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Joe Wikert
I'm director of strategy and business development at Olive Software (www.olivesoftware.com)
Interests: Hockey, baseball, football, science and technology
Recent Activity
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The year is 2020 and I’m about to make a digital content purchase. It’s amazing how much the industry has evolved in the past five years. For example, pricing is no longer a one-size-fits-all, take-it-or-leave-it component. I now have multiple... Continue reading
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The smartwatch movement inspired me recently, which is surprising because I haven’t worn a watch since I started carrying a smartphone many years ago. I’m about as far as you can get from being a fashionista and I liken a... Continue reading
Remember the “info snacking” phrase that was somewhat buzzworthy several years ago? The thinking was that everyone was too focused on reading short bursts of content and soon no one would have the attention span to read an entire book.... Continue reading
Couldn't have said it better myself. I love your point about how apps are "books-minus", not "books-plus." That's so true. I'd take it a step further and, for the most part, even static ebooks are "books-minus", particularly since you can't resell them or give them to a friend when you're finished with them. It's also hard to refute your suggestion that "innovation seldom comes from long-established companies." While that's been the case since the dawn of time, the real shame is when those incumbents have such a stranglehold on the industry that they're actually stifling innovation. I think that tends to be true in publishing today as well.
You’ve probably heard me say that we live in a print-under-glass world, one where we’re consuming dumb content on smart devices.­­ It’s true simply because, as Michael Bhaskar of Canelo Publishing stated it at BEA, “publishers treat ebooks as a... Continue reading
I recently asked what questions you’d like to see answered via reader analytics. I gathered feedback from a variety of publishers including trade, professional and educational. The standard requests about reading sequence, how long it takes to finish a chapter,... Continue reading
The painful reality is that we still live in a print-under-glass world, struggling to produce content that leverages our powerful phones and tablets. I was explaining this to a publisher recently and the phrase “escape velocity” came to mind. In... Continue reading
In my book publisher days I recall saying the following to our Amazon rep: “You guys are capturing a ton of reading data from our customers. When are you going to start charging us to access that information?” She looked... Continue reading
The Javits Center must have some sort of time warp technology. I recently attended the BEA event there and I kept asking myself the same question: Is this 2015 or 2005? The digital vibe was almost nowhere to be found... Continue reading
Hi Frank. I can't say that it is, at least not on the roadmaps I've seen or read about.
The best content curators have extensive topic knowledge and a knack for reader interests and preferences. That sounds like something only a living, breathing human can do, right? While that’s largely the case today, I believe technology will drive the... Continue reading
Hi Kevin. You make an excellent point about the business model for this. That's why scale would be so important, which is also why I mentioned the need for these services to bring even more subscribers to their platforms. The Week has obviously figured out a way to make this work. But then again, I figure they're not paying the publishers for fair use of excerpts like Oyster pays when a book is read. That makes me wonder if The Week's fair use model is something to consider here though. After all, if a summary or only excerpts are provided, could the all-you-can-read platform do that for free, not having to pay the publisher a nickel? I ask that last question because I came across an interesting product on Oyster recently. I was thinking of reading the new David Brooks book, "The Road to Character." It's not available on Oyster yet, of course, but a summary of it is. That summary was written by someone who published it through Smashwords and now it's also part of Oyster's all-you-can-read model. It's like the Cliffs Notes approach. I'm not sure it's worth reading the summary but I'd be surprised if that author or Smashwords or Oyster are paying the publisher of Brooks' anything for selling a summary like this...
The initial promise is compelling, especially for voracious readers. For $10-$15/month consumers get access to more content than they could possibly read in a month. That ultimately creates a bigger problem than the subscription platforms probably realize. For more than... Continue reading
A recent email from Evernote piqued my curiosity. I’ve used the note-taking tool for years but never found a reason to upgrade from the Basic (free) version to the Premium (paid) version. Their email announced a “Plus” version with a... Continue reading
Hi Michael. Yes, many services are starting to ask for more personal information these days. Since they're my cell carrier I figure AT&T knows infinitely more about me, my habits, my travels, etc., than NextDoor could ever figure out.
Hi Marc. I typically feel the same way and don't want to pay more for an ebook than a print book. Now that I have this print version though I *know* I would have paid more for the e-version. Why? The print book is an awkward trim size, a bit wider than a typical book. As a result, it's clumsy to hold and read. Then there's the fact that I don't want to lug it around with me. So yes, in this case I gladly would have paid a bit more for the e-edition.
Ever since ebooks gained traction the publishing industry has obsessed with what’s typically referred to as “the discovery problem.” The common wisdom is that discovery of the content will lead to fame and fortune. What's next, now that ebook sales... Continue reading
I recently did something that I haven’t done for more than five years: I bought a physical, print edition of a book. For myself. I didn’t want to, but I had to. The publisher made me do it. The story... Continue reading
Oyster started as an all-you-can-read ebook subscription service but they recently decided to expand their reach by selling individual ebooks as well. There’s been plenty of speculation on why they made this move, including catching up to competitors like Scribd... Continue reading
The team at Book Business recently hosted a one-day, invite-only event in NY. I had the pleasure of attending as well as moderating the first panel of the day, Transforming Your Company for the New Era of Book Publishing. The... Continue reading
Today’s ebook subscription providers offer a nice value proposition for avid readers. It’s great that the all-you-can-read models from Oyster, Scribd and Kindle Unlimited provide consumers with something other than the print model where you buy one book at a... Continue reading
Hi Brian. Thanks for your note. No, I hadn't heard about Gelernter but I'll definitely check it out. Very cool that he was starting to develop this vision way back in the 90's!
You knew it wouldn’t last forever. You expected the double-digit growth rates would taper off but you never anticipated your ebook sales would flatten out so quickly. Is the ebook revolution over? Is this as good as it gets for... Continue reading
Hi Lori. Yes, this one certainly has plenty of privacy challenges. I'm not sure they're any more of an obstacle than what we see with other modern apps and platforms though. This definitely requires a variety of privacy settings for the user to select from, no doubt. And you're right about the memoir angle. The other one I didn't want to mention, mostly because it's just such a dark and dreary subject, is obits and memorial services. I've seen family members frantically digging around after a loved one dies, trying to assemble a video tribute. Why not let something like *this* fill that void, particularly since it's curated by the actual person whose life it describes? Are you listening, newspaper publishers?... This could be a really cool way to not only redeploy your content but also help you remain relevant in the digital obits business.
Every year it seems our cell phones take on new roles in our lives. Long ago flip phones merely enabled you to make calls. Today’s smartphones are loaded with sensors to do everything from track your health to tell you... Continue reading