Friday News: Gawker’s uncertain future, 120 years of the NYTBR, SMS stories, and a father’s heart
Here’s Nick Denton’s goodbye note to Gawker – Despite a standing offer from Ziff Davis, Univision ended up the winner in the Gawker auction, and a federal bankruptcy judge has signed off on the $135 million deal. Not surprisingly, Univision didn’t want Gawker.com to be part of the deal, or Nick Denton. This appears to be a case where there are no heroes, and most of the players seem like real a-holes.
Sadly, neither I nor Gawker.com, the buccaneering flagship of the group I built with my colleagues, are coming along for this next stage. Desirable though the other properties are, we have not been able to find a single media company or investor willing also to take on Gawker.com. The campaign being mounted against its editorial ethos and former writers has made it too risky. I can understand the caution.
Even if the appeals court overturns this spring’s Florida jury verdict, Peter Thiel has already achieved many of his objectives. – recode
1896 | The Book Review Is Born – Outside of the Times‘ amusing bravado, this look back at the decision to create a book section, and then to move it to Sunday, is chock full of ‘the more things change, the more they stay the same’ moments. From the perceived impending doom of the department store (!) to the “borrowing” of text from other media, there’s a lot here to chuckle at, including this passage from a history of the Times quotes in the article:
“It found immediate favor with readers, but not with advertisers. Book publishers argued that when the book reviews were embodied in the regular news columns of the paper, as had previously been the custom, they and the adjacent advertising would be seen by the general reader; whereas if they were segregated in a special supplement they would receive the attention only of the limited and presumably impecunious section of the reading public which was interested in books.”
“Only very slowly did the publishers realize that people who were interested in books were more likely to buy books when they had any money to buy them than those who irritably turned over the sheet in order to escape from the book reviews to the sporting news on the next page.” – New York Times
The Best New Way to Read? Novels Told Through Text Messages – Again, outside of the fact that THIS IS NOT A NEW FORM OF WRITING, there is a new iPhone app, called Hooked, that allows people to read and create stories entirely in SMS. Apparently suspense and horror are especially popular, as they easily lend themselves to the serial structure.
Hooked began life when Prerna Gupta, a serial mobile entrepreneur, took a year off to write fiction with her husband. They originally experimented with publishing short stories on a mobile app but were dismayed to find that people read to the end only 15 percent of the time (even though the stories were only about five-minute reads).
Then Gupta tried an experiment: publishing stories purely as text streams. Readers would start by reading one message, then hit a big Nextbutton to continue. Presto: The completion rate shot up to 85 percent. Since the app launched last fall, Gupta has published 9,000 stories, with the top 10 amassing an impressive 100,000 reads. Something about this format grabs readers by the collars—including me. When I first booted up Hooked, I wound up reading nonstop for three hours, frantically mashing the Next button over and over. – Wired
Bride Walked Down the Aisle by Man Who Received Her Father’s Heart – Or, why organ donation can be a beautiful thing (and has anyone seen that movie “Return to Me” with Minnie Driver and David Duchovny?)
Jeni was married to Paul Maenner on Aug. 6, a decade after her dad Michael Stepien was killed during a robbery by gunpoint on Sept. 29, 2006. His organs were donated and his heart was received by Arthur “Tom” Thomas of New Jersey. . . .
Jeni and Tom have been exchanging letters and gifts since her dad died. Prior to her wedding, she sent him a letter, which read: “‘Tom, I’m the daughter of the man whose heart’s inside you, and I’m going to get married on Aug. 6t. One further thing, if you’re willing — would you walk me down the aisle?'” Tom told WABC-TV. – ABC News