Macmillan will test subscription model for ebooks

Finally one of the Big Five publishers is trying an alternative business model for selling e-books. In the coming weeks, Macmillan will test the subscription model for e-books, probably through third party companies.

Macmillan’s CEO John Sargent explains the reason:

Through great innovation and prodigious amounts of risk and hard work, Amazon holds a 64% market share of Macmillan’s e-book business. As publishers, authors, illustrators, and agents, we need broader channels to reach our readers.

The question is why would a reader subscribe to Macmillan’s offering, which is limited to books from one publisher? Amazon’s KindleUnlimited already offers unlimited access to over 700,000 e-book titles and audiobooks for $9.99 a month.

Tags: book publishing, business models

Link: You have to read to be able to write

Matt Gemmell on the classic question How do you get your ideas, or the relation between reading, writing, and the idea-flow:

The corresponding answer is usually something like “they just come to me”, but it’s a half-truth. We all know that, deep down. The reality is more prosaic: your outlook alters, such that everything is an idea. In the same way that a former spy can never fully switch off their vigilance, a writer’s imagination just becomes perpetually active.

Reading is what makes it possible - you have to read in order to be able to write - but you have to write to actually activate this shift in perspective. It happens fast: within days. The problem isn’t ever finding ideas; it’s filtering them.

Reading is important, even if you are not a writer yourself. Finding time for reading long form —books, long articles, etc.— is crucial, even if it seems to be increasingly difficult.

Tags: ideas, writing, creativity

Book review: Influencing Virtual Teams by Hassan Osman

Hassan Osman has been managing virtual teams for a living for over ten years. In Influencing Virtual Teams, he shares his experience in the form of 17 tactics. The value of these tactics lies not on their novelty, but in that they have been successfully applied over the years to real projects. Although the book is titled “Influencing Virtual Teams”, the tactics on this book can be also applied successfuly to local teams.

Although the author includes references to case studies and scientific material, his intention is not to focus on why certain a tactic works, but help you manage your team. Nor will this book give you arguments to convince upper-management on the advantages of working remote. It just assumes the reality that in many companies, projects are handled by people that don’t work physically in the same place.

I couldn’t help but remember a quote from “The Checklist Manifesto”, by Atul Gawande: “Checklists gets the dumb stuff out of the way, the routines your brain shouldn’t have to occupy itself with (…), and lets it rise above to focus on the hard stuff”. Something similar can be said about the tactics in this book. You may have heard some or most of them before. They certainly don’t cover all possible scenarios, and don’t delve in the complexity of managing people. But if you use them systematically and consistently, they will help you manage your team team work with effectiveness and efficiency, so you can focus on getting the work done.

If you have experience managing teams, this book will give you some clear actions you can do to improve the way you delegate and communicate with your team. It also makes a good read for your reports if they are not familiar with the tactics discussed.

(Disclaimer: I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review)

Tags: virtual teams, remote work, team management, best practices

Link: A Startup Definition

The definition of a Startup, according to Paul Graham:

A startup is a small company that takes on a hard technical problem.

Tags: startups

Link: 10 Rules to Reverse the Email Spiral

Emailcharter is a page with ten short and practical rules to better email writing. As stated in the first rule, the underlying principle is to respect recipient’s time:

The onus is on you to minimize the time your email will take to process.

I discovered EmailCharter while listening to Tim Ferris’ conversation with Maria Popova. (Maria Popova is the sole author of Brain Pickings, a page that gets more than 5 million readers per month.)

Tags: productivity, email

Book: The 7 Day Startup. You Don’t Learn Until You Launch by Dan Norris

7 day Startup

Dan Norris is a entrepreneur with an obsession for content marketing. He spent fourteen years launching several businesses and trying to make them profitable. But none of his startups survived. He failed every time.

His current company, WP Curve, is profitable and growing over 10% month after month. It is one of the world’s fastest growing WordPress support company. What changed? What did he do different?

In The 7 Day Startup, Dan synthesizes his experience in a seven-step guide to launching a startup.

The biggest mistake people make is obsessing over their idea and not focusing enough on finding people willing to pay for their product.

Dan learned the hard way that you cannot run a business based on assumptions, or that it makes no sense to spend months and money trying to put the perfect webpage and paying system in place, when you have no customers. Because he didn’t understand his business model, increasing revenues had almost no impact on his company’s profits. He found out that while execution is everything, ideas certainly matter. A well-executed bad idea won’t make a business sustainable.

This book can be read back-to-back in a few hours. The main point the author tries to make is that you should launch your business as soon as you can, because until you launch, you are working on assumptions.

Norris covers topics like how to avoid failed validation techniques, how to qualify an idea for a bootstraped startup, or why you should see the point where you can hire in staff or systems to replace you and still continue to generate a profit when testing your idea. In the last pages, the author tries to give day-to-day advice for running your business. However, beware that because the number of topics covered in a relatively short book, there is no in-depth treatment of any of the techniques recommended.

The value of this book for me is that the advice given comes from the author’s personal experience with failure and success. If you have a tendency to overanalyze things, and postpone launching your projects because you don’t have enough data, reading Dan Norris’ The 7 Day Startup can help you get “out of the building” to find customers for your product or service.


Tags: book review, startups, entrepreneurship

Amazon and Simon & Schuster

Amazon has closed a multi-year deal with Simon & Schuster, covering both e-books and printed media. Negotiations only took three weeks.

As David Gaughran points out in his article Amazon and S&S Agree Terms. Who’s The Bad Guy Again?, this leaves us wondering why Hachette can’t come to terms with Amazon.

Tags: Amazon, publishing

Take a break from your connected day…

Take a break from your connected day… and remember the important things in your life.

Link: How to prepare yourself to start a Startup

In his essay Before the Startup, YCombinator’s founder Paul Graham explains that because startups are counterintuitive, you can’t always trust your instincts when starting a startup. Then he gives a list of 5 things you can do to prepare yourself for the task.

For example, where to get ideas for a startup? Not by making an effort to think of startup ideas, but by (1) learning a lot about things that matter, then (2) work on problems that interest you (3) with people you like and respect.

The whole essay is worth reading.

Tags: Paul Graham, startups, ideas

Link: How to be creative

Short PBS video on creativity. The creative process is relevant not only to artists but to anyone who must solve complex problems.

Julie Burstein explains her view on the creative process and negative capability at the beginning of the video:

[Creativity implies] the ability to stay in a space where you don’t exactly know what’s going to happen next. Willing to chase down ideas, and also willing to understand that not all of them will lead somewhere. But knowing that the experience of pursuing an idea will influence the next step.

Each creative person develops his or her own set of tools. The creative impulse is one piece of the process. But at a certain point you have to sit down and do the work. Understanding how to work is a key part to bringing your creativity to a point where you can share it to other people.

Inspiration is for Amateurs. I just get to work.” (Chuck Close)

(via FarnamStreet)

Tags: creativity, workflow

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