 per cent.

The key to media exposure he states is the time that people spend reading, watching, using or listening to that particular medium. US private equity fund Veronis Suhler Stevenson, claim that for every hour of TV viewing, advertisers spend $40.1m (£20.2m). For each hour of radio they outlay $19.3m (£9.7m) and for the internet advertisers only spend $65.4m (£33m).

Interestingly, newspaper advertisers spend $316.3m (£160m) for every hour of reading, eight times more than TV. He claims that this reflects the quality demographic that a newspaper delivers.

What is clear is that there is no silver advertising bullet. No one media that kills all others. What we can see is that advertising is getting supposedly smarter and starting to target consumers based on know likes and dislikes and it is inevitable that the internet has the relationship and technology to do this best. However, cost and audibility are key and no advertiser will choose only one channel to their campaign and therefore as the search engines hover up new players they must also get into all channels.

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.

Saturday, May 19, 2007

The Goose has laid its Golden Egg

According to the latest Internet sales statistics from Interactive Media in Retail Group last months sales rose 55% on last year to hit £3.47 billion and they also passed the watershed £100 billion mark. The first retail internet stores are only 12 years old and WHS was one of the first and they now generate more sales a month than all the West End of London stores do in a year!

When the Internet first appeared most retailers shunned it, said it offered little return, was risky and pointed to Amazon and said no thank you. The booktrade was no different and although WHS was followed by the other chains the effort was often half hearted. We must remember that WHS actually bought up The Internet Bookshop, a very successful starter and one that offered a clear brand but then merely merged it into their offer and lost its real potential to take on the likes of Amazon. Many accountant would lok at Amazon and see one goose and not see the golden egg let alone undersand the positive cash flow, global branding and potential marketplace they were building. Today Amazon is everything but a publisher and owns mobibook, booksurge, marketplace etc.

So what about the traditional retailers? IKEA and Topshop have joined the party this last year. Travel now accounts for the largest consumer spend with the likes of and The largest retailers are Amazon, Tesco, Dell and Argos.

What will the next 12 years offer? Who will dominate this landscape then and more interestingly what business models will porevail.

Health Warning as Internet Advertising is Bought-up

In the struggle for advantage in the digital advertising boom the search engines are buying up online advertising companies, sometimes for eye-popping prices. This week Microsoft agreed to buy the online advertising company Aqauantive for $6 billion, which is Microsoft’s largest acquisition ever. This month Google bought DoubleClick, a competitor of Aquantive, for $3.1 billion. , outbidding Microsoft.
Yahoo recently bought the 80 percent of Right Media that it did not already own for $680 million. The company operates an auction marketplace in which advertisers and publishers buy and sell online advertising space in real time. Also this week, AOL bought Third Screen Media, which operates an ad network for mobile phones, and Adtech, an online advertising firm in Germany. AOL was the first Internet portal to buy a major advertising network,, in 2004.

According to eMarketer, online adverts accounted for 5.8 percent of the $285 billion spent on advertising in the United States in 2006 and it estimates that the online share will rise to 10.2 percent by 2010. As dollars move online, the big Internet companies see a chance to capture an ever-larger portion of the advertising dollar.

Google, which leads the online advertising world, is among those trying to make inroads into Microsoft’s traditional software business by offering word processing, spreadsheets and other software free. Quantive, which is based in Seattle, will bring many advertisers to Microsoft.
The technology helps Web publishers earn the most for the ad space available on their sites.

The recent deals are also blurring the lines between the big Internet companies and traditional advertising companies and last week the WPP Group bought 24/7 Real Media, another DoubleClick competitor, for $649 million, to compete better with Internet companies.

As we see business models shifting to advertising based free content these shifts become even more alarming. Imagine if music, videos and even books where available free to download as long as you accepted the advertising feeds. Just like ITV and the other broadcasters it have done for years. What will that do to people who are still trying to sell in the traditional model and what will be the impact on price?

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Winalot, Walkies and Maps

Having spent some very interesting time at the Ordnance Survey partner conference it was alarming how little one knew about the world of maps and cartographers. The innovation and usage of mapping information goes far beyond those folded and infamous explorer maps. The organisation supplies geographic information for business supporting through their effective partner programme; emergency services, government, health, insurance, land and property, retail, transport, utilities, wireless and communications.

The map sector is now a classic case of a sector that was joined together by one format, paper, that is now diverging with digitisation. Different market segments need different information, delivered on potentially different devices and in different formats and also different levels of detail. The business is now having to react to diverging segments. What is clear is that the old A1 sheet and grid system is not relevant in the digital world. It begs the question that if they could break out of the old paper and grid paradigm and get the paper sizing down to say A4, the opportunities for print on demand are clear for all to see. Everyone now wants ‘My Map’ and the pricing has to recognise that Google and other are free and that business models, particularly in the consumer world are changing.

When you hear about the increasing level of GPS navigation, the proliferation of devices and their potential uses, one can only sit back and wonder how our bodies are going to cope with this bombardment of electronic waves let alone information on tap. Forget privacy the equipment that is already deployed and planned for cars makes one wonder if driving will ever be fun again and whether your every move will be logged in some huge databank in the sky.

However, the real gem was when a marketing executive eluded to a new partnership opportunity with Winalot. Yes, the dog food manufacturer. Maps for dog walkers aimed at showing them all those exciting walks they may have missed and no doubt where the nearest pooper bin is. At this point I wondered whether I was dreaming or the kids had truly taken over the chocolate factory.

Whether the Guardian ever wins its campaign to privatise the Ordnance Survey is immaterial as this organisation and sector face some huge digital business challenges which by their nature change the shape and potential make-up of the organisation.

Map information is a whole new world.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

We read today about the The Lulu Blooker Prize is the world's first literary prize devoted to "blooks"-books based on blogs or other websites, including webcomics.

It comes on the back of many news articles on publishers chasing the blogshere for new authors, content and fresh thinking. Can we now expect the blogshere to soon resemble the slushpile? Are we merely moving from one pile to another? We those who fail to get attraction still be able to live on the ‘long tail’? Will Richard Charkin be offered a book deal on travel and architecture?

The question is whether the blogs will be written by bloggers or people wanting to get attention and promote their longer works. Viral marketing can be a minefield to most but to the savvy social communicators raising their profile is not difficult. This begs the question whether the best content gets to the top or whether it’s those with the biggest community or hits.

A few years ago I was invited to a conference with top BBC managers to discuss strategy. The event wasn’t a small event and I found myself alongside other outsiders with considerable and different media input and thinking. I felt like a traditionalists in my open collared shirt and chinos as the others were aged between 16 and twenty-something, wore their street clothes and had little respect for Auntie and the rules by which she played. They told the executives about the internet world in which they lived and what the BBC needed to do. Interestingly, the BBC reacted, listened and many things that were discussed have impacted on their subsequent strategy. It was a brave approach but a wise one. These executives just didn’t understand what was happening around them.

The people at the edge of this space often are multi dimensional in their content and thinking and will use video, voice, and words to get their points across and market themselves. They may not even use the Queen’s English or care about correct grammar. They certainly live outside of the printed book dimension and offer much to our thinking.

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Joost in Time TV

We have reported before on the new breed to TV services spearheaded by Joost from that innovative team that first created Kazaa and Skype. Joost and a rival, Babelgum, a site backed by the Italian telecommunications magnate Silvio Scaglia are both currently under beta and the initial experience is amazing.

Both sites require a quick download to get started and a continuous Internet connection.
The main difference between these sites and YouTube is that the content is full-length and professionally edited. YouTube and MySpace only give you short videos with consumers on average only visiting YouTube for 11.5 minutes at a time.
Advertising rules. Joost requires you to register our age, gender and other details, and both Web sites say they will monitor your viewing patterns. Joost has already signed up more than 30 major advertisers and within a few minutes of logging on to Joost, ads will appear.

The service is multi dimensional and enables you to chat online as you watch TV – true multi tasking! Well maybe, if you are by yourself. It is very easy to see it taking off in the US where the TV is never off and the sound bite a way of life.

BT Vision this week starts to promote its new broadband services in the UK. They are backed by Microsoft and Phillips and are focused at pushing broadband boundaries TV, demand services and much more through their free set boxes and integration services.
We are certainly entering a new era of television and what will that mean to how we socialise, communicate, access on demand services? Ultimately will broadband provide all home services and wi-fi all mobile ones? What will that mean re the devices that will prevail?

We are not only witnessing the convergence of delivery technology but also of content itself and this presents one dimensional publishers with some interesting challenges!

Saturday, May 12, 2007

Thomson Education Sold

The long awaited and much talked about sale of Thompson’s educational business has been concluded. Apax Partners, a private equity group, and an Ontario-based pension fund, will buy Thomson Learning and textbook provider Nelson Canada.

The sale price of $7.75bn sailed past analysts' forecasts and will give Thomson a large cash boost to help fund its purchase British news agency Reuters, which could cost $17.5bn in cash and shares.

The sale is part of Thomson's strategy to offload its higher education and library reference material division, announced last October. It follows hot on the heels of the sale of Harcourt to Pearson and clearly demonstrates that the publishing giants, Reed Elsevier, Thompson and Pearson are now focusing on their markets and growth. In doing so they will continue in their migration from publisher to content workflow providers and embed themselves deeper into their market’s eco systems.

iPod News with a Difference

MacNewsWorld threw up two interesting articles on that fashion icon this week.

Invasion of the Killer iPods?

First there is the question of health risk. A study from the Thoracic and Cardiovascular Institute at Michigan State University has raised concerns about the possibility that iPods could cause pacemakers to fail.

The study is questioned on several grounds but the headlines were rather scary and reminisant to those that questioned if mobile phones scrabbled ones brains and the more recent reports on the effect.

A presentation made Heart Rhythm Society's annual meeting in Denver this week heard that electrical interference of pacemakers was found about 50 percent of the time when an iPod was held within several inches of a patient's chest for five to ten seconds. Interfere with the implanted devices was even found when they were held 18 inches away and one pacemaker completely stopped functioning.

Many questions were raised about the study not testing other portable music players, or that the research failed to determined which pacemakers were most affected and of course the impact of all the other electromagnetic field disturbances that surround us.

One wonders whether in the near future we may see a health backlash against some of the technology we take for granted and use today or whether given commercial pressures and ownership we may never really know?

Show me the way to Amarillo

Welsh computer researchers at the University of Wales, Swansea have developed a hybrid MP3 player and sat-nav for pedestrians. Instead of urging listeners to "turn left in 100 yards," the device turns the volume down in one ear to prompt walkers in a particular direction until they reach their destination. The destination can either been preset, or be one that the device knows the user might like.

If the user is heading in the right direction, the music is clear and strong through both headphones. But if the user needs to change direction, the balance changes, with clarity and volume shifting to the left or right ear according to the direction to be taken.

Imagine your device knows that you like coffee, it can give a 'nudge' when they're in the vicinity of a coffee shop. If the user decides to follow the cues to see what the device thinks is of interest, the system will then guide them to the destination. If users ignore the hints, the device will stop nudging until it comes across something else of potential interest. Imagine walking down a busy high street, you may be nudged from pillar to post.

Swansea University's three-year project to look at the navigating MP3 player, which uses GPS (global positioning system) satellite technology, begins later this month.Funded with a grant from the UK's Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council, the research is being undertaken in collaboration with Glasgow University in Scotland.

Friday, May 11, 2007

Video killed the radio star?

When Mike Batt wrote the words to the hit song he certainly did envisage to success of digital radio. Listening figures for the first quarter of 2007 from Radio Joint Audience Research (RAJAR), show some significant rises:
• 33.5 million listeners across the UK tune into BBC radio services every week
• BBC Radio One figures were up quarter on quarter 300,000 and almost 850,000 year-on-year. Some 10.55 million listeners now tune in every week, up from 9.73 million a year ago.
• BBC Radio One Breakfast presenter, Chris Moyles now reaches more than 7 million listeners every week. Audience has increased on the last quarter by around 240,000 and year-on-year by 750,000.
• Thanks to Freeview and cable, 20 million people in the UK (41 per cent of the population) have listened to radio via their TV. (22.5 per cent are tuning in at least once a week).
• The Internet has resulted in 24.3 per cent of the UK population now listening to radio via this means, up from 20.8 per cent a year ago. Of those, 13.4 per cent tune in at least once a week.
• DAB Digital Radio set sales are growing with 19.5 per cent of adults in the UK own a set, up from 16 per cent three months previously.
• Podcasting.- 18.4 per cent (or 27.3 per cent of the population) listen to radio podcasts with some 27.3 per cent of the population now owning an mp3 player. 5.3 million listeners tuning in every week.
• The BBC Digital Radio portfolio reaches around 2.7 million listeners every week with BBC World Service generating 1.4 million weekly listeners.
• Commercial stations are also very popular. The biggest stand-alone digital station is EMAP owned, The Hits, with 1.2 million listeners.
• Surprisingly, or perhaps not, just eight per cent of the UK adult population listen to radio via their mobile phones. This figure is pretty static quarter-on-quarter, but up from 6.4 per cent a year previous.

If digital radio is enjoying this rejuvenation then can the booktrade exploit it further. Books have long been reviewed and presented on radio but is there a ‘Richard and Judy’ opportunity? Alternatively can radio offer a real distribution digital download channel? Whatever the answers it is clear that digital radio is the background sound to many lives.

Advertise to your friends on Facebook

Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook’s founder

Facebook, the social networking Web site, which has 22 million active users, has announced that it is adding free classified ad listings, putting it into competition with many others.

More than half of it users are in high school or college and it hopes that the new feature will offer yet another reason for users to return to its site regularly. They claim that more than 60 percent of the site’s active users log in each day.
Facebook is calling the new service Marketplace and it will allow users to create classified listings in four categories: housing; jobs; for sale, where users can list things like concert tickets and used bikes; and “other,” a catch-all. Facebook users who create classifieds can choose to show them only to their designated friends on the service, or to anyone in one of their “networks” — their high school, college, company or geographic region. They can choose to make the listings appear on their profile pages, and send them out on “news feeds,” the automatic updates that appear when users log in to the site.

Charlene Li, an analyst at Forrester Research is quoted, “The advantage of having classifieds linked to a social network is that you know something about the seller. You are less likely to buy a lemon from someone who is a friend of yours.”

Although the Facebook Marketplace is free, it could eventually create some revenue for the company.

Google has three legs

Speaking at the annual shareholder meeting on Thursday, Eric E. Schmidt, the chief executive, of Google stated that their business was organized around three ideas, “Search, ads and apps.”

The first two — search and ads — are well known to shareholders, and they account for virtually all of the company’s success. The third — apps — puts under one umbrella Google’s growing business of offering software. All three resided on the Web, rather than on users’ PCs, and were available wherever there is an Internet connection.

The programs include photo storage, social networking, online calendars, e-mail, instant messaging, word processing and spreadsheets. Most are free, and many compete with paid offerings from others. But Google has started charging businesses for some of them. “That is a business that looks like it is going to grow very nicely for us,” Mr. Schmidt said.

So where are books and bookselling?

The World according to Bill

The prophet came down from the mountain at Microsoft's Strategic Account Summit in Seattle. Of course there were tablets (digital) and there was the controversy one would expect at such an event. So what did Bill say:

"Reading is going to go completely online.” However, he appears to be more focused on the obvious; newsprint, reference and advertising related materials and of course the technology, “somewhere in the next five-year period we'll hit that transition point, and things will be even more dramatic than they are today." Nothing earth shattering there then.

Television will change from a simple broadcast to a targeted medium. Again nothing earth shattering and looking at players such as Joop are clearly showing the way. He says, “ads will be targeted, not just targeted to the neighbourhood level, but targeted to the viewer. ... We'll actually not just know the household that that viewing is taking place in, we'll actually know who the viewers of that show are, and so it's a very rich environment." Reminds one of Big Brother.

On printed newspapers: "The media itself will be quite, quite different. Who can create this media, who can distribute it? How do you find what you're interested in?” No answers here just more of the obvious.

On print newspaper advertising: "The Internet is like a lot of things -- the only sure winner, with the breakthroughs, are the consumers themselves." Is he going to say anything exciting and fresh?

On printed Yellow Pages listings: "The Yellow Pages are going to be used less and less.”

Well I wonder what the audience thought to this. It is ironic as one leader announces his retirement from the political stage another technology leader clings on to his mantle and refuses to go quietly…

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Life on Earth

An ambitious internet Encyclopedia of Life was announced yesterday which will list information on all the 1.8m known species of animals, plants and other forms of life.

An international consortium, which includes; the US Field Museum, Harvard University, Marine Biological Laboratory (Woods Hole), Smithsonian Institution, Biodiversity Heritage Library, the Natural History Museum in London and the Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew are behind which aims to give open access to all, in any language, and develop into a focal point for biodiversity and conservation.

The project has already been in the planning for 3 years and could take another 10 to finish and they have already £30 million in grants to complete the project. The consortium of 10 major natural history museum libraries, botanical libraries, and research institutions have already scanned 1.25 million pages and plan to scan and digitize tens of millions of pages more.

Once complete it could prove a fascinating insight to vanishing species and conservation and will be a must for every educational establishment. It will again raise the issue of open social access versus commercial publishing but should prove a huge source of information to all.

Publishing by Installment

Remember Stephen King’s ‘Riding the Bullit’. The story was released in installments, chapter by chapter for download over the Internet. Some say it was a flop, others that it broke new ground and experimented with new ways to sell and promote the download era. Others will point to Charles Dickens and say ‘nothing new here’.

Today we read that Headline will release Simon Spurrier's first book, Contract, in installments over a six week period from May 24 on the website The book will be available online for a limited period, and from June 4 readers who can't wait to read the whole thing can buy it from the website.

In this age of experimentation this venture is to be applauded if only Bloomsbury could convince JKR to do a Harry Potter in installments or a major author were to take the bold steps again and follow Dickens and King’s lead we may well find the tipping point of consumer demand.

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Reaching out to consumers

We now have books being promoted to consumers! Sounds logical and many will say that has always been the case but the cynic would point to the Bookseller and Publishing News and question the point of spending so much on advertising to the retailer.
We have seen the growth of marketing on underground and press. Then came the podcasts and experiments on MySpace and YouTube and HarperCollins video promotions. We now have news from Simon and Schuster that it is to launch a book video channel called to promote their authors and new releases. The new channel, will launch in early June and will be available online on their website and major video-sharing websites like YouTube.

Simon and Schuster has committed to at least 40 videos, with the possibility of more in the future, that will be two minutes long and focus on the authors and their stories, not so much with the specific books.

It will be interesting to see if these take off through viral marketing and the “community effect” or die in the “so what” world.

Experimentation is essential and reaching out the consumer is obvious and these intiatives should be applauded. The question is making sure that the spend is effective and doesn't tip the balance between profit and loss.

Another Media Format says Farewell

After vinyl came the short lived eight-track but neither could compete with the cassette. Perfected by Philips and effectively given away by them the cassette was first introduced in 1963 and hit its peak in 1989 when 83 million sales of pre recorded tapes were sold.

Was it the compact technology or the Walkman that made this so successful? The answer is not simple as the media was indeed more portable, the walkman was the iPod of its day but probably more important it was the first real opportunity to create your own compilations and share them with your friends. It could store up to 40 songs. Also they were the first way that many could enjoy their own music whilst travelling in a car. 95 million blank cassettes were sold in the UK in 1990.
Now after 15 years of compact discs and latterly digital downloads the time is finally running out on the tape. Currys have now followed Woolworths and HMV in announcing that it will no longer sell tapes.

In the life of media it probably had a good run for its money but its decline in recent years has been marked. In 2000 music tape sales fell to 53 million, by 2005 this was 500,000 last year a mere 100,000.

Interestingly, audiobook tapes still sold 1.5 million units last year in a market that is less impacted by digital downloads today. However, as Currys and others phase out selling hi fi units that can play tapes and cars switch to CDRom and \MP3 docks as standard, it is easy to see the inevitable migration of audiobooks. The question is whether Audible will continue to enjoy their free run at the market and if DRM trends to relax control in music will cross to the book market?

Thursday, May 03, 2007

The Introduction of the Book

There is no way we should go forward without looking back at leasons learnt.

I hope this amusing clip gives you both fun and thoughts about the introduction of ebooks

Many thanks to David Smith for sharing it with me.