Saturday, June 30, 2007

The Apple iPhone Challenge

Note: This blog post, of course, is now out of date. Finally. The iPhone is available now on other phone networks. A long wait for a great phone.

The Apple iPhone is gorgeous but it doesn't work in most of the Rocky Mountain states if you live more than a few miles from a major Interstate. The iPhone is great, desirable, fantastic. The network Apple chose to use is crippled, inadequate, sadly lacking in coverage.

I would have stood in line for the iPhone, but I won't stand in line for the inadequate ATT network. I can wait.

I'm sure Jobs had his reasons for choosing the cut-rate ATT network, but it doesn't serve his image for excellence. It's possible that the early implementation of the iPhone required a disabled network.

Monday, June 25, 2007

PMA's Loss: Jan Nathan

I heard today that Jan Nathan, long-time director of Publishers Marketing Association, has died of cancer after a year-long battle.

Jan was a sweetheart, an incredibly talented and dedicated association executive, and a good friend. I will miss her a lot.

If you have benefited at all from PMA's programs, PMA University, Ben Franklin awards, distribution program, etc., you have Jan to thank for a lot of that.

Here is an image of her that I found online:

Again, I can't tell you how much I will miss her and her good heart.

Here's another photo of her. Always a good person full of fun.

Saturday, June 23, 2007

Fun Promotions for You and Your Workers

Here are some interesting things service establishments are doing. You might find one of them that will make your books, talks, website, or company better.

The D.C. taco chain California Tortilla offered a promotional discount: any customer who beats the cashier in a game of Rock Paper Scissors receives $1 off an entree. The offer was for only one day, but personally I'd have made it policy. It'd make the day interesting for the cashier.

California Tortilla salad

A wine shop in Cambridge, England, offers a student discount that can be doubled or quitsed (eliminated) on a Trivial Pursuit question.

In his blog, Seth Godin suggested that you give customer service people the ability to give a prize to the nicest person who calls in each day. As he noted, "What's the worst that could happen--they might use a little judgment, might enjoy the day a bit more, might even start to care."

Magician Chris Angel offers an incredible viral email that you can send to your friends that features their name and phone number in a video. You can create such a video by going to his website at (no longer an active website, alas). Once your friend views the video you had Chris's website prepare for her, the video takes her to Chris's site so she can create similar videos for her friends. Alas, this site has retired to the magical land of previously great websites no longer existing.

What can you do to get people talking about your book, speech, website, or company?

Friday, June 08, 2007

Where will you be in 10 years?

Martin Foner of NPL Consultants wrote a rant on book publishing in 2007. I don't agree with much of his rant. He gets carried away with depression. But his conclusions out of the rant do make sense: Publishers do have to move toward more selling online and more marketing online and more distribution online.

Unlike him, however, I do not believe that the bookstore trade is a dinosaur, about to be obliterated. And that book distribution is a dinosaur, also about to die a quick, painful death. But I do believe that smart publishers do not put all their eggs into one basket. You diversify. You find multiple ways to sell your books, via multiple markets, via multiple distribution strategies.

In his rant, Martin wrote that in ten years most publishers will be in one of four categories:

1. Sold out.

2. In business with a huge content-driven website.

3. In business with a substantial web presence and multiple channels to sell books (direct to consumers, premium sales, non-book trade retailers, web sellers, etc.).

4. Dead.

I hope most of you fall into category 3. I think that's the best plan for most book publishers, given the talents we have.

But category 2 can also be a good plan (and perhaps more profitable, especially if you hit it Google big or Bing middling). But you will have to be a talented software engineer or hire such talent to make this pay off in a big way. As publishers, we tend to be content-driven while most successful websites are software-driven. Note: In today's world, you only need a great WordPress website to carry this off. WordPress offers so many wonderful plugins that allow your website to be whatever you want it to be: sales site, content driven, forums, membership site, article directory, etc.

As many of you know, I've become more and more of an advocate for Internet marketing. There are so many incredible opportunities to sell books via the Internet. The toughest part for many publishers will be deciding what paths to take (of the growing number of possible ways to market via the Internet). You can easily get overwhelmed by the possibilities. My advice: Focus. Don't buy into every new Internet promise, every new program. Find one to three ways that you like doing and which you find to work -- and continue to pursue and build those ways.

Personally, I'll never participate in Second Life (something that was in the news a lot in 2007, but is now is nearly invisible except for the fans it attracted early). I have no interest in participating in such virtual worlds. They can be a real time-sucker. And, yet, I know that some publishers will create great successes using virtual worlds. For me, though, I'd rather focus on email marketing, blogs, joint venture opportunities, creating relationships, teleseminars, webinars, HangOuts.

Plus, of course, I'll keep my fingers in offline ways to sell my books: speaking, premium sales, direct sales to consumers, and book trade distribution. I suggest you do something similar if you want to be around in ten years.

Where will you be in ten years? Where do you want to be in ten years? Please choose one of the first three options Martin described. Don't die.

A sidebar: Fifty years ago, everyone said that television would kill radio. It didn't happen. During the past 15 years, radio has been stronger than ever. What happened to the naysayers? They sold out a long time ago. Lost a chunk of money in the process.

Now everyone is saying that newspapers and books are dead. Magazines, too. I don't agree. I think they will all continue to exist for many, many years to come -- both in print and in electronic forms. The smart print publishers will migrate content to the web. They are already doing that. Forbes magazine already gets half its revenue from online. The New York Times is moving in that direction. Book publishers should do this as well. But don't ignore print. It still drives the online strength of most successful publications.
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