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Jun 152007
 

Don’t get me wrong. I love Amazon. I buy lots of books from Amazon, and I link to my new books at Amazon as a matter of course, but this galls me. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows could be a great boon to the entire book business and to small bookstores everywhere, but many stores are taking a hit on the final Potter book or not stocking many copies because they can’t compete with Amazon’s deep discounts. And now we know that even Amazon isn’t making any money on the deal:

Amazon.com Inc. has taken more than a million pre-orders for the final “Harry Potter” book due out in July, but the world’s largest Web retailer won’t make a profit, Chief Executive Officer Jeff Bezos told shareholders at the company’s annual meeting Thursday. Amazon’s handling of the “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows” release – a $17 discount off cover price, a free shipping offer and guaranteed on-time delivery – showed yet again that the company is willing to take a hit to cement customer loyalty.

I guess that’s no surprise, but I’d encourage you to think about where you buy your books and whether your purchase supports your local economy, your local tax base and small businesses, or whether your purchase supports an admitted loss leader and predatory discounting that is ultimately killing your own local bookstore.

This is one book we’re buying from our local bookseller.

Link, via Publishers Lunch.

  •  June 15, 2007
  •  Posted by at 10:27 am
  •   Comments Off on Reasons to Buy Local: Amazon to take a hit on Harry Potter
  •   Publishing
Jun 072007
 

This has got to be one of the more pathetic (or funny) things I’ve ever read, along the lines of boy, that promotion screwed with my head or could it be that cancer isn’t so bad, try writing a book?

Of course we all know that dying is easy, comedy is hard, so maybe this is no surprise, or maybe it’s a joke. It’s hard to say. No matter what, it’s nice to remember that there are certainly more important things in life than your book deal! As for me, I’d put my relationship, my kids, my job, my own sense of self worth, all that and more, far ahead of any book.

  •  June 7, 2007
  •  Posted by at 9:47 am
  •   Comments Off on My book deal ruined my life :-( or :-)? (NY Observer)
  •   Publishing
Jun 062007
 

Funny short piece in New York mag, via Galleycat.

Money quote —

“Many books are unprofitable,” says CEO Peter Olson. Fifteen to twenty best sellers at a time and a huge volume of steadily selling older titles support Random House, a unit of German media giant Bertelsmann. Every week, the country’s biggest trade publisher releases 67 new books, but it’s the the 33,000-book backlist (Ian McEwan’s Atonement, for example) that supplies 80 percent of its profit.

Below that there’s some funny math —

Most authors do not see a 15% list royalty on paperback sales, that figure is decidedly fishy.

Link

  •  June 6, 2007
  •  Posted by at 9:35 am
  •   Comments Off on “It’s the backlist, stupid,” Random House “Profit Calculator”
  •   Publishing
Jun 052007
 

Congrats to Alison Rogers. Her Diary of a Real Estate Agent: My Year of Flipping, Selling, and Rebuilding, and What I Learned (The Hard Way) is a Newsweek magazine pick of the week. I’d love to say that I tracked Ali down and goaded her into writing this book, but that honor belongs to former Kaplan editor Karen Murphy who noted the wit and charm of Ali’s weekly Inman.com column. In a wonderful twist (from my perspective), I landed Ali (a Manhattan realtor and former NY Postie) because I was one of the few agents not on vacation at the end of the summer last year.

Congrats to Sue Jenkins, who recently completed taping 10 hours (!!) of Dreaweaver video tutorials for Class On Demand. This is her first dvd.

Congrats to Dan Gookin on completing his newest book, Find Gold in Windows Vista, coming soon from Wiley.

Congratulations to Janet Rae-Dupree and Pat DuPree on completing their book, Anatomy & Physiology Workbook for Dummies.

Congrats to Rich Wagner and Richard Mansfield on completing Creating Web Pages All In One Desk Reference (for Dummies).

Congratulations to Michele Davis and Jon Phillips on completing the second edition of Learning PHP and MySQL (O’Reilly).

Congrats to Richard Mansfield on completing his newest book, How to Do Everything in Second Life,(Osborne/McGraw-Hill). I don’t have the time to visit SL these days but I really want to read about it.

And, finally, kudos to Harold Davis on his stint as a guest blogger at the O’Reilly Media site. Check out his most recent entries: Will You Be my Lensbaby?, Physical Prints in a Virtual World, and When is a Photograph not a Photograph?. If you want to see some amazing nighttime pics, you should check out Harold’s long exposure set at Flickr, linked.

Thanks for working with me!

  •  June 5, 2007
  •  Posted by at 1:34 pm
  •   Comments Off on Client news and notes — Diary of a Real Estate Rookie, Newsweek pick of the week!
  •   Client News
Jun 012007
 

Think you’ve got what it takes to entertain the editors at Travelers’ Tales? Enter their Best Travel Writing contest!

The current round ends on September 1, 2007. Some winners may be published in future Travelers’ Tales books.

Link

  •  June 1, 2007
  •  Posted by at 11:26 am
  •   Comments Off on Enter the Best Travel Writing of the Year Contest
  •   Uncategorized
May 312007
 

Mike Shatzkin’s BEA talk is absolutely essential reading for anyone involved in trade publishing. He looks into the future and forecasts that “general trade publishing” will increasingly lose ground to “niches and community,” and I don’t doubt for a second that it’s true.

Change is seldom sought; it is usually forced. But in the media world, more than in most others, we are living in an era of blistering change. The future web — and even unconnected digital devices enabled by the web — are going to be more content-rich than we have ever imagined, and much of the content will be free.

That’s our biggest competitor right now in numerous markets — Free!

Tech, travel, cooking, gardening, how-to, all of these categories are eminently “nicheable.” The key will be to become involved, known, trusted, and linked-to in the online communities that you aspire to reach. Publishers and authors both will need to bring a laser-like focus to individual markets.

Via Publisher’s Lunch

Link

  •  May 31, 2007
  •  Posted by at 10:49 am
  •   Comments Off on Mike Shatzkin on “the end of trade publishing”
  •   Publishing
May 112007
 

Congrats to Chronicle Books: a new blog, a new building, and now they’re one of the sponsors for the upcoming Maker’s Faire in San Mateo. That’s how I found their blog. I love their list and I hope I can sell them something this year.

My last book with Chronicle was the very cool Jamming the Media by Gareth Branwyn, but that was 10 years ago!

I admire their green aspirations —

“As a publisher, though, you can’t help but feel guilty about all the trees that go into our craft. That’s one reason we prefer to print our books and stationery titles on papers from sustainable forest growth. We’ve also tried to refurbish the building in an environmentally conscious way. For example, we’ve installed solar panels on the roof. All the old carpet tile was removed and immediately reinstalled in two local projects. And many of the furnishings are crafted here in the Bay Area and have been created from recycled materials.”

Link

  •  May 11, 2007
  •  Posted by at 12:44 pm
  •   Comments Off on Chronicle Books Turns 40, Goes Green, Starts a Blog
  •   Publishing
May 112007
 

The Gears of War TV ad was about the best video game ad I’ve ever seen, and the game rocked too. Here’s the ad again, in this speech about how the eventual viral spread of the ad was entirely unintentional, via Chris Webb.

Microsoft Admits extremely viral Gears of War Ad was unintentional.

I never saw one mashup online, but I wanted to buy the game each time I saw the ad on TV. Frankly, to me the mashups aren’t nearly as interesting as the orginal ad, but it’s a great marketing story. And for such a gruesome (and fun) game I love that the hook is the simple poem at the heart of the “Mad World” lyrics. It’s haunting.

The Gary Jules cover on the ad is an edited down version of the orginal lyrics, roughly:

all around me are familiar faces
worn out places, worn out faces
hide my head I want to drown my sorrow
no tomorrow, no tomorrow
and I find it kind of funny
I find it kind of sad
the dreams in which I’m dying
are the best I’ve ever had
I find it hard to tell you
I find it hard to take
when people run in circles
it’s a very very mad world…

The cover even hit #1 on iTunes.

  •  May 11, 2007
  •  Posted by at 9:12 am
  •   Comments Off on The ad rocked, Gears of War, Gary Jules and Tears for Fears
  •   Random Postings
May 092007
 

Hey, I’m quoted in USA Today this morning as background on this nice profile of Scott Kelby.

I’m responsible for telling reporter Jeff Graham that not many people get rich writing computer books these days, but on the bright side I think what Scott Kelby has done as a Photoshop author and evangelist is inspirational and an excellent model for all sorts of authors who would benefit from thinking of ways to expand their platform and profile.

Jeff notes that I’m in New York, which is off by a fair hair 😉

I remain the only literary agent in Hangtown, aka Placerville, aka Dry Diggins.

  •  May 9, 2007
  •  Posted by at 9:56 am
  •   Comments Off on Scott Kelby Profile in USA Today
  •   Random Postings
Apr 202007
 

Congratulations to Ronda Racha Penrice on the publication of African American History for Dummies. This book was a labor of love and it shows on every page.

A big congratulations to Alison Rogers, who has a starred review (!!) in the forthcoming April 23 issue of Publisher’s Weekly for her first book Diary of a Real Estate Rookie: My Year of Flipping, Selling, and Rebuilding – And What I Learned (The Hard Way), to be published by Kaplan in June. Alison was also interviewed in the most recent issue of Glamour magazine.

Congratulations to John Paul Mueller on the publication of two new Windows Vista titles from Sybex, Mastering Windows Vista Business (with Mark Minasi) and Windows Administration at the Command Line for Windows Vista, Windows 2003, Windows XP and Windows 2000.

John also has an article in the recent CIO Magazine, ABC: An Introduction to Agile Programming.

Congrats to Cliff Truesdell who has launched a new blog and podcast in support of his Mastering Digital Audio Production. Check it out — MacMusic. You can also visit Cliff’s MySpace page if you want to sample music from his band, The Black Furies.

Congratulations to Christopher Spencer, author of The eBay Entrepreneur. Christopher was featured recently in Reader’s Digest in New Ways to Make Bundle.

Christopher is also busy launching the very first Online Market World, scheduled this October in San Francisco, and sponsored by such companies as eBay, BMA, and Web Analytics. Per the website, “Online Market World is the first event to address the entire e-commerce lifecycle. It provides an unprecedented opportunity to learn about and discuss the critical issues and trends that are forever changing global online markets.” If you plan to go to the expo be sure to use my code, “Matt2007” to save $100 on the ticket price.

  •  April 20, 2007
  •  Posted by at 11:15 am
  •   Comments Off on Client News, including a PW starred review!
  •   Client News