Tuesday, March 30, 2010


Here's what was in my urban dictionary alert this morning, tree-book.  As opposed to what?  Well e-books of course. According to UD, a tree book, is printed on dead trees, i.e. paper, as opposed to an e-book, which exists electronically.   I'm interested in getting a job at Elsevier here in Philly so I've been reading up on the publishing industry and I'm very curious about the impact that Apple's much-anticipated iPad (due to launch this Saturday, April 3!) will have.

No surprise that big publishers are flocking to distribute electronic versions of their bestselling books on the iPad.  And even smaller houses are making the move, like the self-publishing service Smashwords.  Yes, e-books are upon us even in the self-published world.  But doesn't it make you wonder how this new channel will impact the publishing industry?  Well, how about school text books for starters.  Those big expensive missives represented a significant outlay of my meager student income to say nothing of my outlay for my three college-educated daughters. 

The technology will make e-books not only readily available (just use your PayPal account and download it), they'll also be cheaper.  According to an article in Digital Beat by Dean Takahashi, Apple requires the price must also be less than the print counterpart. The distribution cost to get the book on the iPad is free.

So how will this technology effect the publishing houses' profit margins, and their shipping and printing vendors, in fact, the structure of the publishing business itself?  I think given the cost difference between buying books online versus buying them offline, especially when it comes to higher education requirements, it is going to be cheaper over all for us to buy an iPad and buy our books on line.

The ramifications to the publishing industry are well, lots of change.  How will they adapt?  What steps are they taking now?  Of course with the ability to self-publish (and the growth in this category), do we even need the screening and acceptance process that established book publishers provide?  Then there is this other question about how book stores themselves will adapt and libraries.  What do you think? 

For me, as a consumer, I'll enjoy the lower cost plus the convenience and immediate gratification of downloading the most recent James Patterson novel, but I'll miss being able to write in the margins.  Writing in the margins is probably over-rated.

photo source: Thanks Kristen - http://cheydog44.wordpress.com/bookish-things/
additional reading: NYTimes, "In E-Book Era, You Can't Even Judge a Cover", http://nyti.ms/9jGuxe and University handing out iPads to students http://tinyurl.com/yflfx6d and E-book prices to rise as Amazon, Sony adopt agency model - http://arst.ch/hwx

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Uncover a Customer Touch Point & Be Engaging Too!

For the past year while searching for full time work and consulting assignments,  I've been networking, interviewing and looking at job descriptions.  I've probably read well over 500 descriptions online.  I've read some good ones and I've read some bad ones.  For example, one description called out "looking for awesome people" and I thought how nice.  Everyone who works there must think of themselves as exceptional.  I'd like to be part of that.

Another one stated, in their list of requirements, "must have sense of urgency" and I had to laugh imagining a situation of drinking six cups of coffee and seeking a bathroom. (Better phrasing here might be something like "results driven.")

And although there are plenty, the last example I'll share with you is the company description that announces joyfully, "Hey, leave your coat and tie at home."  But I don't have a tie.  So what is this company implying?

Moral?  If you're hiring take time to stand in your applicants' shoes - be empathetic:
  • Read the position description out loud, share it with some outside observers like friends and family to get a non-company perspective
  • Test the online application form yourself - not from a standpoint of making it easier, but making it smarter. (Like under address, which state do you think most applicants live in Pennsylvania or Palau?) You'll find items that need improving.  I guarantee it.
Why should you bother?  Your customers and prospects may be applying or have family members and friends that are applying. (Check out Seth Godin's book, Tribes.)  It's a compliment to your company and an opportunity to communicate to and engage an interested audience.

P.S. For an expanded view see Jeremiah Owyang's March 28th post - Evolution of Social Media Integration and Corporate Websites

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Live to be 120!

I actually know someone who is projected to live to be 120, my grandson.  Zane just celebrated his first birthday and has 119 years to go, at least according to the morbidity and mortality tables in his pediatrician's office.  That means that when Zane is 60, he'll only be half way through his life.  He'll be middle aged. 

His longevity got me to thinking that age and aging is impacted not so much by the passing of time but by the "time" we're in.  In point of fact when Franklin D. Roosevelt signed social security into law in 1935 the retirement age was 65 but life expectancy at birth was 58 for men and 62 for women.  These numbers were a result of the high infant mortality rates.  Rates that have significantly improved over the last 80 years.

The good news is we're living healthier and longer lives.  Living longer means we have more time, more time to grow up, have families, find a career or two or three, and more time in the work force.  The bad news is that living longer results in a disruption of our predisposed ideas of when things should happen like marriage, work and family. A good example is my 40-something friend who recently got married and is now pregnant with her first child.  I see her story not as an anomaly, but as an indicator of changing behaviors and new proclivities.   

When I look at the state of our economy and my current job hunting experience, it's obvious that never before has the U.S. had so many able-bodied, educated people looking for work. No wonder the unemployment rate is so high.  There are more people, young and old, seeking jobs than ever before. 

Living longer is significant because it isn't cyclical, it's here to stay.  We need to assimilate this fact into our behaviors as they impact our living patterns, our adoption and use of new methodologies and our perceptions of what constitutes old.  Frankly if I can create for myself a life that serves a greater good and is vibrant with self-discovery, I'd like to live to be 120.  Wouldn't you?