Thursday, December 7, 2006

Bo Sacks

BoSacks Readers Speak Out: On Publishers, Readers, and the USSR.

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BoSacks Speaks Out: I will fully admit that it is a total indulgence, but how could I not share the following nxtbookmedia blog report of yours truly with my readers? It is part of a review of the Digital Magazine Conference last week.
The next panel discussion asked what digital magazines of tomorrow will look like, and was led by Bob Sacks (Bo to those who know and/or read him.) Though I’ve read Bo, this was the first I had a chance to hear him speak, and all I can say is, “Wow.” Entertaining. Dynamic. Enlightening. What perhaps came across most of all in Bo’s speech was that the technology will continue to get better. But waiting until it does is not a strategy. All of that being said, I wish Bo put more of his content into his RSS feed. . . .
“Vanity is so secure in the heart of man that everyone wants to be admired: even I who write this, and you who read this” Blaise Pascal (French Mathematician, Philosopher and Physicist, 1623-1662)

BoSacks Readers Speak Out: ON Publishers, Readers, and the USSR.
RE: Don't Chase the Tails of the Lad Magazines
Another example of marketing genius.
(The setting: a conference room high up in an office building, well insulated from intrusion by the hoi polloi. Half a dozen senior editors are sitting around a long table. At one end are the editor in chief and the publisher.)
Publisher: We need more business.
Chorus of editors: More business!
EIC: We need to expand readership.
Chorus: More readers!
Pub: Those lad magazines are doing well, aren’t they?
EIC: Their numbers *have* been good.
Chorus: More money!
Pub: I’ve *got* it. We’ll totally change our content, our format – everything we are and go after a younger crowd.
EIC: You know, that could just work.
Chorus: More brilliance!
(One editor raises his hand.)
EIC: (irritated) Yes, Jones?
Jones: But wouldn’t we be walking away from our existing customers, making us have to get even more new readers just to stay where we are?
EIC: What’s the matter with you? Against progress?
Pub: That sounds like negative thinking to me
(Security officers enter and drag Jones out.)
Chorus: Negative no more!
(Submitted by a Writer)
Re: BoSacks Speaks Out: Allowing Consumers to Trim Waste
Bob, Ever go to an industry conference to hear one good panel and have to snore through four others? Does that mean the conference business is also headed for a la carte attendance in five years? Not likely, why? Because unlike music where one song on the radio may be heard and five years ago you had to shell out for a whole cd or the photo industry where amatures were stuck with the 80% innefficiency of their own shutterbuggery, magazines are something very different.
Sure, few magazines are read cover to cover but are cable and satellite systems going to stop offering 500 channels to surf because 90% of the viewing is on 25 of them? Magazines are very much about the browse and select. Like a supermarket we have items at eye level to attract and some stuff on the top and bottom shelves that fewer people will consume but it is in the collection and the options where we strike a chord with consumers and I'd bet everything magazines, in the big picture, will look much the same beyond five years from now.
Supermarkets are challenged by Fresh Direct where consumers who know what they want can go online and select and buy and await delivery. Publishers know consumers are changing so our online strategies are no longer redistributing print editions electronically. For motivated customers predisposed to specific information our web sites are already the kind of fractionalized, customer-chosen experience you describe but it is a new medium and will not replace the very different experience of the browse and read, enjoy-every-picture-even-if-you-don't- read-the-article wonderful world of magazines. Now newspapers . . .well . . .
(Submitted by a Senior Production Director)
Re: BoSacks Speaks Out: Allowing Consumers to Trim Waste
This is a very challenging concept and is something we will all have to face. Whatever the business outcomes, I cannot get over a sense of loss regarding this direction.
By paring magazine issues filled with a number of things down to articles your profile says you will like, a chance to broaden your knowledge and interests by finding new writers with new points of view is lost. By downloading songs you have already heard and enjoyed instead of buying albums, you lose the wonderful sense of surprise in coming upon a buried track that becomes your favorite. By looking only for what you know you will like, you turn the Internet into the world’s most boring shopping mall. It becomes a way to confirm the tastes you have already developed and not develop different (more mature?) taste. It becomes a way to confirm the prejudices of one stage of your intellectual development rather than a means to enable continuing development of your mind.
Learning to separate the wheat from the chaff is something that can only be done by perusing both. Letting a search engine separate them on a limited basis is efficient and helpful and fine, sometimes. But on a large scale it is death to intellectual and cultural growth. And it puts an awful lot of power in the hands of the people who design the search algorithms. This might be a time saver but my experience tells me that some of the time I have wasted in my life has been some of the most valuable time I have spent.
(Submitted by a Printer)
Re: Is there a role for bookshops in the digital world?
Bob, not until there are some guarantees on infringement. Why toil over a book for months or years to have some idiot down load it, copy it and give it away.
(Submitted by a Circulator)
RE: Americans Like to Try New Things
If Bhide's thesis is right, according to The Economist, "America's policymakers should worry more about how to keep consumers consuming than about the number of science and engineering graduates, at home or in the East."
The Economist gets it only partly right. America’s policy makers should worry more about getting their hands out of our pockets, admit to themselves that intervention from them is more likely to hurt than to help (and not a little more likely but a lot more likely), and get the heck out of the way. The market is nimble and quick. It lets people decide for themselves what they want to do, buy and sell. And the constant action of the Law of Supply and Demand will always – as in always – direct capital to where it is most useful.
Government and its policymakers fall short in every one of these categories. Government is clumsy and slow. It likes to tell people what they should do with their time and money, as if some drone in DC knows what is good for me and my family and I don’t. Face it, if central planning worked the USSR would be ruling the globe today instead or receding in the rear view mirror of history.
It’s time to stop believing in governments and bureaucracies and policymakers and programs and start believing in people.
(Submitted by a Printer)
Re: BoSacks Speaks Out: 'Is Print Dead? Discuss!'
Print Dead? No. So many writers tilt stories to their own personal views. Suppose they skipped the objective lessons in journalism school (if they attended Journalism school are not instead redeployed Poli-Sci or History majors etc.). Just because they or their friends are always wired, always on their Treo/Blackberry, streaming video to their cellphone and checking stock quotes on their wireless enabled laptop, is everyone else- in my experience no. That is such a city centric, age specific viewpoint. While most people have cellphones, few use the added features such as surfing the web or loading video snippets. Podcasting? Most are not doing it, do I have documentation-no, just no seeing it.
Is the technology great if you can get it to work- yes. Is plug and play easier with every new upgrade and device improvements?- yes. However, for a large portion of the popluation including most people over 50 in age, they are not embracing these technology upgrades since they are not always easy to operate. Subscribing to a newspaper or magazine is easy.
These are quality aggregrators of relevant news. Proven. People know that. Are they moving away from that? Yes- Do I find any good local news on the web that I can trust, politics updates, decent sports, relevant ads from businesses that I might frequent when surfing the web? Rarely. I may see a thousand internet phone ads, skin firming ads that have no relevance to my purchasing habits- just poorly targeted advertising that is usually annoying since it loads slow with clunky video or sound ruinning my online experience. Ads in magazines I read are well designed targeted ads often with intelligent themes you might have to work to figure out like cultural references. I find print much more sophisticated, targeted and accurate since ads appear based on targeted market of readers for magazine. Online ads have a long way to go till they reach that level though targeting by search words certainly even improves on the targeted model found in print.
(Submitted by a Publisher)
Re: BoSacks Speaks Out: Reader's Digest Agrees to Be Acquired
Bob, our reader's aren't on the trains, they are retired and sitting on their living room couch and there's still 10MM of them. At least we weren't bought by another publisher that would divide and conquer. Things are on a positive note here on our end, hopefully they stay that way.
(Submitted by a RD Director)
Re: BoSacks Speaks Out: Reader's Digest Agrees to Be Acquired
bo, love your commentaries. . . .the MPA, should have photographers in those same locations to validate your observations and develop a marketing campaign that "people still love their magazines". . . . i wonder...think those magazines they were reading were newsstand, subscription, or bogus circulation. . . ..?
ps. thanks for passing along my ABC rants on your staff loved it!!! (they knew those were my words)
(Submitted by a Publisher)
Re: BoSacks Speaks Out: Reader's Digest Agrees to Be Acquired
Bo – Reader’s Digest would have to be among the first recognizable, or at least recallable, magazine titles from my early years spread out on the end table at my grandparent’s house. Humor in Uniform and Laughter is the Best Medicine being my favorite places to start. Every once in a while there would be some obscure article that would catch my eye. As time passed and I found myself in Dr.’s offices and waiting rooms, I’d scan the half-year old stacks of magazines to find the RD and head right to the HU and LBM sections – with Quotable Quotes joining the mix.
I’ve known a lot of folks that passed through the ranks at RD, the growth of their custom publishing in the 90’s and then of course, LARGE PRINT as a way to hold the aging readership. It’ll be interesting to see how the new Holding Company influences this age old cornerstone of the print world. I’m curious and anxious to see something good come of it.
After all, can bad things ever happen in a place called Pleasantville!? ; )
(Submitted by an Industry Supplier)
Re: Time ’s Move May Enhance Newsstand Value
when the only tool you know is a hammer everything looks like a nail
(Submitted by a Senior Director of Mfg and Dst)

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Step Two: Going Back to School

Step Two: Going Back to School
by Ari Rosenberg, Thursday, December 7, 2006

IF YOU WERE ASKED TO describe the first memory that comes up from grade school, what would it be?

Mine goes back to the first day of the sixth grade. My teacher was Mrs. Psyches. She looked like a teacher. Her black, shoulder-length hair was puffy, her smile bright, and her voice had a motherly quality to it. It was her eyes, though, that set her apart. They were dark and endlessly deep.

On that first day of class, we marched in, stashed our lunches, and sat down at our desks. We looked up at Mrs. Psyches, who stood to the side of her desk and in front of a green chalkboard that practically covered the entire front wall. On it read, "Choose to be here, it's where you are."

Does your memory of grade school have a chalkboard in the picture? A blackboard, as it is often called even when green, and the chalk used to write on it, is a common thread for all of us. It's how we all learned to learn.

What successful dot-com publishers have figured out, and what traditional publishers need to learn, is that their physical offices must foster greater and more efficient conditions for teaching and learning. If you walk through the offices of a dot-com-centric company, you can physically see creative thinking all over the walls. Ever visit Microsoft? Its conference rooms are wall-to-wall whiteboards. If you walk through the hallways of a traditional publishing company, you are bound to see walls covered with framed artwork and rich, vibrant colors, but you won't find any dedicated to tracking the thoughts, ideas and plans of their employees.

An online buy may be a purchased spreadsheet of impressions, but a Web site is selected based on the picture those line items form together. Good salespeople draw great pictures using the inventory they have to work with. The great ones do a better job at teaching internal teams how to visualize what they have created to sell. Ample and encouraged access to whiteboards gives them the ability to demonstrate what a program looks like to those responsible for either approving or executing it, which fosters greater confidence in selling it.

Traditional publishers are not accustomed to "idea graffiti" inside their offices, so this idea may sound crass. Dot-com publishers, on the other hand, could not operate without the squeaky sounds of their employees' thinking being played over and over again through the overt use of whiteboards.

Well before teachers figured out they needed help visually demonstrating an idea or concept in order for their students to learn more effectively, cavemen used drawings on walls to help convey an idea or concept. Pre-Internet media salespeople had no need to draw pictures of frequency discounts to sell a schedule. But today, it's about big-picture idea selling--and without whiteboarded walls, your organization is operating in the dark ages.

Ari Rosenberg is a media sales consultant. Prior to starting his company, he was the vice president of sales at He can be reached at

Digital Magazines

Technorati Profile

Monday, December 4, 2006

Digital Magazines

Last week two more companies added downloaded readers for digital magazine’s and such.

Last year all on line version claim to be the only way.

Now Adobe and Microsoft feel a reader application is the right method.

What is the best method for the reader’s.

Hint the application readers will improve view and readability on a computer where HTML can’t

Friday, December 1, 2006

Digital Magzine Forum

Digital Magazine Forum

Download and look at NY Times Reader

Other Blogs

Thursday, November 30, 2006

Start with XML

I hope all publishers were listening they would have heard you need XML as your standard. It is time to start the publishing process, write, and edit all articles and tag the data. This way the publisher can flow, their data instantly into web pages, Magazine pages, archive the content etc with XML, and be delivering results. Today the tools are there to build your magazine using XML!

Please share your thoughts. McQ

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Digital Magazine Forum

I attended the Digital Magazine Forum yesterday to see if the big software companies were coming to the space. Yes, Adobe and Microsoft are now creating readers that you have to download the application. Yes! You need to download an application to receive digital magazines, books and newspapers. For the last two years all, I heard and all the vendors said a download will not work. Yet there are widgets being downloaded the millions. Now Adobe and Microsoft have new readers in beta with limited capabilities.
Does that mean Zinio, and 3Path on to some thing with a downloaded application? Why did Adobe and Microsoft go to downloaded application better controls, expand into other markets, metrics, real time delivery, portable (offline), additional marketing opportunities.
At first glance, Microsoft with the New York Times has the best methodology for what we need, a reader based on XML.
I hope all publishers are listening XML has to be your standard. It is time to start at the front of the process, write, and edit all articles in XML. This way we can build the magazines - newspaper – book – web pages – archive etc… with XML and really be delivering instant results. Yes XML can build your magazine using all the new tools available today automatically!
Let’s talk soon the future is moving fast and you need to present your content online and in many digital formats as possible.