Friday, June 25, 2010

Publish or Perish

I recently read the online edition of an insightful article by media maven Ken Auletta from the April 26, 2010 issue of The New Yorker titled “Publish or Perish: Can the iPad Topple the Kindle and Save the Book Business?” and highly recommend reading it at It is invaluable material for anyone involved in publishing today.

To get a comprehensive perspective of publishing’s challenges Auletta interviews several industry insiders for the article, including Amazon vice president of Kindle content Russ Grandinetti, who personally thinks that publishers are asking the wrong questions about the future.

According to Grandinetti, the real competition is not between traditional books and e-books. “TV, movies, Web browsing, video games are all competing for people’s valuable time. And if the book doesn’t compete we think that over time the industry will suffer,” Auletta quotes Grandinetti as saying. Consequently, Grandinetti suggests that to thrive publishers have to reimagine the book as multimedia entertainment.

Auletta reports that, along with others, David Rosenthal, the publisher of Simon & Schuster, is actively embedding audio and video and other value-added features in e-books. According to Auletta, Rosenthal says that the iPad “has opened up the possibility that we are no longer dealing with a static book. You have tremendous possibilities.”

Whoever wins the e-book sweepstakes, one thing is becoming increasingly clear: readers want what they want when they want it and the publishers who are ready, willing, and able to accommodate them will profit by meeting the need for convenient, cost-effective delivery of compelling content.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Power to the People

According to an article in today’s New York Times titled “Aiming at Rivals, Starbucks Will Offer Free Wi-Fi,” the ubiquitous coffee chain will finally do the right thing and serve up complimentary hotspots with its hot coffee starting July the 1st. Apparently the move is an effort to reach the newly unemployed and mobile clientele who were heading to the local library or other neighborhood hotspots for their daily fix.

As I blogged about in my 07/30/09 posting titled “Join the Revolution,” Starbucks has offered a couple free hours with an active customer card for the last year or so but it is high time it joined the likes of Panera Bread, Barnes & Noble and even McDonald’s in offering unlimited online access.

Through a partnership with Yahoo, Starbucks is offering patrons free online articles, music, videos and other content, including free access to paid Web sites like those of The Wall Street Journal and Zagat and free iTunes downloads. And perhaps best of all, patrons will no longer need to endure the cumbersome log-in process that Starbucks used to require.

Personally, I am thrilled about the announcement since I’ve had my share of frustrating log-on experiences at various Starbucks, particularly during a holiday visit to New York City, where I never was able to get online at any of the several Starbucks we frequented. As I’ve grown fond of saying, “power to the people!”