Posts Tagged ‘Brad Inman’

Are You The Peanut Butter?

I heard Brad Inman give a speech at O’Reilly’s Tools of Change conference, and he said trying to get stuff done in book publishing is like trying to swim through a jar of peanut butter. I nearly stood up and screamed “EXACTLY!” I have had the good fortune to work with a lot of entrepreneurs and tech people, and they are doing circles around my publishing colleagues because they don’t put up the roadblocks and draw the lines in the sand. If I had to guess, the peanut butter people have no idea what that means.

Here are 10 signs you might be……….The Peanut Butter:

1) You can’t think of anything to show for your work in the last six months.

2) You think your job is to prevent mistakes from being made.

3) You believe that the more people invited to a meeting, the more successful the meeting will be.

4) Meetings take months to schedule.

5) You would rather be “politically correct” and “cc everyone” than make something great happen.

6) You’re paralyzed by the concept of “scalable.”

7) You think you have the upper hand in nearly all business dealings , but deep down inside, in those quiet moments late at night, you know you’re losing “control.”

8 ) You resort to bullying tactics to get your way without ever considering what might benefit everyone.

9) You spend your days trying to figure out how to gain control.

10) You’re an information hoarder.

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Take-Aways From Tools of Change 2010

I’ve been hearing a lot of chatter that there wasn’t much new to learn at this year’s Tools of Change conference. In fact I heard the same things said about Digital Book World. I don’t know…..that’s not at all what I take away from these things. I attend a lot of conferences, even ones that have nothing to do with publishing. In fact, one of my all time favorites was Brad Inman’s Real Estate conference.

But here’s the thing, I don’t go expecting to take away some big revelation, and what I’ve learned over the years is that the lessons often take time to marinate and reveal themselves, and I don’t even know what I learned until weeks or months later. Also, for me, it’s every bit as much about the networking and connecting in the real world as it is about the lectures and panels. I firmly believe that magic can happen when you bring interesting people together face to face; the potency of that real world connection can’t be replicated virtually.

The other lesson (which I learned before, but was confirmed for me here) is that the least likely talks that I stumble into by accident are often the most interesting. This year, I fell into Brian O’Leary and Ashley Gordon’s talk about Print On Demand and it got me thinking in directions I had never considered……and the only reason I found myself there was because the Twitter room was too crowded. It was the most thought provoking hour of the week for me and I’m sure will lead me in directions I never imagined.

A lot of people are headed to SXSW this year and are asking me which panels to attend — and I’m going to give a big plug here for serendipity. I’ll be trying to steer myself clear of the obvious and will be looking to discover the magic in the least likely places. I’ll be the one looking to swim in a different pond. My favorite panel from last year had nothing to do with publishing, per se. It was called something to the effect of “How the Brain Works” by a lawyer named Craig Ball, and subsequently changed the way I give presentations (and as an aside, not to dis anyone specifically…..but I think others in our industry could benefit from what Craig Ball has to say). Another panel by YouTube star Felicia Day was hugely informative for me too — and I stumbled into it by accident.

Here are a few quick & dirty observations from TOC:

  • There were many more laptops than I saw at DWB
  • In France, all books are priced exactly the same, wherever they are sold. It’s the law. (Wow. That blew me away. Can you imagine? That changes everything for everyone). Check out Julia’s post from last Fall.
  • Peter Meyers is a visionary. I don’t know if all of his ideas will “work” — but he has really done some deep thinking about what a “book” can be.
  • Everyone needs to hear Kirk Biglione’s presentation about the history of DRM. I’m not sure I agree 100% with everything he says about how it should be in the future, but it is very informative to hear a detailed history of what happened to the music industry.
  • Tim O’Reilly says get back to work. Stop trying to be so “visionary” and work on the meat and potatoes of great book publishing.
  • Brad Inman said that trying to make stuff happen with big publishers is like trying to swim through a jar of peanut butter. I love that. I’ve been saying the same thing for years — but I call it the “sludge.” You have a great idea, and then you’ve got to swim through the sludge to try to make it happen. Not a lot of fun. I’ve learned to dodge and weave and bob my way around it. From now on, every time I think to myself “how do I make this happen” — it’s going to be symbolized by a big jar of Skippy.

All in all, I loved TOC 2010. I signed up for next year before I left the conference center.

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Crush it! Comes to Life…As a Vook!

For a long time we’ve been discussing how to maximize an author’s content for the various platforms that are emerging. Check out the amazing comments in this blog post from last February about building a dynamic experience for a phone. It was not long after that blog post that I read this article about Brad Inman in The New York Times. Amazingly, Brad was bringing the same vision to life.

As soon as I heard about the Vook, I knew I wanted to experiment, and the perfect author to start with was Gary.

Cut to six months later, and a baby Vook was born last night at 11:50 pm in the iTunes store.

In the video clip you see here, Gary discusses the future of media with US News reporter Rick Newman. There are a few pages in Crush It! about the future of media. During the writing process, we had a lot of discussion about how much to add in the book on this topic. We knew Gary’s vision would most likely be controversial, so the question became, do we add more to this section so he could flesh out his vision, or do we not spend more than a few pages, because after all, this isn’t a book about the future of media. We decided to leave it at just a few pages, but then went back to it for the Vook and have Rick interview Gary so it could be explained further.

It was so liberating to be able to expand out from the print book in areas where a video could enhance the written word, while at the same time, it was a challenge to come up with video content that was fresh and unique from Gary, who’s all over the Internet in video. I think we achieved what we set out to do with the Vook. This is whole new medium with so much potential.

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