Wednesday, February 25, 2009

My Kindle 2 Review at Publishing 2020

I've been tweeting up a storm about our new Kindle. Joe Wikert of Publishing 2020 and Kindleville fame asked me to do a guest post about my initial reaction to the Kindle 2 that arrived in my mailbox yesterday. You can read it here.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Indianapolis May Lose Flagship Borders Store

Potential bad news for the most awesome bookstore in Indy: Borders is looking for someone to sublease their historic downtown space. I don't live or work downtown, but I have relished a few visits to this unique store, which was built as a bank in 1908.

This, of course, is just a side-effect of the bad times the chain is having--as well as the retail climate in general. I would hate to see this store close, but my gut tells me it's inevitable.

Sure, sure, there's a location near my office in Castleton, and another near my home that is state-of-the-art. But Indy needs something nice like this at one of its "marqee intersections." If it leaves, what will come in its place?

Marketing Communications Writer Needed

We're looking for a marketing copywriter with two years of experience (will consider exceptional entry-level candidates). Check out the job posting on Monster. If you're interested, please apply directly through Monster.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Social Media Update: Taking the Twitter Plunge

Less than two weeks after being assimilated into the hive-mind that is Facebook, I took another big step and signed up for Twitter. My resistance was futile. I was afraid I was missing something.
When I signed up, I let it search my e-mail address book for my Twittering friends. I chose to follow more than 40 of them to start. A few of them reciprocated. My idea is to just read and learn from others for a while. I've tweeted a few things, but am not sure where I want to go with it. So don't expect too many pearls of wisdom just yet.
I'm having a lot more fun with Facebook. After the first rush of connecting with everyone in my address book, things have slowed down a little. But still, every day I run across (or am run across by) someone dear from my past whom I didn't expect to hear from again in my lifetime. I love getting back up to speed with everyone through their status reports and posted photos. Believe it or not, I'm even feeling closer to my sister and my husband now that I see what they're posting! What a darn hilarious bunch those Facebookers are!
A professional contact did me a favor and advised me to classify my friends into folders, so that I'm not sending inanity to the career professionals who've connected with me. So I guess that's how you manage to keep your business and your fun separated. Still, I won't be posting anything too incriminating, anyway.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Watch for Laurence on CBS Evening News Tonight

A few weeks ago Laurence Shatkin was interviewed by a CBS Evening News correspondent about how the stimulus plan will affect the job market. We just got the word that the interview might air tonight. So be sure to watch for it!

Tim O'Reilly on the Kindle and the Future of Publishing

InformationWeek's David Berlind had a sit-down last week with O'Reilly publisher Tim O'Reilly, and the result was a podcast of great importance. You can read the full transcript of it here. It's long, but so worth it. Any publishing leader who is less than informed about the Kindle and all its implications should just drop what they're doing and read or listen to this.

Now that your mind is blown wide open, venture into reading full coverage of the Tools of Change for Publishing event that took place in New York earlier this month. I really wanted to be there, but I didn't win the free tickets from Booksquare, and it was otherwise outside my budget range and above my pay grade. But reading all of this information will be the next best thing.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Somebody in Wasilla Likes Me

I still can't help but be fascinated by the widget on my blog that tells me where my visitors live. I admit to checking it daily to see whether I can determine any trends or guess at who might be reading my posts. I've had a few probable brushes with greatness, in that I was convinced that the Time Bandit captains had read my post about them, as I think did the author of The Shiniest Jewel (I still love your book, girlfriend). I also am regularly amazed by the far-flung places where my blog turns up (it doesn't hurt that, due to posting often, I have wicked SEO).

But today I was floored when I saw that I got a hit in Wasilla, Alaska. Could it be? Odds are about 7,000 to 1 that Sarah Palin read my remarks on Harcourt in Boston. She is shopping a book, ya know, so it's not out of the question.

So if you're out there, Sarah, sorry I didn't go see you when you came to Noblesville. I was kind of pulling for the other guy. But I wish you all the best with your book. I admit I'll be curious about it!

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Beware of Resume Scams

I learned something last week that has really crawled up under my skin and stayed there. I got an e-mail from an online resume site called (lack of link intentional). They must have bought or stolen my address from the National Resume Writers' Association. The message said that the company is seeking freelance resume writers. If I wanted to be considered, I would need to submit my own resume and samples of my work. Fair enough.

But what made me drop my proverbial uppers was this: pays its freelance writers $35 to write a professional resume, have direct contact with the client, and work with them until the client is satisfied. Now, folks, I have it on good authority (my own), that such an arrangement would require an average of 5 hours to do adequately. So do the math. They are paying resume writers $7 an hour! Imagine what kind of quality you'll get from someone who writes for less than they could make at Taco Bell.

But it gets so much worse. turns around and sells that same professional resume to the poor client for $155. So for doing nothing more than serving as a net to catch clients, is walking away with $120. boasts that they have been chosen by the LA Times as "the best of the bunch," and that they are CareerBuilder's only direct resume-writing partner. Really? How long before this all catches up with them?

While I'm busy exposing scandals, take a look at this one. Ask the Headhunter's Nick Corcodilos recently wrote this expose on supposed $100K job site The Ladders. The gist of it is that they are charging people to access their database of $100K jobs, but a great percentage of those jobs don't pay anywhere close to $100K. Also, they are allegedly employing low-paid resume writers and using deceptive tactics when critiquing customers' existing resumes.

Resume and career scams are as plentiful now as gypsy roofers after a hailstorm, and they have the potential to tarnish the image of the legitimate career professionals out there. If you need resume or career help, I urge you to work directly with a professional member of one of the following organizations:

Monday, February 16, 2009

Listen to Laurence Shatkin on NPR

Yesterday Laurence was a guest on NPR's All Things Considered program, speaking about how the new stimulus plan will affect the job market. It's kind of surreal when someone you know personally is out there conversing with the omnipresent and uber-calming Jacki Lyden. I think he fit right in and did an awesome job. You can hear the three-minute interview here.

Jacki ended the interview with a question about how the job market is going for people who write books about finding jobs. Laurence admitted that it's a pretty good time to be a career book author, which he called one of the ironies of his very particular niche.

Friday, February 13, 2009

We're Getting a Kindle!

Those of you who have already "friended" me on Facebook no doubt heard my squeals of utter delight earlier this week when the CEO said, "Hey, we need to get one of those Kindles. Go ahead and order it."
I wasted not a minute, going straight to Amazon to put us on the waiting list. By all indications, our little electronic bundle of joy will be arriving on March 2 (I didn't see the need to pay extra for express shipping).
A few people have asked why we're getting a Kindle. It's complicated and simple at the same time. The simple explanation is that if we are going to understand our customers and move into the digital age, all of us here at JIST need to get some hands-on experience using this device and others like it. I envision it being like the class pet, which we will all take turns taking home on the weekends.
The more complex explanation is that we are going to start putting our titles out in Kindle editions. But they have to be converted. Amazon takes a bigger discount if they have to do the conversion for you. If you do it yourself, you have to be able to test each conversion and see how it looks on the device. And the only way to do that is to own one; ergo, the need to make the leap and get one. Rumor has it that some other major publishers are too cheap to do even that, so I imagine us as being very progressive in this respect.

I look forward to passing along our impressions of the new Kindle in the coming months. Maybe Joe Wikert fell out of love with it, but this is essential remedial learning for us.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Time Flies When You're Having Fun

While sitting in traffic this morning on the way to work, the thought occurred to me: Today marks the 18-year anniversary of my first day in book publishing. On February 11, 1991, I arrived bright-eyed at the Macmillan Computer Publishing offices on North College Avenue, ready to begin a big adventure. And what a ride it was! Endless growth and mergers and major software releases, so many new friends, and the coolest job of my life. Of course, it did end when Pearson bought the company and started breaking it up. So I moved on to JIST. And I've been here nearly 10 years. Incredible!

I'd like to say how much things have changed, but they really didn't change that much until just recently. We were on the cutting edge of publishing technology then, and we practically sat for many years until the rest of the industry caught up with us (still waiting for some old-school stragglers even today...). But now it's all e-books and Web 2.0 and such, so get ready for things to start changing more drastically.

A big shout-out to the old MCP folks who made my life and career so much fun "back in the old days"!

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Awright, Awright: I've Joined Facebook

I got another invitation to join Facebook this morning and before I realized what I was doing, I had joined. It was kind of like the first time I voted for Bill Clinton: Some force outside myself seemed to make me do it, even though I had reservations in the back of my mind. In retrospect, I think the good of Bill outweighed the bad. And that's what I hope will happen with Facebook as well.

Already I've connected with several of my authors and got a vital piece of PR info from one of them, who might not have thought to send it along had she not gotten an invite from me this morning. Plus, I figured out how to block my stalker, so it's all good so far.

If we haven't already connected, send me an invite!

And if you're wondering about my profile photo: It's my little girl's recent abdominal x-ray. It seemed just bizarre enough to keep everyone guessing. I'll replace it with something less kooky soon.

Friday, February 6, 2009

Trifecta Friday: Instabook, Day in the Life, and Sick of Recession

Rather than hoard all of this good info and dole it out over the next few days, I'm going to lay it all on ya right here and now. Three very interesting items have come to my attention:

  • A New Paradigm for Publishing?: First, JIST author and editor Laurence Shatkin blogs today at FastCompany about his new book on getting a job from the new economic initiatives (Great Jobs in the President's Stimulus Plan). He touches on how quickly the book was conceived and produced (a new record at JIST, and impressive by any standards): from idea to printed book in 24 days.
  • BOOKSMARTS: A Day in the Life of a Book Editor: At Girl w/Pen, Laura Mazer serves up a hilarious (but all too true) account of what it's like to be a mom working as an editor. The diversity of her responsibilities might sound far-fetched, but it's pretty close to (my) home.
  • F*** Fear: Juliana Aldous Atkinson, an editor for Microsoft Press, says what we've all been thinking. After years of prosperity, a few months of financial contrition is about all we can take. We're all tired of the way the media is blowing the recession out of proportion. We're tired of self-denial, mixed messages, and the stress of constantly feeling our jobs are on the line. She asks for suggestions on dealing with it all, but I haven't come up with any good ones yet. I just know that the media will soon have to obsess about something else, because we are tired of wallowing in this.

Having said that, have an awesome weekend! If my child does not come down with strep today (as I fear), I'm going to go help feed the quadruplets on Sunday!

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Publishing Programs' Applications Not Declining

Somehow this article in the January 26 edition of Publisher's Weekly got past me. (You know, the infamous issue in which former editor Sara Nelson said "Call me gullible or impressionable, but I'm actually feeling kind of hopeful this week"--right before she was laid off.)

Reporter Rachel Deahl spoke with the leaders of the well-known summer publishing institutes (Columbia, Denver, and NYU) and other graduate and continuing-education programs and found that students are as eager as ever to get into book publishing. The reasoning from CUNY publishing certificate program assistant director Retha Powers: "People start asking themselves, 'If I don't have the same job security, then what do I really want to be doing?' I think one of the answers is that people are really excited about publishing."

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Coworker Exposes Bad Grammar "Spree"

My coworker Stephanie is famous today on the Red Pen, Inc., blog. She noticed an egregious error in an online version of a TV news report on our city's preparations to host the Super Bowl in 2012. I won't spoil it for you: Go read it here.

We're still waiting to see whether her submission yesterday to the FAIL Blog turns up. She used her iPhone to take and submit a photo of a packet of salmon from a gift basket an author sent us. It had three conflicting expiration dates on it. Expiration date FAIL! Seriously, if you are not yet familiar with the FAIL Blog, but you like making fun of other peoples' mistakes (and who doesn't?), get over there and check it out right away! It's currently my favorite place to get a reliable chuckle (and the occasional blow-your-drink-out-your-nose guffaw) when I need one.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Tony Dungy Signing His New Book Today

It's been all over the local media that recently retired Colts coach Tony Dungy will be signing his new book, Uncommon: Finding Your Path to Significance, at two Indianapolis venues today--at Borders from 3 to 5pm and at Sam's Club from 7 to 9pm. The book is already doing quite well--it's ranked #16 on Amazon now, and has been as high as #9.

You can see a complete list of his scheduled signings here. The publisher, Tyndale House, appears to be targeting his fan base: here and in Tampa, where he formerly coached (and probably because he just happened to be down there for the Super Bowl, anyway). There are also some dates in the New York area.

Tyndale also used a bit or strategy with the release date. It wasn't scheduled to be released until February 17; but when he announced his retirement, they decided to step it up and piggyback onto the publicity that he's continuing to get from that.

The TV news reporter did a live shot outside Borders, nearly 12 hours before his scheduled appearance. She said people would be limited to just three copies of the book each. Imagine how many books he's going to sell today!

Monday, February 2, 2009

Houghton Mifflin Harcourt "Teetering" in Boston

The Boston Globe published this amazing article yesterday about the fact that the Houghton Mifflin Harcourt office in Boston is on the brink of collapse. It's a comprehensive and plausible summary of how it got to this point (hint: corporate greed and endless mergers, coupled with the horrible economy and the shifting publishing paradigm).

But the true gold is in the comments section. Dozens of articulate publishing veterans, many of whom are former HMH employees, have written in with their thoughts on the situation. It's fascinating. There's even a student commenter who hurls insult at the industry for its stupid adherence to printed texts.

The article's founding premise, that school textbook publishing is in dire trouble, is confirmed in reports I've gotten from and about all the major (and some minor) players in the industry. All seem to agree: Whereas college textbooks are in better shape, the divisions that publish texts for elementary and high schools are in deep, deep doo-doo. States are going bankrupt (in particular, California), which means they don't have money to buy new textbooks.

The world of textbook publishing is twisted, indeed, as some of the article's comments hint.