Month: September 2008

Links of Interest (At Least to Me) 29/09/2008

Eoin Purcell

James puts his money where his mouth is to smart and lovely results
Here & Here

Personanondata has a round up on Firebombs and the Jewel of Medina, sometimes I just do not know what goes on in people’s heads.

Newspaper innovation, perhaps.

Having a funny day,


37signals teach us about content

Eoin Purcell

Making Money Twice
Read this. The key quote:

That’s roughly $765,000 over a few years off roughly the same content. Insight and ideas about how we run our business. Blog entries, PDF, paperback, and conferences.

But all of it is worthwhile and important!

I’ve been more awake!

Of digital publishing and goldfish

A Guest Post by Sara lloyd

Sara is the Digital Publisher at Pan Macmillan and you can read her thoughts and those of her team at The Digitalist.

I never thought I’d hear myself saying this, but being a ‘digital person’ in a trade publishing house is rather akin to being a goldfish. I mean, not as in I’m orange and scaley and can only hold things in my mind for a millisecond. Well, maybe the last thing actually. But as in, it often feels like you’re swimming around in this clear bowl; that you’re kind of exposed to all these eyes examining you from the outside world, judging your every move from a vantage point of actually being at least as clueless as you are as to where things will All End Up for publishing in a digital age.

This is great when you boldly come up with controversial visions of the future as in my Publisher’s Manifesto [Part 1, 2, 3] – whether or not any of it will turn out to be correct is irrelevant; it was all stirring stuff and critical of publishers in many ways and so it was roundly applauded. But sometimes it can also become very tiresome.

Thing is, there’s this expectation that all us Digital Publishers should be investing our generous R+D budgets, huge staff resources and inordinate amounts of spare time (spot the ironic tone) into developing lots of ‘cool’ and ‘awesome’ digital stuff. It won’t be entirely clear what the commercial model is for any of it or even whether it makes strategic sense but we must EXPERIMENT! We must stop being so lethargic and plain old-fashioned and stupid. Thus the hoo-ha when publishers were roundly ticked off for not spending any time or effort building a reading app for the iPhone.

Well, you know what I thought about that. And what’s happened since then? As I predicted a couple of reading apps have risen to the surface as particularly popular. My favourite, Stanza, supports the emerging ebook standard format .epub as well as plain old PDF, HTML and various other formats. It’s been downloaded over 200,000 times. It’s free. Anything we’ve converted into any of the supported formats, as long as it’s DRM-free, you can download it and read it on your iPhone. Using Stanza. So, go figure.

The fact is, the reality of being a Digital publisher in a trade publishing house is that you spend a disproportionate amount of your time trying to keep abreast of what the Next Big Thing is going to be and the rest of your time negotiating contracts to even get the rights to begin to do the most basic things. Like, digitising our content in a way which keeps it flexible and as open to future possibilities as we can. It’s not sexy, it’s not cool, but it has to be done. We have a hill to climb and many obstacles on the way. Give us a break!

Sara Lloyd
Head of Digital Publishing
Pan Macmillan

Charkin blog book

Eoin Purcell

On a whim
I flew over to London yesterday afternoon for the launch of Richard Charkin’s book. Macmillan, where Richard was CEO prior to joining Bloomsbury, decided to publish the Charkinblog as a print on demand book (and what a book).

The trip was well worth it. I enjoyed the trip, the event itself and meeting people I normally only converse with digitally. I also bumped into Sara Lloyd, Head of Digital @ Pan Macmillan who promised to, and duly did, send on a long mooted guest post (it will go live tomorrow).

I forgot to take a digital camera otherwise I’d have a few pics. All in all a fine evening and a great book. It’s steep in Euro terms at over €50.00 but worth it.

Winding down for the day,

Bloomsbury buys Berg

Eoin Purcell

More here
Following on from their recent announcement of Bloomsbury Academic, this is a pretty logical move. The database note is also fascinating. They are placing some hefty bets on digital content but in non-trade areas which seems sensible. From the piece:

Oxford-based Berg has a particular focus on books and journals for the academic student market in the fields of fashion, design and culture studies.

It is in the process of creating a major online subscription-based resource, the Berg Fashion Library, for fashion students, lecturers and the broader industry, scheduled for launch in 2010.

Liking the smartness,

A robust response to “the end”

Eoin Purcell

One day sales of: 45,000 in the UK, 1964 in Ireland
I’m still a little in shock! That is one day sales! Chris Paolini’s Brisingr the third in his Inheritence Cycle was released on 20 September 2008 and sold 1964 units that day in two editions.

What’s more the competition was not bad in Ireland. The number one this week was Thanks for the Memories by Ceclia Ahern, released on 15 September 2008 which sold 2411, so you can see how impressive the Paolini result is. John Boyne’s publicity machine and the film version drove sales of The Boy In The Striped Pyjamas to over 2000 units.

All told it is an impressive result.

From The Archive: August 2006 The New Magazines

From The Archives

From The Archives

Eoin Purcell

Inspired by a riffing im conversation with David Maybury it occurred to me that I might with some advantage, link back to some of my archive material and update my thoughts on the topic. Appropriately enough my first choice was this one on magazines and archives. So here it goes.

The New Magazines ~ August 2006

Magazines provide space for longer more considered pieces of journalism and discussion. Admittedly (and this is pretty important when we consider blogs as new magazines) the web provides that facility too but it has limitations.

~ Firstly the archived material of a given blog can be hard to find. This is especially true if it is very old and not highlighted (oddly enough Chris has mentioned these issues on his own blog in a previous post). A good quality magazine could leverage historic content from a blog, expose it to new readers, form a coherent time based archive with a proper index and contents table (requiring only a little forward planning) which would in turn help the blog improve its own archive situation.

~ Secondly while we often have long hours to read magazines too often our access to computer screens is in between meetings, work and other commitments. We have time to consider brief posts but go beyond the 700-800 word range and you encounter trouble in attention and readability (or maybe you don’t let me know what you think). A magazine on the other hand can craft a truly impressive article of 5-10,000 words and be read effortlessly. It will not be until good, cheap, robust and long lifed portable e-reader appear that entirely web based magazine/blog achieves this goal


And where are we now?
To a large extent not much has changed. There have been some initial efforts towards POD in books most recently Faber’s, Faber Finds move. But Random House also offers a POD service as do others.

On the digital front online magazine sites are building large readerships. Mainstream media outlets have started really pushing online development and are succeeding in attracting readers if not in all cases a profitable base quite yet.

Publishers have embraced blogs and communities of interested readers and authors are being built, most successfully at Tor where is proving a wonderful Sci-Fi & Fantasy geek’s haven.

I’ve seen no efforts t sell the printed product as added value though perhaps Penguins e-specials is a prelude to that type of offer.

When you look at what has been achieved by online efforts like Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along-Blog (it is selling very strongly through iTunes and will no doubt sell very well in DVD when it comes out) I think it is fair to say that online popularity can deliver offline sales.

I think there is more to write in this. I’ll need to think it through but this Archives Series has some promise.

Still not depressed about the state of publishing.