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33 posts from August 2007

Business 2.0: Five Days for an Auto-Reply E-mail?!

Business_20One of the worst kept secrets in the magazine world is that Business 2.0 is in trouble.  That's disappointing as I regard Business 2.0 as one of the last few insightful business mags that's still standing.  Fast Company also ranks high in my book, btw.

Struggling to survive is one thing, but what would cause them to take five days to send an auto-reply to an e-mail message?  I got a message from them on 8/21 saying that my subscription has been auto-renewed.  I always question that sort of thing because it usually means I'm being charged a higher rate than a new subscriber.  So, I sent them an e-mail asking them for the terms so that I could decide whether to accept or cancel.

I kid you not: Today (8/26 at 6:10PM, 5 days after my inquiry), I got an e-mail from Business 2.0 saying that I've been "assigned an incident number" and "should hear from us in 2 business days."  That would be impressive.  After all, if it takes 5 days to auto-reply to an e-mail, how in the world can they get a real, live person to contact me within 48 hours?!


Confessions of a Serial Entrepreneur, by Stuart Skorman

SerialI wasn't sure whether I was going to like Confessions of a Serial Entrepreneur.  I was intrigued by the fact that the author, Stuart Skorman, had started so many companies over the years, but would there really be valuable lessons from any/all of them?  It got a bit more interesting when I realized that Skorman founded HungryMinds.com, a company my employer at the time (IDG Books) acquired.

Although I can't really say I learned anything revolutionary about starting a business, I have to admit that the story itself was very entertaining.  In a relatively short period of time Skorman launched four different businesses.  Some made him rich (Reel.com, earning Skorman $17 million) while others cost him a fortune (he notes he lost about $10 million of his own money on the HungryMinds venture).

Confessions is an entertaining read although it drifts from time to time.  For example, I wasn't sure why he felt compelled to provide so much information about the 18-month vacation he and his wife took after the HungryMinds sale.  There's also the occasional dead end; the author admits that he signed a non-disclosure agreement which prevents him from divulging certain aspects of his most recent business, an innovative pharmacy that offers both traditional prescriptions as well as herbal remedies.

Prior to reading this book I had no idea who Stuart Skorman is.  In 200 fairly short pages I feel like I got the Cliffs Notes version of his career and I'm curious to see if he's got any more new business ideas left in him.


Have Google, Will Travel

Google_2According to this article, Google could soon become your primary resource when navigating the public transportation system in New York City.  That certainly sounds like a smart idea on Google's behalf as it not only leverages their various mapping technologies but also gives them another foot in the door for local advertising.

Although the article is all about using Google for subways, trains, etc., why would they stop there?  How long will it be before Google jumps into the travel guide business?  If they're going to show you how to get from Wall Street to Yankee Stadium tomorrow, there's no doubt that some day they'll look to help you do the same for your trip from New York to San Francisco...


Final "Blogging Heroes" Cover

Blogging_heroesDoes anyone remember this little debate?  I took the gamble of asking everyone's opinion about two cover designs for our upcoming book, Blogging Heroes.  Well, after much back and forth on that blog post (as well as within the walls of Wiley!), we wound up going with the design you see here.  I know this design won't please everyone but I like the way it turned out.  (And yes, believe it or not, I actually get to make decisions like this every once in awhile...)

Actually, I don't think this smaller image does the cover justice though.  I've seen the full-size version and it's quite attractive.  You also don't get the benefit of seeing the impact of that yellow ink we're using for all the type -- it's got a neon feel to it and I'm told it even glows in the dark.  So, if the lights go out when you're at the bookstore this is the one title that really ought to stand out.;-)

More importantly, I've spent a good deal of time over the past few weeks reading the manuscript that Mike Banks delivered on this project.  I still have a couple of interviews yet to read but I'm thrilled with what I've seen so far.  It's great to have all this blogging insight from so many big names in the community in one book.  Keep an eye out for this one; it's currently scheduled to arrive in stores in early December.


Tim Moore Joins the Blogosphere

Ft_press_2Meet Tim Moore.  He works at Pearson and is publisher of Wharton School Publishing and FT Press.  I don't claim to know Tim all that well, but when I've spoken with him I've been very impressed with his passion and knowledge of the industry.

Tim works for "the competition", so why would I bother mentioning him here?  Because he recently took the plunge and is now blogging.  You can read his thoughts over on the FT Press Blogs.  His latest post has a number of interesting facts and figures but is not for the faint of heart.  For example, did you know that 40% of all books printed are never sold and that 70% of all books published don't earn out their author advances?

I'm delighted Tim is going to add his perspective via this blog and I hope we'll see more publishers join in as well.