Yes! Yes! Yes!
A brand that is in between these two is “Dummies.” It definitely creates a meaningful shortcut for a consumer; they recognize it and it tells them “this book explains the basics on the subject in a way that requires you to bring almost no knowledge to it for it to be useful.” But because Dummies covers many subjects under the sun, it would be difficult to make use of it for audience-gathering or direct marketing the way Harlequin is employed.
You wouldn’t “subscribe” to new offerings, sight unseen, from either Penguin or Dummies. That means that, in at least one very important way, those brands aren’t as useful as Harlequin. Why? They’re too broad. General Motors wouldn’t ever have sold nearly as many cars if they called all the cars “GMs” to create a megabrand and had lost the distinction between Chevrolet and Cadillac. Trying to create “one big brand” if it captures unrelated content or unrelated audiences could be “one big mistake.”
My own theory is that publishers have to completely re-think their imprints in light of the need to move from b2b to b2c. Imprints at big houses are almost always silos with no discernible b2c meaning. In fact, the names of smaller houses, because smaller houses tend to focus on subject areas, can more readily have meaning to consumers.
via Publishers, brands, and the change to b2c – The Shatzkin Files.
Oddly enough my Pecha Kucha session at TOCFrankfurt last year touched on this. I’ve only the slides, must see if I can track down an audio version,
I’ve long been struck by how, despite the ease of creation, publication and distribution, much digital text, from email to blog posts, is in fact essential ephemeral rather than permanent. James Bridle hits on some of this in a wonderful post today that covers his talk at dConstruct2010 in Brighton. Frankly, I wonder how many times I can call James a genius before it gets embarrassing, but he is one and this is another fine example of his impressive thinking.
Which struck me pretty hard, that bit about atemporality, and the flatness of digital memory, but particularly our lack of awareness of this situation. I talked about the Library of Alexandria, and the Yo La Long Dia, and the National Libraries of Bosnia-Herzegovina and Iraq—all examples of cultural destruction caused in part by neglect and willful disregard for our shared patrimony.
These losses, despite their horror, will always happen: but what can we do to mitigate and understand it? In a world obsessed with “facts”, a more nuanced comprehension of historical process would enable us to better weigh truth, whether it concerns the evidence for going to war, the proliferation of damaging conspiracy theories, the polarisation of debate on climate change, or so many other issues. This sounds utopian, and it is. But I do believe that we’re building systems that allow us to do this better, and one of our responsibilities should be to design and architect those systems to make this explicit, and to educate.
via On Wikipedia, Cultural Patrimony, and Historiography | booktwo.org.