Family Outing

We took our first big family outing yesterday.  It was a bit of an ambitious itinerary but I think we did okay.  It was the first time we busted out the double stroller, and boy am I glad we went with the Phil & Ted.  Even with the two kids on board it is as easy to maneuver  as the BabyJogger. I’ll try to take a picture soon and post it.  (Speaking of pictures, Preston has posted some new ones at Picasa.  Go check them out.)

First Stop: Shiel Laboratory.  Madeline needed to have her blood drawn as a follow up to her 2-year check up (nothing is wrong — this is just standard blood tests).  This was AWFUL.  It took both Preston and I to hold her down and she cried and screamed and carried on.  The phlebotomist missed the vein the first time and had to go in again.  Ugh.  The whole thing was very upsetting for all involved.

Second Stop: Nick’s Pizza.  Because we knew the blood test was likely to be unpleasant at best and traumatic at worst we promised Maddie pizza afterward.   She loves pizza.  Because it was Christmas Eve the restaurant was pretty quiet and we had a nice lunch.

Third Stop: Barnes & Noble.  We also promised Maddie a book.  This was a practical decision, too.  It’s easy to breastfeed at B&N in the kid’s section.  No one bats an eye.  So Sam had his lunch and Maddie got three new Dr. Seuss books (they were having a sale — by two Dr. Seusses and get one free).  She got “I Want to Be Someone New,” “The Cat in the Hat” and “Horton Hears a Who.”  By the end she was pretty tired and started to melt down.  She didn’t want her coat on.  She didn’t want her BundleMe zipped up.

By the time we got home we were all exhausted.  This is when you are soooooo glad you have turkey soup (or whatever) frozen and ready to become a quick dinner.

Trash or Treasure: The Blu Dot Marketing Stunt

This week’s Consumed column in the New York Times Magazine features a fun marketing stunt. I’m not usually a fan of marketing or PR stunts — I think they backfire more often than they hit and they often reek of desperation.

But this one is fun — on brand, simple, social. Blu Dot, a maker of modern furniture, put some of its chairs out on the streets of New York City with a GPS attached. When people picked up the chairs and took them home, Blu Dot’s marketing agency reached out for an interview. Almost everyone who got a chair participated in the interviews. This lead the writer to conclude “As for the potential negative reaction to this marketing as street theater, there doesn’t seem to have been much. Maybe there’s a parallel to the way most Americans are said to loathe Congress in general but keep re-electing their own representatives: Marketing is an awful intrusion, unless we’re totally into the chair (or whatever) being marketed.”

Indeed.

The Future of Book Publishing

In this weekend’s New York Times Magazine, Deborah Solomon interviews Amazon’s Jeff Bezos. This exchange from the Q & A is great and neatly illuminates the real seismic shift that is coming to book publishing:

JEFF BEZOS: We also have a self-service platform where small publishers or even self-published authors can put their books on themselves.

DEBORAH SOLOMON: How does that work?

JB: Basically you submit the book, you set the price for it, we charge the customer and then we give you 35 percent of the revenue.

DS: And Amazon keeps 65 percent? That sounds like a lot.

JB: Does it? You’re an author, what does your royalty check look like? Are your royalties 35 percent?

DS: No. Let’s not have that conversation.

JB: O.K., I think we’re done.

I think the future of book publishing looks more like movie-making where a group of people (writer, editor, publicist, and so on) sign on for a project, get it financed and sell it. Publishing houses still exist, but in very different form than we know them today. They are more like modern movie studios and exist mainly to provide distribution and sales support. The good news for writers is they will have a lot more control over their destinies and will realize a lot more of the revenue from their work. The bad news, for many, is they will need to take responsibility for their own success. Unlike some pundits, I think this points to a real future for smart literary agents. The best agents will morph themselves into producers who can help talented writers get financing and find the best editors, marketers and publicists to work with. Since many writers aren’t naturally good at promoting themselves this will be an important role in a brave new publishing world and one that many agents could excel at.