Thursday, May 31, 2012

Gaiman on a Career in Arts


I have been a Neil Gaiman fan for years. He recently gave an address to the University of the Arts graduating class. While nothing he said is stunningly new, it is still fun to hear Gaiman’s version of thoughts that have been around for a long time. My paraphrasing of some of Gaiman’s thoughts is no doubt inaccurate, but I will do it regardless. Using the first rule below, I am safe.

Make mistakes. We know this, but it bears repeating that the most successful of artists, of writers, make mistakes all the time. The point is, don’t sweat it. Mistakes are good. Make lots of them. If you make a lot of mistakes, you are doing your art. Remember the 10,000 hour rule.

Bottles in the ocean. I like this one. Write even if your audience is only a potential one person on the other side of the ocean. Send out bottle after bottle after bottle. Someone, somewhere, may find it. The more bottles you send out, the more will be found. (Hmm, sounds like more of those 10,000 hours.)

Write for yourself, not for money. Yeah, trite and cliché, but the anecdote that Gaiman gave was ultimately, when he wrote for money and it fell through he felt bad about it. If you write for yourself, if the money falls through, you still have something.

When things get tough: make good art. This is not so much write about those tough times, it is don’t let those tough times slow you down. Tough times should be when you make good art.

Your vision. Not someone else’s. This is also old and related to write for yourself, not money. Even when writing for yourself, make sure it is your vision. Not someone else’s. Not your editor’s (but listen to your editor and s/he may help you find your vision).

People get hired. However you get work. You KEEP working by doing good work. A bit of an acknowledgment that FINDING work is hard. Keeping work is easier. Do good work. Do it on time. Be nice to work with. If you do two out of three really well, you will probably continue working. I like that, as I can only handle two out of the three at any given time. I wonder if he meant I can switch which two I concentrate on all the time?  Hmmm.

Luck is good. This is a whole separate blog someday. Luck is important. It is not something to ignore, it is important. Take advantage of it.

Things are changing: no one knows what is going to happen two years from now. There are no rules. The good news, bad news scenario. Bottom line, don’t focus on the rules, because they are changing. He was talking about distribution systems and payment. Don’t get too wrapped up in it, or you will get paralyzed.

Enjoy it. When things go well, big or small, ENJOY IT. It is actually hard to do sometimes, but do it!

Thursday, May 24, 2012

The Perfect Query Letter

The obvious answer to “What goes into the perfect query letter?” is there is no such beast.

While this is a natural follow up to the discussion of why getting rejected quickly is not all bad news, this is also spurred on by the perception that an email query does not need as much attention as a printed query.

Au contraire! The email query needs as much care, if not more, than a print query. The reader of an email query is used to moving quickly, making decisions quickly, and if your email query is obviously some mass emailing blast, or hugely terse, such as “Attached is my manuscript” and nothing else, you can bet that the reaction will be hugely negative and the ability to hit delete is even easier than crumpling a piece of paper and tossing it in the circular filing cabinet on the floor.

A few startups will read a bit of every manuscript sent in. We do this on the off chance there is a gem in there. But, we also read the ones that have an appealing query first!

The reason there is no such thing as a perfect query is related to the fast rejections discussion. There will be times that no matter how well crafted the query, the editor simply knows this is not for him/her.  But, if the query is well crafted, at least the rejection will be for the right reasons. I great query will often generate, at a minimum, a real response rather than a generic rejection.

So, if not perfect, what should a good query include?

The obvious: It should include everything that any posted submission guidelines ask for. Really, how tough can this be? Yet, a surprising number of queries do not meet this first bar. Almost every agency and publisher in existence today has a website (your should be nervous if they don’t!) and will have those guidelines posted there.

Beyond that, consider the following:

A short, pungent description of what the book is about

Identify the audience your book is aimed at (even if you think it is obvious).

Be able to tell the editor what makes this novel different from others in the genre. Even if you don’t include novels that are similar, be well informed as to what the competition is and how well it did. Be aware of market saturation and be prepared to explain how this will not be mixed in with a bunch books that are trying to follow the market.

Credentials. Yeah, I hear many of you cry out, I don’t have any. Sure you do. Credentials include not just writing, but marketing. Or if you are an artist it may include the ability to illustrate the piece, or create a line of merchandise on your own that you will tie to the novel. For marketing, don’t just say “I am savvy with Facebook and will help market it there.” Yeah, you and 900 million others. Credentials need to be different. But, no matter what, the credentials need to show enthusiasm for writing. The truth is any publisher/agent/editor wants someone who will write more than one novel and has the writing discipline.

That is the content, but don’t forget that the query letter is a window to your writing skill. That includes Grammar. It includes “show don’t tell” in a microcosm. It includes avoiding any number of silly mistakes. I have seen queries that had the protagonist reading Latin and the Latin phrase used was wrong. Or a historical novel where the piece of history noted in the query was wrong.

Your base query letter should take several days to get right. Edit it as if you were submitting it for a short story prize. Edit it as if you were spending a hundred dollars on each letter. You don’t want to waste it.

Write a lot of them for practice. Each should be different. Set them aside for a couple of weeks and then read them and pick out the best. Have someone who has not read your novel read the query, or queries.

Finally, don’t wait for answers to your queries. Get back to writing the next novel.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

The Fast Reject: It’s not all bad, but that Query is important

Writer’s Digest had a recent tutorial on why agents and editors reject a manuscript and how devastating it can be when it occurs very quickly. Writer’s Digest has some good stuff, but most of it is paid only and this particular one had sound quality that was so appalling, the for that reason alone I cannot recommend it.

The topic was a good one.  I have blogged on reasons for rejections in the past, but not this angle. The truth is that almost everything in life is easier to define in the negative. It is easier to describe why something doesn’t work, or why you don’t like it. It is harder when you aren’t sure, or when you think something is great but – this is the key – you are not sure if others will like it and if it will SELL.

Even small presses are focused on SELLING. The quantities are different (yes, smaller most of the time), but the goal is the same. Will it sell enough to justify our work. I love my mother’s artwork. She has 75 years of it. Beautiful stuff, some which I post on my Facebook page. None of it sells. In her lifetime she has made about $10,000 from art sales. She has painted thousands of paintings.

The point is that editors and agents have two very simple criteria.

1) Do I like this?

2) Will it sell?

That’s it!  Well, largely it. All other criteria are connected to these two.

Agents and Editors are not in this for the money. There are vastly easier ways to make money. We are in it for the passion and enjoyment of the art of writing. We do need to survive. As part of the survival, we combine our passion with a modicum of business acumen.

Small publishers tend to concentrate. Focus. Niche. The niche may change and evolve. It may be indistinct to the outside world, but the editors know what they like and what they can get passionate about and what their brand is evolving into. Thus, the ability to say “NO” quickly is often really saying “This is a really great romance story, I think, but I hate romance and it takes place in XYZ and I hate XYZ and the protagonist travels back in time to the Middle Ages and I hate the Middle Ages. But, I am not going to say all that to this author, so I will politely say no right away.”

The fast “No” can occur at any stage of the review process. Query letter. Partial Manuscript. Full Manuscript. Editor/agent meeting.

At any stage, don’t be put off by a fast “No.” It simply means that for the two reasons mentioned, one or more decision makers said No to the two criteria.

The query letter (email or print) is a very important part of this. There is a tendency to treat email as more casual and less important. This is a mistake. Editors and agents catch the same mistakes in email as they do in a print letter. Worse, they pass it around more. At the back of the mind is the thought that we all fat finger emails, but egregious mistakes are still noted.

One of these days I will put out a blog on my own impression on how to do an email query letter, which won’t differ radically from the hundreds of “How To” advice pieces that cover the topic, but I think with eBooks, social media, and self-publishing that email queries are subtly different.

For now, the point is the query should indicate somehow a positive answer as to “Will it Sell?” and the answer is not “with massive marketing effort on the publishers part this will sell.”

A lot of people note that agents and editors have often gotten the “will it sell” question wrong. Harry Potter was famously rejected by countless publishers and agents. Does this mean that the agent and editor’s touting their years of experience are wrong.

NO! (That was a Fast No.)

Experience comes back to the blog on 10,000 hours. If you believe you become a better writer by exercising your writing muscle then you need to believe agents and editors become better at making picks over time. Some are better than others. Some learn faster than others. But, just as not every book that Jennifer Egan or John Updike, or John Irving put out is a masterpiece, neither is every decision by an agent or editor correct. It is simply better over time. More right than wrong.

If you are getting your immediate rejections at the query level, consider putting in some of those 10,000 hours of writing in query letter practice.

If you are getting rejected later in the process, consider this. Will it sell is really, will it turn a profit? If your idea is great. The plot is great, but the execution looks like many hundreds of hours of editorial work, it won’t turn a profit. Most large publishers simply won’t budget any editorial time for an unknown.  A small publisher will, but the small publisher will look at current load. Only an editor who truly believes in a project is going to spend the extra editorial time. This is criterion one: Do I Like This?

If you do get accepted. Be prepared to start building 10,000 hours of marketing practice too!

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

An Editor is like a Good Executive

I was perusing The Artful Edit the other day (not the website, but the book) and it struck me how intrinsically a good editor is like a good senior executive.

A number of years ago (too many, it seems) I was an Executive Vice President at a mid-sized company. I am sure I had a lot of flaws, but who wants to talk about those?! My skill was with other executives, or with program managers, software architects, or product managers, in listening, and asking questions that led them to come up with new, interesting, creative answers. I rarely had the “right” answer myself, but had something of the skill of talking, suggesting directions, and asking questions that spurred smart executives, managers, and creative senior people to suddenly think in a new direction and come up with cool solutions.

This skill, just as an editor’s, is hard to quantify and when you look at the end result you do not see the “hand” of the editor (or executive) directly in the result. Yet, the group’s results improve. Are mistakes made? Sure. Is it perfect? Never. Is it better than it was before and does it on that wonderful occasion break new ground? Yes!

The reason this works in some companies, with good executives, managers, and software architects (who are creative, often nearing the “art” world) is when the person being “managed” or edited is mature enough to understand that s/he does not need to follow the suggestions exactly, or at all. In fact, often the suggestions are contradictory. The mature person lets the suggestions trigger the thought process and in the end the changes are sometimes better and sometimes worse, but they add up to a better end product.

A good editor and executive does not micro manage,

A good editor and executive at a certain point says “if you think this is good enough, go with it.”

A good editor and executive also embraces that the end product may not be what anyone originally intended!

There needs to be maturity on the executive/editor’s side also. If the author (or manager) seems to ignore your suggestions, then make sure they are ignoring them with understanding and purpose and then, let them ignore it. My rule of thumb is if an author, or when I was managing people my “partner” would listen to 40% of my suggestions in some form or another. As long as I felt there was an understanding and a listening.  Then back away and let the creative person do their work. My hand should not be visible, but my team should shine in the end.

Obviously, the analogy is not perfect, but I am often struck by how similar processes are in many fields. As writers and creators of books we like to think that business is not like the creative process of writing. The truth is, it is. There is still something of a profit motive when dealing with an editor and creativity takes many forms.

The next time an editor makes a suggestion, realize that it is just that, a suggestion, but listen and do something surprising with the suggestion.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Beyond 10,000 Hours of Writing


Not long ago I espoused the value of writing, writing, writing as a path toward becoming a good writer. Blind practice, however, is not the full story.

Two books that provide insights are Better by Mistake by Alina Tugend and Art & fear : observations on the perils (and rewards) of artmaking / David Bayles and Ted Orland

Art and Fear was widely quoted a few years ago. Both Bayles and Orland are photographers. Many photographers have embraced digital photography for one big reason—it is now cheaper to make mistakes. Before a photographer would spend thousands of dollars on rolls of film to get one photo that was incredible. Now, a photographer can take even more photos and the incremental cost is close to zero.

Writing has always been one of those arts where the materials cost is low. Time cost is a different matter, but for now I’ll ignore that.

The story quoted in Art and Fear that many find so compelling is the ceramics teacher who divides the class into two. Group A is going to be graded on one submission and its quality. Group B is graded on shear mass. They have to be competed pots, but other than that, the criteria was numbers. In the end the best looking piece was not the single submission, but one from the pile of pots.

The base lesson is obvious, but there are a few other lessons. The quantity group was concentrating, loosely, on one thing: pots.  Not any object. Not random pots, ashtrays, plates, vases, etc. The writer should do the same thing. A fiction writer should put 10,000 hours into fiction. For now, I will avoid a discussion of sub-specializing (e.g. popular fiction, or sub-genres in popular fiction).

From Better by Mistake, we learn to both make mistakes and how to think about them. Tugend, in her original NYT column mentions the famous Edison Quote: famous quote, often inscribed in schools and children’s museums: “I have not failed. I have just found ten thousand ways that won’t work.” Edison’s point is that he was focusing and he was trying to achieve something. It was not blind experimentation. Neither should the writer’s 10,000 hours be blind, or you will not improve. The violinist could practice the same note for 10,000 hours, but that will not make her a great violinist.

When you write and you and your critique group expose the flaws, the opportunity is for practice. A rewrite. Be bold and risk more mistakes on the rewrite. Don’t line edit. Rewrite. This is, in some ways, the difference between two types of editors. One tells you the flaws and suggests ways of practicing. One focuses on minor flaws and makes the bad piece as good as it can be, but still bad.

The goal in rewriting is to make intelligent mistakes, not unintelligent failures. It would be trite to believe that there are no stupid mistakes. As Tugend notes, the mistakes that lead to death, wheelchair, or prison are probably stupid mistakes in life.

Writing pornography and submitting it to a children’s magazine is stupid. Switching from third person past to first person present is potentially a mistake, but it will be a learning one and it may end up being a brilliant solution.

Rewriting should avoid another mistake that Einstein articulated: “Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” Editing and rewriting has to intentionally shake it up a bit.

Just as the violinist does not play the same piece over and over, the writer does need to move on to a new work sooner or later. And then start practicing that one.

I’ve made enough mistakes for one blog. I’ll wait until the next one to practice blogging.

Friday, May 11, 2012

Celebrating SPAM

OK, the title is largely to get your attention. Today is the anniversary of Hormel’s registering of the Trademark “SPAM” for a food product. However, SPAM has taken on a whole new meaning since 1937. 

What got me thinking of SPAM is that so much of book marketing today seems to depend on “social media.”  And, so much of social media is, let’s face it, the SPAM of interesting blurbs.

We’ve all been warned not to burn the follower bridges by producing too much garbage, or if not garbage, an unappealing blob of non-nutritious information.

Sometimes the reason we do, is we believe in social media and hear the success stories, but the truth is social media is not a panacea and it is NOT where you SELL your book. Brian Jud puts out a blog that has some good advice (although, like way to many marketing advice for authors, he focuses on advice that often is obviously for non-fiction books, while in general the hurdles are greater for fiction (strategically)). His recent two entries were 50 Tips to promoting your book parts I and II. 

Note tip

31. Implement a social commerce campaign. Use Facebook, Twitter and the other social media to spread the word about your book, but not for book sales.

The last clause is important. You are NOT selling your book on social media. You are spreading the word and generating interest. The interest is appropriate for the audience. If you are trying to get librarians interested in your book, they need to understand why their patrons will be interested. Their goal is subtly different than a bookstore, which is subtly different than a radio talk show.

Jumping back to earlier tips of Jud’s:

  • Stop selling your books. Sell what the content in your book does for the readers—what are the benefits to them?
  • People do not care about your book. Retailers display products to increase store profits. Media hosts want a good show for their audiences. Librarians want to help their patrons. Appeal to the right motive and you will sell more books.

Note that what he is trying to tell you is don’t SPAM the audience. Don’t SELL … inform. Connect. Make it pertinent to THEM. Otherwise it is an uninteresting blob of non-nutritious information byproducts.

Keep the SPAM at Hormel and of course, Monty Python.

Monday, May 7, 2012

10,000 hours writing?

A Recent Book Baby blog: Have you written for 10,000 hours? got me thinking of Malcolm Gladwell’s book and working on the writing craft. Delving into his book and the chapter on 10,000 hours, Gladwell states (emphasis added):

"The emerging picture from such studies is that ten thousand hours of practice is required to achieve the level of mastery associated with being a world-class expert—in anything," writes the neurologist Daniel Levitin. "In study after study, of composers, basketball players, fiction writers, ice skaters, concert pianists, chess players, master criminals, and what have you, this number comes up again and again. Of course, this doesn't address why some people get more out of their practice sessions than others do. But no one has yet found a case in which true world- class expertise was accomplished in less time. It seems that it takes the brain this long to assimilate all that it needs to know to achieve true mastery."

This ties well to the discussion earlier concerning the pros and cons between concentrating on marketing and concentrating on writing. Unless you have been writing 8 hours a day, for five years, you can probably stand to exercise that writing muscle.

If you have 10,000 hours under your belt, then you probably know that, like any master, the expertise fades with lack of use. It comes back faster, but still fades.

There are countless books on writing out there, by everyone from Stephen King to Forrester. All state the value of sitting down every day and writing, even if you throw that day’s writing away. The reasons are obvious with studies such as those cited by Gladwell. Not only does the writing muscle need exercise, it needs a lot of it.

Given the ease of self-publishing, this is one of the remaining reasons to still use a publisher. Time. Time to write.

Get to it!

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Where did the title Dancing with Elephants come from?

The expression comes from WWII and the guerilla fighters in the Philippines and is used as the title of a new book. It goes something like “When elephants dance the chickens are not safe.”  With a lot of permutations. Similarly the Africans used an expression that “When the elephants fight, it is the grass that loses.”

However, it has been used in business a long time. The elephants are the big players. The rest of us are chickens (or the grass).

We used it a lot at a small company were I was CTO (Unimax) as we partnered with Philips and other very large companies. The expression of an elephant learning to dance was used by financial publications for some time. Most famously, I recall it was used for IBM as it almost went bankrupt and reinvented itself (e.g. elephants can learn to dance).

With publishing the elephants are the big 5 or 6 publishers, with Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and Apple all joining the dance. In fact both the dance and fight metaphors work.

Exciting times, but you have to keep dancing and moving or you will get trampled!

Self-Publishing leads to Traditional Publishing. NOT.

PBS Media Shift has an interesting article entitled Self-Published Authors Still Rarely Make the Jump to Publishing Houses. The topic has been a point of discussion for some time at New Libri and I suspect at a lot of writing programs. It really touches on the heart of the “to self-publish or not” question that authors ask themselves.

The article mentions the “hybrid” author. There is another hybrid author out there, the small press author with an emphasis on eBooks. This hybrid author is still on the hook for a lot of things, but may have a few advantages over the self-published author and resemble the Media Shift’s hybrid author in many ways.

1) The reputable small press author has passed one quality assurance filter, which is really what the Media Shift article is talking about. Large publishers do indeed want to make money, but their filter is also how does this fit my brand? How does this author fit in the (albeit changing) traditional publishing world? Ironically, for the large publisher it is all about sales, but also sales that fit Pornography sells, but not everyone wants to sell pornography. The self-published universe is now so large, that the traditional publisher realistically has no way to filter through the authors there. They will still depend on agents for some time and to a lesser extent the author’s success in the traditional publishing world: small medium large.

2) Some authors want to make money first, write second. Some authors want to write first, make money second. If an author is in the second category, then small publishers are still a valuable step in a long term career. They shoulder the editing, layout, and business aspect, but admittedly still force a significant portion of marketing and publicity on the author. This is why the very small press author is a hybrid also.

3) As an author at a small press proves their viability in multiple books, growing their audience, and marketing, than they attract attention and move up the author food chain. However, the small press itself will watch these authors and often begin to devote precious marketing and publicity dollars to that author. Everybody wins and it is another form of a hybrid model.

4) Similar to the hybrid author mentioned in the article, the small press author has access to the knowledge base of the editors and business acumen of the small press. This allows for a sounding board of ideas that is filtered. The self-published author has access to a huge number of resources and other authors, but most of those authors are not from the publisher world. They are valuable, but hard to filter the good from the bad. With a small press, you get a different perspective. It may not lead to more sales, but it may lead to more credibility and moving up the publisher food chain.

With the enormous pressures that large publishers are under and the entry of Amazon as a traditional publisher in multiple genres now, the term Hybrid Author is apropos to many different kinds of hybrid and will become more and more common.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Are Book Signings a thing of the Past (for unknown authors)?

Marketing research has been a big part of April and I discovered I am out of date on book signings. They are .. so pre-eBook, pre-2008 economic crash, pre-social media. Sort of.

First let me congratulate Acacia Awai on a SUCCESSFUL book signing. She sold out the Barnes and Noble in Hawaii!

This is a good segue to my findings:

  1. Book signings are on the decline—big time.
  2. The number of books sold at a book signing is concurrently down big time. The average “successful” signing is something like 15 books (again, kudos to Acacia!) for an unknown, or new, author.
  3. Often publishers (and authors) LOSE MONEY because of a signing, because of the number of books returned to the publisher.
  4. Virtual tours are becoming as successful as book signings in the past.
  5. It used to be that some of the independents (e.g. anything other than B&N these days) would accept a wholesale discount of 35% or even 30% for a book signing, or some would let you bring your own and pay a consignment fee. This is no longer true! ALL independents I have talked to or investigated now require a 40% discount and will only buy from a wholesaler and only accept books that are returnable. No exception. Due to the overhead that Ingram and Baker and Taylor charge a publisher has to discount the book at 55% (this is the standard large publisher discount). Ingram and B&T both charge 15% no matter what to all independents. To break even at 55% your book has to have a suggested retail of about 17.00. (If you include fees other than pure print fees).

This certainly shows why small publishers are not big fans of book signings. What about authors? The old feeling was that this was the way to market your book, at least locally. Book signings are big part of marketing, right?

No, not really. They are a shrinking component that has value for the well known and somewhat known author, but less so for unknown authors.That doesn’t mean they have no value, certainly they do, but not for book sales per se, or even stand alone marketing. It is the peripheral marketing where book signings add value.The add on marketing. If you get a book signing at multiple stores you MIGHT get a mention in a local newspaper, or community newspaper. If there is a surprise at the event, or you do enough of them, you may get noticed by other local media, and this could snowball a bit.

But, you—the author—need to pave the way, every step of the way. You need to get the signings lined up. You need to then notify all the local media outlets that cover this sort of thing. You need to consider doing advertising for the event (which is free advertising for the bookstore..hmm seems unfair) and certainly do social media announcements and on and on.  You get the idea.

But, if the bookstores make it so hard to do, consider doing the same at a coffee shop, or another venue. Figure out other marketing that will attract media attention.

Or consider a Virtual Tour.

Book signings still have their place. But, consider the latest phenomenon, Fifty Shades of Grey and the author E.L. James. If the publicity and going viral had depended on her at book signings the book would have sold one copy. She is shy. She would never read the fun parts of the book in public. She hates public speaking (although obviously is learning now).  Will she do signings NOW, sure.  Did she to get known? No.

The point really is book signings are not what they used to be – be honest how many have you gone to that were not someone you knew? They are part of an ALREADY successful marketing effort.

The unknown author should certainly try to leverage local book signings, but for the first novel or two, the focus should be marketing in general and writing! Get the next book out. Get fan base just large enough to make a book signing worthwhile and for book three you can start the snowball downhill, but generally you need to form the snowball through other means.

Of course there isn’t much snow in Hawaii, so my metaphor falls apart there and thus Acacia went out showed us that new authors can still make a book signing work.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Yet another take on the Microsoft–Barnes and Noble get together

I suppose I have a biased view, having worked for Microsoft in its heyday of the early 1990s. Exciting times.

$300 million is not a lot for Microsoft. But, it can be a life saver for a good company in trouble. Most seem to have forgotten that the most valuable company in the U.S. (market cap.) – Apple, was saved by a cash infusion of about $400 million in the mid-1990s. In this industry, things change quickly. Microsoft only does these things out of enlightened self interest, but there is some irony that it has been the white knight (a saint of circumstance) for Apple, Yahoo (although Yahoo rebuffed their original efforts), and now Barnes and Noble.

I and investors welcome this news, but for different reasons.As a small publisher, I welcome the increased competition and viability against Amazon (yeah, I used to work there too). As an author and publisher, I welcome the increased support to the ePub standard this will bring. ePub is an open standard and significantly more flexible than the Kindle-Mobi standard (despite some embracing of HTML 5 for the Kindle Fire device). The truth is, no matter the bashing by a laundry list of people, Microsoft understands software development. It understands Software Development Kits (SDKs – again I am biased I was in charge of the Far East SDKs way back when) and it understands working with the development community. It understands getting easy kits out there, the phenomenal success of Visual Basic for many years is one example. All this will help Barnes and Noble, small publishers, and even authors.

Amazon understands customers. Period. End customers. It does not understand merchants well, it does not understand publishers well, and it does not really understand publishing/authors well. It understands VOLUME. It is, as a company, as an organism, geared toward growth. Growth at almost any cost. It is really, really, smart at growth and keeping the customer happy, but just as a dictator in a South American country may keep most of the people happy, most of the time, through cheap gas and subsidies, it may not understand the end game past growth for growth sake. What happens when the oil wells run dry? (OK, I am stretching metaphors).

Back to the B&N and Microsoft deal. Don’t expect big bangs here. The Nook will still be the Nook. It will probably still run on a version of the Android OS.  But, there will be a convergence of some technologies on Windows 8 tablets and phones and what the Nook does. The app marketplace will become robust on the Nook +.  And, there will be some confidence that Microsoft won’t pull the plug on this, because it can’t. It is an investor, but not a controller. This is all good.

I believe that not only will this speed up the adoption of ePub 3.0 on devices, but also robust interactive “books” will accelerate much faster. Microsoft often is accused of not being innovative, perhaps, but it has often HELPED other companies be innovative through investments and developer flocking.

eBooks are here to stay and for the time being, so is Barnes and Noble in one form or another. I for one, say Yay!