Readmill Ground out by lack of Monetization

“Social Reading Platform Acquired by Dropbox, Shutting Down by Summer”  The headline informs, and the letter from Readmill’s founders touches users (and not-yet, now-never-will-be, users as well), but a real explanation comes out more in comments and pick-up publications. The social reading platform–where readers could comment and share experiences of reading together–is joining Dropbox in an acquisition based primarily on absorbing the talented team, because Readmill never figured out how to monetize their product.

In an era when getting folks to pay for content grows tougher all the time (I personally wait the extra day to watch a free Hulu TV show, and eschew shows not available therein), books are far from the exception to the rule. I avidly support the burgeoning development of new book publishing startups, but also increasingly realize that innovative business strategies, or sales models, is as important as the fascinating new technology. And, since it’s all exploratory, it takes risk. I send belated kudos to those at Readmill for taking a risk, and look forward to seeing what they might create at Dropbox.

However, I’m more interested in risks involving customer’s money, even when it’s my own.

“…Thank you for the time and attention you’ve contributed to this community. It has been a privilege to read together, and we look forward to meeting again, in new ways, in the margins.” — from Readmill. il_fullxfull.295457729


Indie vs. Traditional Publishing?


Indie vs. Traditional Publishing?

“The short is answer is: yes, you can make as much money or more by self-publishing, but you have to do it right.”

Many articles have come out by self-confident, self-aware, and just plain aware self-publishing authors giving advice to the should we, or shouldn’t we crowd. While author Penny C. Sansevieri does a fine job broadly laying out the key jobs to get a book out into the world, I think it misses a basic point: does your personality better fit the demands of self publishing or traditional publishing?

Beyond understanding the very real and present costs demanded to self publish WELL, I think we’re in need of a BuzzFeed-style quiz: ‘Are you for Traditional or Indie Publishing? Find out now!’

Questions might resemble personality quizzes along the lines of:

– Do you like to write in loud, or quiet places?

– Do you research heavily first, or write, write, write until there’s something one the page?

– Are you often the life of the party?

Authors unsure if they should continue the dream of pursuing Random House until that shiny cover designed with their name on it reaches Barnes & Noble…or throw themselves into the guinea pig pit and self publish, should certainly research business trends and examples of success (and failure), but maybe also look internally.

Self publishing–even when trendily called ‘Indie Publishing’–will require much of the self. The author is correct to say you have to do it right. You get out what you put in, and one thing we know for sure is that self publishing is not an excuse for poor writing, design, editorial, marketing, or any other key aspect of getting a book into readers’ hands. Even if you are NOT the ‘type’ to self-publish like a boss, (if you have the means) you can always hire others to be the life of your book release party.

But do you want to? Do you WANT a team of representatives, editors, publicists and the like, or do you want more control? For the time being I suspect it’s as much a question of personality as business acumen. As much a test of grit, as of personal desire.

Parameters to reading


Are there Parameters to reading? Oh! a good place to start.

On a site I like very much, a post I like very little is now available.

“How to Read a Book a Week”

So, Um.. (imo–let’s go ahead and always assume ‘in my opinion’?) this is a horrible idea. Here’s my version:

Read when it makes you happy, read what makes you happy, read slowly, or quickly, or at different paces on different days, and never apologize for your choices or habits. There is no shame in taking 6 months to read a MONSTER-sized book (Joyce, DFW), or to relish in the beautiful language of a kid book (J.M. Barrie, RJ Palacio). Just try not to rack up library debts.

(I’m also not surprised it seems the author reads a lot more NF than fiction…)