Frankly I am surprised that it took this long. But today, we read in the Wall Street Journal that two major publishers have decided to pull a music industry mistake. Simon and Schuster and Hachette Book Group have announced that they will not release most eBook editions until the hardbacks have been on shelves for four months.
And I quote David Young, CEO of Hachette Book Group, whom the article cites as saying: "We're doing this to preserve our industry, I can't sit back and watch years of building authors sold off at bargain-basement prices. It's about the future of the business."
Correction: This move is about the past of your business.
I'm just being a historian here when I point out that language like "We're doing this to preserve our industry" is a classic symptom of what we at Forrester loving call The Media Meltdown. I wrote a whole report on this ailment and its many symptoms, chief among them is that media businesses attempt to preserve analog business models in the digital economy, even when analog economics no longer apply. This is exactly that scenario.
I have two very important messages to offer the book industry (most all of them clients, so I'm trying to be delicate here, the way a group of friends running an intervention for an alcoholic have to act even if it involves summoning tough love). The first message is the hardest to hear and it will make me some enemies. But the second message offers some hope and I encourage you book types to give it a fair hearing, because I have history and economics on my side.
Overall, Christmas 2009 may be far better for retailers than expected, following a turbulent year for the retail sector. Many retailers have successfully adjusted their tactics to maximize sales and margins — such as reworking their assortments around lower price points. According to Kelkoo, sales in the six weeks to Christmas are expected to reach £44.7 billion this year and account for 18.5% of total annual retail spending. And the best bargains are likely yet to come in the final week before Christmas.
Just thinking about Mexico and the cards it was dealt getting blamed for swine flu. I was recently in Europe, and was surprised to hear friends refer to H1N1 as the “grippe mexicaine” or “Mexican flu”. There is even a dedicated website by the same name — http://www.lagrippemexicaine.com/. You don’t hear that in the US. We may demonize the swines but not our neighbors, the Mexicans. But, even the Mexican press attributes the outbreak to local pigs, hence the theory this particular flu had its origins in Mexico. That theory or the flu itself is blamed in part for the severity of their economic downturn – along with the global financial crisis (and in particular its dependence on the US) and domestic drug wars.
Today the long-anticipated joint venture betweenConde Nast, Hearst, News Corp, Time Inc and Meredith Publishing became official. These firms -- all of them up against the ropes in an effort to deal with declining magazine ad revenue and the lackluster performance of online ad models -- have decided that to face the digital future, they'd rather do it hand-in-hand.
The motivation for the union is simple: eReaders are taking over the book publishing world, meanwhile magazines are left in the dust, with no devices they can call their own.
I mean, really, have you tried to read Business Week on your eReader? It ain't pretty. And on the Kindle, most magazine publishers want to charge you for the painfully slow page turning experience of the device all in exchange for the convenience of automatic delivery to your portable device. So the industry -- seeing a world that is evolving without their interests in mind -- is joining hands to solve two problems:
The official announcements about the Nook went out yesterday and much has been said about the device, such as whether it trounces the Kindle (it does not) and whether the delay in shipping (units you buy today, for example, are expected to ship January 15) will permanently keep the Nook out of the running (it will not).
Because so much has already been said, we paid attention to what hasn't yet been said -- as far as we can tell, by anyone. It's this: the Nook is the first eReader to hit the market that has any kind of social connectivity built in to it. I'm referring to the "loan a book" feature the Nook offers. Read reviews like the one at CNET and you'd think that the book loaning feature is a flop because: a) it only applies to select books (at the publishers' whim) and b) it only lasts for 14 days.
I'm gonna tell you a secret: it doesn't matter how limited today's loan a book feature is, it's a huge step in an increasingly important direction for eReaders.
People share books. They share them, and then they talk about them. A lot. This fact is so critical to the way people read books that it is amazing that none of the eReaders yet offered to the market have any meaningful book sharing built into them. So even though the Nook is shipping late (folks, this is the eReader market, demand has been outstripping supply for the past two years now, stop acting surprised that Barnes and Noble and Sony are experiencing delays), we applaud its arrival because it opens Pandora's social box in this space. Once it's open, this box will set free all kinds of goodies that we are excited to have, including:
SAP’s dominant negotiating position is often a challenge for sourcing and vendor management professionals looking to cut costs and avoid pitfalls in contracting. A tough year for SAP with a 40% drop in license revenue in the first half of 2009 compared to last year presents new challenges in negotiating. Has this drop made SAP more flexible in sales negotiations, or more determined to fight for every dollar it can get, hold firmly to standard discount levels and force through its maintenance price hike?
Forrester Research, led by Principal Analyst, Duncan Jones, Senior Analyst, Liz Herbert, and Research Associate, Elizabeth Rose, is preparing to tackle these problems and publish a report on pricing trends and best practices for negotiating with SAP and we need you.
Our report will answer the following key questions:
A couple of network televisions shows have lately caught my eye.Now I’m not a television critic but there were things in these shows that have security implications that warrant some attention.These episodes came just as I had finished some hacking training and provide an opportunity to share some interesting new tools and attack scenarios.
First, Alex Baldwin pimped Cisco’s TelePresence system on 30 Rock.In the episode “The Audition,” Baldwin’s character Jack has bedbugs and is forced to use TelePresence to attend a meeting.There is a very funny bit that takes product placement to a new tongue-in-cheek level:
TelePresence Screen: “Do you like the Cisco equipment?”
Jack:“Of course, it continues to be the gold-standard by which all business technology is judged.Cisco, The Human Network.”
Every week I talk to people who are working tirelessly behind the scenes to help their companies improve the customer experience. Some have the support of senior management, but some don't - they first have to persuade others that focusing on the customer experience will be good for business.
Our latest BI maturity survey results are in. We used exactly the same questions from our online BI maturity self assessment tool to survey over 200 Forrester clients. Now you can compare your own BI maturity level against your peers by using data from the survey.
In the self assessment tool and in the survey we ask over 30 questions in the following 6 categories
Data and technology
Our clients rated themselves on the scale of 1 to 5 (5, if they strongly agree with our statement or 1, if they strongly disagree). Here are the overall results. Keep in mind that these results do not evaluate BI maturity accross ALL business, but rather in businesses that are already pretty far ahead in their BI implementations (they are Forrester clients, they read our research reports, they talk to our research analysts):