23 posts categorized "Books"

The Insanity of the Rush To Buy Books At Borders' Going Out Of Business "Sale"

BordersWhy in the world are people buying these huge stacks of books at Borders right now? Where are the "deals" that are supposed to be there?

I asked myself these questions when, like carrion drawn to roadkill, we naturally had to visit our local Borders here in Keene, NH, over the weekend.

The signs, of course, broadcast out "10-40% Off", but closer examination showed naturally that almost everything was at "10% off" except for a few categories.

So let's do some math… there was a book my daughter wanted that cost:


Take of the 10% and you get:


What a deal, right? But consider that here is the cost for the exact same book on Amazon.com:


In doing some quick spot-checking (gotta love a smartphone with a browser), it seemed pretty much the case that most all the books were priced about 40% higher than you could buy them online.

So here's the math quiz for anyone thinking about going to Borders' "sale" right now:

If the book prices are 40% higher than online, and you subtract 10%, you are still paying ____ more than you would pay online.

Umm… how many ways can you spell "F - A - I - L"?

Even if you don't have Amazon Prime and still need to pay for shipping, odds are that your shipping costs probably will still make it cheaper to buy online.

Sure, this is standard liquidator practice… pump up the promotion, get people coming in thinking there are great deals, and hope they stumble upon a few things to buy. (And in fact, I did buy a book that had a list price of $16 and was on a discount rack for $3.99.) Try to milk every last $ you can...

But it did astound me to see the long lines of people with big stacks of books…

As for me, now that I've seen the lines and the shelves, I'll tune out the news for a couple of weeks… when the deals actually start to get real, maybe I'll make another visit… :-)

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Congrats to Terry Fallis on winning the Canada Reads Contest

TerryfallisWow! Many congrats to Canadian PR professional Terry Fallis for his political satire novel, "The Best Laid Plans", winning the "Canada Reads" contest for 2011! Now, no longer living in Canada (we were there 2000-2005), I honestly had no idea what "Canada Reads" was all about... but have subsequently learned that it is rather a Big Deal north of the border! And obviously a big enough deal for his publisher to order up 25,000 new copies of the book.

Well done, Terry... well done!

For those who may not remember, Terry started off podcasting out his book back in January 2007. He had decided to self-publish the book and finished the podcast of all the chapters in May 2007. His self-published book went on to win the prestigious Stephen Leacock Medal for humor. Along the way, Terry picked up a contract with publisher McLelland & Stewart to publish The Best Laid Plans and then his sequel, "The High Road" (which Terry also put out as a series of podcasts).

The key point to me, though, was that Terry got himself going using the new technologies that are enabled by the Internet and are seriously disrupting the traditional publishing industry. Now, of course, it helped that he has a long and deep PR/marketing background, so he was able to look at how to promote his own book. But that's the point... he could do it himself... without requiring the publishers and agents that have traditionally been the gatekeepers to getting "books" out there. (And yes, the traditional industry is how my books have gotten out there so far.)

Being a hard-core political junkie, I thoroughly enjoyed reading (and listening to) both books, even though the Canadian political system is obviously a wee bit different from ours here south of the border. I look forward to the next adventures!

Through it all, too, Terry is just one of the nicest people I know... a great guy all around... and I'm thrilled to pieces for him to have received such an honor! Here's a great video of him the day after the Canada Reads win:


Congrats again, Terry!

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Congrats to C.C. Chapman on the launch of his new book, "Content Rules"!

cc_chapman.jpgA big congratulations to my friend C.C. Chapman and his co-author Ann Handley on the launch of their new book, Content Rules. As C.C. wrote about yesterday, he's rather excited... and understandably so!

I first met C.C. way back in the early days of podcasting when a bunch of us in the Boston area went to events like PodCamp Boston and other great events like that. We've all had a "New England Podcasting" mailing list that has kept a good number of us in touch over the years. I've long admired his incredible passion, enthusiasm and just generally insanely high level of energy!

And of course... the incredible amount of content he creates online!

Which, naturally, makes him the perfect author for a book called "Content Rules"!

I haven't read the book yet... my copy is being delivered soon... but judging from the reviews on Amazon so far I'm looking forward to reading what C.C. and Ann wrote.

They also recorded a great interview with Shel Holtz which you can listen to.

Congrats, again, to both C.C. and Ann!

P.S. And to those of you going to the Boston book launch party on Friday, December 10th, I'll see you there! ;-)

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One simple reason why O'Reilly ROCKS when it comes to e-books

Ever since getting my iPad, I've been starting to buy more e-books and reading them on the iPad.  I've bought them directly in iTunes and also from other different vendors.  Today I was reminded again why O'Reilly & Associates continues to be such a great publisher to buy from... here's the email I received:


A simple email letting me know that an updated version of the ebook is available for download - and what was fixed.  I've received this now for several of the ebooks I purchased for them.  It's wonderful customer service and makes me want to buy from them again!

Great work, O'Reilly folks!

P.S. Disclosure: O'Reilly hasn't paid me for this blog post nor do they have a clue I'm writing it. I just like their products and service.

Where have all the bookstores gone? The move to e-books and the changing book distribution model

Do you still shop in a bookstore?  Or do you buy your books online at sites like Amazon.com? Or have you ditched print books altogether and now read "e-books" on a reader like an iPad or a Kindle?

As E-Books Gain, Barnes and Noble Tries to Stay Ahead - NYTimes.com.jpgThe New York Times is out today with a piece about the changes at Barnes & Noble and also about changing consumer trends in general that is worth a read.  Interesting stats on the changes in buying habits:

In the first five months of 2009, e-books made up 2.9 percent of trade book sales. In the same period in 2010, sales of e-books, which generally cost less than hardcover books, grew to 8.5 percent, according to the Association of American Publishers, spurred by sales of the Amazon Kindle and the new Apple iPad.

As an author, but also as simply a lover of reading and of books, I do wonder about where we re going. If I look at my own behavior, we have two large bookstores here in Keene, NH. One is a Borders branch and the other is a local Toadstool Bookshop. Both are great places to browse books... Borders has a coffee shop/cafe area and WiFi. Here's the thing, though:

I almost NEVER go there!

Part of it is that I don't find I have time in my daily life to just go and browse through books. Maybe I should make that time... but I don't... and I don't see it happening soon. The other reality is that as a cheap... er.. "frugal" Yankee, I just don't want to pay the higher prices of a bookstore when I can get the exact same book for less online, particularly once you get sucked into Amazon Prime and can get a book delivered so fast.

I've also bought more e-books this year than ever before, largely because I now own an iPad. I had purchased a few before for my iPhone or desktop, but the reading form factor wasn't that great. The iPad is great for reading... and again there's a price factor. I bought a bunch of O'Reilly books I'd wanted not too long ago when the ebook versions were only $5.

An interesting aspect of e-books (or are they "ebooks" or "eBooks"?) is the ease of receiving updates. Just today I received an email from O'Reilly that there is an updated version of one of the books I bought that has a number of corrections and fixes. Pretty much impossible to do with a printed book, particularly because they wouldn't know I had bought it. (More anonymity with print books... a subject for another blog post.)

Now, there are a host of reasons why I personally still like print books... "tree-ware"... I'm not yet cool with the idea of "cuddling up in bed" at the end of the night with my e-reader. And I just like the feel of a book in my hands. But I can see the day coming...

How about you? Do you go to bookstores anymore? Do you still buy books? Or have you shifted to e-books?

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Want to do online video? Get Steve Garfield's new book "Get Seen"

I can still remember when Steve Garfield completely blew my mind and opened it up to all sorts of possibilities.

It was April 2007 and a whole bunch of us from the from the Boston area had gathered at Boston University for Doug Kaye's latest Podcast Academy 2... C.C. Chapman was there... Chris Brogan (before he started his ascent to rock star status ;-)... I seem to recall Christopher Penn... it was all the "early days" of podcasting and so by and large most of us knew each other in some way. Many of us were in a local email mailing list for New England podcasters - and we were there to learn from Doug Kaye and the talented list of instructors he brought, but also to learn from each other.

The final session at the end of the last day was Steve Garfield up to talk about "Video Podcasting".

I can still remember Steve up on the BU stage... because in the first few minutes of his talk, he completely shredded the curtain I had mentally erected around this intimidating thing called "video podcasting".

You see... I had been blogging since 2000 and participating in audio podcasting since early 2005 (with "For Immediate Release", where I still contribute to this day), but video?

No way! Video was hard... it required expensive equipment... it was difficult to do... it took special knowlege... it was complicated...

And there was Steve, standing up on the stage pointing a silly little commodity point-and-shoot camera first at himself and then at all of us... copying the file over to his computer... and then uploading it to YouTube or his blog or some site... all in the first 5-10 minutes of his talk!


Was the awesomely intimidating "video podcasting" really as easy as this???

Yes, it really was that easy back in early 2007 - and it's gotten even easier today with tools like the Flip camera (I'm holding out for the WiFi one!) and with embedded video cameras in most all new laptops. The online services have gotten easier to use... [UPDATE: Over on his blog, Steve has actually dredged up a copy of the video of that Podcast Academy 2 talk. I didn't remember part of how it began (with the online group interaction), but you can see where he started with showing us how to create a simple video podcast.]

Through all the changes, Steve has been there continuing to teach us about how to work with online video... and even more to show us how to do online video through his various projects.

And now Steve's made it even easier to learn about online video... he's got a new book out from Wiley called "Get Seen: Online Video Secrets to Building Your Business"[1] which I read on the flights down from New Hampshire to Orlando yesterday. It's a great book for anyone looking to get started with online video... Steve talks about the tools and what you need to get going... but he also talks about the incredible importance of content and having a solid story... it's all great stuff...

Even if you have now been working with video for a while, as I have with my Emerging Tech Talk video podcast, you're bound to learn more that will help improve the quality of your shows. I know that I certainly took a great number of notes that I'll now look to put into action.

Being about video, you can of course watch Steve talk about what he wrote about:

Thanks, Steve, for continuing to share so openly... and I do hope this book helps even more people start contributing videos online!

[1] Disclosure: Yes, this link to Steve's book and the link on the image both contain my Amazon Associates ID. If you buy the book as a result of following those links, I might make a few pennies. However, this review was not requested by Steve or Wiley. They did not send me a copy of the book. I bought it from Amazon myself.

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Congrats to HubSpot on $16M funding AND launch of "Inbound Marketing" book

hubspotlogo.jpgCongratulations are very definitely in order to the folks over at HubSpot today for two reasons:

HubSpot has definitely been one of the companies I've been watching in this space. They've provided a great amount of content through their Internet Marketing blog on a wide range of topics. I've also enjoyed some of their "Grader" tools. Plus, on a purely local note, they are an interesting Boston-area company just a couple of hours south of me.

Congrats to Brian Halligan and all the HubSpot team... and best wishes to them as they aim to become "the Salesforce.com of marketing".

P.S. Check out their "Inbound Marketing cartoon eBook".

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Buy "Trust Agents" from Chris Brogan and Julien Smith...

Trust AgentsYou know, I was going to write a longer post about how "trust" is important online... about how great a writer and friend Chris Brogan is... how cool Julien Smith is...

I was going to write all that.


I've been (and continue to be) a wee bit busy... Shel already wrote an excellent piece about how PR and marketing folks have a critical role in building trust... and well... here we are at the end of the week.

So let's keep it simple...

Buy "Trust Agents"!

I'll note that I'm doing something here that I don't think I've ever done in the 9.5 years I've been blogging... recommending a book without reading it. That's new for me. But this is probably one of the rare exceptions I'll make... you see, Chris is an excellent writer. He's a storyteller. He's an explainer... an evangelist... and a friend from years back.

I've also had friends who have read it tell me that it's good. I trust them. :-)

My copy purchased from Amazon is in the mail... I'm looking forward to reading it...

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FIR Book Review: "WordPress for Dummies" - November 27, 2007

Earlier today I participated in a audio book review of "WordPress for Dummies" with FIR co-host Neville Hobson (I am a weekly "correspondent" into the FIR podcast). The podcast is now online on the FIR site and I will also be cross-posting the podcast notice below as well. It was fun to do the interview with Neville and overall we both were very positive about the new book. (You'll hear my one main point of criticism, which was not so much with the content but with the way it was presented.) If you are working with WordPress - or thinking about it - I would definitely recommend you check out this book.

NOTE: Neville cross-posted the podcast notice on his blog and the book author has responded with a comment.

WordPress for DummiesOne of the most popular platforms for creating and managing a blog is WordPress. From its origins in 2003, WordPress has grown to be the largest self-hosted blogging tool in the world, used on hundreds of thousands of sites and seen by tens of millions of people every day.

A new book, WordPress For Dummies, has just been published, with explanations in plain English about WordPress and how to use it.

Written by Lisa Sabin-Wilson, WordPress for Dummies covers blogging basics, choosing a hosting solution or setting up a host, developing blog content, syndicating blog posts with RSS, launching a specialized blog (including podcasting, photoblogging, mobile blogging, and videoblogging), and even earning revenue. It includes help on every aspect of installing and using WordPress, illustrations from real-world WordPress blogs, step-by-step tutorials on key topics, and insights from bloggers who use WordPress.

FIR co-host Neville Hobson and FIR correspondent Dan York discuss their take on the new book, looking at various aspects of the overall content, and concluding with their recommendation about the book.

download for immediate release podcast

Download the review here (MP3, 12.6MB, 27mins 37 secs), or sign up for the FIR Book Reviews RSS feed to get it and future reviews automatically. To receive all For Immediate Release podcasts including the twice-weekly Hobson & Holtz Report, sign up for the full RSS feed.

Listen to this podcast now:

If you have comments or questions about this podcast, or suggestions for future interviews, email us at [email protected]; or call the Comment Line at +1 206 222 2803 (North America) or +44 20 8133 9844 (Europe); or Skype: fircomments; or comment at Twitter: twitter.com/FIR; or at Jaiku: fir.jaiku.com. You can email your comments, questions and suggestions as MP3 file attachments, if you wish (max. 3 minutes / 5Mb attachment, please!). We’ll be happy to see how we can include your audio contribution in a show.

Podsafe intro music - On A Podcast Instrumental Mix (MP3, 5Mb) by Cruisebox.

WordPress for Dummies by Lisa Sabin-Wilson
Publisher: John Wiley & Sons, Inc
Paperback, 384 pages
Published in November 2007
ISBN: 978-0-470-14946-1
Available online now from Amazon.com and other outlets.

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Congrats to Terry Fallis on "The Best Laid Plans" being published!

photo-of-books-3.jpgCongratulations to Terry Fallis on the publishing of his novel, The Best Laid Plans!  He also notes that the book is now available on Amazon.com!

For those who haven't been following Terry's work, he started podcasting his book out chapter by chapter back in January (scroll to the bottom to see how it began).  Each week (all the way up through May) , we tuned in to hear the latest wacky exploits of Daniel, Angus, Muriel, Lindsay and the two punk-rock campaign workers named Pete.  Even if you didn't understand all the nuances of Canadian politics, it was a fun story to listen to and you definitely found yourself cheering on Angus and Daniel all the way up to the finale when Angus......... well, I can't really give that away, can I?  You have to listen yourself - or now you can buy the book!

Starting in March, Terry began taking us along on his journey into self-publishing, and it was interesting to read over the months how that has all gone.  In the era of Amazon.com and other online bookstores, self-publishing sites like iUniverse.com and Lulu.com have gone far to disrupt the traditional gatekeepers of the traditional publishing business - and also done much to remove the stigma traditionally associated with self-publishing (what used to be called (and probably still is) "vanity publishing").  It's definitely a fascinating dynamic and one that I'm certainly considering for some ideas of my own.  Sure, you don't necessarily wind up in bricks-and-mortar bookstores as you would with a traditional bookstore... but in the online era, does that matter? (or does that matter as much?)

Anyway, congrats to Terry and it's great to see it finally out.  I look forward to seeing a copy myself.