Weekly Recap for September 10, 2010
A good deal of book-related news this week, some of it even concerning books other than the Koran. Happy Eid!
Your Brand is NOT a Community
A theme running through the publishing world this week is monetization of content by building brands vs. building “communities.”
“Build consumer brands,”
Said Shiv Singh at keynote presentation at the inaugural Digital Book World Conference that, in retrospect, set the tone for what was to come in 2010.
Guy LeCharles Gonzalez, writing in Digital Book World, says:
“While Singh and others, myself included, have noted the need for publishers to move from a business-to-business model to a business-to-consumer model, some arguments have mistaken “brand” for “community”, using them interchangeably.”
LeCharles quotes Brian Klems, Online Community Editor for Writer’s Digest, which is celebrating its 90th anniversary this year, who articulates the difference between the two:
“The difference between a brand and community is that a community offers content its audience actually wants. The dialogue allows for us to stay on the same page with each other and our audience. That’s more valuable than you realize.”
“Without a real, vibrant community, commerce is a tough sell, no matter how strong you think your “brand” might be.”
Monetization in “Brand vs. Community”
Don Linn furthered the discussion on Brand vs. Community this week, in essence breaking down the steps needed to monetize a “community.”
“Monetizing communities for profit requires several things. Among them are:
1. A thorough understanding of customer acquisition costs;
2. The ability to convert a community member to a paying customer (and an understanding of the associated time and cost of doing it),
3. Frequent and consistently good, relevant content flow to keep the customer engaged (and paying),
4. Wrapping your mind around the concept of the ‘lifetime value of a customer’, and
5. The ability to scale the offering to a large enough audience or, in the alternate, to command a premium price.”
And he concludes:
“While you’re busy building your community, don”t forget the object of the exercise is to make money from its members.”
From Salon: The trouble with Google Books Laura Miller, in a piece on Salon.com this week, writes on the issue of “endemic errors” in Google Books, and how they threaten the scholarly mission of the project:
For example, Sigmund Freud is listed as a co-author of a book on the Mosaic Web browser and Henry James is credited with writing “Madame Bovary.” Even more puzzling are the many subject misclassifications: an edition of “Moby Dick” categorized under “Computers,” and “Jane Eyre” as “Antiques and Collectibles.”
“People at Google are also saying, “Let’s crowdsource this,” but that is a stupid idea. You and I are both smart, knowledgeable people, but I wouldn’t trust either of us to do the skilled work of cataloging a 1890 edition of “Madame Bovary.” It’s very difficult. It has to be coordinated by uniform standards. An example of the kind of mess you get when you don’t use uniform standards is Wiktionary (the lexical counterpart of Wikipedia). Unlike an encyclopedia, a dictionary isn’t useful unless it’s consistent in style. And metadata is hard to fix if you don’t get it right in the first place. Someone has to spend a lot of money to properly catalog a research library, and I don’t know if Google understood that going into it.”-
Pentagon Plan: Buying Books to Keep Secrets
The New York Times today broke an interesting story about the possibility of the entire print run of a book being purchased by a single buyer, in this case the Defense Department. Defense Department officials are negotiating to buy and destroy all 10,000 copies of the first printing of an Afghan war memoir they say contains intelligence secrets,according to two people familiar with the dispute.
According to The Times:
“Disputes between the government and former intelligence officials over whether their books reveal too much have become commonplace. But veterans of the publishing industry and intelligence agencies could not recall another case in which an agency sought to dispose of a book that had already been printed.”
Read the full story here.