20 Major’s book deal

Eoin Purcell

Depressing & Excellent
One of my favourite blogs Twenty Major (Tagline: Still Smoking in Dublin’s Bars) has, if Sinead Gleeson is to be belived, gotten a two book deal with Hodder Headline.

One half of me is really happy and the other sad becuase there is little chance of me competing with Headline for those books and I would dearly have loved to be the publisher of such an irreverent, comic and talented writer. If Headline were willing to secure one Irish Blogger no doubt others will follow to the big publishers. But thems is the breaks I suppose.

Seems like the old Blog to Book trend is no Fad (though I echo James’ thoughts earlier)

Loving this Cardigans album not enjoying looking for a new place to live

$100 million for e-paper??

Eoin Purcell

[via Ryan Sholin’s blog (well worth reading by the way)]

Red Herring reports on a huge investment by Oak Investment Partners and Tudor Investment Corporation in an e-paper venture:

In one of the largest venture capital rounds in European history, Plastic Logic announced Wednesday that it had raised $100 million to build a factory in Germany to make display modules for electronic reader products.

Now that is a fat chunk of cash and Ryan has some further points on the implications of e-paper. I have mentioned them here too. It looks like, over the past few days, as if people are moving to stack their cards in the right pile for digital and that all of a sudden the corporate world is seriously considering the changes the digital revolution is forcing on the world of publishing and actually acting to get ahead of the curve.

Interesting times indeed

Publishing in 2007 . . . and beyond

Eoin Purcell

I am not big on predictions, certainly not in the sense of being able to predict what will happen in a given year. That is why I really enjoyed this post on PersonaNonData today. There is a lot to what he is saying but one of the key paragraphs is this:

In publishing, social networking, wikis and blogs etc. will become the primary publishing platform for educational publishing. Currently, the environment is anarchic and it is hard to see how the formula heavy education market could leverage this technology to produce a better product. I think it is inevitable.

It reminds me of a great book I read called Nine Shift which I am fairly sure I mentioned before (indeed I did) and should be read by anyone thinking of predicting. The most important thing about PersonaNonData’s post though is that it goes a very long way towards explaining the kafuffle below.

The News: doom, gloom and for sales signs
It has been a busy few days for news and much of it reflects the state of play in the book trade. It really kicked off with the news of AMS’s failure (also covered well by Richard Charkin, and tonnes of links to be had and read at Edward Champion’s blogsome more on Chekhov’s Mistress and last but 0f course not least the NYT).

Then came the rather more happy news that Wolters Kluwer was selling its educational publishing arm and expected according to some reports to glean €700 million from it. Given that Riverdeep acquired Houghton Mifflin recently, and that as the reports suggest there are some pretty serious bidders about, I’d say the valuation looks pretty good. What is more I suspect we will see the valuations of education publishers stay firm as companies shift ground to accommodate the changes that are discussed by PersonaNonData. You should read his post and the book to get a clear idea of what they entail!

Enjoying an early evening in!

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.

Sometimes you can’t stop a meme (Especially when you want to)

I Hate Memes

If there are two things that the web has enabled that I truly despise they are chain e-mails and their closely related (in my view) cousins, Blog/E-mail/WebMemes. Now I should qualify that a little, when I say memes I mean the lists, questions and quizzes that get passed from person to person and answered and reposted endlessly. They answer no questions of real value in my view and tend only to provoke stupid answers (I note some very few exceptions of quality. If you are insulted by this post consider yourself part of that select group 🙂 ).

Well Not All Of Them

But sometimes an idea forces itself onto the internet and gains currency not through quizzes and tests and list but by posts and articles and that is a meme I have time for. It’s an unconscious seizing of the zeitgeist or something like that. And it is a funny thing but this week, despite the fact that I have been enormously distracted I accidentally got caught by one: The New Magazines Meme.

I posted a long piece on the idea the other day having read Chris Perason’s work. Today I see This, This and This all referring to the potential for a MySpace Magazine which makes physical my contention some time ago now that MySpace Is Already A Publishing Giant!

But The Story Is Bigger Here

But what I want to talk about is the idea of Internet Content & Print. Looking about recently you may have seen that The Friday Project is flourishing by re-publishing in print work that was originally blog content. Some others have had similar success.

The question that occurs to me is this: Is Print really dying?

We keep getting the stories about how books and newspapers are doomed by the digital tide. But perhaps like the people at Blurb.com say:

Perhaps new technologies serve to magnify the intrinsic value of the thing that came before. In an age when information is instant, dynamic and searchable, what is the intrinsic value of the book? Here’s a first cut at a top ten list (but please send your ideas):

Eileen’s Top Ten Reasons Why Books are Even More Valuable in a Wired World

1. Everyone needs a little analog in their life

2. Human readable. No technology upgrades required.

3. Wonderfully tactile

4. Immersive experience

5. Shareable and giftable (difficult to “gift” a site)

6. Well understood organizing principle

7. People buy books (but rarely content)

8. They’re beautiful artifacts

9. No batteries required

10. You can spill stuff on them and they still work

I think there is a trend Vs fad issue here

But what is it? The Trend is that we realize again the value of Print and the use we can put it to, even in this digital age. We can all too easily be driven wild with the belief that the electronic will replace the plain paper or that a new paper will replace the old one, but I suspect not. Paper’s role will shift and with it digital technologies and print will realign. There is no guarantee that we will read newspapers forever in the format they currently stand, indeed daily are potentially in great trouble but what of weekly magazines and papers, sundays and monthlies too? Are they as challenged by blogging, the stream of constantly updated news and instant access online? Not if they pitch themselves correctly and evolve to meet demand.

Similarly books will not shift entirely to e-books or blogs. They may live in both worlds and be more successful in one than the other but it is clear that print has been overly harshly treated recently. What is the trend. Print Will Recover.

What is the Fad though?

Is it the Blog book as a genre? I doubt it. If we accept that the blog is a tool for authors and everyone then surely successful blogs will either be translated directly into books or will form the basis for an authors platform and be a jumping off point for a print book or a series or even for a magazine as discussed before.

The fad is the idea of destruction and defeat of print. Mass market print will survive the arrival of digital delivery just as radio survived the arrival of television and television the arrival of video and video (in its enhanced form of DVD) is surviving the arrival of downloads. It may be forced to change, its focus may shift from immediate news to more thoroughly researched and investigated pieces supported by an online presence. It may even attract less ad revenue but then so what? Is print entitled to a high price point for any specific reason? And even that revenue fall is not guaranteed. Stop calling print dead, it’s alive and kicking and if you ignore it and concentrate on digital streams you ignore a massive market. Do that at your peril.

Dealing with dreary Dublin