➻ Laura Hazard Owen has Six book publishing lessons from Open Road Media’s first three years up at paidContent that are relevant for everyone working in the industry. (I especially like their approach to video.) But the big takeaway for me was that, five years after leaving her job as CEO of HarperCollins, Jane Friedman thinks the future is bright for the small guys in publishing:
The fact that Friedman built her company before ebooks had really taken off helped it get its footing and get ahold of digital rights that big publishers hadn’t yet focused on. Nearly four years in, it can build from that base.
“The speed of what’s happened has been staggering,” Friedman said. “I think this isn’t about the Big Six at all. We’re living in a very exciting time for publishing, for independent publishing, for new kinds of publishing. This is the golden age… It’s not about the giants. It’s about the small guys.”
Obviously she’s on the “small guys” team nowadays, and Open Road has yet to disclose revenues or whether it is even profitable, but that doesn’t sound like someone who regrets leaving “The Big Six.”
➻ The other Jane Friedman had a very concise Infographic [on the] 5 Key Book Publishing Paths on her blog this week. You should head over there for the infographic, but:
These five paths are:
- Traditional publishing: where you query and submit to agents and editors in an effort to land a contract that pays an advance and royalties (and typically involves nationwide bookstore distribution).
- Partnership publishing: one might consider this the evolution of traditional publishing, where authors are positioned more as partners, receive higher royalties, but usually no advance.
- Fully-assisted publishing: the old “vanity” self-publishing model, where you write a check and get your book published without lifting a finger. I don’t recommend this, but it’s still a significant part of the self-publishing market, now dominated by Author Solutions.
- Do-it-yourself (DIY) publishing with a distributor: while this applies to either print or e-books, today this usually involves e-publishing your work (to reduce financial risk and investment involved with print), and using a service provider or distributor to reach all possible online retailers—and/or to provide some level of assistance.
- Do-it-yourself (DIY) direct publishing: when an author doesn’t put any middlemen between him and the retailer selling his books. Often, this option is combined with #4 above; for example, someone might sell direct through Amazon KDP, and complement it with distribution to all other retailers through Smashwords. This is possible because most distributors and online retailers of e-books work on a nonexclusive basis.
I still believe publishers and print have a lot to offer, but this is a personal choice every author will have to make for themselves now. In related news, Stephen King, hero of print: Nixes digital version of new novel.
➻ Economics Professor Emily Oster has been dishing out personal advice to Wall Street Journal readers. Her recent entry on An Economic Model for a Lovers’ Quarrel was thoroughly enjoyable, but I think her advice to someone asking Should I Treat Myself or Give It Away? may better inform your decisions this weekend:
My girlfriend and I were sharing a bottle of wine that cost about $15. For every nonessential purchase, it seems we could make the case that we should give that $15 to somebody in need, because the loss to us (of not enjoying the wine) is outweighed by the gain to somebody else (e.g., a single parent living well below the poverty line who struggles even to put food on the table). How can economics help with this decision?
Economics is notoriously selfish, so I’m glad you’ve given me the opportunity to prove otherwise, or at least to explain why.
Let’s start with your basic premise: Taking everything as given, if we took away your wine and gave the $15 to someone else, total happiness would improve. This is basically right: There are people in the world who would benefit a lot more from that $15 than you would lose. And, in fact, you’re right that you could say this about everything nonessential.
This is, of course, the basic idea behind communism, which hasn’t emerged as an especially successful economic structure. A major problem is that this system generates very poor incentives for effort. You work hard for your income, and that hard work is what fuels the economy. If you knew that any time you worked hard enough to get a nice bottle of wine, someone would come and take it away, well, that diminishes your desire to work. And in the aggregate, if no one works, there is no economic growth and we are all worse off.
This says that you should enjoy some nonessential purchases, but doesn’t directly answer the question of the wine. Here is how to think about that: You care about other people, but not as much as you care about yourself. You need to put a value on this—for example, maybe you care about other people 10% as much as you care about yourself. Then, when you think about the $15 bottle of wine, what you want to ask is whether the happiness it could give someone else is more than 10 times the happiness it gives you. If yes, give it away. If no, enjoy.
So, don’t feel bad about having a drink or three over the holiday weekend.
➻ But, of course, sharing is always good, too. And Galley Cat tells you How to Share Books & eBooks with Our Troops this Memorial Day weekend.
5 Ways to Share Books & eBooks with our Troops
1. Books for Soldiers: “Once you are registered, you will be able to view the requests and send troops books, DVDs, games and relief supplies. You will also have access to our Pen Pal area and Post Card Jamboree. On average our volunteers fill thousands of requests a month.”
2. Operation Paperback sends paperbacks to troops overseas, including to the soldiers’ library in in Wardak Province, Afghanistan (pictured above).
3. Books-a-Million will let you select and purchase Books for Troops in a special program.
4. Books for Troops: “founded to send “care packages for the mind” for the troops in Afghanistan and Iraq by providing a variety of books that help ease their fears, loneliness, boredom, stress and to allow them a temporary escape from the horrors that they see and live daily. It was also founded to raise awareness of the sacrifices, both big and small, that our troops are making to protect us and to remind them that they are not forgotten.”
5. Follow this Google search to find many more options for sharing books with soldiers.
This, in my mind, is a much better tribute than MLB … putting players in camouflage uniforms on Memorial Day. Which is kinda weird.
➻ Nick Werle has a brilliant piece about Nate Silver’s The Signal and The Noise, Nassim Nicholas Taleb’s Antifragile, James Owen Weatherall’s The Physics of Wall Street, and what they say about The Uncertainty of Risk in n+1 that’s worth the long read. Here’s a bit of his conclusion:
As the financial crises of the past three decades have painfully demonstrated, the global banking system is dangerously fragile. Financial institutions are so highly leveraged and so opaquely intertwined that the contagion from a wrong prediction (e.g. that housing prices will continue to rise) can quickly foment systemic crisis as debt payments balloon and asset values shrivel. When the credit markets lock up and vaunted banks are suddenly insolvent, the authorities’ solution has been to shore up underwater balance sheets with cheap government loans. While allowing a few Too Big To Fail banks to use their “toxic assets” as collateral for taxpayer-guaranteed loans makes their individual fiscal positions more robust, all this new debt leaves the market as a whole more fragile, since the financial system is more heavily leveraged and fire-sale mergers consolidate capital and risk into even fewer institutions. These “solutions” to past crises transferred fragility from the individual banks to the overall financial system, creating the conditions for future collapse.
I didn’t say it was uplifting.
➻ In silly news this week, we hear from Laura Stampler that A&W Is Paying To Put Mini Ads In Men’s Beards.
Half joke, half genius, the scheme pays men with facial hair $5 a day to walk around with a mini ad in their beards.
And A&W has actually signed up as a business partner.
Considering that Green Day was one of many to buy ad space on Japanese girls’ temporarily tattooed thighs and many consumers sold body space for real tattoos of now-bust dot com businesses’ URLS, beardvertising isn’t that strange of a concept.
[Cornett-IMS's Whit] Hiler told us that the campaign isn’t limited to Kentucky, but will be exported ” anywhere that there were epic beards willing to host these little ‘beardboards.’”
While this platform does serve a promotional piece, Hiler told BI, “We’re getting a ton of emails from guys with epic beards that want to host beardboards and we’re actually in talks with some brands that want to be Beardvertisers. I think we’ll probably be seeing some beardboards in the wild before too long.”
As a bearded man, I think this is a horrible idea, and I hope it dies a quick and quiet death. I really don’t want people peeping my beard for adverts.
➻ And, finally, the Smithsonian tells us how Google employee Yonatan Zunger discovered that Barns Are Painted Red Because of the Physics of Dying Stars.
➻ The big locomotive…