Order Takeout Online — Just For the Fun of It!

September 30, 2009


I’m not sure it’s going to overtake surfing for porn, but bravo for the effort!

White Spot is a treasured family restaurant here in British Columbia. Used to be downscale, now semi-upscale. Which is to say, having tried it recently, I can’t imagine why you’d eat there, let alone go to the web for takeout.

But bravo for trying to be “with it.”

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Adobe-Omniture, Part 2

September 29, 2009


After my first glib reaction to the Adobe-Omniture deal, this past Friday it struck me that the proposed acquisition by Adobe deserves a lot more scrutiny.

So I’ve set myself the task to prepare a detailed in-depth report on the topic and publish it by next Monday.

I’ve collected all of the interesting articles and web posts on the subject, and this week I’m interviewing analysts, customers, competitors, interested observers and the like to try and fill in the rationale.

I do feel that this deal could be a major change in the way companies publish to the web, and hence to the future of publishing. And I’m working very hard with several fine colleagues to test the theory.

As far as I can see I’ll be the first to publish actual interviews with actual customers of the two company’s products. Surely the customers matter most.

I’m also doing an in-depth financial analysis: $1.8 billion is not spare change when buying a company that isn’t making money.

I’ll try to illustrate what the upside is, in concrete terms, and just as clearly, the downside.

I want very much to be fair, and let all voices be heard.

I’ve always admired Adobe, and don’t think that it would spend $1.8 million on a whim. But the value proposition has not been well-arcticulated by Adobe, and I’m having a heck of a time getting them to answer my emails and calls so that I can represent its viewpoint fairly.

To all of my readers: if you’ve got a perspective or insight on the subject, please comment to this entry or email me at thad@thefutureofpublishing.com.

Anyone who does so will receive a free copy of the report that will be priced at $95 (in PDF format, of course).

Over to you…

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Adobe Co-Founders to Receive National Medal of Technology and Innovation

September 26, 2009

I missed this story a week ago in the San Jose Mercury-News. According to its web site: “President Barack Obama…picked Adobe Systems co-founders Charles Geschke and John Warnock to receive…the National Medal of Technology and Innovation.”


According to the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office, “The National Medal of Technology and Innovation… is the highest honor for technological achievement bestowed by the President of the United States on America’s leading innovators.” Past winners include folks of the caliber of Carter Mead and Bob Metcalfe.  The awards will be bestowed on October 7 at a White House ceremony.

When you think about the history and development of digital publishing, no one can argue that John Warnock and Chuck Geschke are not the two most important players in transforming publishing into the extraordinary multiple media world we find it in today. Yes, Steve Jobs had the vision and the courage to create the hardware that would make Adobe’s innovations accessible, but PostScript was the basic ingredient that changed the whole palying field, as it formed the basis for digital type, Adobe Illustrator and later on, PDF. PostScript was invented by John Warnock and Chuck Geschke.

We credit the invention of the World Wide Web  to (Sir) Tim Berners-Lee, and correctly so. But I argue that without Adobe and Apple leading the world’s designers and publishers to move from analog processes and proprietary systems to fully embrace the digitization of text and images, the web would have been a non-starter.

My strongest congratulations to John and Chuck: the award is if anything overdue! You’ve both been heroes of mine for many years.


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Four Funerals and a Birthday

September 24, 2009

I was asked tonight by a friend the simple, “How’s it going?”

I’m generally in a positive mood and responded: “Times are still tough, but I remain optimistic about the future of publishing.”

It’s later now and I got to thinking:

There are still more deaths than births in the publishing business. And that can be depressing.

Let me explain.

Most days I hear from friends and colleagues that business is rotten. Either their income has shrunk to where it can only be found under a microscope, or they’ve been layed-off, or they’re about to be bought out, or…

I do not often hear from my  friends and collegues that business has suddenly turned north, and couldn’t be better.

I see in the financial pages much more gloom (with a smattering of what I call “false hope.”). Nothing to cheer me up there.

Tonight I got to thinking that in the world of life and death that we humans inhabit we’ve got ceremonies, finely-honed over the years, to celebrate birth and to help us all ease through the grief of death.

At the same time, I’ve always argued that businesses are just surrogates for families. Ever since Peter Drucker and his pals there’s been a tremendous effort to make it seem that businesses are merely scientific enterprises. I argue that they’re just dysfunctional families, writ large.

Therefore when a business fails there should be a “business funeral,” where we join together and mourn. When a dear friend is laid off after a 22-year career, there should be a similar ritual. But we have no established ceremonies for these things, and are each left to mourn singly and silently.

But likewise should there not be a celebration ritual upon the birth of a new business? OK, it’s called the “press event.” But it always lacks the structure and ceremony of a good old-fashioned religious ceremony.

I was imagining this evening the moment when my putative business wife caught me on my cell to announce that she’d had twins. “I’m going to name the first one ‘FaceBook,” she said. “And the other, gosh I don’t know why, I’m naming Twitter.”

I rushed to the hospital and looked down upon their faces, listening to their early twitters, and thought that somehow we’d given birth to kids with birth defects. Yet here they are, a few years later, and they’re the most popular kids in the world. Where can I celebrate??

We’ve been through some tough times and have no fine outlets to express either pain or joy. We must simply endure, and when times improve, celebrate in the old-fashioned ways we’ve always enjoyed.

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E-book Sales of ‘The Lost Symbol’ Rival Print Sales

September 23, 2009

I’m occasionally forwarded the e-newsletter of the Canadian Booksellers Association. It’s very good. While I suspect you must be a member to receive it regularly there’s some implication that an email to Ms. Sinkins (esinkins@cbabook.org) may produce a subscription. From the September 22, 2009 edition:

An item from last Thursday in The Bookseller UK revealed: “The Kindle version of Dan Brown’s The Lost Symbolis outselling the print version, according to Amazon.com’s own chart. The Mystery & Thrillers chart, which is updated hourly, combines both print and Kindle editions, with Kindle-watchers reporting since yesterday that the Kindle edition has been ahead of the print version.” In related news, sales of the digital version via Shortcovers have set a one-day record for the e-book service, according to Publishers Weekly who reports: “sales of the title have already surpassed total sales of the Twilight series that Shortcovers has been selling for six weeks and which had been its bestselling e-books.” While most of the orders were placed via the web, the item breaks down the mobile purchases this way: “37% iPhone, 31% Palm Pre, 29% Blackberry, 3% Android.”

My first comment: the technology appears a match for the literature held within.

My second comment: If this is true, I’ve got to rethink my oppositional position to the future of eBooks. What an unpleasant prospect! But I’ll track this and change my tune from minor to major, and say goodbye, if such is required.

Update September 25, 2009: From The Silicon Insider:

The first week tally is in for Dan Brown’s “The Lost Symbol”. The verdict for the Kindle? Nothing special.

“The Lost Symbol” sold just 100,000 in e-books format according to Doubleday. Overall Doubleday sold 2 milllion copies. The 5% ratio of e-books to print is about in-line with the average for book sales.

The first day sales of “The Lost Symbol” were better on the Kindle than in print for Amazon, so if there’s good news for the young e-book industry, it’s that people like to buy books right away on their Kindles. Other than that, there’s nothing much to crow about.

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