Monday, November 30, 2009

future of publishing: not books, bookisodes?

These days publishers crying poverty thrust myriad duties on writers aside from meeting manuscript deadlines: gathering blurbs, providing jacket photos, hosting book parties, arranging reading tours, (travel expenses unreimbursed), even negotiating shelf space. One intrepid author I know regularly tours NYC bookstores and reshelfs his book, facing out. Now writers are expected to create industrials?

More and more books sold on Amazon are accompanied not only by reviews and reader ratings, but by promotional videos. (Sorry, image isn't linked, click here and scroll down to video.) Chilling glimpse of a future of publishing that sidelines books altogether, publishing manuscripts direct to screen.

hat tip to Corporate Rock

Thursday, November 26, 2009

i'm grateful that literature is alive and well and thriving in many forms

One of the many things I'm thankful for today⎯books. Just finished The Help and A Gate at the Stairs, both novels I was sorry to finish as I so enjoyed being part of their worlds. I read them, however, without turning a page, downed them while biking around Central Park, hooked up to an ipod. At writer's conferences, I meet people who insist it's not reading unless you're holding dead trees in both hands. But I think that's like claiming that you can't hear Coltrane unless you listen to him on vinyl.

Of course, like most avid readers, I do love to turn pages. I just read The Humbling and The Anthologist in that delicious, tactile, old fashioned way. But reading the old fashioned way isn't always an option. Or, even the best one. David Griner, an advertising executive, is publishing a relative's diary in the form of tweets. Each day, an entry from a farm girl's 1937 "Line a Day" diary appears and, since the dates are coordinated, it is as if you're looking over her shoulder. The reading experience is enhanced by the fact it's published in a way that allows you to read the entries on the date that she wrote them. (Today's entry: To-day was Thanksgiving. Got off from school. -Nov. 25, 1937)

Next week, Rick Moody (The Ice Storm) is premiering a new story on Twitter. "Some Contemporary Characters" will be tweeted over the course of three days on Electric Literature, starting on Monday at 10 AM. A preview:

There are things in this taxable and careworn world that can only be said in a restrictive interface with a minimum of characters:

Saw him on
OKCupid. Agreed to meet. In his bio he said he had a “different conception of time.” And guess what? He didn’t show.

It's the first time a writer who's a name in the handheld publishing world is debuting a piece of fiction on twitter. I'll be tuning in, thankful that literature, despite doomsayers, is being given new opportunities to thrive. Happy holiday, everyone.

image via Black Clock

Thursday, November 19, 2009

secret of ancient manhood: how to carve a turkey

Before there was Martha Stewart, there was Martha Logan, a fictional expert a la Betty Crocker who "wrote" cookbooks for Swift & Company that were chock full of recipes encouraging meat consumption. She also starred in a few instructional videos, none so tantalizing as "Carving Magic" with Harvey Korman who challenges Bill Kerwin to a manly duel of knives. Of course, men in past generations didn't need to watch this, as they were born with the male carving gene, rare today as the sock garter. Happily, the film survives for our edification. Clueless knife-wielders of both sexes have a week to practice. (via Modern Retro Woman)

Friday, November 13, 2009

warning: banks late fees still apply, even if you're deceased

Young & Rubicam puts out a (handheld!) newsletter twice a year for its "alumnai/ae", some of whom remember Y&R from the Mad Men era. A contribution by Dick Lord in the most recent issue highlights the importance of cancelling credit cards before you, um, go.

"A woman died last January and her bank billed her annual credit card service charges for February and March. They also added late fees and interest on the charges. The balance had been $0 when she died, but now it was growing. A family member called the bank to complain.
Family Member: I am calling to tell you she died back in January.
Bank: The account was never closed and late fees and charges still apply.
FM: Maybe you should turn it over to collections.
Bank: It's two months past due, so it's already in collections.
FM: What will they do when they find out she's dead?
Bank: Report her to the frauds division or to the credit bureau, maybe both.
FM: Did you just get what I was telling you--the part about her being dead?
Bank: Sir, you'll have to speak to my supervisor
Supervisor gets on the phone.
FM: I'm calling to tell you she died back in January with a $0 balance.
Bank: The account was never closed and late fees and charges still apply.
FM: You mean you want to collect from her estate?
Bank (stammer): Are you her lawyer?
FM: No, her nephew. (Lawyer info is given.)
Bank: Could you fax us a certificate of her death?
FM: Sure. (Faxes certificate)
Bank: Sorry, our system isn't set up for death. I don't know what more I can do to help you.
FM: Well, if you figure it out, great! If not, just keep billing her. She won't care.
Bank: Well, late fees and charges will still apply. (What is wrong with these people?)
FM: Would you like her new billing address?
Bank: That might help.
FM: Odessa Memorial Cemetery, Highway 129, Plot 69.
Bank: But sir, that's a cemetery.
FM: And what do you do with dead people on your planet?"
tip of gray flannel fedora to GardenBroad

more geniuses per sq. ft on the Upper West Side

"The Apple store is the best ad we ever did for Apple" said the untiring (not retiring) Lee Clow on a panel entitled Truth in Advertising.

Apple is launching a new ad, er, a new store near Lincoln Center tomorrow.

Its glass arched ceiling and marble walls house will house the world's largest collection of Apple products in the world, and the most "geniuses" on-premise to service those products. It's meant to be not only a store but a hangout. The New York Philharmonic will perform there on Nov. 30 and weekly workshops in making music, action movies, photos and presenations will be available to kids. (Most of the first workshops are already full)

No wonder Apple stores are "the highest performing retail stores on the planet", selling almost as much as is taken in by the average Macy's. But can Apple do Santa and a Thanksgiving Parade?

Thursday, November 12, 2009

new award show praises unsung heroes of the internet

The first annual Hive Awards went live yesterday. So named because of the "hive mentality" inherent in building a web site or application. It's the first show created to honor "the unsung heroes of the internet." Conceived by Alan Wolk (of Toadstool fame) to reward excellence in categories that haven't been given the stage before: information architecture, content strategy, coding, APIs and a other jobs rudely referred to as "backend." Entries are divided by industry category, allowing separate judging for each. Admirably levelling the playing field for contenders from categories as diverse as beer vs. pharma. Wish established award shows would make this distinction. Perhaps CLIO is leading the way, with its inaugural CLIO Healthcare awards ceremony taking place in New York tomorrow.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

check out the latest in designer barcodes

Given the years and millions companies spend on packaging, surprisingly little attention has been paid to this critical part of every pack design. Japanese companies get it. They've been buying custom barcodes since 2005 from Design Barcode that charges $1500 and up for design, $200 a year for licensing. A pittance compared to redesigning a logo. And with so many stores going self-cashier, more and more eyeballs are searching them out. Why not build in some amusement...and branding?

via Fast Company

Monday, November 2, 2009

now, a detergent for digital dirt

"Retracting something from the internet is like trying to remove pee from a pool," Ogilvy's Rohit Bhargava quipped recently.

Well, now there's an app for that. Wisk It helps you search Facebook for regrettable photos and remove them by sending a request to the person who posted them. Even more intriguing to me than the app itself is the fact that it's created by... a laundry detergent. What could be better advertising for Wisk than giving users a way to get rid of "tough stains like Spring Break photos." Kudos to TracyLocke Advertising. And to brand managers in Wilton, Ct. who've come a long, admirable way since Ring Around the Collar.