News

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!

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RTÉ’s US Election Coverage

When theory becomes reality
One thing the internet does is allow organisations provide almost infinite options for their viewers/readers or listeners. You don’t see it too much in practice though.

That’s why I like RTÉ’s US election coverage (*) right now. They have revamped the site so it looks different from the news page: have look here and they have

More importantly they are pulling in material from around the web, provided by others that adds value for their users. The Political Compass, The NPR Feed, The Electoral College Explained and a really nice Electoral College Map and I’ve just spotted they have an electoral vote counter on the main page too!

By far the best element of the site though is the extra content and access to the correspondents and reporters who are in the US. There is a Charlie Bird blog, a Robert Shortt blog that includes some vlogs and a Mark Little blog. That is exactly what a media organisation should be using the web to do, to centralise their content and to pull in the best of the rest.

Very impressed,
Eoin

(*) Some people I know [and like] work at rté.ie so I might be biased. I don’t think so, but I think it’s worth saying.

Bad news: Terry Pratchett diagnosed with rare form of Alzheimer’s

Eoin Purcell

Terry Pratchett diagnosed with rare form of Alzheimer’s

Just terrible news. But he seems to be taking it well:

We are taking it fairly philosophically down here and possibly with a mild optimism. For now work is continuing on the completion of Nation and the basic notes are already being laid down for Unseen Academicals. All other things being equal, I
expect to meet most current and, as far as possible, future commitments but will discuss things with the various organisers. Frankly, I would prefer it if people kept things cheerful, because I think there’s time for at least a few more books yet :o)

Unsettled
Eoin

Hat-tip to Mediabistro

BBC Worldwide buys Lonely Planet

Eoin Purcell

Seems like a good buy to me
For details read here or here or here.

I have been noticing that Lonely Planet has been extending its brand very subtly recently. For instance moving into non-specific travel books like this one or this one and launching a nice set of pictorial books too. The combination of BBC Worldwide’s broadcast power, the excellent content that Lonely Planet has between its photo archive, author bank and general travel knowledge, will make for an impressive product going forward.

In fact, TheBookseller.com carries the story and has a great quote from BBC Worldwide c.e.o. John Smith:

This deal fits well with our strategy to create one of the world’s leading content businesses, to grow our portfolio of content brands online and to increase our operations in Australia and America.

“The possibilities of the web + great content = compelling argument” argument strikes again. I wonder if all these seemingly great partnerships will deliver what is expected of them. I say this not to relate doubt over BBC/Lonely Planet which is a powerful combination, but more to sound a general note of caution on such deals, they cannot all pay of, and someone is going to buy a compelling argument that does not transfer to the web as expected.

Still, one to watch
Eoin

Freakonomics now a New York Times blog

Eoin Purcell

How Strange
The Freakonomics blog moved yesterday from its own dedicated site to a new home at the New York Times. Stephen Dubner has a long post explaining the reasons here.

I guess we should not be too surprised. The value of a site and community like Freakonomics is very clear. The monetizing potential must be high. Sites like it are the model most publishers think of when they think of online communities built around books and authors.

All in all I think this is both a good day for digital content publishers (and book publishers in general) but a bad day I should think for the actual publisher of Freakonomics, William Morrow. Surely they must be reluctant to see such a property go to another publisher, even one as powerful as the NYT. They are left with a much less attractive site to promote the book itself? Was there a deal done int he background?

Perplexed
Eoin

The Digital Tsunami

Eoin Purcell

Thoughts on digital

Watching a fascinating (if worrying) documentary the other night on Tsunamis [Yes it has been said to me that between my obsession with documentaries of all sorts, my extreme non-fiction bookshelf and my actual daily work I come close to being the real life nerd] and the potential for a devastating one in the aftermath of an earthquake in thePacific Northwest and a certain point struck me squarely. That was that the idea that the real cause of damage and change is not the initial wave front which is devastating in itself but the flow of water often at the same of slight lower levels as the initial wave front. The quote below from Wikipedia illustrates what I mean:

Most of the damage is caused by the huge mass of water behind the initial wave front, as the height of the sea keeps rising fast and floods powerfully into the coastal area. The sheer weight of water is enough to pulverise objects in its path, often reducing buildings to their foundations and scouring exposed ground to the bedrock. Large objects such as ships and boulders can be carried several miles inland before the tsunami subsides.

And why is this relevant to Digital Publishing and Digital Content?
Because the real damage to the traditional model is not the initial wave of digital content. That after all has been around now for some time and Publishers (Newspaper, Music, Film and Books) are still robust and profitable. It is the wave after wave after wave blows that have followed that initial front that are doing the damage. The only difference is that this wave is not going to subside or reduce or return to its normal flow, this tsunami is going to continue to flow.

And Realities

So what are the signs of real change?
Well for one Adobe have launched a new e-reader and so have Sony. The Adobe product is software and based on your desktop. It is slick and flashy but I don’t like it. I guess that just me. You can get it here but be warned it is still a BETA product.

The Sony product gave rise to rumours of $500,000 sales of e-books in the first weeks of its Sony Connect Store.

It is a tough world out there. Paidcontent.org one of the shrewdest sites and certainly the most prolific poster of news had two interesting pieces on the economics/realities of digital publishing for the newspaper industry. One pointed out that a pessimistic view of online revenues would suggest that it would be: 30 Years Till Online Represent 50% of Total Newspaper Revenues while another highlighted how the: FT Editor Mulls ‘High Stakes’ Of The Digital Evolution.

But some people get it. If you think that the Sony Connect story is real then here is the Real GETTING REAL. 37signals, the web applications company behind backpack (A service I use and love) recently published in PDF format their story. Since it was released they have sold 23,000 books at $19.00. Now that is $437,000 in revenue from one title, with little or no production cost and only the cost of downloads and site maintenance. The actual paper copy will cost $29.00 an amazing price for such a slim volume and I imagine they will get it! Good for them. The real kicker here is that they did all this in digital first not print and then digital.

So what to make of it all?

You may make of it what you will but from it all I draw this:

    1) Digital will continue to pound traditional.
    2) It is likely to be profitable (Scott Karp wonders how profitable)
    3) Traditional Media will have to move more rapidly
    4) WOW you can sure sell e-books when there is a demand!
    5) Sounds like what I have been saying for a while.

Enjoying the length of this post.
Eoin