By offering buyers and sellers a free alternative to paid listings in newspapers, online classifieds site Craigslist saved users about $5 billion from 2000-2007, while costing local newspapers the same amount in lost classified advertising revenues, according to a new study by professors at the NYU Stern School of Business and Harvard Business School.
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The study, titled “Responses to Entry in Multi-Sided Markets: The Impact of Craigslist on Local Newspapers,” explored the impact of Craigslist by analyzing newspaper publisher results over time, focusing on their degree of reliance on classifieds and the timing of Craigslist entry in their market, among other factors.
Newspapers that were more reliant on classified revenues saw a bigger drop-off after Craiglist entered their markets.
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Overall, local newspapers that relied heavily on classifieds suffered an average 20.7% drop in classified advertising rates after the entry of Craigslist in their markets. Moreover, the migration of their classifieds business to Craigslist evidently had secondary impacts on local newspapers, as it was correlated with increasing subscription prices, which rose an average 3.3%; decreasing circulation, which fell an average 4.4%; and decreasing display ad rates, which fell an average 3.1%
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In terms of the chain of causation, diminishing demand for classifieds may also have diminished the incentive for consumers to buy single copies or subscribe to newspapers, since they no longer required their listings.
At the same time, price increases intended to offset losses in classified revenues further depressed subs. This trend, in turn, put downward pressure on display advertising rates.
In another secondary effect, newspapers that were heavily reliant on classifieds were also more likely to attempt to differentiate their content from competing newspapers, presumably in an effort to reinvent their value proposition to readers in the absence of classifieds. They were also less likely to make their content available for free online -- perhaps as part of a strategy to drive readers to the print edition and thus prop up print display ad rates.
The authors note,
"These results are still relevant today -- and not just to newspaper publishers -- as the boundaries between media industries are blurred and advertisers are able to reach relevant consumers through a variety of platforms, such as TV, the Internet and mobile devices.”
COMMENTARY: This article begs the question: How long will Craigslist continue to offer mostly free classifieds? Makes you wonder just what Craigslist's ad revenues would be if they charged something for those "free" classified ads.
FLIPBOARD LATEST UPDATE DEMOCRATIZES CONTENT CURATION ON THE SERVICE, INTRODUCES SEARCH, AND PROVIDES INTEGRATION WITH ETSY.
With 50 million users, Flipboard, the social news magazine available on the iPhone and iPad, has become a dominant player in content curation. Now, with competition in the space quickly heating up, Flipboard is launching what it calls customizable "mini magazines."
Before, the Flipboard app would surface relevant content to your iPhone and iPad from a number of sources: by tapping into your social feeds; by allowing you to follow publishing partners such as Fast Company and The New York Times; and by offering a slew of topic sections--politics, tech, and so forth--internally curated by Flipboard's editors and algorithms. But now, Flipboard is opening the floodgates and enabling any user to create a collection of media. The new version of Flipboard, says Flipboard CEO Mike McCue,
"Flipboard allows anyone to effectively build their own magazine on Flipboard. They can pull together content under any topic they're passionate about--[and share] other articles, photos, videos, music--pretty much anything."
Sample Flipboard magazine titled, "Adventures in New Zealand" (Click Image To Enlarge)
Sample chapter page from a Flipboard magazine titled, "Adventures in New Zealand" (Click Image To Enlarge)
"I don't know how many of those are because of Google Reader, but we've certainly seen a spike."
It's simple to start your own magazine on Flipboard. Just hit the app's new + button to create a digital rag, give it a title and description, and select a category. From there, as you browse Flipboard, it's easy to add an article or YouTube video or photo to your own magazine; a cover image will automatically be created for your custom magazine, too. Other Flipboard users can subscribe to your magazine, and you'll get notifications for when a user comments on a piece of content and also will receive stats such as how many page flips your magazine is seeing.
Sample Flipboard magazine covers (Click Image To Enlarge)
"A community starts to build around this content."
There's no limit to what Flipboard magazines can focus on. They're not designed to only be about news. McCue, for example, has curated magazines on topics ranging from space to Steve Jobs. He has one-off magazines containing albums of photos he took while traveling; a magazine featuring books he recently read, complete with appropriate links to Amazon and iTunes; and he even expects event-specific magazines to form like, say, a Flipboard magazine about music at the 2013 Coachella festival.
It's a new twist on the tried and true blogging formula. Magazines on Flipboard are simply blogs in a neatly packaged form--a broadcast platform that takes advantage of Flipboard's smart UI and curation tools. In that sense, the new version of Flipboard takes its cues from Tumblr and Pinterest: Users can share music, Flickr images, tweets, and products for other users to buy. Publishing partners can take advantage of this platform, too, by launching topic-specific verticals. Fast Company, for example, will have separate Flipboard feeds focusing on our Most Innovative Companies. The platform allows content creators of all levels to dive into incredibly niche topics.
Flipboard's Eric Feng demonstrates the new features of the Flipboard 2.0 app for the iPad (CLICK TO VIEW VIDEO)
But if the secret sauce of Flipboard has been its content curation, there's always the chance that such an open service could dilute the Flipboard brand and its high-quality content. But McCue is wary of such issues. McCue says.
"Anytime you do something like this, you're going to have some people who create really awesome stuff and some people who don't really create particularly awesome stuff. You'll have a mix. The same tools we use to find great content, we'll use to find great curators, and then we'll surface those to our readers."
The startup is also launching a content search engine to help users sift through this onslaught of new content. Flipboard search lets readers find content shared on Flipboard, and discovery new content by topic, user, or hashtag. Mccue says.
"We're not indexing the entire Internet like Google; we're indexing just what's being shared on Flipboard, so it's a very high-quality index."
While the update signals a significant shift for Flipboard, it doesn't mean the company has strayed from its original focus of working with publishing partners. Today, for example, the company also partnered with Etsy to bring its blog and products to Flipboard readers. Flipboard will now be integrated with Etsy's shopping cart, meaning users can buy items directly from Flipboard, which will bring the company a revenue share. And perhaps this is Flipboard's end game (ecommerce).
A new partnership with Etsy allows for in-app shopping when viewing the Flipboard 2.0 app (Click Image To Enlarge)
Etsy catalog item, in this particular case, a pair of monogramed cufflinks, with a shopping cart for easy purchases from within Flipboard (Click Image To Enlarge)
Like Pinterest, Flipboard will now feature crowdsourced content, buoyed by publishing partners and power users. It will allows users to share and browse through photos, videos, songs, news, and recommended products. With more eyeballs comes more advertising revenue for Flipboard, and with more content, comes more opportunity for revenue sharing. As McCue says,
"Shopping on Flipboard is going to be really cool."
But social as Flipboard magazines are becoming, McCue is hesitant to say the service is transforming into a social network. McCue says.
"We're less about being a social network, and more about being a content network. I think there's always going to a little overlap with some of things Flipboard and others are doing. Facebook will be always be about your friends; Twitter is about following influencers; LinkedIn is about your professional career. While Flipboard may do some similar things, for the most part, [we're] about great content."
COMMENTARY: I have not profiled Flipboard before, because I thought it was just another Pinterest copycat, but it is turning out to be more than this. Come to think of it, I could use Flipboard to publish my own PBT Consulting Magazine to reach those 50 million users visiting Flipboard each month. Unfortunately, I do not own an Apple mobile device, so I hope that Flipboard adds a Flipboard app for Android, and they better do it soon, rather than later.
I took the liberty to see if I could verify those 50 million users that Flipboard claims it has, but Flipboard hasn't given Quantcast permission to track its traffic. Alexa.com provided the following "uncertified" numbers. If Alexa's estimates are correct, then Flipboard's traffic stats and demographics are as follows:
Users are predominantly male, between the ages of 25-34 and are well educated (graduate degrees).
Flipboard's traffic rank is #19,754 globally and #11,578 in the U.S.
Flipboard's monthly reach (unique visitors per month) during 2013 has been stable through mid-March when it spiked, but quickly declined to normal monthly reach levels.
Flipboard's monthly pageviews has been stable through mid-March when it spiked, but quickly declined to normal levels, then spiked again just recently.
Flipboard users have been averaging about 1.8 daily page views per user for the period January through March 2013.
Flipboard users have been aveaging about 2.09 minutes per day per user for the period January through March 2013.
Click Images To View Alexa Data for Flipboard.com
To be frank, I am not overly impressed with Flipboard's traffic stats (Alexa.com only). Although Flipboard claims 50 million users, they are not spending a lot of time on the site and or viewing a lot of content. Users are predominatly male, but no numbers are provided. This is the exact opposite of Pinterest, who are predominantly female, view four times more pages per user and spend four times more time on Pinterest. It looks like Flipboard has some work to do in order to churn more page views and more time from those 50 million users before it can become a viable alterntive to other social networks with ecommerce capabilities.
Here's an interesting infographic about Flipboard.
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Courtesy of an article dated March 26, 2013 appearing in Fast Company
But now, Hefner, 85, says he and his former fiancée, 25, are still going back and forth about who gets permanent ownership of the pooch.
Hefner told PEOPLE on Thursday at the Playboy Mansion in Los Angeles.
"We both love the puppy. I told her if she wants to keep the ring and the Bentley, then maybe I can keep the puppy. I [hope] we will work it out."
Playboy July 2011 Cover
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The Wedding Invitation
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The Wedding Cancellation
The Wedding Ring Auction
An unnamed source claims that
"Crystal couldn’t bear to look at the ring anymore because it brought back bad memories”
So naturally, the logical step is to put that bad memory up for a very public auction. While prior reports claimed Hefner paid $90,000 for the ring, Christie’s only set an estimate of $20,000-$30,000 on the ring. The lot description on the Christie’s reads:
A diamond ring. Set with a circular-cut diamond, weighing approximately 3.39 carats, to the circular-cut diamond hoop, mounted in platinum.
A diamond isn’t always forever, sometimes it’s only for 6 months, especially for Hugh Hefner’s ex-fiancee Crystal Harris.
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The Big Cry
Crystal Harris has revealed she called off her wedding to Hugh Hefner because she couldn't cope with the Playboy mogul's lifestyle.
The 25-year-old blonde, who was due to marry the 85-year-old at his mansion on Saturday, feels 'relieved' the ceremony has been called off but regrets 'disappointing everybody.'
In a tearful interview with America's Entertainment Tonight, she said: 'I wasn't the only woman in Hef's life. I didn't feel comfortable in my heart knowing that and getting married to him, because a marriage is between two people.
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Crystal told Entertainment Tonight.
'That's not what our relationship was.'
Hefner has long been famous for having multiple girlfriends and it seems he had no plans to change his ways.
She also blames 'stress' of having to deal with legal experts for her shock decision.
"We had to deal with lawyers, I never had a lawyer for anything.I'm going to pre-nup lawyers and lawyers to do a show - we had a two-hour special on Lifetime underway - lawyer meeting contracts, all kinds of stuff.. it was crazy."
Pre-nups and nasty lawyers have a tendency to do that to some gold digger chicks.
"The View" Interview
COMMENTARY: The Pope warned the world during his traditional serman on the eve of Christmas about, "too much glitter during Christmas," which is why this article had to be my very first post-Christmas blog post. It's so apropos.
What a life of pure ecstacy and glitter. The Pope must've been thinking of Hef and the Playboy Mansion girls when he said there was just too much glitter during Christmas (i.e. the over-commercialization of Christmas) and that the problems of the poor, sick and down trowden are swept under the rug.
When the 85-year old Playboy mogurl Hugh Hefner became engaged with Crystal Harris, the 25-year old Playmate and live-in at the Playboy Mansion, I got visions of little "Hef" baby boy or girl running throughout the Playboy mansion, but it was not to be. Instead, the world was shocked to receive this Tweet from Hef:
"The wedding is off. Crystal has had a change of heart."
Crystal later reponded with this post on her website.
"After much deep reflection and thought I have decided to end my engagement with Hef. I have the utmost respect for Hef and wish him the best going forward. I hope the media will give each of us the privacy we deserve during this time."
Hef invited over 300 people to the wedding using Papeterie custom-made invitations (see above), which called for a pink Romona Keveza gown and Torrance Bakery strawberry cake.
If Hef and Crystal had beeen married, this would've been Hef's third marriage, and her first. Hef filed for divorce in 2009 from his second wife, former playmate Kimberly Conrad. He was previously married to Mildred Williams, whom he divorced in 1959.
Harris's manager Michael Blakey tells PEOPLE.
"I heard the sad news today this morning. The split was a mutual decision and the two remain good friends."
The Final Talley
So just how much did Hugh's relationship and engagement to Crystal Harris cost him? Here's a rough estimate:
Playboy Mansion room and board from January 2009 to October 2011 ($10,000/mo) - 22 months x $10,000 = $220,000.
Weekly Playmate Allowance ($1,000 per week) - 96 weeks x $1.000 = $96,000.
Playboy Playmate fee - $1,000,000
Playboy travel and entertainment for things like dinners, trips, parties, etc. ($2,000 per month) - 22 months x $2,000 = $44,000.
Engagement ring - $90,000
Bentley Continental GT automobile - $170,000
Gifts and other goodies - $50,000
Wedding costs and reception - $150,000
Attorney's fees - $25,000
I was very conservative with the cost estimates, and I left out the costs of music and singing lessons, recording, etc. that Hef paid to help out Crystal pursue her music career, so Hef probably paid out about $2 million just for Crystal when it's all said and done.
Here's the video of Crystal Harris' debut album "Club Queen." Was it money well spent?
On the positive side of the ledger, the July 2011 "Runaway Bride" issue sold 450,000 issues at the newstand at $4.95 per issue for total newstand sales of $2.250 million. After deducting printing and distribution costs, Hef netted about half or $1.250 million, so he only lost about $750,000 on Crystal Harris. The publicity he got was worth at least that, and probably more, so when it's all said and done, the engagement was a win-win for Hef and Crystal. Crystal got her music career launched and Hef sold more Playboy mags.
I did find the following video of Crystal at a pool party at the MGM Resort Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas, dancing and drinking champagne with another very beautiful and curavacous Bunny friend. Notice that they are leafing through a magazine, probably the Playboy "Runaway Bride" July 2011 issue.
Anyway, Heff is a whole lot happier now, with his two new girlfriends, and attendant harem. What a life.
Courtesy of an article dated December 26, 2011 appearing in CNN
Apple Inc. and Amazon.com Inc. are prepared to battle in the heavens and on earth to be the go-to spot for buying, storing and enjoying music, video and books.
Over the past week, both companies have announced new products toward that aim, trying to entice consumers to store what they buy in the "cloud"—that is, over networks—instead of inside an actual device. Through such a service, consumers can access the digital entertainment that they own from a variety of portable gadgets.
At stake is control over how people purchase and consume books, music and video.
Wells Fargo analyst Jason Manyard said.
"A major battle is going on among Apple, Google, Facebook, Amazon and Microsoft for consumer Internet dominance. The battle is about the control of data."
The battle isn't seen as "winner take all." Consumers can buy songs on Apple's iTunes and store them in Amazon's online music locker, for example, but the devices make it most convenient to stick with one provider's set of cloud services. As a result, a consumer's decision about which gadget to buy could steer him or her to the store that works most fluidly with that device.
That may be why Amazon is offering its Fire tablet for just $199, a price tag widely thought to make little or no profit on sales of the device itself. Industry researcher IHS iSuppli on Friday estimated the Fire costs $209.63 to make.
"The importance of this strategy cannot be underestimated. So far, no retailer has managed to create an umbilical link between digital content and a more convenient retail environment."
Retailers who successfully build shopper/user loyalty will stand to amass a cache of critical data, ranging from what consumers are or aren't buying to their credit-card information.
On Tuesday, Apple launched its new iCloud service, which nudges users toward buying media content from its iTunes Store and purchasing multiple Apple gadgets to use the media. The service, which will be available as a free software update on Oct. 12, automatically syncs songs purchased from iTunes as well as photos, documents and other digital content across all of a user's Apple devices. For example, when someone buys a song on the iTunes store using an iPhone or iPod Touch, it automatically downloads to his or her Mac computer.
At Apple's WWDC, Steve Jobs introduces the concept of iCloud and how this service relates to the Contacts, Calendar, and Mail apps.
Apple said the service "stores your content and wirelessly pushes it to all your devices."
Apple is also rolling out a service called iTunes Match that lets users store music they didn't buy from iTunes for $24.99 a year.
The Fire tablet Amazon unveiled last Thursday, meanwhile, encourages users to make purchases from its site and expands the customer base for its cloud storage service. Amazon offers Fire tablet users free remote storage of digital books, music and other content purchased on its site.
Fire users can store content they didn't buy on Amazon in the cloud, but have to start paying for it after they reach 5 gigabytes, the equivalent of about 1,000 songs, 2,000 photos or up to 20 minutes of HD video. Pricing ranges from 20 gigabytes for $20 a year up to 1,000 gigabytes for $1,000.
Jeff Bezos, Amazon's chief executive, said Thursday the tablet enables a service that will wrap the Web, movies, apps, books and games "into a remarkable product offering customers will love."
Both Apple and Amazon have head starts on rivals in the race to control digital media consumption.
Amazon is the Internet's No. 1 retailer by sales. The company built massive server farms to deal with data generated by its online marketplace. Technology developed for its Amazon Web Services unit, the largest renter of on-demand storage space to other companies, powers some of the Fire's capabilities. Amazon's Kindle e-readers gave it a foothold in digital media devices and e-book sales.
Meanwhile, the popularity of Apple's consumer gadgets guarantees that content will be available for them. The company said Tuesday it has sold more than 250 million devices running its wireless operating system; meanwhile, its iTunes Store is the world's largest music retailer. Apple also has built its own huge server farm in North Carolina.
Apple's cloud music service doesn't require customers to upload songs—those bought on iTunes, at least—considered an advantage over competing services from Amazon and Google Inc.
Google, Microsoft Corp. and others have made inroads into consumer and digital media businesses, but no other companies have done as much as Apple and Amazon to integrate software and hardware, said Ray Wang, chief executive of Constellation Research Inc.
Mr. Wang said that broadly speaking, such devices and services will likely transform the way people shop, advertise and gather information used to make business decisions.
Mr. Wang said.
"This is really about how we access, how we consume and how we share information,"
COMMENTARY: Which ever cloud music storage and streaming service you use will depend on your personal preferences:
Compatability with desktop and mobile music devices.
Overall user ease-of-use especially with different mobile music devices.
Speed of uploading and downloading.
Amount of FREE storage capacity.
Cost of storage capacity.
Compatability and ease of use with different different music players.
Music, image, ebook and video file synchronization.
Fortunately, there are several sources for comparing the different cloud music storage and streaming services from Apple, Google, Microsoft, Amazon and others.
On June 15, 2011, Lifehacker prepared a very comprehensive comparison of the cloud music storage and streaming services from Music Beta by Google, Amazon Cloud Player, Apple iCloud, Subsonic, mSpot, grooveshark, Rdio and Spotify. mSpot, Rdio and Spotify will be available on Facebook, but you need to download their app. Lifehacker provides comparisons by music platform, price, pros, cons, and who its perfect for. NOTE: This comparison was written over three months ago, so there may be some modifications or updates.
On June 6, 2011, PC World prepared a comparison of the cloud music storage and streaming services from Apple iCloud, Music Beta by Google, Amazon Cloud Player and mSpot. They also prepared the following comparison chart which you might find very helpful in selecting the right cloud service to meet your individual needs.
One June 20, 2011, Wired prepared a comparison chart of the cloud music storage and streaming services from Apple iCloud, Music Beta by Google, Amazon Cloud Player, Windows Live and Dropbox which you may find very interesting.
Most of the above cloud storage and streaming services consolidate a broad spectrum of digital files (music, ebook, video, images, etc.) for your convenience. Features, storage capacity, platform and pricing may have changed so make sure that you check with each service.
On-demand paper book self-publishing service Blurb isn’t scared of the current boom in e-books. The company has announced record growth in its 2009 results and has expanded into e-book publishing.
Based in San Francisco and London, Blurb offers downloadable book-making software from which users can order as many, or as few, copies of their creation as they wish.
Blurb says it has created and shipped more than 1.2 million books in 2009 – more volume than the company had shipped in total since its launch in 2006. In 2009, Blurb reported 50% year-over-year revenue growth in sales of more than $45 million. Figures for the UK were particularly strong, with year-on-year growth of 152% meaning that 40% of the business is now outside of the US.
The record growth came in a year that saw the company expand beyond the consumer market by appealing to creative professionals with its PDF to Book workflow, aimed at photographers, graphic designers and advertising/marketing agencies.
According to Blurb CEO Eileen Gittins, the company will continue its grow in 2010 through innovation, partnerships with “Brands that matter” and an expansion into more markets around the world.
Blurb CEO Eileen Gittins talks about the Genesis behind the idea for her company:
A short tutorial demonstrating Blurb's BookSmart applications software:
Eileen Gittins, the CEO of Blurb , talks e-books, new publishing models and the iPad with StrategyEye.
>What will the book industry look like in 10 years?
It will be a lot smaller. There are two varieties of books: books you want to keep and books you want to consume. For consuming, people will go digital. Within five years, 50% of books will be digital. Then there are other books that you want to keep. They are objects of beauty. They might be reference pieces like a cookbook, or gifts, and you can't give digital. Because of the economy, there will be fewer books in bookstores and fewer bookstores themselves. They won't go away, but they will become more social places. They'll become more like a coffee house, a social place where you meet up with other people for book signings and events.
>How are you doing well when traditional publishing is struggling?
Traditional publishers are suffering from a legacy business model. This is often the case when there is a big disruption in the industry. We are a very direct model where there aren't any of those people on the food chain. We are an internet company. We didn't have all those legacy relationships. We don't pay agents, we don't pay advances and we don't take the risk like big publishers.
The point of this company is not that we're selling 20 books, each of which sell 30,000 copies, but we're doing 30,000 books each of which sells 20 copies. Penguin or Knopf or HarperCollins can't put in a lot of money these days. What they have to do now is put some marketing behind a well-known author that has a big audience. It's really becoming a blockbuster business. The big publishers can't afford to take on the rest of us that may be delighted to sell 20 copies or 2,000 copies. They just don't have the finances to do it. So Blurb becomes a really great outlet for those people who are trying to either break in to build an audience or are publishing because of personal passion and if they sell 50 copies they are thrilled.
>How does your business work?
Our market is split into three segments.
First, personal book makers: people making family books, holiday books, etc, with no intention of selling them for profit. That's about 40% of our business.
Then 30% of our books are promotional marketing tools. Lexus does books with us, Ducati, Honda, Google and Microsoft. Each run will be a few hundred copies. Recently we've seen a spate of company books celebrating some kind of product launch or event. They're not for sale.
The final 30% are absolutely for-profit books. One of the beauties of our online bookstore is that because we make our money on the printing side, you can retain 100% of whatever mark-up you've put on the book over and above your cost.
>Are the big publishers right to keep e-book prices high?
Information wants to be free on the internet so this arbitrary notion that ‘I'm not going to make that same content available from the start in digital form as hardback' is ridiculous and consumers will not stand for that. Publishers need to figure out how to right-size their organisations to fit today's model and how to jettison the things that aren't working. They need to learn to be more efficient in terms of physical distribution and how to do a better job at spotting the big talent that they can put big money behind.
>How are you approaching e-publishing?
We are making investments in e-publishing and outputting to the various e-readers: Nook, Kindle, etc, as well as HTML5 for the iPad. We have one of every e-reader at Blurb and we've hacked books on to everything. This will move forward for two reasons. Firstly, our platform supports it. Secondly, all we do is business online. We have such an investment in communities, online marketing, this is what we know, this is what we do, this is where we live.
Very soon you will see output to e-book standards so that you can make your book available on Google or wherever and will be able to read your book on an e-reader as well as an iPad. The reason why this isn't already available from Blurb is up until pretty recently it was all e-readers. Now it's on the iPad as well, it is 10% of our business. Now that colour is in the world it makes things way more interesting. In addition to printing copies of their book, many of our authors have iPad versions.
I think the iPad has changed people's relationship to technology in a very intimate way. Your access to technology is not about producing, it is now about consuming media. Before, if your laptop or mobile phone was your consumption device, you had limitations. But on the iPad, if you want to consume video games, a book, or look at television, it's brilliant. I think it's going to change the distribution of print media and it's going to change people's fundamental relationship to technology.
>How does the rest of the publishing industry see your business?
Two years ago, they'd probably wish we'd go away. That's not true now. We're being approached now, with publishers for partnerships because there are some book titles that are not economical for them, but they would still like to maintain the relationship with the author. People who go into publishing have a great love for books and it pains them when they're just not set up to get something out. It may be skewed, but those are the ones we are seeing.
COMMENTARY: Blurb makes it very easy for anybody to publish their own books. The process is very simple:
Select the desired type of book: photobooks, text and photo books, and PDF books.
Select the desired book size.
Select desired book page layout.
Add content, namely photos and text.
Blurb offers three options for publishing a book:
Bookify Online - A user-friendly online application for publishing photobooks.
Blurb BookSmart - An online application for publishing books containing both photos and text. First you must register online in order to download a free copy of Blurb's BookSmart software for your PC or Mac, then install the software on your PC, and you're off and running.
PDF-to-Book - PDF to Book gives professional users full creative reign over the bookmaking process. Blurb offers blank Adobe® InDesign® templates tailored for use with all of their book sizes, papers, and cover types. Or use their detailed specifications to create PDFs using your favorite layout tool. Once your page and cover PDFs are ready, simply upload and order your book.
A soft cover book can cost as little as $12.95. A hardcover as little as $24.95. The more books you order the lower the price per unit. The pricing is quite reasonable when compared to hiring a traditional book publisher.
Blurb also operates an online bookstore to assist authors in selling their books.
This is one cool idea and something I am definitely interested in using for my Entrepreneurship Series for New Technology Ventures.
Courtesy of an article dated July 12, 2010 appearing in StrategyEye
He shows ad revenue from help wanted classifieds dropping 92% in last 10 years, hitting $723 million last year, down from $8.7 billion in 2000. Once that easy money left the newspaper industry it was a lot harder to earn as much profit.
Cendella says it didn't have to be this way: "Newspaper executives knew what had to be done to compete successfully in the future but were afraid to upset the people responsible for the past. It was a lack of courage, not a lack of clarity."
COMMENTARY: The demise of the newspaper industry is due to advances in technology. The shift from print to digital is the main culprit. Print media is now moving online or on mobile apps for viewing on smartphones like the iPhone and tablets like the iPad. This shift in technology has affected many industries, including film, photography, newspapers, magazines and books. It seems that a day doesn't go that a major newspaper doesn't announce layoffs or closes down. Printed books will probably be obsolete in about five years. Borders recently filed for bankruptcy.
The inevitable shift to digital finally came in 2010, as more Americans got their daily news from online sources other than print, according to the Biannual News Consumption Survey from the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press. The findings were released this week as part of Pew's annual overview of the news media.
Specifically, Pew found that the proportion of U.S. adults who said they got their news online the day before increased from 29% in 2008 to 34% in 2010. The proportion that cited print newspapers as the source of their recent news fell from 34% in 2008 to 31% in 2010.
Online still trailed broadcast and cable TV as a news source, which still enjoys the broadest reach. Indeed, the proportion that said they got their recent news from these sources actually increased slightly to 58%.
Likewise, the Internet came out ahead of print in terms of time spent with news sources, with an average 13 minutes per day, according to Pew. That stat beats print newspapers at 10 minutes, but trails TV at 19 minutes and radio at 15 minutes.
This good news for broadcast and cable TV was tempered somewhat by a more pronounced shift in news consumption habits among younger adults. Pew found that the Internet is now the No. 1 news source for the 18-29 cohort, with 65% saying they get most of their news online, compared to 52% for TV and just 21% for newspapers.
By contrast, TV still dominated in the 30-49 cohort, with 63% citing TV news as their top news source compared to 48% for the Internet.
It's worth noting that online news consumption is still dominated by traditional news sources -- including Web sites maintained by newspapers, which many publishers see as the key to future success.
Conversely, Pew noted that online advertising has not proved nearly as lucrative as print for newspaper publishers, raising questions about their ability to maintain both profitability and large news-gathering organizations.
Pew also noted the rise of online-only news operations, such as The Huffington Post, which now hold seven of the top 25 spots for online news consumption. However, five of these seven generate most of their traffic by aggregating traditional media.
I get all my news stories from TWITTER and I encourage you to follow me and read my blog regularly.
For a detailed discussion of the U.S. newspaper industry and up-to-date list of U.S. newspapers that have gone out of business or on the verge, check out Newspaper Death Watch.
Ebony magazine is introducing what it calls its first cover-to-cover redesign since its introduction in 1945 as part of a bid to regain momentum after missing its paid circulation guarantees to advertisers for a year and a half.
Ebony missed its guaranteed rate base of 1.25 million by an average of 6.5% in the second half of 2009, 10.8% in the first half of 2010 and 20.2% in the second half of 2010, according to its statements with the Audit Bureau of Circulations.
It places most of the blame on its prior circulation management, which it says it has improved by outsourcing it to circulation veterans last October. Their diagnosis found insufficient direct-mail campaigns and prices that were occasionally more aggressive than other magazines.
"If you're not constantly reaching out and asking people to come back on, they fall off," said Rodrigo Sierra, senior VP-chief marketing officer at Johnson Publishing, which owns Ebony and Jet.
Last August Johnson Publishing named Desiree Rogers, the former White House social secretary, to take over as CEO, just one of several personnel changes that might play a role in Ebony's effort to rebound.
Ebony's latest step is the redesign from Amy DuBois Barnett, who was named editor in chief last June, and Darhil Crooks, who joined in January as creative director from Esquire, where he had been art director.
"This is a top-to-bottom redesign, not a small one," Ms. Barnett said". "This is everything from introducing an evolution of our 65-year-old logo to really taking apart every single page in the magazine and putting it back together with an eye to the brand pillars that we now think best reflect our target demographic.
"In talking to our demographic I saw that there are so many African-Americans who are doing extremely well and yet everybody talked about striving," she added. "The people I really want to make sure read this are really goal-oriented and working on improving their lives. I've woven that theme throughout the book."
A new eight-page section called Elevate, for example, focuses on inspiration, empowerment and advocacy -- intended to deliver a mind, body and spirit perspective more than just tips on losing weight or what kind of berries to eat, Ms. Barnett said.
Other elements include four new editorial departments, a first "evolution" of the logo, cleaner design and a new color pallet.
Ebony has also been suffering in ad page sales. Ebony's ad pages declined 11.2% in 2010, compared to a 0.1% slip across magazines as a whole, and sank 38.9% in 2009 while magazines on the whole fell 25.6%, according to the Publishers Information Bureau.
The circulation shortfalls didn't help. "We can now go out in the marketplace and say we'll be back to our 1.25 million in the first half," said Stephen Gregory Barr, the former OK magazine publisher who was named senior VP and group publisher at Johnson Publishing last month.
"A lot of people were saying, 'Oh, they're damaged, they're going to fold,'" Mr. Barr added. "Even with the slip we were a little under a million. The demand didn't go away. We're now coming to the table saying we're still here."
COMMENTARY: I worked in the magazine publishing industry briefly, and it is a very tough market. The Great Recession and shift to digital content, has dramatically changed magazine publishing. You can download digital versions of these magazines for $1.99 to $2.99 per issue. I hoope that Ebony has incorporated digital in their strategy.
I love the new look of Ebony Magazine, and having the beautiful actress Halle Barry gracing the cover should spike newstand sales. After a baby, she is looking very good. How does she do it?
Courtesy of an article dated March 4, 2011 appearing in AdAge MEDIAWORKS and an article dated February 13, 2011 appearing in Got Celeb
Some Concessions, but Device-Maker Will Take Customary 30% and Control Subscriber Data on App Store Sub
NEW YORK (AdAge.com) -- When Apple introduced its iPad last spring, some of the first apps were iPad editions of magazines such as Time, Men's Health and Popular Science. But something was missing: the ability to sell subscriptions to those apps.
Now that's changed. Apple announced today that it would enable subscriptions, a key business model for all types of media, including magazines, newspapers, music services, video and games. But as is typical for Apple, its plan includes tight controls on pricing and customer data, as well as its customary 30% cut of revenue.
In some regards the plan appears to meet many publishers' key demands. They can sell iPad subscriptions on their own websites, keeping 100% of the revenue and collecting all the customer data they want. And they can elect to give existing customers free access to the iPad app, an ability that Time Inc.'s People magazine was able to secure but more magazines have not. But when a subscription originates within the App Store, where a huge proportion of sales will naturally occur, this plan may still leave publishers wanting.
Netflix and Hulu Plus, for example, are currently on the iPad with apps that authenticate subscriptions sold elsewhere, subscriptions on which Netflix and Hulu Plus keep all the revenue and subscriber data. But any new subscribers who sign up through the App Store will give Apple the opportunity to take 30% and a direct relationship with the customer.
Apple doesn't automatically pass on any information on subscribers who sign up inside iTunes, nor on what they watch or read within the app. Apple will allow publishers to ask subscribers to share information such as their name and ZIP code voluntarily. Last week a magazine executive said that approach wouldn't satisfy some publishers. "It depends on whether you're optimistic on the opt-ins or pessimistic," the executive said. "Some people would say that's a good start. Others would say nobody is going to opt in."
"Our philosophy is simple -- when Apple brings a new subscriber to the app, Apple earns a 30% share; when the publisher brings an existing or new subscriber to the app, the publisher keeps 100% and Apple earns nothing," Steve Jobs, Apple's CEO, said in a statement.
There are other caveats that will give some media owners pause. For starters, Apple requires that publishers offer their subscriptions through iTunes at the same price or lower than elsewhere, even though Apple's 30% cut renders those subscriptions less profitable. Publishers are getting much more generous terms from Google, for example, which sees the content as necessary to drive adoption of Android.
While the plan continues Apple's standard revenue sharing for anything sold through iTunes, the arrangement is still far from standard for publishers, which have long enjoyed direct billing relationships with their subscribers. "The only person standing between us and our subscribers was the mailman," one publishing executive said recently.
Data on subscribers is one of publishers' most valuable assets, a trove of information that they both use to pitch additional products to their subscribers and sell to other marketers that want to do the same thing.
Time Inc. executives last week said they were continuing talks with Apple and were "confident" they would be able to reach an agreement to sell subscriptions through iTunes. Is this it? For the moment, Time Inc. execs aren't talking. A spokeswoman declined to comment, as did executives at other magazine companies.
Publishers say privately that terms are going to vary widely among online distributors, depending, of course, on their leverage and the amount of production and back-end work they agree to undertake.
"Subscriptions across digital bundles and print bundles will not be a one-size-fits-all solution," Time Inc. Chief Digital Officer Randall Rothenberg said last week. "Walmart has a different way of retailing than Duane Reade has. We're still in early days of the evolution. It's only been nine months for the world to learn a new form of retailing."
COMMENTARY: Shortly after the iPad was released, but before iPad's magazine subscription announcement, magazines were selling digital issues for the iPad, but according to the Audit Bureau of Circulation, which tracks magazine circulation numbers, magazine sales plummed significantly by the end of 2010. Many experts had predicted the decline, because digital magazine prices tend to be higher than the real magazines at the newstand.
Print is slowly going out of favor, not only for magazines, but hardcover books and newspapers. Publisher's are converting their publications to digital format before the day of reckoning arrives. Amazon.com already sells more digital books than hardcover books, and Borders, the nationwide bookseller, had their day of reckoning as sales of hardcover books declined so much that they had to file for bankruptcy protection on Wednesday, February 16, 2010.
It is somewhat troubling that magazine publisher's are tredging ahead, and developing magazine apps for the iPad and Android devices. There are several reasons for this:
Digital magazines reduce their distribution costs. Some magazine distributors can take as much as 40%-50% of newstand sales.
Magazine publisher's do not have to take back or recycle unsold newstand magazines for credit.
Digital magazines greatly reduces their printing costs, which continue to skyrocket, as the cost of labor, paper and ink increase.
Digital magazines provide a better reading experience than their hardcover counterparts. You can add video and audio, something you cannot do with print.
Digital advertisements are easier to produce insert in digital format than they are for printed magazines. Publishing management software brings a lot of efficiencies in cost and time, speeding up add placement within a magazine, so that the ads are uniformly placed.
An iPad user can click on a digital magazine ad, and be able to immediately obtain additional information about offer, and order online if they wish. This is something you cannot do with printed magazines.
In spite of the 30% cut that Apple takes if they sell the subscription, a magazine publisher will make money, stead of lose money as many of them are with their newstand sales. It appears to be a win-win, but mostly for Apple, which has sticked to its guns and controls the data from the subscriptions they sell.
Courtesy of an article dated February 15, 2011 appearing in Advertising Age
Some firms foster strong, team oriented cultures. Others just bribe their employees with free food.
Every year Fortune magazine releases its list of the country's best companies to work. But it's pretty silly when you think about it: Do you really think that the culture and benefits of working at The Container Store can be directly compared to the perks associated with a Google job? Putting them all on a list makes it seems like they succeed along similar dimensions, when it really couldn't be further from the truth. Every company is different, and they treat their employees differently with regard to the culture, benefits, and job roles.
We're happy to report then that Fortune has made an interactive infographic of their top 25 companies to work for in 2011, produced by Tommy McCall, that really gets to the root of why people like working at certain companies. Essentially, it boils down the thousands of employee surveys they gathered into an easily digestible format, showing exactly what works people most often cite when raving about their jobs.
The above Fortune Best Companies To Work For is an interactive chart that works as follows:
It starts off with a company view. Using the blue elevator bar you can view all 25 companies.
Clicking on each company, brings up a word cloud, where words most frequently mentioned show up larger.
You can click on any of those words to bring up the actual quotations. It gets interesting is when you compare the words that pop up for different companies.
You might think that pay and benefits loom large in what makes a job there good. But in fact, people are far more likely to cite being a "member" of a "team." The quotations tell you a lot about each company. You may hear that one reason that people enjoy their jobs so much is that they feel like they're part of a collective effort, working with people who share a common goal. The culture somehow really does instill a sense of shared purpose, which is perhaps the hardest thing for any organization to accomplish.
If you click on BCG's word cloud, the words "Team" and "client" often come up, telling you that the massive consulting firm also instills something like a client-focused culture -- in other words, a sense of purpose beyond your own job. But workers are far more likely to cite "people" and "benefit," showing you that the culture seems more about individual relationships with co-workers, and cushy 401K matches make the long hours worth it.
If you click on Google, #2 on Fortune's list, the words "People" again comes up often, but "team" isn't even on the radar -- this isn't a hugely team-oriented culture. But the other words that loom largest are "free," "food," "perk," and "benefit." Google might be a fun place to work, and you might work among amazing people, but it's hard to escape the idea that the firm simply buys people's satisfaction by throwing free stuff at them. That's a far cry from The Container Store or BCG.
The infographic is perhaps even more useful in it's second way of viewing the survey results. Instead of looking by companies, you can look by words, then you can click on them to see what people say at different companies, while using that word. Thus, you can use the list to search for companies who value the same things you -- whether it's big perks or a family oriented environment.
COMMENTARY: Fortune hit it on the nail when they pointed out that Google was more about "people" than "teams". If you read my previous blog post about Google's new Pittsburgh offices, you can clearly see how Google showers its employees with a sort of playground office environment. Whether that type of office environment is conducive for teamwork is questionable. Facebook does the same thing by serving free four star cuisine. You will also recall that in November Google showered its entire staff with Christmas bonuses and a $10,000 raise. That action were more to stem the tide of defections of their engineers to Facebook, their mortal enemy.
Just so you know, Fortune's Best Companies To Work For in 2011 lists 100 companies. You can find the complete list HERE. Fortune's Best Companies To Work For in 2010 list is HERE. SAS makes #1 two years in a row. Google maintained its # 4 ranking in both 2010 and 2011. Zappo's, Boston Consulting Group and Recreational Equipment moved up several notches in 2011. Qualcomm dropped out of the 2011 list. World Foods and Container Store made the top 25 list for the first time. Surprisingly, Apple never made either list. Ain't that weird?
Here's the Fortune Top 25 Best Companies To Work For in 2011:
The media world has been impatiently waiting for Apple's iPad daily newspaper, built as a collaboration between Steve Jobs' company and Rupert Murdoch's News Corp. for months. It was first teased for a January launch--which Steve Jobs was slated to attend--then delayed. Today, it's live.
The Daily will cost $0.99 per week, or at a small discount for $40 per year, and is promising to include over 100 pages of original news in each issue. The newspaper is billed automatically, to customers iTunes accounts, on a weekly or annual basis.
At its launch News Corp.'s owner Rupert Murdoch was careful to note Steve Jobs and Apple's role in its development, saying "I'd like to thank the amazing steve jobs the man who has singlehandeldly changed the world of media. We're honored Apple has put its support behind this venture, and Steve has been a champion of The Daily from day one." Then Murdoch noted that the digital revolution really has caught the traditional newspaper napping--but never more so than with the tablet revolution: "New times demand new journalism," he observed, adding "the iPad demands that we completely re-imagine our craft." You can bet that News Corp. won't run away from paper editions and websites yet though--despite all that re-imagining.
In terms of features, the newspaper features traditional text-based stories, video and interactive content--and much was made of the 360-degree photos that'll let photojournalism go far beyond what's possible in a printed context.
Embracing the social media phenomenon, you'll be able to share stories on Twitter, Facebook and via email, and the mechanism seems very Apple-esque--you simply click to clip, save and press send to share the content you've chosen. This is a boon for some, who'd wondered if News Corp. would pull its habitual "linking is the enemy of news" stunt--and represents something of a reversal in attitude. Stories within The Daily will also link out to the Web, so it's not a completely closed ecosystem. However, the openness of the app is limited--though the presenters were wary about answering questions about "discoverability" it seems like you'll be able to share content with other readers of the Daily, and non-readers too--but the non-readers won't get any of the app's interactivity and there's nowhere on the Web they can link to it. This is almost in line with the comment that "hundreds of billions of people sharing content on the web, and we want to be a part of it."
In terms of real-time "serious" journalism, the paper is hitting the ground running--and has a reporter, Josh Hearst, in place in Egypt to report on ongoing events there. The presenters at the launch event were careful to note the Daily isn't a "static" publication, but that new pages can be "dropped in anytime"--which means it takes a lot of inspiration from the Web, but retains some of the formats usually associated with print newspapers.
Murdoch noted "our ambitions are very big, but our costs are very low," in reference to how The Daily's financial model will work (a key fact that'll be scrutinized by media watchers and competitors), adding: "but if you talk about success financially, it's really a very low figure." The app reportedly cost $30 million to develop, "all of which as been written off." Meanwhile running costs are "less than half a million a week [...] all without advertisers." That's particularly interesting, as it gives us a direct flavor of how many subscribers the app needs to break even--500,000 returning every week--before it can report a profit.
The app will, Murdoch noted, be an Apple-only affair for "this year and next." But the newspaper will be refined to work on other platforms as the "major" ones "get established."
The Daily has been in and out of the headlines for months, most recently because it seemed Apple was behind the delay in launch. Accepting subscription-style payments, and then pushing out the new content to the app on a daily basis, was trickier than at first thought. This is absolutely crucial tech, as it really enables consumers to think of the Daily's app as a single entity that has updating content--like a digital daily newspaper, in fact. It's a subtle change from having to re-load an app, as some iPad magazines require, but it may help keep users subscribing as it takes less effort--and the psychological cues that make The Daily seem like a real paper newspaper may be important, especially to an industry giant like News Corp. that would prefer to keep the status quo.
Why's The Daily important, though? For starters, that subscriptions framework will enable a bunch of other newspapers and magazines to really ramp-up their efforts in iPad publishing. There's been much grumbling in the publishing world about this issue for ages, which may strike some as a little ironic: The iPad is often touted as a potential savior of news and paper publishing (enabling old publications to transform themselves for the interactive, social-media-driven 21st Century while still trading on their brand identities) and here they are complaining that Apple isn't doing what they'd like. The potential success of The Daily could also be seen as a barometer for the success of other paid digital news systems.
The New York Times may be one of the early beneficiaries of The Daily--it's been touting its News.Me app as a direct competitor. The app makes heavy use of social media profiling to build its content, a lot like Flipboard, but it includes content licensed-in from other news organizations, so it's a paid app that delivers more traditional news than you may find elsewhere online.
We know it's a serious effort to change the news business because some of the staff(identified by online detective work, and news stories over several months) include ex-employees of the New York Post, AP, The Atlantic, AOL and a number of other news organizations. The Chief Technical Officer is John McKinley, previously head technical guy at AOL and before at Merrill Lynch. In total there are around 100 staff, split roughly 90%/10% between editing-writing and support services--huge for a magazine staff, relatively small for a daily newspaper. Their wages will come out of a budget estimated to be around $30 million per year.
COMMENTARY: Murdoch can't seem to get anything. Finally his paper joins the digital age. I am very pessimistic that The Daily is going to catch on in large numbers given the $40 month subscription. Newspaper and magazine publisher's gain lower printing costs because they don't have to print as many issues, and they can cram as many ads as they want, specifically targeted to YOU the reader. On the other hand, digital newspapers and magazines can cost nearly twice their printed counterparts. iPad owners pay newspaper publisher's a daily rate of $0.99 to $1.99 per issue. Magazines are a bit more, from FREE to $4.99 per month. $40.00 per month would place The Daily's rate of $0.99 per week and $40.00 per week is a pretty good value. Before I forget, Apple keeps 30% of the revenues. What a fucking racket, or should I say, money machine Jobs has created.
As reported in Electronista, since the iPad was introduced, more magazines and newspapers have joined the iPad bandwagon, but the initial euphoria over digital issues has waned substantially. According to data from the Audit Bureau of Circulation, iPad magazine subscriptions dropped by 50% in December.
Publishers are reported to be hoping numbers will go back up as a result of holiday hardware sales. The magazine industry is currently hampered, however, by an absence of subscription support at the App Store, which forces people to buy issues individually unless downloads are tied to an outside paper subscription. Apple is believed to be working on native support, even if a resistance to making concessions in negotiations may be hampering progress.
Although there is a lot of buzz surrounding The Daily 's new iPad digital magazine, I think Murdoch will quickly discover that digital magazines are not the goldmine many imagined. However, as the number of iPad owner's increases, the digital magazines and newspapers subscriptions should increase to offset reader's who are dropping out.
Mike Cane's xBlog has a very comprehensive list of digital newspapers and magazines available for the iPad. You can find the list HERE.