Getting Your Book into the Library Isn’t Easy

Comic Artist's Photo Reference: People & Poses

People never give much thought to how books make it into a public library. Books just sort of…appear.

As an author, I’ve always tried to make sure my book makes it to library shelves. Sure, I want to sell books, but I also want people to read them. Plus, I am a diehard library rat, so I want my own book on the shelves.

Unfortunately, I write in a deep vertical, specifically non fiction books for people who want to work in the comic book industry. It’s not a book for comic fans or kids. It’s for people who want to improve their craft (in this case writing or drawing comics) and break into the industry as a paid professional.

That’s a pretty narrow audience that lives deep in the long tail. Marketing to the long tail is an art unto itself, but that’s a different blog post.

In this case, I found an old email that I sent to my editor when my first book (Comic Artist’s Photo Reference: People & Poses) was published. I live in a large suburban town in New Jersey, and I wanted nothing more than to see my book on the shelf at the library. I’ve lived in the town my whole life, so I figured it would be no problem.

Boy was I wrong.
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5 Reasons You’ll Be Using an EReader in 2 Years

sony-reader-prs505-b

Sony Reader PRS-505

Do you look at ereaders and ebooks and wonder “what’s the big deal?” Then you’re probably like a lot of people who understand the technology, but figure that printed books, laptops, and iPhones are good enough.

Yeah, hate to break it to you, but in about two years, you’ll be using an ereader. It won’t look like today’s Kindle or Nook, but it won’t be that different either. Ereaders are an inevitable next-step technology.

The W+P=W Top 5 Reasons You Will Be Using an EReader in Two Years

1. Prices will drop.
Paying $200 for a device like a Sony eReader when you can read a book for free? Crazy, right? Well, not so fast. Is the book you’re reading actually free or did someone pay for it already? That’s right, someone paid for the media, even if it’s in a public library. As for the device, let’s not judge future prices by today’s prices. If that were the case, nobody could afford a plasma or LCD television in their home. Early home entertainment systems are always expensive, until manufacturers can figure out a way to drive down costs.

Today’s ereaders are relatively cheap for new technology. Expect cheaper prices, starting this year. In two years, they’ll be selling them at garage sales. Tech always starts high and comes down.

2. eBook exclusives.
Why read a digitial book when a perfectly good print version is there on the shelf? Well, just wait until the book you really, really want to read is only available in ebook format. Or the book that you have to read for work or school. Yeah, it’s going to happen, and sooner than you want it to. As you may know, I have published comics in the past. Nothing big, but I did enough to realize that more than 50% of my costs were going to printing and shipping. It’s the same for mainstream publishers as well.

Soon, publishers will release certain books only in digital formats. It’s probably going to start with textbooks, since there are 37 million kids in US schools alone. And they don’t get to choose what they read, right?

3. Free channels will fade.
When was the last time you went to a music store to buy new music? Yeah, same here. If you have an iPod, you’ve probably used Apple’s iTunes store. I love the Amazon store for new music. Every other strip mall in America used to have a record shop. Not anymore.

Now, with bookstores fading into the sunset, you’re going to be forced to do some shopping online. But print books, still need to be shipped. If you buy from Amazon, that price is fixed at $3.99 (before free shipping incentives). And the costs of shipping keep going up, up, up. One day, the cost of shipping a book will be prohibitively high. So high, that it will not make sense to buy a print book over the Net. Meanwhile, the delivery cost of an ebook will tend to remain fairly constant at $0.

Oh, and one more thing about “channels.” You know, when I was a young one, nobody could imagine paying for television. People scoffed at the idea of paying for cable TV, especially when you could just pull up the antenna and get reception. And yet, now paying for cable television is just another bill. In the future an ebook reader will be another device that you keep around the house for your basic reading needs.

4. Picture better pictures.
Right now, the graphics on Kindle are perfect for text. Pictures? Nah-so-good. The images are barely passable and sometimes downright unreadable. Lame.

In fact, the ebook reader of tomorrow probably looks a lot like your laptop of today. Except the ereader of the future will almost certainly have a touch display. Better pictures, movie watching, and web browsing will all eventually be included in high-end ereaders. Asus today announced the DR-570, a color ereader. Brilliant color pictures and 122 hours of battery life, at least that’s what they are claiming.

5. Content creators will want ereaders.
You may not pay for content, including pictures, words, and videos. Radio is free. Television is free (even though you pay for the wire into your house). But someone, somewhere is paying for it. Writers and editors and production people all need to get paid.

So the people who actually create content, like publishers, and the people who pay them (the advertisers) are already lining up behind new technology. Content creators will push hard for ereaders, especially since it will give them a new way to aggregate their content. Yes, piracy will run rampant, but enough people are willing to pay for good content that it will drive down the cost of the devices.

More importantly, content creators will gain access to incredibly detailed statistical reports. Old media is saddled with old-style reporting. New media advertisers want details about user behavior. eReaders will bridge that gap and make the medium instantly useful and credible in the eyes of advertisers. They will bring their dollars to this new medium, making it possible for content publishers to pay the people who create the content.

So, yeah, those are my Top 5 reasons why you’ll be reading from an ebook reader in under two years. There are probably more, but I’ve got a hot date with my Kindle and my favorite blogs. (Yes, I read blogs on my Kindle.)

Newspapers: Throw a Lifeline to Your Newsroom

It’s not just the Internet that is killing newspapers. Newspapers are killing themselves. As the newspaper dies, it struggles to remain profitable…causing an inevitable death spiral.

Right now, newspapers could hold on longer if they could throw a lifeline to their local news reporters. Instead, to save money, newspapers are buying content from news wires. Unfortunately most people can get the same articles for free online. Making me pay for something that I can get for free isn’t really a sustainable business model.

Let me give you an example with my own daily newspaper The Record. The Record has always been part of my life, and I do not want to see it go out of business.

But here’s how the content from today’s (March 23. 2009) newspaper breaks down. I counted each homegrown article and each wire story article on every page. The newspaper was very thin today (46 pages), so it was pretty easy.

My apologies for the lame graphic. I input all the data into a Zoho.com spreadsheet. It may give advanced chart design features, but I just couldn’t figure it out. I felt it was more important to share the data, which is embedded in this graph. Feel free to utilize the info in the Zoho chart or spreadsheet.

Newspapers Homegrown Articles vs Wire Stories - http://sheet.zoho.com

This is a visual representation of how much homegrown content (56 articles) versus news-wire content (57 articles) is featured in today’s paper. That’s a 50-50 split of original content versus syndicated content.

It’s pretty obvious from the graph that the A section is mostly pulled from sources that I can get for free…and in real time. That’s just not a good way to keep readers. The A section is all available instantly on Google News.

Moving to the B section, things start to change. In the Local section, MOST of the news is relevant to me, based on region. The paper uses some syndicated sources to enhance the local news.

Over in section C, we see more wire content popping up. This is the Entertainment section, so we have a mix of regional stories and  bunch of syndicated stuff that I can get just about anywhere.

Finally over in section D, we’re in Sports and Classifieds. All of the Classifieds are local, but none of it requires a reporter.

This isn’t exclusive to my local newspaper. As you read your daily newspaper, take notice of who is writing it. If it says “staff writer” it’s written in house. But if it says “Associated Press” then you can get that article (or one just like it) from Internet news sources.

Ironically, I was planning to write this post, and in today’s Record they printed a letter from a reader who wants more local news reporting.

Saving newspapers will require more than recycling wire stories. It’s about covering local events that matter to readers. And that means throwing a lifeline to the newsroom and paying reporters to create a product that people want to buy.


Digg!

Why Newspapers Are Doomed

Newspapers aren’t dead yet. Despite the steady declines in circulation and ad sales, many newspapers continue to hang on.  And yet, they are inevitably doomed.

Here’s a few reasons why:

1. Local reporting. Many news websites focus on national stories. Big stuff. But the local newspaper give us useful reporting on local issue. Small stuff, like flooding, taxes, and school events.

CNN doesn’t cover your neighborhood unless it’s a major news event, like a catastrophe or a tragedy. Either way, you don’t want to be in the news at that time.

2. Pictures. If you compared today’s paper with one from 10 years ago, you’d notice something important. That is, there are a lot of news wire photos. Lots of celebrities. Lots of people you dont actually know.

Wanna know why? Photographers cost money.

As newspapers rely more on news wire photos — stuff you can see anywhere — they lose a connection with the local community.

3. In Depth Reporting. Like Local Reporting, in depth reporting was the cornerstone of newspaper journalism. TV gave you the headlines, but newspapers gave you the full story. A good newspaper might offer sidebars, editorials, and illustrations.

My local newspaper has won many prestigious awards for investigative journalism. Big exposes about local corruption and news events. Information on a local level. You cant get that from a journalist-blogger conducting an interviews over email.

And yet, local newspapers cede control to online journalists and bloggers every time they run a canned story from the news wire.

About the News Wire. Take a look at your local newspaper again. Check to see who wrote that story. If it says Associated Press or another service, it means your newspaper bought that story (probably through a subscription).

Newswire stories are a cheap way to fill space. But they also cheapen the true value of the newspaper.

A canned story satisfies a short-term goal of making a profit, since it’s cheaper to buy a story than to create one in house. But these are temporary solutions further weaken newspapers.

If newspapers continue along this path, they are surely doomed.

Here’s a Related Story: Why Comic Book Publishing is Doomed

Tissot Thinks I’m a Dummy

I love the Tissot T-Touch Watch, so I’ve been checking out their website to see when they’ll be announcing the new model. It’s a splurge, I know, but I really want one. It’s really the coolest watch on the market today.

But surfing their website, I felt a little sad. This big, powerful mega corporation thinks I’m a dummy. Dont believe me? Check out the screenshot of what popped up when I was clicking around their interactive online demo at the Tissot T-Touch website.

Dummy marketing by Tissot

I mean, so WHAT if I’m not that bright? I never claimed to be the smartestest person in the world. There’s no reason to insert insulting little messages around your site. It doesn’t exactly encourage me to buy your big, mean, bully watch.

Then again, maybe that’s the new marketing trend. Rather than tell people how smart they are for buying your brand, you can tell them how dumb they are. Maybe they call it “Dummy Marketing.” And it’s so cutting edge that they can claim a “first-to-market” status on Dummy Marketing. Brilliant!

Here, I’ll give it a try. Thanks for reading my blog, Dummy.

PS: Dummy Marketing is (c) 2008 Buddy Scalera. So there.