Litlove tagged me. As I tagged her recently it would be rude not to post so here goes:
1) To make sense of a confusing period of change in Publishing: By far the most important reason for me is to sort ideas in my mind, write them down have others discuss/argue them and basically make sure I know what I am thinking when it comes to publishing.
2) To find out what others are saying about Publishing: You know it sounds like one but actually it is different. Commentators on this blog have led me far and wide in my search for the changes and the changers that are shaping the industry I hope to work in for many years to come. Reading other blogs has also opened doors to other perspectives.
3) To be part of the conversation: the last thing I’d want is for these changes to happen with no input from me. That way massive shifts might occur without me having any impact. Sure there is little I can do as a single individual but I’d still like my view to be heard and my opinion to be considered. Blogging helps that happen.
4) To help build my profile: This is a guilty one because who likes selling themselves. Let’s face it though, the world is a big place and the more you can build your profile in it the better. I won’t pretend for a second that I am making waves but at least some people are paying attention.
5) Because its fun: I enjoying it. Need I say more?
Now the system strikes me as like xFruits, a similar service that has launched to weak enough take off (perhaps it was a little ahead of its time/has a difficult time getting readership and thus publishers/has no revenue model attached). The site lists only 13620 xfruiters!
It may be an old idea executed well but it is very cool even so!
Which reminds me. You can find my own blog in a nice little PDF here.
Remembering the coolness of reading one’s own words on a nicely formatted pdf! Eoin
You can generally trust O’Reilly to get their priority right
And so it was today. When all anyone else seemed to want to talk about was this, they were considering the merits of CommentPress 1.0 [a new tool from The Institute for the Future of the Book] as:
a potentially significant evolution in blogging architecture
*For a better idea of what exactly CommentPress is read this little piece from the site:
CommentPress is an open source theme for the WordPress blogging engine that allows readers to comment paragraph by paragraph in the margins of a text. Annotate, gloss, workshop, debate: with CommentPress you can do all of these things on a finer-grained level, turning a document into a conversation. It can be applied to a fixed document (paper/essay/book etc.) or to a running blog.
Why do publishers care?
Good question. I suggest we care for the same reason we care about this two pieces of news: A clipping service from Exact Editions and a cheap e-reader.
We should care about the clipping service because someone is building tools to make our online content more useful and easier to utilise. CommentPress is another tool in a growing ecoshpere of tools and services that are making novel and new uses of content more likely. That makes our content more valuable. Seems pretty important to me.
And we should care about e-readers because we need a solid platform for that digital content to reside on. Sure we will get along fine as web-pages that reflow* according to the screen but people don’t always want to be tied to their laptop or PC when reading and that is where the e-reader will come in (if we are lucky).
So ignore the big money, big name news today and dig a little deeper. There is a lot to read about what really matters for this industry. Eoin
The art of selling
Selling Harry Potter takes no work for a bookseller. Yeah they can open at 12-midnight and have a show with owls, yes they can sell it for the incredible price of €8.99 but at the end of the day most people who buy Harry Potter were going to buy it anyway, they just took a greater or lesser share of that Harry market. [Due Disclosure: I bought my Harry for Euro 10.70 in Tesco with no feelings of guilt or badness).
So I was not terribly impressed with the Harry show. But something did strike me as very effective in Waterstones store in Jervis St Centre Dublin. On the first floor entrance there is a three bay bank of staff reviewed books of nearly every possible genre. Some nice shots below:
These are old tricks for Waterstones and good ones too. They are enjpyable to read and very much make me likely to buy. in fact had I not already had my bag filled with six books I was escorting back to Cork I would have bought this book:
It’s a simple tool but the bulk of these books are old or backlist, the hype long since past. There were of course piles of Harry Potter nearby but although there were posters and the rest there was little need to highight it, it sold itself. These books needed effort and as you can see they got it. That’s bookselling and I have to say I admire it.
Call me stupid
But when I signed up for LibraryThing I never really considered the positive effects of the social aspect. Silly me. I guess because I am not a huge convert to social networks (Facebook being the only one to hold my attention for long but still never sucking up the hours social networking does for many). In any case I have watched with a certain detached interest as LibraryThing has rolled more features that lead it into the social network area and I have to say I have been impressed.
Even the latest round of additions seem to flow from a very natural sense of expansion and to grow almost organically around what the user wants and need. The one I like the most is the interesting library feature:
1. Friends and Interesting Libraries. (On your profile.) LibraryThing now offers a number of different “connections” between members. Shared books are still primary, but we’ve added “Interesting Libraries,” “Friends” and “Private Watchlist.”*** Interesting libraries are a one-way thing, although the person you mark as interesting gets a heads-up notice. “Friends” is a mutual connection. “Private Watch Lists” are still private. You can edit your connections, and see who has you on their lists.
Where to though
Where my trouble begins however is in seeing the value of these services. I know that the meta-data coming of the social connections might be useful. I can see how one might enjoy looking over the libraries of a friend or an interesting non-friend mining it for books you feel you would like, but overall I just wonder if they won’t reach the point of banality pretty quickly.
Will the meta-data help sell more book? How many new book ideas can one person actually need? Do I need to reinforce the strong gut feeling I have that I belong to a seriously nerdy subset of the population? Will I actually want to chat about books with someone in Europe who also happens to have a US Civil War fascination (and why so few do escapes me)?
If I was interested in that surely there are many existing forums and newsgroups for that type of discussion, I never joined them because the level of debate was so poor, the absence of evidence other than assertion predominated and the arguments could shift into vitriolic personal abuse with ease. the Talk forum on LibraryThing doesn’t seem to be headed that way but it also just doesn’t appeal to me.
Maybe it is me, in fact I am pretty sure it is me. I like the features, but I just do not see me using them to a huge extent. I much prefer the Early Reader system (is that the publisher or the reader in me).