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48 posts from January 2007

Legacy Content

Old_booksJoel Fugazzotto offers some thoughts on his blog about what publishers and authors could do to make out-of-print and other legacy content available.  This subject is also a subtopic within Lawrence Lessig's Free Culture, which I reviewed and recommended earlier.

Joel's point is valid.  There's no reason for anyone (publisher/author) to sit on old content, especially since someone somewhere could probably benefit from access to it.  In some respects, that's a problem Google no doubt hopes to eventually address with their Book Search service.

It becomes a thorny issue though as print-on-demand (POD) is becoming more and more popular.  Publishers who previously would have been willing to let a book go out-of-print and revert rights to authors now see POD as a way to squeeze every last bit of revenue from the long tail.  Individual titles may not cast off a lot of POD revenue but the income level can become significant when you have a very large list of titles contributing to it.

What to do?  I think this has to be addressed on a case-by-case basis.  As a publisher, if I feel I can still generate a reasonable amount of income off an old title via POD, and therefore it should also continue to generate some income for the author, I generally want to hang onto it and the associated rights.  That said, I'm also sensitive to an author's needs and interests and have certainly reverted rights on plenty of books over the years.

If you're an author who has a "legacy content" situation with a publisher, my advice is to hook up with your editor/publisher and discuss the options.  Don't just let the content sit.  For all you know, they might not even have explored POD as a solution for your book yet!


The BBC on YouTube

Bbc2The BBC has long been regarded as an operation that "gets" the web and knows how to successfully leverage it. This article (free registration required) shows how the BBC is quickly figuring out how to work with Google/YouTube so that everyone benefits.  Let's hope ABC, CBS, NBC and Fox figure out how to follow the BBC's lead some day.  Rather than getting litigious or forcing YouTube to pull clips off the site, why not sit down and figure out how to create a win-win model?  And please don't think for a moment that you (ABC/CBS/NBC/Fox) will figure out how to build a better YouTube of your own!

I just hope this deal will turn out to be something more significant than short snippets of content.  I don't think  teasers like that will work; they've got to be complete segments to attract viewers and keep them engaged.

That reminds me of Google Video's original announcement of their relationship with the NHL.  The NHL's original press release made it sound like live games will be available on Google with a "delay".  I was totally into that idea, especially now that the NHL has virtually disappeared from my cable TV options.  As it turns out, it's just highlights and archived games from weeks ago; a quick search of Google Video today turns up zero games from the month of January!  Apparently the NHL's definition of "delay" (weeks) is different than mine (minutes).  My guess is the traffic hasn't lived up to the original hopes, which is too bad, given how tough it must be to rebuild their fan base after that ugly strike.


The RIAA Is Living In the Past

Old_radioSee that old radio next to this post?  It reminds me of a simpler time.  I'm sure it does the same for the RIAA.  That's one organization that probably wishes technology never would have advanced beyond the 1940's levels.  They once again proved they have their heads in the sand with this complaint against XM Radio.

I own an XM device that allows me to record and play back songs.  It's one of the reasons I bought the radio.  The RIAA no doubt wants to squeeze more royalty payments from XM.  Fine.  Go work out a deal.  But don't be so greedy that you kill what little momentum satellite radio currently enjoys.

FWIW, I also have a DVR connected to my TV.  I use it to save shows and watch them later.  I guess if the RIAA could somehow encroach on that territory they'd push for higher fees from cable companies, making DVRs a less attractive option.  Brilliant.

Just to be clear, when I save songs on my portable XM device they're only playable as long as I continue to pay the monthly XM fee.  It's not like I can record 50 hours of my favorite songs in one month, quit the subscription and keep the songs!  Again, I'm sure this all revolves around the labels wanting a bigger cut; otherwise they'd be going after Sirius for their similar device and those other online music services with an "all you can eat" download option.  I also don't leave the downloaded songs on there indefinitely.  I tend to record, listen, delete and start the process over again by recording new songs.  I already have a dedicated MP3 player with my entire CD collection on it.  I don't need the XM device to serve that role, which it would do a poor job of since it only holds 50 hours of recordings! Instead, I use it as a way to simulate a live radio broadcast when I'm on a plane or out of reach from the XM signal.  It's really not that big a deal, and I suspect most other users tend to follow the same record-listen-delete-re-record process I go through.

When was the last time that artificial technical restrictions and/or higher fees like this helped anyone but the greedy content owners?  I wonder what these RIAA geniuses will do to stunt HD Radio's growth rate as it starts to become more popular...


LibraryThing: 2, Shelfari: 0

LibrarythingOn second thought, I'm not quite ready to switch from LibraryThing to Shelfari.  Yes, the latter's interface is slick, but one two key features is are missing.

First up, is the Amazon Associate functionality.  LibraryThing lets you use your own Associate ID, which means you get credit for any sales resulting from your links.  As near as I can tell, Shelfari uses their own ID and there's apparently no way to override it.  Bad idea.

Secondly, although Shelfari does indeed allow you to import your titles from LibraryThing (or any other service that exports to tab-delimited files), it ignores the review link field.  That's one of the things I like best about LibraryThing: they let me point to my review of the book through their service.  Shelfari apparently doesn't handle this through the import process and there's no way I'm going to manually enter all those links again!  (Btw, LibraryThing includes the links in the export file, so they're available if Shelfari should choose to use them.)

So although I liked what I saw initially in this quick look at Shelfari, I'm sticking with LibraryThing for now.

UPDATE: The score now stands: LibraryThing: 2, Shelfari: 1.  Mark Williamson of Shelfari has pointed out that I missed the Advanced tab options during the import phase.  There's an option on that tab that lets you use your Amazon Associate ID, not Shelfari's.  I still miss the review link feature though...


Secrets of Online Persuasion, by John-Paul and Deborah Micek

Secrets_of_online_persuasionJP and Deborah Micek are the founders of a business consultancy that specializes in generating results from online initiatives.  They've taken their years of experience and squeezed it into this 300-page book, Secrets of Online Persuasion.  Great title, and they deliver on the promise.

If you're already blogging and looking for some tips on more effective ways to appeal to your target audience, this is the book for you.  Because the Micek's do such a nice job of covering the basics of new media marketing tools though, I think this book is perfectly appropriate for the total novice as well.

A key premise of the book is that traditional marketing, or interruption marketing, is dead (or at least dying very quickly).  Regarding your target audience, the authors suggest it's wrong to "find ways to circumvent their defenses."  Rather, they note how you need "to get them to open the door and invite you in through influence, persuasion, and trust."  Think about some of the most successful word-of-mouth brands out there and, of course, that's how they built momentum.

After answering a series of questions that help determine what results you want from your blog, the book goes on to lay out the framework for what the authors refer to as "tribal marketing."  I found the chapter on how to "influence the influencers" to be one of the most interesting ones.  This is where the authors present four different types of communication styles, or codes.  It's important to know your own code as well as the code of the person you're trying to influence.  In the few days since I read this part I've tried to keep what I learned in mind as I'm talking to certain people; I think it really can make a difference in how you communicate, especially in tough situations.