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12 posts from February 2006

Bookscan -- Week Ending 2/12/06

I didn't do any Bookscan posts over the holidays and I thought I'd let things settle in a bit before revisiting the topic.  Here’s a breakdown of sales of the top 750 titles in the computer/tech category for the most recent week:

1. Wiley                              31%
2. Pearson                          29%
3. O’Reilly                           15%
4. Microsoft Press               13%
5. Osborne/McGraw-Hill         5%

Out of the top 25 titles for the week, Wiley had 9, Microsoft Press had 7, Pearson had 5, O'Reilly had 3 and Osborne/McGraw-Hill had 1.

In my last Bookscan post I noted how the programming topic had the most titles in the top 20 and how Office had been dominant prior to that point.  Well, Office is back...  There were 7 Office (and Office application) titles in the top 25 last week, making it the #1 topic for the week, at least when measured by number of titles in the top 25.  It's still a Microsoft Press and Wiley world on the Office front: Microsoft Press owns 5 of those titles and Wiley has the other 2.

If you pay attention to these periodic Bookscan posts you'll see how share can be affected by in-store promotions, the placement (and removal!) of dedicated bays, etc.  One of the publishers with recent share growth is currently benefiting from a couple of promotions that I've seen in two of the larger brick and mortar accounts.  On the other hand, one of the publishers seeing share shrink a bit is the victim of a lost promotional bay at one of the key accounts.

Publishing Hacks

A couple of weeks ago I got an e-mail from Robbie Allen, a fellow who has a blog called Publishing Hacks. I’ve spent the last few days reading through many of his posts and I would encourage you to do the same. Several of the 11 items covered in his Internet Publishing Manifesto are topics that have also appeared on my blog. He also recently started a series of posts on problems with the print publishing industry.

Thanks for the message, Robbie. Publishing Hacks is now in my Bloglines feed and I plan to keep a close eye on it.

A Banner Week for Our Publishing Team

Earlier this week our group managed to place four titles in Amazon’s top 25 on the Computers & Internet list. This is a feat we’ve never accomplished before and is a great sign of the growing strength of our WROX imprint. The four titles that made the list are:

Professional ASP.NET 2.0

Professional Ajax

Professional SQL Server 2005 Integration Services

The Microsoft Data Warehouse Toolkit

As I write this, the first two titles are still in the top 25 while the other two are in the top 50. Congratulations to editors Jim Minatel and Bob Elliott, the author teams and everyone else at Wiley who had a hand in these great titles.

Financial Bubbles are a Good Thing?

The current issue of Wired magazine features a fascinating one-page article by Daniel Gross titled In Praise of Bubbles.  He talks about the irrational exuberance at the dawn of the telegraph and railroad eras.  Numerous companies crashed and burned during these phases, but they contributed to the build-out of both industries, which ultimately led to fewer players and, more importantly, lower costs.  Gross then goes on to explain how we're in the midst of the same phenomenon in the high-speed wiring of America.  Interesting perspective.

Thoughts on Creativity

Marissa Ann Mayer is vice-president for search products and user experience at Google.  The 2/13 issue of BusinessWeek features a one-page article from her on how "creativity loves constraints."  As she puts it, "Constraints shape and focus problems and provide clear challenges to overcome.  Creativity thrives best when constrained."

She also talks about how "speed lets you fail faster."  She asks if you've "ever wondered how a product so lame got to market."  Her answer, which is probably 100% accurate, is that "the people working on the project invested so much time that it was too painful to walk away."  Ouch.  Been there, done that!

Lastly, she cites one of my favorite Henry Ford quotes: "If I'd listened to customers, I'd have given them a faster horse."  Think about that the next time someone interprets the results of a customer survey or focus group.