Wednesday News: On deals, coloring, making, and leading
Daily E-Book Deals Are Gaining Traction – Services like BookBub are becoming more popular marketing tools for publishers like Kensington and Simon & Schuster. As traditional publishers continue to raise e-book prices, they are also hoping to sell more digital content through daily deals, even as they worry (sigh) about conditioning readers to lower digital books prices. Note to publishing: give readers the same rights we have with print copies, and some of us will consider paying $13-$15 bucks for an e-book. Until then, why would we pay more for less?
For publishers, the promotions are a form of advertising in an industry that traditionally has spent cautiously. There is hope the services could help jump-start stagnant e-book sales. A survey of 1,200-plus publishers by the Association of American Publishers found e-book revenue for consumer titles fell 11% this year through August to $964 million.
The daily deals promoters don’t sell directly. Instead, they link to leading e-retailers such as Amazon.com,Barnes & Noble Inc.,Apple Inc. and Google Inc. in exchange for a referral fee they say ranges from 5% to 10% of the retail price. They also collect a fee from publishers and self-published writers, who pay to have their works included in the daily emails. – Wall Street Journal
Adult Coloring Books Were Popular (and Subversive) in the 1960s – For the short version of this welcome addition to the whole adult coloring book phenomenon, check out the Smithsonian article linked above. For the long version, this New Republic article is a great chronicle of the 1960s phenomenon of — you got it — adult coloring books. SUBVERSIVE adult coloring books! As Laura Marsh explains,
The opening lines of the song, “My Coloring Book,” refer to that year’s fevered interest in coloring books for adults, much like the trend that has taken off recently. “For those who fancy coloring books / As certain people do,” Streisand sings, before asking listeners to fill her sorrowful life with equally sorrowful hues. When the song came out, coloring books for adults permeated pop culture, as Mort Drucker’s JFK Coloring Book spent 14 weeks at the top of the New York Timesbestseller list in 1962, and sales of adult coloring books reached $1 million. Today, coloring books are perhaps even more profitable: Johanna Basford’s Secret Gardenand Enchanted Forest were the two best-selling books on Amazon in April, responsible for some of the year’s recovery in print sales. (Basford has sold nearly 10 million coloring books since Secret Garden was published in 2013.) But their powerful appeal—enthusiasts say they are a “great way to de-stress”—has very little in common with adult coloring books from the 1960s. Where today’s titles offer consumers a neat package of therapy, escape and nostalgia, 1960s coloring books were both genuinely novel and subversive. – The New Republic and Smithsonian Magazine
Burning Man: the art of maker culture – An interesting essay on the artistic culture of Nevada’s Burning Man festival, an enormous annual desert event that generates diverse, and largely temporary, creative projects. Because the economy of Burning Man is one of barter, many of its participants see it as purer because of its perceived lack of commercialism and consumer culture. However, as NK Guy points out, the funding for Burning Man, and any number of its elaborate installations, is heavily funded, often by corporate donors, even if the familiar markers of sponsorship are not present. Still, Guy argues that the artistic environment of Burning Man continues to promote and protect artistic expression as direct, personal, and hands on.
It should be no surprise that Burning Man, while held in Nevada, is a product of San Francisco’s Bay Area, the birthplace of many 20th century cultural revolutions. Hippies and hackers are the awkward parents of the event, with a contingency of punks snarling on the sidelines. The do-it-yourself tradition of the late 60s and 70s has transitioned into the CPU-driven world of contemporary makers, and these diverse cultural strands are all critical ingredients that make up the Burning Man of today.
In fact, I’d argue that, after the promotion of user-generated art, Burning Man’s chief cultural legacy may be inadvertently helping to stoke the fires of the modern “maker” movement. A loose and freewheeling reaction to the corporate universe of sealed iPhones and locked-down operating systems, makers are keen on wresting mass-market technology out of the grasp of large companies, and building homegrown micro-utopias of 3D printing, cheap CPUs and open source code. Countless fascinating projects have had their origins in a Burning Man-hosted idea. The event has become a place for social networking, for beta testing new projects in a very unforgiving environment, for technofetishists to bond while partying in the desert. Just as importantly, the “how did they do that?” sentiment changes quickly to an inspired “I can do that too!” – Boing Boing
CEO Secrets: Kobo boss on spotting “unconscious bias” – So apparently BBC has a “CEO Secrets” video series, and this on features Michael Tamblyn talking about the cultivation of corporate culture and the need for leaders to have a high level of self-awareness. – BBC News