Category Archives: Publishing Industry News

Pando Daily Does It Right

The new tech news/culture site Pando Daily is a daily read for me and I’ve been keeping up with founder Sarah Lacy since reading her book Once You’re Lucky, Twice You’re Good a couple of years ago. They’ve done a great job of sourcing and surfacing interesting pieces. On top of that, they have a pretty solid editorial process. All of which adds up to . . . publishing. Which is why no one should be surprised they have just released their first eBook: Buy This Book Before You Buy Facebook. It’s priced at $3.99 and, so far, is only available on the Kindle platform. I do hope they share their thought process on why “just Kindle”. I’m guessing it’s either revenue related or they felt the Amazon tools were better to self-publish with. But whatever the reasons, there are lessons here for every publisher. Below is a quick rundown of the four points they got right and the one they missed:

1. Identify your silo/niche/subject and position yourself as a category expert. General publishing is in for a world of hurt over the next few years. There is a reason why we’ve seen some big publishers this year launching new imprints. This is something that needs to be considered at the publisher, series, author and title levels.

2. Build a community and engage daily. Things like brand, sales, followers, etc. will all flow from this. Pando Daily is nearing 20k followers on Twitter, which is where they first announced the eBook. In just 12 hours, their ebook moved up from a sales rank of #4,871 to #672 in the Kindle store. And that was overnight. This a function of building the community first and then tapping into it.

Pando Daily ebook stats

Pando Daily ebook stats 2

3. Pay attention to the news cycle and have tools in place to allow you to collect around a specific topic. It’s no coincidence that they are releasing this Facebook IPO eBook today. Traditional book publishing has been good at this… looking long term. But not so good at building books that repsond in the short term. That will have t change. Ten years ago, only marketers thought about the news cycle. Now publishers, acquisitions editors, authors and product folks need to pay attention.

4. Build your product and add value. Do not just collect all of your posts from one category and call it an ebook. You need to add something else. Make it worth your community’s time. For this product they gathered the folks who have been posting about Facebook and asked for some exclusive essays on the topic. And it can’t have been too much trouble for them as the eBook is only about 74 pages. They also had a solid cover design done. All of which add value. This is something the Pando Daily folks clearly understood bringing extra publishing help from the NSFW Corporation news magazine start-up.

5. Promote and sell where your community is. This is the one they missed. I can’t find the book on Kobo, Nook, Google, etc. By restricting to one platform they are allowing a third-party’s technology, accounts, payment processing and walls to restrict their content. I hope they take the time to build an ePub so they can push their book out on more channels.

I hope publishers everywhere are watching outfits like Pando Daily. They are fast. They have low overhead. They are sharp. And they are fighting for the same eyeballs, dollars and readers that traditional book publishers are.

Google Dumps Indie Booksellers

I can not express how sad this makes me. Google has announced that they will pull all support for selling e-books, from independent booksellers. They seem to be playing the same game that Apple and Amazon are. I guess starting in January 2013, they will be no different.

I am guessing their plans like: giving away the Android operating system, supporting the ebook infrastructure for bookstores, etc. just wasn’t paying off fast enough. So they’re copying the iTunes/Amazon model, with the launch of Google Play.

No doubt someone like Copia or Kobo will step in to fill the void, but I’m betting many many booksellers will just throw in the towel. Who can blame them? Why sign on with another service, if they can just be bought by Google or Amazon who kick the bookseller back to the curb?

The capitalist in me says Google is a business and needs to do what’s right for their business, just like all these indie bookstore owners have the right and should do what’s in their best interest. But I remember the materials that went out when Google was courting the American Booksellers Association and indie stores. None of it was conditional. None of it said “Now remember one day we may pull the plug”. At a minimum Google could preserve their “Do No Evil” mantra by supporting their current roster and just say “we won’t be taking on any more shops, because it’s not working like we thought”. That would be honest and fair to those shops who jumped on board to support ePub, Google Books and serve their store’s customers.

This really is another indicator that indie bookstores need to stay indie. Totally. They need to develop in-house talent for delivering books and products to their customers. They need to undertand how websites, Twitter, Facebook and ebook reader devices work. And they need to stay as close to their customers as they can. Hopefully groups like the ABA can step in and offer strategic help as lots of bookstores’ e-book sections go dark next January.

Now that I think about it, publishers really should get involved. I mean they want these shops to sell their books. I wonder what publishers could do to make it easy for indie store owners to sell their e-books… widgets… iframes… hmmm…

Free eBook – John Carter Barsoom Series

A few weeks ago I decided I wanted to see what all of the John Carter fuss was about. So I went looking for the first book in the series. Which, after a few Google searches, told me was A Princess of Mars. The problem was I didn’t know if I’d like it, so I didn’t want a new copy. I checked two local used-book spots and struck out. There is also a waiting list to get one of the library copies, so I turned to eBooks. I didn’t originally start here as I like old vintage sci-fi artwork and I was hoping to get something along those lines (still am).

I knew that Edgar Rice Burroughs penned the Barsoom series books a long time ago and that they would be in the public domain, so I went to Project Gutenberg first. And there it was. In eight different formats. So I grabbed a .prc file and loaded it on my device, via email. I have to say that it’s great fun so far. If you like Golden Age-styled science fiction you should check it out.

Here are links and screenshots of the various online services. It’s interesting to see them all side-by-side so you can note the similarities and differences between them.

Project Gutenberg



Google Play

Since the book is public domain all of the platforms should have copies. I have no idea if these files differ, but Kindle, Nook and Google all have free e-book versions. In fact, Kindle, Google and Project Gutenberg all allow onine in-browser reading. Something that the nook service lacks. Plus, the Kindle, Nook and Google platforms all have syncing. So if you are on page 52 on your kindle and then run an errand, you can pull out your phone app and it will sync to the right place.

I’m waiting to see how this book ends before deciding if I’m going to complete the series. Have any of you read through the series?



e-Books for 25 Cents

Google Play Logo Amazon Kindle Logo

Google has launched a new digital content portal called Google Play. As part of the launch they are offering an ebook for 25 cents, every day. They are calling it their “Play of the Day”. Today, it’s Chuck Palahniuk’s Fight Club. Not to be outdone, Amazon is mimicking every price move that Google is making this week. So today folks with Kindles can get Fight Club for only 25 cents. I’m not sure what they will offer tomorrow or how long these promotional cheap e-books will last.

This is Economics 101. While two big monolith companies duke it out over readers’ attention and try to one-up each other on price… the consumer wins. For the short term anyway. The long term game is a whole other sport, which is why Amazon and Google are paying so much attention to books this week. Competition is a good thing.