Five publishing-related thoughts on a Friday afternoon

Re-posted here from Medium for my own archives. Feel free to ignore. I figure that since I broke my resolution yesterday not to blog about publishing, I might as well throw a couple more thoughts out today in an attempt to clear my system completely of useless speculation on publishing. Hopefully this means that I won’t have to do this again for another year or so. Clay Shirky’s [“Fast, Slow, Fast”](http://publiceditor.

Why should people read more books?

Re-posted here from Medium for my own archives. Feel free to ignore. I don’t know how many books I read last year. I probably could find out if I wanted to but I don’t particularly care. It isn’t important. What I _do_ know is that I read a lot of interesting and thought-provoking writing. I watched videos that changed my mind and my approaches to life. I listened to podcasts and other media that taught me new skills and opened up new perspectives.

A draft of a chapter of some thoughts on things.

The following is a very early draft of a chapter from a book I’m writing with Tom Abba. Think of it as a couple of academics/creators trying to help other creators avoid all of the dumb mistakes they’ve made. It’s very early stages still but all feedback welcome (send them to baldur.bjarnason@gmail.com or to Tom, if you can dig up his contact details somewhere. Probably on his twitter. Or his home page.

Taking stock of 2013 and 2014

I’ve never been much for end-of-year traditions. New year’s resolutions, for example, seem like a reliable way of setting yourself up for the fall. Taking stock of the passing year, figuring out what worked and what didn’t, seems to be a sensible thing to do, though, irrespective of tradition. As I was sitting in a car stuck in a blizzard the other day (yay, Iceland!), I began to see the past two years as a unified whole.

Publishing business ideas are a dime a dozen

Execution is the only thing that matters. So, here are a dozen simple ideas that popped into my head while I was on the train the other day. Keep the dime because ideas are actually not even worth that much. Some of these ideas are quite crap and dumb and vague so caveat emptor. Use software to leverage an old business model Use ecommerce to build a print book distribution company.

EU VAT changes shift the digital landscape

From The VATman Cometh, Destroying Businesses by Cheryl Morgan: Except that the new rules coming in next year have a turnover threshold of zero for digital products. Yes, that’s right. If all you do is sell one ebook, or a few knitting patterns on Etsy, or a little app you made for fun, you are required to register for VAT and file VAT returns once a quarter. Even if the tax involved is only pennies.

On conferences

Publishing conferences are deadly serious Publishing conferences are ritual performances. They are to the varied segments of publishing what morality plays are to the various forms of Christianity. They are narratives that are organised to demonstrate, emphasise, and reinforce the orthodoxy. When heterodox speakers—like myself—are invited, we are there to perform a liturgical role. By providing a clear demonstration of threatening ideas from the outside, we end up giving the orthodoxy’s ideological centre a clearer delineation—reinforcing it.

Crushed by multinationals

From an interview on Salon with Cory Doctorow: But I don’t think that’s true of the majority of artists. I think the majority of artists get the least that the investor class can get away with. They are, from the perspective of the investor class, largely interchangeable. That is to say, if you plan to publish 15 fantasy novels this month that are going to be primarily aimed at people who are buying them in airports to read on an airplane, then really what matters is that you just have 15 novels that are of readable quality.

Software as a strategy: prefabricated publishers

Redux:

> > Activities that make money aren't strategic. Activities that affect a company’s ability to make money in the future are strategic. Where is the leverage? That's what is "strategic." Only software provides significant leverage in business today. (Alan Cooper – [https://storify.com/fakebaldur/software-and-strategy](https://storify.com/fakebaldur/software-and-strategy)) > >

Most publishers today don’t understand the role software has come to play in business strategy.

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