Month: June 2010

Lost Sales Opportunities – The Siloing of Marketing (via From the Foredeck of the Titanic)

Interesting post this!

Love the blog too!
Eoin

Lost Sales Opportunities - The Siloing of Marketing Several years ago, I sat in on a presentation made by the CEO of  a publishing company. After a few minutes It was clear to me that he had recently spent time on a long plane ride and was exposed to a Forbes specialty magazine. The buzz word at the time in the business world was “silo” and the goal was to get everyone out of their “business silos” so they could all “work together.” It was a great talk and I actually felt hopeful for that company’ … Read More

via From the Foredeck of the Titanic

What I'm reading: Thirty Years of Woe

Peter H Wilson's Europe's TragedyAs ever my reading list is long with both History and Science Fiction but I think it is worthwhile mentioning a few of the history books here as they are most enjoyable.

The first and best of the lot is Europe’s Tragedy by Peter H. Wilson. There are excellent reviews around so I’ll point you to them rather than write my own right now. I’d point out one small irritant which is that Wilson has a tendency to shift what seems to me abruptly between theatres of conflict. I’m getting used to it, but combined with the huge line up of notable actors in the period, it can make reading harder going that I’d like.

The Telepgraph
Worse than the Black Death, worse than the First World War, worse than the Second World War, worse than the Holocaust – that is how the Thirty Years War lives on in the collective German memory. This is just one of many arresting pieces of information to be gleaned from this colossal history of one of the longest and most destructive conflicts in European history.

The Times
The lead-lined window that sparked it all is still there, of course: you can even open it, and peer down to the dry moat into which the three Catholic imperial counsellors were cast on May 23, 1618 by a group of enraged Bohemian Protestant gentry. The room itself is on the fourth floor of the great Hradschin Palace, which looks over the river to the city of Prague. All is peaceful now, but it wasn’t then; it was the epicentre of a storm that was to engulf much of Europe for the following three decades.

Californian Literary Review
Wilson, whose grasp of 17th century politics and diplomacy is most impressive, makes two significant contributions toward understanding the origin of the Thirty Years War. First, the Holy Roman Empire, which unified the German and Slavic states of Central Europe under Habsburg rule, was a much more effective political force than is generally realized. Differing in organization from a modern nation state, the Empire was an elective monarchy which kept order and cohesion among the component dukedoms, electorates and free city-states.

BBC History magazine
Perhaps most importantly Wilson is an enemy of historical inevitability. The first 300 pages of this book, far from being a countdown to inexorable catastrophe, are largely about why the war should not have occurred. Against the familiar line that a chaotic and enfeebled Holy Roman empire of German principalities, cities and micro-territories was already long past its sell-by date in 1618, Wilson offers a feisty defence of imperial institutions and of their remarkable success during the later 16th century in solving problems of territorial inheritance, religious rights and political rivalries.

One final observation before I leave it for today, the cover for the British and Irish edition is top left and it really is a nice cover but the US edition is really something, far superior and much more attention grabbing so I’ve included it below right.

See what I mean?
Eoin

iBooks For The iPod Touch Quick Review

iBooks I posted the news part of this over on Irish Publishing News but I thought I add some thoughts about it here, where I’m free to comment.

The News Bit
Apple‘s iBooks program is now available for download for the iPhone and iPod Touch, but only after users update their iPhone & iPod Touch operating systems to the new iOS4.

Irish readers do not yet have access to paid titles in Apple’s iBookstore, the iTunes for books, but they can download free Project Gutenberg ebooks to the iPod or iPhone and can also read the free Winnie The Pooh ebook that comes pre-loaded in Apple’s iBooks.

Read The Rest

The Review Bit
First things first, iBooks on my iPod Touch is terribly slow. Slow to load the bookself, slow to load a book once clicked on and slow to respond to gestures. I’m used to that though, I find pretty much all ereading software on the Touch slow. It’s one of my major issues with ereading.

Once you get over that it has some decent features, the Dictionary, Highlight, Note and Search features for instance are pretty damn good and invoked fairly easily. I like them all and find them useful. I expect much more so with books other than Winne The Pooh.

And it’s there that my biggest problem arises. Right now all I can get is free Project Gutenberg ebooks and the free Winnie The Pooh book provided by Apple. Hopefully when the iPad goes on sale we will actually see some recent or new books for sale. There is no word yet on iPad pricing in Ireland but we can assume that it will be close to the price in France and Germany, €499.

The actual reading experience is not noticeably different to Amazon’s Kindle App, certainly not good enough to make me change unless the selection and price is worth the discomfort. Overall I’d say that iBooks is adequate, no better or worse than pretty much all the other ereading software for the Touch. Maybe that will change once I actually use the iPad itself rather than iBooks on the Touch.

Waiting seems to be the theme of the day!
Eoin

Listowel Writer’s Week, Blogging & Paul O’Mahony

First things first, everyone should read Paul O’Mahony’s description of recent events at the Listowel Writer’s Week over at the excellent blog of the festival which he runs in conjunction with Patrick Stack: Listowel Writers’ Week Fringe

The core of his narrative is this section:

I was on my way out of the Michael Hartnett memorial event at about 2.15pm on Sunday when a cross woman came up to me. She demanded ”Have you recorded that session?”

“Yes”, I replied gently – but my heart was starting to beat strongly as I experienced the woman’s anger, the rage on her face.

“Who gave you permission?”

“No one.”

“You are a disgrace. You had no right to do that” – the woman was very agitated and I was nervous.

She reached over and gripped my arm. “How dare you.” Her grip felt fierce. This was in front of at least twenty people including Christopher Reid & Anthony Cronin. I had never met the woman before.

“I’m from the Writers’ Week Committee for 23 years. You are a disgrace. You are not welcome in Writers’ Week.” I felt in a difficult situation: she would not let go of my arm.

Paul is calling for an apology and an assurance that non-one else will be treated in such a fashion again;

I do want an apology. I feel I’m entitled to a public apology from the whole Committee of Writers’ Week – because I want to be assured that the official view and style is completely different from what I was subjected to. I ask the Chairperson of Listowel Writers’ Week Michael Lynch to make this clear in public not for my benefit but for the sake of others in future.

Just to be clear, if Paul didn’t have permission to record the event then his actions, however well intended, were wrong. Both the poets and the owner of the property have the right to prevent him recording. He ought to have sought express permission.

But the reaction to his recording was hugely disproportionate. A quiet request to erase the file or to secure retrospective permission would have been more appropriate.

Paul has never and will never seek to profit from it, his goal is simply to share the experience and help promote the festival online. His fringe blog has been one of the few ways people could track what is a publicly funded festival on a daily basis without attending (something not everyone can do). It is manifestly A VERY GOOD THING for the festival, the poets, the writers, the attendees, those who couldn’t attend and the wider arts community in Ireland and online.

In an age where the greatest danger to artists is not piracy but obscurity, bloggers like Paul should be encouraged by festivals and supported by writers.

I’ll be sending an e-mail to the committee to that effect later today.
Eoin

One Thing EVERY Publisher Should Do (and doesn’t cost a penny)

Lots of publishers have been rolling out new media and social media strategies and yet they are failing to do really basic things. There are some VERY simple things that can improve your site immeasurably and help you promote your company and your website. The crazy thing about these are that Big and Small publishers all fail to do them. And they are effectively free!

This one though has been annoying the hell out if me recently. And it’s so easy!

Have A News Page, Make Sure That Page Has An RSS Feed, USE THE NEWS PAGE*
You could set your news page up as a blog and allow commnets, but even if that isn’t for you, it is non-sensical to have a news page without an RSS feed. News that you post to a static news page just sits there waiting for people to come to it. An RSS feed sends it OUT to people in the place they have decided to READ It. That’s a wonderful permission tool. They are LOOKING for your news when they subscribe to your news RSS.

The Mercier Press News Page is a good example of using an RSS feed to a) let people know what’s coming up and b) getting pictures and news out about book launches and pretty much anything else. If they do anything wrong it’s that they don’t TELL people you can subscribe, I’d change that.

My idea of perfection for this is Little Brown’s UK website where they have an RSS Feed for their News & Events page AND they promote it!

That is all!
Eoin

* For New Pages, read Press Release or Update or whatever you prefer to call it!

Travel Book Sales: This Has To Be The Internet

Travelling Back In TimeThe Bookseller carries an absolutely terrifying story today if you are in travel publishing, on the other hand if you are, the sales are probably pretty clear to you already:

This year travel sales have fallen 10.7% to £22,386,597 (to 17th April) compared to the same period last year. This comes after sales in 2009 were down 26.8% on 2008. Turnover in 2010 is now at its lowest point since records began in 2001.

I’ve commented before that Travel Publishing is in a precarious position when it comes to physical books:

Well I’ve always thought of travel books as the kind of things that will be one of the first real signs of trade books facing change.

Although there are some interesting wrinkles in the market, like Penguin’s performance, an over 30% decline in less than two years (although surely aided by the recession) suggests to me an underlying trend that doesn’t relate specifically to economic change but more to cultural and technological change.

It seems to me that internet research is easily replacing much of what travel books did well. This goes to the heart of the challenged posed by both the internet and Google’s Book Search as I discussed here. Simply put, the internet reduces the demand for new titles especially in areas of non-fiction where information can be found online.

Responding to that challenge is not easy, especially as many of the useful features of books are now already dominated by branded websites offering much more efficient versions of those services, like Tripadvisor. It seems to me that travel publishers need to change their focus away from books with a rapidity that I am sure they themselves understand.

It is a fascinating test case for the rest of the industry!
Eoin

Image Credit
Image Location: Travelling Back In Time
Flickr User ExtremearQ
Used Under A Creative Commons License