Penguin’s Modest Self-Publishing Gamble

Being sold for only slightly more than the revenue you brought in the prior year isn't exactly a signal that anyone believes the company has a lot of growth potential, especially not one whose roster theoretically covers the full gamut of shiny author services so many seem to believe are publishing's revenue streams of the future. Plus, ASI was apparently on the block for a while with no buyer, so I find Penguin's CEO John Makinson's claim odd, as reported by Publisher's Lunch, that he expects there will be a "new and growing category of professional authors who are going to gravitate towards the ASI solution rather than the free model." So then, what's the real angle here?

Big Change for GOOD: When Publishing Content Isn’t Enough

A large part of GOOD's appeal was its unique business model, its compelling mission, and its target audience: "For People Who Give a Damn." While not replicable in any scalable way, it had a far more noble mission than the mercenary and fickle "connecting advertisers to eyeballs" model of most magazines, and it looks like that mission ultimately forced a complete and radical rethinking of the magazine itself.

Random Thoughts on a Summer Friday (In Which I’ve Buried the Lede)

That "Local First" angle is what disturbs me the most, latching on to a legitimate movement whose most compelling hook focuses on locally sourced goods and sustainability, to support booksellers whose primary focus is usually selling the products of multi-national corporations who treat them like second-class citizens. The bookstores that are true pillars of their communities don't need hollow slogans and dreams of going viral on YouTube, because they prove on a daily basis why they matter to their communities.

Rethinking Engagement: Facebook and Permission Marketing

If you think of a “Like” as an opt-in, you’re as close to the value proposition of an email list as it gets outside of actually acquiring that email, and you should treat the content you post to your Facebook Page with as much care and attention as you do your email newsletters. Even better, think of your Facebook Page as a key component of your brand’s overall audience development strategy, complementing your website and email program, and as your audience there grows, leverage Facebook Insights as aggressively as your web analytics to inform and evolve your content strategy.

Pottermore—When Disintermediation Goes Awry

While it's interesting to see the affiliate script flipped on Amazon, with their redirecting traffic to purchase the ebooks (surely with a nice cut of the revenue), the user experience leaves a lot to be desired, especially if you're used to purchasing your ebooks via the Kindle itself and/or the apps. The whole setup seems to be targeting hardcore fans—most of whom have probably already downloaded the ebooks for free via a torrent site—while asking the more casual reader to jump through hoops Amazon and B&N, in particular, have worked hard to eliminate.

The Myth of “Verticalization” — Community Ain’t Easy

As anyone who's actually worked within a "vertical" knows, whether from a niche consumer or business-to-business angle (or, heaven help them, for a non-profit organization or political campaign), just because a subset of people share a common passion doesn't mean they're a single-minded group that can be engaged in one templated way. Every vertical that presents a viable business opportunity is going to have its own sub-communities and overlapping layers, with some often in direct opposition to others.