Monthly Archives: November 2013

Why is Genre Important to Success?

30 November 2013

From story development consultant David Baboulene:

Genre is a real tricky devil… and absolutely key to your success.

When we start out on a writing career, we don’t see it like that. Genre is a restriction. Something to at least ignore and probably rebel against. You gotta be unique. You’re going to prove yourself by doing something different. The only reason you would ever want to know the rules is so you can break ‘em good.

Weeellll, it’s not quite like that. You do need originality but you also need to be professional. There’s definitely a place for you to be different, but you also need to be commercially switched on. And it is through understanding the role of Genre that you can know the time and place to be creative and different and the time and place to be compliant and run on the rails of genre.

Every story divides into two ‘levels’. One level allows you to show how professional you are and how you have mastered your craft. The other level allows you to be different and show off your creative originality. These levels are firstly, the top level arcs across the whole story (what the story is about) and, secondly, the detailed content of the sequences (how that story is told).

. . . .

I hate that it’s true, but I could barely give you a single piece of better advice if you want commercial success. Become professional and understand your craft within the context of a genre, and then become creatively brilliant and mind-blowingly original within the boundaries of that genre.

Why? Because we, the public, as consumers, like to know what we’re getting for our investment of time and money in a story. I don’t go and see a film randomly or pick up a book without any pre-commitment evaluation, and neither do you. You read reviews; you look at the marketing material; read the back cover; hear the interviews; look at the trailer, the poster, the title, the star, the character… You want to know if it’s the kind of thing that will suit your likings. And that means genre.

Link to the rest at The Science of Story

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Lock up your libraries

30 November 2013

Lock up your libraries if you like; but there is no gate, no lock, no bolt that you can set upon the freedom of my mind.

Virginia Woolf

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Breaking up with books is hard to do

30 November 2013

From The Guardian:

Too many books: they have to be culled. It’s a cry that echoes through my house every few months, usually when a stalagmite of them topples on somebody’s toe. The last cull involved packing my daughter’s childhood into eight boxes – a melancholy task, cheered only by the willingness of her old primary school to take them, sight unseen, for the Christmas fair. This time, more drastic action was needed. Instead of riffling through the piles on the floor, I decided to work from the top.

Up on the most inaccessible shelf, where the cobwebs join ceiling to wall, was nearly three foot of reclaimable space, aka the collected works of Charles Dickens.

. . . .

So what is the value of the 16-volume edition that somehow found its musty way to me from my grandparents’ flat many years ago? These are books that aspire to be furniture: published in the early 1930s by Hazell, Watson and Viney, they’re the colour of polished mahogany with gilded curlicues that might grace the chambers of the lawyers pursuing Jarndyce v Jarndyce. It’s nice to see the original illustrations, but the text itself is too cramped and faded to be easily readable. These volumes have the lurky-murky smell of books that have lurked too long in the murkier depths of secondhand bookshops.

Link to the rest at The Guardian

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16-24s say ebooks are too expensive

30 November 2013

From Voxburner:

Results from Voxburner’s most recent Buying Digital Content Report found that 17% of 16-24s in the UK feel ebooks need to be 75% cheaper than current market prices.

When being asked if ebooks should be cheaper, only 8% of young people found ebooks to be reasonably priced. 28% thought the price of ebooks should be cut by 50%, and 17% said 25% would be enough.

. . . .

I don’t buy ebooks, partially because it’s ridiculous the price is near identical to the print version. It costs so much less to sell an ebook than a hard copy, why not price them appropriately? It’s insulting.

Sean

. . . .

Prices for physical books, which used to be high due to printing and delivery costs, do not apply to ebooks. Selling ebooks on places like Amazon is practically free for authors. Young people are aware of the costs involved in the past, and are holding back from adopting the digital way of reading books primarily on cost.

. . . .

While e-readers are practical in saving space – and weight when travelling around – there is definitely a lack of emotional attachment to books in a digital format.

. . . .

Old models of publishing have to make way for the new. While technology has allowed us to access books we may not have been able to afford because of delivery charges or cost of print, now any text-heavy book – or even magazines with the surge of tablets – can be conveniently downloaded on to various electronic devices. There are readers who seek out physical copies of books and are happy to pay for it, but those who are fans of the e-reader feel like they’re being overcharged.

Link to the rest at Voxburner

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What’s That? An Amazon Store?

30 November 2013

From The Wall Street Journal Digits blog:

Amazon.com has set up camp on enemy turf to sell Kindle tablets and e-readers.

The Seattle retailer has a pop-up shop within a San Francisco mall where it is selling the devices as well as branded covers and power adapters from vending machines. There are sample Kindles on display for shoppers to test.

The store hints at what a retail front from Amazon might look like. Amazon has long been expected to open brick-and-mortar storefronts as Apple or Microsoft have.

. . . .

In another area of the Westfield San Francisco Centre mall, Amazon set up a small booth in front of a Microsoft store where shoppers could test the Kindle’s self-lighting screen under simulated low-light and outdoor lighting scenarios.

Link to the rest at The Wall Street Journal (Link may expire)

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Black Friday

29 November 2013

For visitors from outside the US, the Friday after Thanksgiving is one of the busiest shopping days of the year. It kicks off the Christmas shopping season.

It’s called Black Friday because it’s the day narrow-margin retailers go from a loss (denoted by red numbers) to a profit (denoted by black numbers) for the year.

The Monday following Thanksgiving represents a more recent phenomenon, called Cyber Monday. It’s a huge day for online retailers because, after a long holiday weekend, people go back to work and take advantage of high-speed Internet access to buy a lot of things online.

Whether it’s Black Friday, Whatever Saturday or Cyber Monday, if you’re buying something from Amazon, PG receives a small affiliate commission if you click on the link in the right column of TPV to get to Amazon.

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Business Insider CEO Henry Blodget defends slideshow journalism: “It’s native digital storytelling”

29 November 2013

From Pando Daily:

Business Insider founder, editor, and CEO Henry Blodget staged an impassioned defense of slideshows at PandoMonthly in New York on Thursday night, saying the visual format was part of a new type of storytelling native to the Web.

Business Insider, known for its mix of excited headlines and blog-style news and analysis, has copped a lot of flak over its four-year existence for milking slideshows for pageviews.

. . . .

Blodget told Sarah Lacy that he wished the story that I would write is that Business Insider is innovating and that people need to acknowledge that the Web is a new medium, different from print and television. Slideshows are a great form of digital storytelling, he said, because people love pictures. Not everything has to be a 3,000-word essay approved by the Columbia Journalism Review.

And an anti-slideshow opinion, also from Pando Daily:

Last Friday, Business Insider’s Nicholas Carlson published a 75-page slideshow about his recent business class flight from New York to Beijing. The slideshow, which consists entirely of blurry photos and simplistic captions, each granted its own Web page, has so far generated more than 3 million pageviews.

In August, Carlson published a widely praised 22,000-word profile of Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer. That story, which took six months to report and is seen by many media watchers as the best piece of journalism to appear on Business Insider, has so far attracted just over 1 million views.

When a slapdash slideshow of a mundane plane trip brings in three times as many pageviews as a deeply reported biography of one of the most fascinating figures in business, you have to wonder why all online publications don’t just drop what they’re doing and pivot to a slideshow-first strategy.

It’s a killer business move, at least in the short term. Every time one of those “slides” – which are really just “pages” – loads, a new ad impression is served. Business Insider makes most of its money from those ads. Each time a new one is loaded, it pockets a few more pennies.

. . . .

 The Web, Blodget argued, demands a different approach to storytelling than what you find in print. When TV first emerged, news programs simply featured people reading news from newspapers. That, of course, soon changed, and TV news became a picture-driven medium. Similarly, on radio, sound and music play a greater role in the telling of stories. And so, digital media lend themselves better to different types of storytelling. Such as slideshows.

. . . .

 And, actually, I agree with Blodget. Up to a point. The Web has certain qualities that facilitate a novel approach to storytelling. That is part of the beauty of online media. The Web is interactive, social, dynamic, hypertextual, mobile, and not bound by arbitrary limitations such as word-counts or page sizes. It provides a rich environment for high-definition imagery and film. Thanks to the Web, we can broadcast content asynchronously, nimbly, and at a low cost, and we can blend a panoply of multimedia elements – video, audio, maps, graphics, tweets, status updates, 3D art, animations, gifs, real-time posts – into story experiences that transcend what is offered by print, TV, or radio.

. . . .

 These slideshows are not wondrous experiments carried out in the name of pleasing readers and advancing the cause of native digital storytelling. They are economic decisions through which Business Insider is attempting to inflate its pageviews and create ever more excuses for the generation of ad impressions. To an extent, that is fair. The company is using these methods to help pay reporters and fund better journalism. The low-grade slideshows subsidize the serious reporting. But let’s be clear: this is Business Insider gaming the system.

Link to the rest at Panto Daily – Pro and Con

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Readfy to Launch Ad-Subsidized eBook Service Next Year

29 November 2013

From The Digital Reader:

I’ve never thought ads in ebooks would make a viable business model, but sometime next year that idea is going to be put to the test. A new startup in Germany is building an ad-supported platform, and they plan to launch in the middle of 2014.

. . . .

Readfy is going to launch in a more open beta test next year with 25,000 titles. Bauchspiess wants Readfy to offer a Spotify for ebooks that is free for the end user, and not supported by directly charging users for access (a la Netflix).The goal is to let users read as much as they want and pay publishers from the ad revenues.

. . . .

Will they succeed? We’ll have to wait and see because at this point there is little data to argue either way.What little info I have comes from app creators, most of whom say that ad revenues are not a sustainable business model. And Amazon, which has been selling their hardware with an ad-supported option since mid-2011, has never shared their figures.

Link to the rest at The Digital Reader

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A Thought for the Biggest Shopping Day of the Year in the US

29 November 2013

There is nothing like staying at home for real comfort.

Jane Austen

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A Short History of Self-Help, The World’s Bestselling Genre

29 November 2013

From Publishing Perspectives:

Self-help has been around for thousands of years, and it has been loved and hated for just as long. The earliest progenitor of self-help books was an Ancient Egyptian genre called “Sebayt,” an instructional literature on life (“Sebayt” means “teaching”). A letter of advice from father to son, The Maxims of Ptahotep, written circa 2800 B.C., advocated moral behavior and self-control. Ancient Greek texts offered meditations, aphorisms, and maxims on the best ways to live.

During the Early Middle Ages, Middle Ages, and Renaissance, Mirror-of-Princes books told stories of kings whose behavior should be imitated or avoided.

. . . .

During the 1600 and 1700s, Conduct books told men how to behave in polite society, and were popular in Italy, France, and England. In France, they were known as “savoir vivre” books. Historian Jacques Carre argues, “their spirit was lost, and only a mechanical application of some isolated recommendations, supposed to procure immediate gentility, was proposed to the unsuspecting reader.” Topics covered included “Loathsome and Filthy Things,” “Blowing the Nose,” “Hair Cut Round Like a Bowl-Dish,” and “Beards of a Frightful Length.”

. . . .

In 1913, GK Chesterson wrote a screed against the popularity of books telling people how to succeed. “They are books showing men how to succeed in everything,” he wrote; “they are written by men who cannot even succeed in writing books.” Chesterson concludes his very entertaining diatribe with the following wish: “At least, let us hope that we shall all live to see these absurd books about Success covered with a proper derision and neglect.”

. . . .

Many of the most ancient self help texts are still in print. Sun Zsu’s The Art of War, an ancient Chinese military treatise is popular among American businessmen; Marcus Aurelius’ Meditations is a bestseller in contemporary China. Self-help books created from one culture can be just as popular in another: Wayne Dyer is popular in the Netherlands. The Secret (by the Australian author Rhonda Byrne) is a bestseller in Iran.

Link to the rest at Publishing Perspectives

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