Previous month:
January 2007
Next month:
March 2007

34 posts from February 2007

Check Out My Google News Bar!

Google2My thanks to Steve Rubel for hyping Google's News Bar widget in this post.  I just implemented my own with a few relevant search phrases (books, publishing, econtent, etc.)  Look in the left panel of my blog for the heading "Joe's Google News".  The widget displays the latest news on the first phrase in my list, "books", but you can click on any of the others ("publishing", "econtent", etc.) to have the widget switch to display the latest news on those phrases...all without ever having to leave the comfort of my blog!  Very cool.

Google has a code generation wizard for it here, so you can make your own news bar and drop it into your blog/website in about 2 minutes!

IBM's (Not-So-Great) Prescription for Old Media

No_lightI'm not so sure an old tech company is the best choice to advise old media companies. Exhibit A is this summary from MediaPost Publications today.  In it, IBM talks about how old media companies can solve their problems by creating a "Chief Consumer Officer" (CCO) position.

The IBM report goes on to say how old media outfits need to "put consumers at the center of your business and boardroom--create a consumer-obsessed culture and place a premium on continuous consumer feedback."  Is that really something new?  Don't most successful companies have a pretty strong consumer focus?!

What I object to most though is the notion that a new CxO-level position is suddenly going to change a company's DNA.  That's what it will take, btw, to get some (most?) old media organizations to adjust their course.  You don't accomplish that with some new senior executive position on an org chart.  You tackle that by first making sure the entire (existing) executive team buys into the vision.  Then you make sure the rest of the organization, from top to bottom, is on board.  This probably means bringing in some new blood at certain levels, but not simply adding a new executive position and naively thinking this new CCO will fix all the problems!

I think the folks at IBM need to read Patrick Lencion's fine book, Silos, Politics and Turf Wars...  It does a fine job explaining the ins and outs of this sort of thing.  (In the interest of full disclosure, this book was published by my employer -- regardless, it's still an excellent read!)

Michael Hyatt on Relationship Management

HandshakeQuestion: How often can you get advice from someone who is a publishing executive but has also been a literary agent and author?  Answer: Anytime you read Michael Hyatt's blog.  I wanted to call particular attention to recent series of posts Michael has made on Strategic Relationship Management.  It's a four-part series (so far) with an introductory post followed by posts on the ideal publisher, author and agent.

If you're an author in search of a good agent or publisher, use the (high profit, low maintenance) characteristics checklists Michael provides for each.  Don't forget to read the author checklist too...  The whole series of posts ought to be required reading for any publishing newbie (and not-so-newbie).

If you're an author, I'd recommend you consider turning some of those characteristics into questions you can ask any agent/publisher candidate.  For example, what percentage of that agent's clients typically recoup their advance?  That's a fair question for a publisher too (how many of their authors typically recoup their advance?).

Netflix for (Audio) Books?

CdIn an earlier post I suggested that a store/chain ought to take a page out of Netflix's business plan and create a book rental service.  I just read this article about a similar program, but with audio books, that's being launched in the U.K.  Why didn't I think of that?!  If problem #1 is the issue of mailing heavy books back and forth, why not build the program around the audio versions instead? Great idea.

Colin Crawford on IDG's Transformation

Cc_25I initially missed this post earlier this month but wanted to be sure to pass it along.  Colin Crawford, SVP of Online at IDG, talks candidly about the shift there from a predominantly print business to more of an online model.  Some of the more interesting excerpts are:

In the US, our online revenue now accounts for over 35% of our total US publishing revenues. Next year, for many brands online revenues will be greater than print revenues, in fact they already are at some of our key brands and by 2009 – approximately 50% of IDG’s US revenues will come from online.

...we face greater risks if we don’t transform our organization and take some chances.

The more enlightened in our media world will figure how to allow their audiences freedom to create and share their knowledge and content and to mash it up in a way that engages users.