Some thoughts on Mike Shatzkin’s thoughts (part one)

Eoin Purcell

Mike Shatzkin* is clever
If you doubt that, read some of this article [hat tip: Joe Wikert’s Kindleville]. There are so many great ideas there that I almost don’t know where to start.

But I have to because it is so interesting
And two do stand out as being very interesting because one is a trend that seems to be emerging in Ireland and the other is relevant to news heard just a few days ago:

4. Publishers will start acquiring specialized Web sites to get content for their books and to target niche audiences. By year-end, every major publisher will need to have an understanding of how to put a value on Web sites, because the old measures—namely, sales and profits—won’t necessarily be relevant and because the acquisitions will be smaller than what the companies would normally consider. The process will be similar to acquiring books, requiring a bit of imagination to see how the deals will pay off.

5. Christmas 2008 will be the first one in which sales of customized books, enabled by the Internet and print-on-demand, will become substantial. Make-your-own books have been creeping into public consciousness for a couple of years: Apple has made it easy to produce one-off picture books and author-services sites like have enabled author-generated books for some time. Travel book publishers have played with the concept. What is new is that technologies like SharedBook are moving make-your-own and assemble-your-own into consumer areas like food and sports. So far, this is outside the mainstream of the book business, but consumers will buy enough of these to create interest among publishers and online booksellers.

4. Is an interesting one
And clearly true. In Ireland alone: Overheard in Dublin, Ice Cream Ireland, Twenty Major and Head Rambles have been tapped for content.

I have good reason to believe there are a few more to come over the next few months. Some I am interested in and hope to put under contract and others that I am sure rival publishers will contract. Although this isn’t exactly the same notion, it does I think touch on it.

I wonder though will G&M actually acquire OverheardinDublin eventually? Should they? It has already generated retail sales of €473,556.37. Even allowing a 60% discount that means the books have earned G&M around €190,000.00 Assume a decent royalty rate of between 10% and 15% Net Receipts and the pay-out is Between €19,000.00 and €28,500.00.

Would it have been worth €50,000 to buy the site and hire its authors, financing the roll out of new products based on each of Ireland’s major cities (and perhaps a few county based ones too: Overheard in Kerry anyone?). I don’t know. If I was them I think I would risk it but that’s me. It would be a fascinating experiment though!

5. has worried me for a while
And I have written about it before too. I suspect there will not be a huge call on this in Ireland but I know that several friends and relatives have already had photo-books printed and I have also used though it is less about publishing (not that the validation it provides for other self publishing forms is not important).

I cannot add much to the debate except to say that there is no reason why Irish Publishers cannot hit this area hard. After all, we could sign agreements with or or even (or any POD Publisher) for access to their efficient and cheap single unit printing and deliver individually tailored books at higher prices to customers at will. Maybe someone will this year.

UPDATE: Random House have done a deal with SharedBook!

I’d like to see some experiments

* Or read this which I linked to before.

Links – 23/01/2008

Visit Gongblog for a series of great graphics on China and India’s role in the world economy. For while I have been annoying one of my good friends with the idea that China has traditionally accounted for about 30% of the world economy and will over time return to norm. Its a nonsense notion in one sense but seems to be emerging as truth. Of course it could as easily not have happened this way since 1920 or so but it has. Interesting.

Lost and Found. One of the best documentary movies I have ever seen. I lost the address, got the address and finally got around to posting it. and sending an e-mail I’d love the answer to be positive on!

Sweet! Stanford University iTunes lectures. Download-a-go-go! [Launches iTunes]

Links of Interest (At Least to Me) 22/01/2008

Walmart hits magazine publishers with a bit of a whammy.

Nice post from Lessig on ideas and the future.

Blurb seems to be rocking the self publishing boat pretty impressively.

How cool are Flickr and the Library of Congress? I wish our own museums and libraries had such an approach.

I’m testing out how well Google Docs works for posting to WordPress. So if this is a little dodgy pray allow some leeway!

Links of Interest (At Least to Me) 19/01/2008

Eoin Purcell

The video is relevant but more on that below:

I don’t know how I missed this but The Editor’s Corner at The Book Depository has a wonderful interview with one of my favourite History writer: Ian Mortimer. Pick of the words (though I’d like to write more later on some of the great lines to do with keeping non-fiction relevant for 40 years):

How could I not grow to like a man who was trilingual, literate, who read history, was the greatest jousting champion the royal family ever produced, travelled further than any other English monarch before the twentieth century, who was politically tolerant (for the middle ages) and who was faithful and dutiful to both his wives. Who used cotton for toilet paper, who had the first known chamber stool and perhaps the first portable clock, who was a ‘sparkling’ musician, and designed his own cannon.


If their recent video hadn’t taught you some respect for Snowbooks then go and read their application for the IPA innovation of the year prize. It’s in a natty PDF download and would be worth reading for the style even if the contents were pants which, I stress, they are not.


Oh no, here we go again. If The Australian is to be believed Ishmael Beah’s A Long Way Gone might be a long tall tale! I wonder if it matters for this one? Seems like a terribly worthy book one way or the other but let’s see what comes of it! [Thanks to PND for linking to this one]


Off topic but great

Eoin Purcell

Some great words from a site the provides some of the best resources out there on the web for the current US Presidential scramble,

The Republican side is tomorrow and too close to call. However, if Fred Thompson comes in 4th, it’s curtains for Fred. He’ll probably drop out immediately, saying some variant of “I didn’t really want the job anyway.” It’s not sour grapes. He never acted like somebody who wanted the job. Romney has poured tens of millions of dollars of his own money into the race. McCain, Huckabee, and Giuliani have all been campaigning like crazy, albeit in different ways. Fred’s been invisible. Lesson: Don’t run for President unless you really want to be President.

Oh and Balleybofey sticks its head into the race: For McCain