Previous month:
June 2008
Next month:
August 2008

25 posts from July 2008

Does Online Reading Count?

Books2 I love my NY Times Kindle subscription but Amazon really needs to add a feature that lets you quickly forward links to articles via e-mail.  I frequently e-mail links to myself so that I won't forget to blog about them.  I meant to write a post about this article earlier in the week and it completely slipped through the cracks on me...

The article is called "Literacy Debate: Online, R U Really Reading?" and it adds to the discussion of how to properly define "reading" in a mostly online age.  My favorite excerpt is:

Web proponents believe that strong readers on the Web may eventually surpass those who rely on books. Reading five Web sites, an op-ed article and a blog post or two, experts say, can be more enriching than reading one book.

I'm finding this to be particularly true with my Kindle.  Ever since I got it I know I've been spending more time reading, but it's not just books.  My NY Times subscription is outstanding and it often leads me to check out other websites via the Kindle's browser.  During those side trips I often end up reading more content on these other sites (e.g., articles, blog posts, etc.).  Before I know it, I've lost an hour or two and still have much of the day's paper to go.

For some reason I feel like I've accomplished and learned much, much more after an evening of this than in one where I've spent a couple of hours reading portions of one or two books.  It's part of that whole "info snacking" problem Jeff Bezos says we all have; the Kindle is supposed to help us focus more on serious reading and not info snacking, but I'm finding it contributes to both.

P.S. -- This is a very interesting issue for us book publishers to think about, especially when plotting our e-content strategies.  I believe the key is to embrace this behavior and build it into your e-content models rather than trying to fight it.

Cuil: Apparently "Bigger" Isn't What We Crave

Cuil I was anxious to try out this new Cuil search engine everyone's buzzing about.  The management team is loaded with former Google-ites and they've promised to deliver "the world's biggest search engine," meaning all those sites Google ignores will now be included in Cuil search results.  Further, content and relevance are king, which should provide a much more satisfying search experience.

To be honest, I don't have any beefs with Google.  I use it throughout the day and I generally find what I'm looking for in the top half of the first page of results.  Then again, I was happy with Lycos many years ago before shifting to Yahoo.  Then I abandoned Yahoo to jump on the Google bandwagon.  Although I've pretty much stuck with Google for the past several years you can see I have no search engine loyalty.  I'll use whatever suits my needs.

Btw, I've seen lots of people ask the question, "do we need another search engine?"  My answer is, "it depends", but I'm not convinced the solution involves focus groups or building a business/tool around user feedback.  That's how New Coke's are born.  After all, was anyone really screaming for a better search engine in 1997-1998 when Google hit the scene?  I'm pretty sure we were all happy with Yahoo, AltaVista, Excite and the others back then.  It reminds me of that great quote from Henry Ford who said, "If I had asked my customers what they wanted, they would have said a faster horse."

Well, Cuil may indeed be a faster (or at least bigger) horse than Google, but I'm not all that impressed with it.  The searches I experimented with produced results that were different from Google's but I still found Google's to be more useful and relevant.  Although it doesn't take much to change search engines I'd need a compelling reason to switch from Google; I'm not finding that with Cuil.

P.S. -- Searchme is probably the only search engine I've seen recently that's worthy of abandoning Google over.  No, it's not just the nifty user interface...I like the whole stacks metaphor they use and how stacks can be saved and sent to others.  Now that's something I never would have suggested as a search engine improvement but it really lends itself to some very interesting applications.

Always Be Testing: The Complete Guide to Google Website Optimizer

Alwaysbetesting Today was one of those days where a new fun title crossed my desk and I felt compelled to blog about it.  The book I'm referring to is a new one from Sybex called Always Be Testing: The Complete Guide to Google Website Optimizer, by Bryan Eisenberg, John Quarto-vonTivadar and Lisa T. Davis.  Btw, if Bryan Eisenberg's name rings a bell it's probably because he co-authored a couple of earlier blockbuster titles, Call to Action and Waiting for Your Cat to Bark?.

The first two parts make up the bulk of the book as they focus on a marketer's view of testing and what you should test.  The authors worked with us to apply the spirit of the A/B testing model to the book's cover itself: One version of the book's cover appears on the front and a slightly different one appears on the back.  It's an attention-getter that illustrates one of the concepts that's discussed inside.  Finally, as an added bonus, the product includes a $25 Google AdWords gift card; not bad for a $29.99 book!

Congrats to Willem Knibbe and the rest of the group for what's sure to be another hit from our Sybex team!

High Gas Prices will Lead to More Digital Content Consumption...

Old gas pump That's what Steve Rubel says in this recent blog post.  I don't necessarily disagree with him but I think high gas prices will lead to more scrutiny of all purchases, not just print content.

Steve's blog post specifically mentions newspapers and magazines.  My sense is that when subscribers abandon these products they're switching to free digital alternatives, not paid ones.  I say that partially because it's the model I've personally been following; I used to subscribe to at least a dozen different magazines and now I'm down to about 3 or 4, for example.  On the other hand, I've picked up a paid subscription to The New York Times on my Kindle, so I'm not totally going the free route, but that's the lone exception.

The simple truth is that all household expenditures are under more of a microscope with gas prices at or above $4/gallon.  The pessimists will predict declines in all the various print/publishing industries.  Opportunistic publishers, on the other hand, will seize the moment, realizing there's never been a better time to introduce prospective customers to digital content offerings.

Think free samples, full access time trials, etc., or whatever it takes to get your product in front of a potential reader.  Hey, I never thought I'd be willing to pay $13.99/month for The New York Times on my Kindle; I tried their sample though and quickly became a convert!

The Shack, by William P. Young

The shack Wow.  What a truly amazing book.  As the saying goes, if you're only going to read one book this year, The Shack should be the one.  I just finished reading it on my Kindle and I can't tell you the last time I was this inspired by a book.

What's so special?  It's the only book I've ever read that personalizes God.  More specifically, this riveting story paints a fascinating picture of each element of The Trinity, all in human form.  As a parent it was tough to read at times...I won't go into the reason why'll just have to read it for yourself.

The mental images from The Shack will probably be the lens through which I will read every other book on Christianity in the future.  That's saying a lot but it still doesn't do this book justice.  Buy it and read it.  You won't regret it.