Monday, December 21, 2009

Geared up for Working Through the Christmas Vacation

I will be working during the Christmas holiday weeks (don't feel too bad for me) and am actually looking forward to it. This fall has been a little difficult for me work-wise as I geared up for the Wolters Kluwer Health project that was then delayed a couple of months as the legal stuff was finalized. In the past, I have been able to adapt to these shifts better, but not this time. I found myself in reactive mode which annoys the hell out of me, and struggled to get into proactive mode. There were a few brights spots, like the Firebrand Community Conference, which gave me some much needed acceleration. There was also a secret project we are working on which helped, and a fair amount of sales activity to keep busy. But in all, it was a lackluster autumn.

The Wolters-Kluwer project is well underway now, which has helped boost the month of December. As we head into the quiet weeks of Christmas, I have plenty of project planning and detail design work to do on data conversions and interface development for this project, but I am also going to take advantage of the time to be proactive on some other projects. One side project during this time is to build online demonstrations for some of our software and service by creating short videos of different solutions. Mainly, I want to tee-up a bunch of stuff to launch into 2010 with a renewed vigor.

My Inbox is empty, my desk is cleared, and it is time to get proactive. Whoever is left to read this blog post, make the most of the next two weeks. For the rest of you, enjoy the extended holidays!

Monday, October 26, 2009

All You Have To Do Is Listen

My prediction: Ebooks are here to stay and will be an accepted and even assumed part of publishing forever. I find it fascinating that for several years, devices and technology have been improving, and the quantity of ebook content increasing, yet we are still surprised when wide scale adoption actually begins. Which it has.

I am not ashamed to admit, even though I am thoroughly embedded in the book publishing world, that I am already tired of the endless analysis and statistics on ebooks. I just don't understand why everyone is so surprised that tomorrow is now and regular people are buying ebook devices and ebooks. We are heading up the adoption curve. Embrace it.

I promise, I won't get conciliatory and console you that, no matter what, print books are here to say. Of course they are. I won't tell you that some content lends itself better to print, and other content lends itself better to ebooks. Of course it does.

What struck me was this blog post in the New York Times. I started reading it and began to think that maybe I wasn't being analytical enough about the impact of ebooks. Do I really need to know about focal and peripheral attention? Perhaps I am doing myself a disservice by not reading up on ebook consumption in a more scientific way. How can I be in the publishing industry and not know about peripheral attention??

But then again, I am a guy who relates to tangible things. It struck me that my own experiences are probably the best barometer I can read on the adoption of ebooks. I started off reading on my Palm Pilot years ago. It was ok, but eventually abandoned. Back to print books. More recently, I started reading on my iphone. That was ok too in a 'convenient on a delayed airplane' sort of way. But I can't use my iphone for everything - books, email, phone, gps, moveies and expect the battery to last all day. The experience wasn't really there for me either.

Then I bought my Kindle in March 2009, and haven't put it down since. And I bought one for my wife Grace, because she couldn't put my Kindle down either (potential marital friction averted). We have since bought hundreds of dollars worth of ebooks - exponentially more than we would have bought in print form. You can read about our Kindle experience in this blog post (I promise, no stats). For further proof that adoption is now, read Fran Toolan's blog post The Day It All Changed. It has some stats, but I guarantee you it is the passion that is most telling.

It has struck me, then , that to appreciate the immediacy and viability of ebooks, all you really need to do is listen to readers - listen to what they are saying and how they are acting. They (we) are talking to us.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Brings Tears to My Eyes

I am admittedly a geek. Seeing a new version of our software come to life very nearly brings tears to my eyes (not really, but you get the point). We have hit many key milestones during this long journey of completely re-engineering our Title Management software from a Windows client server app to a web based application. And this is one of them. Although we have had our web based Title Management in use for several years for specific constituents, and have installed Title Management Version 7.0 on the web exclusively to new clients coming aboard, Version 7.1 represents the first real opportunity for our existing clients to begin the migration to the new environment.

This is true for two key reasons. One, all of the core functionality pre-existing in Title Management desktop now exists in Title Management Web. In version 7.1 we completed the re-engineering of the advanced Add New Title wizard, Title Relationships, Citations, in particular. Secondly, we have completed the necessary conversion programs to upgrade existing clients with years of data - in particular in the Production Scheduling.

I will be unveiling Title Management Version 7.1 this week at our Firebrand Community Conference - nothing like a 'galvanizing event' to bring the team together. This version has been very stable and I will be proud to show it off. Some final additions made it in last week which really make V7.1 shine including:
- Re-designed Title Summary placing related functions under tabs - this window was getting a bit 'busy' with all of the new functions
- Jacket Image previews in the new re-designed Title Summary section
- File Upload to the new file repository structure for better content management especially for our hosted clients
- Improved field sorting on the Task window - already a powerful window

I really felt like I was being handed candy by our development team as they made the final push to bring these key items into the version.

Here are a few shots of the new windows:
Title Summary with Jacket Image preview,added fields and new Title Relationships tabs which include the new Onix Title and Supply Chain relationships:

The Marketing content tabs including Comments/Copy, Citations/Reviews, Categories and File Locations:

The new Upload File dialog window, allowing local files to be uploaded to the new File Repository, including the new Virtual Directory file structure

What more can I say? Someone pass me a hanky.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

2009 Firebrand Community Conference Is Upon Us

We are in the final stages of planning and preparing for our Firebrand Community Conference to be held October 5-7 in Newburyport. The registrations are climbing and the sessions are slowly coming together. Last year, we had to pull off the trifecta of re-branding the company, developing Title Management Version 7 to demo, and pulling together our first conference. Looking back now, it is hard to believe that it all came together, but such is the energy of pressure - and a lot of late nights.

This year, the conference structure is back in place with some tweaks based on feedback from our participants last year. The sessions are little longer, with a bit more time in between to reduce the rush factor, we have expanded the Unconference format to encompass all of day two - the sessions that day will be determine by all conference attendees. We have also added four paid workshops on the Monday prior to the conference so that folks interested can make the most of their travel and dive into extensive detail on special topics of interest. This year, we also brought our conference registration fully online so that we can manage better, especially how many people are interested in each session so we can allocate room space correctly.

Fran has assembled an ambitious list of Industry based sessions not directly related to Firebrand software and services, but of universal concern to all of our community members. With the addition of NetGalley to Firebrand, this is even more relevant as we move closer and closer to the readers themselves - hence the theme of this years conference being Follow The Reader. On the flip side of the coin, we will be focusing on pragmatic topics to help our clients upgrade to the web version of Title Management 7. Last year we previewed Version 7 at the conference and since that time all new clients in 2009 have been installed on Version 7. The next step is migrating existing clients - but how do they get started? We hope to help clients formulate a plan.

So we are into the big push now to get ready - and the pressure is building.

I love this conference, as it is a chance to get together with many of the people I have worked with since 1990 - many long days and late nights of software development and installation. It reminds me why I enjoy working in publishing - generally the people that this industry attracts and the values we share.

Click here to visit the Firebrand Community Conference.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Klick, Klick Go The Kindles

If you will indulge me for a moment, I would like to gush a bit about reading books the new-fashioned way - with an e-reader.

Since I am an atmospheric guy, let me set the stage for you. It is late in the evening, all the girls are finally asleep (why is it the energetic kindergartner always stays up the latest?). We live on a dead-end street down near the bay, so it is quiet - really quiet. No traffic noise. No background noise, unless the wind is up (but for sake of atmospherics lets assume the sea breeze has died down and a light northerly has taken its place).

But there is one curious sound that can be heard - every handful of seconds there is a metronome like 'Click'. nothing else. This, my friends, is the new sound of reading. I am of course talking about reading on an Amazon Kindle. Each subtle Click represents another 'page' turned. I promise, this will not be the typical critique about e-readers where I expertly convey that one button is too big, another is too small, batter life is 9.65 hours on average. Just a brief essay of our enjoyment reading on a Kindle.

As to some background, both Grace and I have Kindles. This really was a survival mechanism for me, because the moment I received mine, Grace stole it (like any good book). I got mine as a birthday present (from Grace ironically), then wasn't able to read on it. So I bought one for Grace for St. Patrick's Day, or some such lame excuse to buy a gift.

Now, we have had them for several months and are completely addicted. There are two main reasons why we love them.

First, to the delight of publishers if they are paying attention, it is easy to search and buy books instantly through the Kindle whispernet (sprint) cell phone network. We have bought A LOT of books - many more than if we had to buy printed books and then find space on the shelf. Grace and I have our Kindles linked to one Amazon account, so we can share the books on our devices. Publishers bemoan the 9.99 price point on new releases, but ultimately we have spent far more money, due to the convenience of reading on the Kindle.

Second, they are incredibly portable and can be read in ways that you can't read a conventional hardcover book - like lying down and holding it over your head, or on the bow of the boat on a windy day (yes, this is important to me). Direct sunlight by a pool? Even better. Poor Grace, after reading a Kindle for a month, read a 'conventional' hardcover book and struggled mightily to keep the cumbersome book from hitting her in the head, or flopping over onto the floor as she turned the page.

And a bonus, if I don't have my Kindle handy, I can always read my book on the Iphone using using the Kindle E-reader. It even magically knows where I left off on my kindle and brings me right to that page.

There are some arguments against ebooks and e-readers. One is that they are not back-lit and require a light, but last I checked, printed books required light as well. The trade off for not having it back-lit is the comfort with which you can read the "E-Ink" screen without eye strain. The second advantage is that the battery is barely required when reading, provided you turn off the wireless. It can last for days.

Another typical argument is that a printed book is both the delivery mechanism and the content rolled into one package. With an e-reader, you need to buy the device (an investment), then buy the content. I don't buy that one either. I am pretty sure we are comfortable with that - I bought a DVD player, then bought the content to shove into it. I bought a CD player (eons ago), then an Ipod, then bought the content for those players. Heck I even bought a refrigerator, and then bought the content for it! (Is that a stretch?)

I would also point out that I have never really read the New York Times or any other printed newspaper - I have always hated the waste of paper as they piled up in a corner every day. Now, I pay $15 a month for a NY Times subscription and it automatically downloads to my Kindle each morning. I read it religiously - like 3 times a week or something.

Bottom line? We love the Kindle, and hope Sony Reader and Plastic Logics (Barnes & Noble) provide the same simple wireless shopping mechanism. And hopefully, in the near future they will all play nice-nice and we will be able to buy the content where we want and move the content we purchase seamlessly from device to device. Maybe even share with a friend or two as B&N has hinted.

So if you are wondering what new-fashioned reading sounds like, it is Klick Klick. Get used to it.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Where the Heck Did June Go?

Time to start making excuses - lots of them for not blogging, or even twittering much, in the past month. It is hard to believe that it is July and we are into full summer swing, but indeed it is.

The spring is normally a very hectic time at Firebrand, given the intensity of preparing and executing our presence at BookExpo and other conferences and the follow up from each.

This spring, however, was nearly unprecedented. Here is what I was up to in the last month alone:

The biggie: Ingram Publisher Services is now live on our Title Management Enterprise software and Eloquence Metadata Solutions. This project was run beautifully by our own Ben Todd with the Ingram team including Shelia Leslie, John Reale, Kent Craig, Terry Morrison and crew. This project, more than most, had many simultaneous initiatives which needed to come together at once including a large Onix-based data conversion, title info imports from spreadsheets, multiple interfaces to and from Title Management, Indesign integration for sales catalogs, not to mention training of the outstanding account reps at Ingram, along with the 60+ publishers that they service. Heck, even I was back to writing SQL stored procedures, building Indesign templates and helping with data cleanup to help make the project successful. We had Alan Katzen in Newburyport building Single-Sign On capabilities for Active Directory, Bill Bennett configuring Onix, Jonathan Hess building procedures to link to Ingrams Content Management System and Rob Stevens handling imports. Virtually everyone at Firebrand was involved running our latest Title Management application - Version 7 - through the gauntlet of testing lead by Susan Burke and Barbara Blanchette. The culmination of this project took place in one frenetic week (or two) in June, with the added obstacle of some unexpected hardware failure in the test environment. To make things really interesting, we needed to push up the scheduled date, by three weeks, for the Childrens sales catalog, which needed to be generated from Title Management within days of go-live. Not to say that this project is done, as there is still plenty to do as we shift gears to support the IPS business intelligence initiatives.

At AAUP, Fran Toolan and I met with Susan McIntosh and Phillip Cercone from McGill University Press and are pleased to welcome them aboard as Eloquence Customers.

Long time Eloquence customer, Gospel Light, is migrating to our complete Title Management Enterprise software, integrating with their newly selected Microsoft Great Plains ERP and soon-to-be-developed Ektron based website CMS. Gospel Light is a great team to work with, based in Ventura, CA and we are looking forward to expanding our relationship.

NetGalley has been moving right along, boasting nearly 300 active titles available for advanced reading and more than 40 publishers. Momentum, momentum, momentum is the key, and working with the bloggers at NetGalley has been a real treat. What a great vibe at BEA!

Southern Illinois Press is now live at I didn't have anything to do with this, but I am listing it anyway. Mainly because I wasted time in June (that I didn't have) browsing through their site. This site is pretty cool because it has been integrated with University of Chicago's Distribution Center shopping cart, which usually turns out to look like a bolt-on, but in this case has been nicely integrated with a common navigation and graphics.

Discovery House Publishers is now live with Title Management Enterpise, although I didn't have much to do with that go-live as well, as the ever-dependable ninja Paul Milana guided them through data conversion, configuration, training and report development. Maybe I coached a little bit, but not much.

Our good friends Keith and Beatrice Ashfield at Caslon Marketing Services have adopted our Ecommerce Solutions for the Kogan Page USA website, connected to their existing installtion of Title Management Enterprise. Brock Lyman will be heading up that initiative, with Microarts providng the graphic design, and we look forward to announcing the launch of their site in a few months.

Texas A&M University Press is ever-so-close to pulling the trigger on their new website (hopefully by the time you read this, it will be live). During this project, we finally began to recognize and define 'the abyss' between development and go-live. Having been through it many times before, you would think we would expect it, but optimistic to a fault, it surprised us again. Once the site is 'finished', there is always the little stuff and with this site, we recognized that the site is providing visibility to many other issues, like a a tricky data conversion in Title Management, or very fine modifications to behavior that you can't plan until you can get your hands on all the functions of the site. In any event, the site is really well executed, in my huble opinion, and Texas A&M now has a really solid foundation for the future. The graphic design of the site was prepared by our friends at Microarts. Take a look at Now we move on to integrating all of the core functions in Title Management Enterprise in College Station. Go Aggies!

University of Alabama Press is well under way on their new Title Management Enterprise installation, starting with their new website. Jen Hurd and Tolga Tuncer are heading up that effort. Between the Aggies, Cornhuskers and Crimson Tide, our publishing clientele are really shaping up for a real grudge match.

During all of this, we have run Title Management Version 7 through extensive testing (everyone in the company focused on this) and we are now releasing it to existing customers. Although we have been releasing to new customers since October, we needed to build in support for backwards-compatibility and a migration strategy for existing customers - a tricky proposition. But it is done and in the box. Version 7.1 is underway and is anticipated as a "quick release" bringing on some key new functions. It will be Susan Burke's job to fend off all "non-essential requests" to keep on track for end of summer. Good luck with that.

Of course, much of my effort has been working on new prospects, and our pace continues unabated. We have several new publishers in the works, with a couple of major ones thrown in to keep it interesting. When the ink dries, you will hear about them as well. Suffice it to say that we continue to build our community and strengthen our future, provided we never, ever stop moving forward (that is Fran's job as Chief Ingniter)

Oh yeah, and we are planning our Community Conference October 6 and 7. A full time job in and of itself.

If you would like to read our community news, visit our website at:

So that is it. My excuses for not blogging once in June, or even twittering much. I hope you are buying it.

Sunday, May 31, 2009

A Sunny Day at BEA

Tomorrow, Ingram Publisher Services is going live with Firebrand's Title Management software and Eloquence Metadata services. This is strategically important for both IPS and Firebrand, and we have been working away for the past several months to bring the project together.

I think the most interesting aspect of this project is the marriage of the industry leading services of Ingram - with IPS and it's sister companies - and Firebrand's leading solutions in Title Management and Eloquence Onix services. Like Barnes & Noble, Ingram trusts our Eloquence service to make it a central conduit to send IPS title information not only to the industry, but through to Ingram Book as well.

This morning as I write this, I am at BEA 2009 and we happen to be across the aisle from the Ingram Acre (my words) and their palatial 'Booth', abuzz with activity. Despite the effort required to pull a show like this together, I am always pleasantly reminded that, at the end of the day, this show for us is about getting together with the many different people we have worked with in the past and present, and hope to work with in the future.

A late afternoon chat with Mark Ouimet and Karen Cross from Ingram was a perfect example. There was a bit of house-cleaning to discuss about the Title Management project, but it was more focused on ideas and what we can do in the future to help make IPS publishers more successful. These conversations are simply fun.

So as I prep for a sunny Sunday in Javits, I pump myself up and simply remind myself that I just like people in book publishing, and enjoy catching up with old and new friends. Despite the sunny weather outside.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Glad we got the big booth at BEA this year

I thought everyone would be interested in taking a look at this blog post about our ‘Blogger Signing’ at BEA. We (Fran) came up with the idea to invite bloggers to our booth so that their communities can meet them in person – similar to the Author Signings, but with a more new age twist. Within a couple of weeks, we had more than maxed out every possible time slot and have published this schedule this morning – the response has been overwhelming. I am really glad we got the bigger booth this year.

You might find some bloggers that you follow on the list so I hope to see you at the booth!

Follow The Reader blog with Blogger Signing Schedule

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Thanks for inviting me!

Ok, so I wasn't really invited - I kind of just showed up.

Yesterday was a long day, but I accomplished the mission I set out to do. A few weeks ago, David C. Cook went live with Firebrand's Title Management software. The install and data conversions went smoothly, and a lot of successful configuration had been completed. It was a bit quiet in the beginning, but then we started to recieve hints that all was not well. Communications had diminished due to changes in job responsibilities at Cook, so we weren't dialed into these problems that were brewing. Sure enough, they boiled over into bigger confidence problems before we reacted to the smaller technical problems.

Throughout this project, we have had a great time working with the crew at Cook, but especially Wendi and Ken who have taken the lead. We were in sync, both sides delivering whatever was needed. Then suddenly, we were out of sync. As soon as we heard from Wendi in no uncertain terms that it wasn't going well, it was like an emergency reaction team. Wendi is highly credible so all of the firebells were ringing and lights were flashing. But we still weren't getting down to the root causes of the problems. In a cordial way, from both sides of the country, we were talking past each other. Is it a performance problem, is it a software bug? What is really going on?

So yesterday, I got on a plane from New York to Denver and essentially showed up at Cook's front door in Colorado Springs. Of course, that makes all the difference, and in a 1/2 hour quick lunch with Wendi, followed up by a 1 hour meeting with their users and our Firebrand team on the phone, we had identified the root cause of the problem (I won't bore you, but it has to do with some new Ajax refresh behavior in certain areas of our web application).

But more importantly, I was able to see and hear first hand about some of the changes taking place at Cook as staff members take on new responsibilities. The team is excited about their future - especially with new directions they are taking in product development. It was more important to understand and appreciate the challenges they face, in order to put some context around the problems they were having with our software - mainly that they have less time for more responsibilities. When the system is not dialed in and running smoothly, frustration mounts as time is lost.

So we can fix the technical stuff, but the trip reinforces a key principle that everyone in business (and life for that matter) should adopt with vigor - there is nothing like seeing someone in person. Even if it takes 23 hours of travel, for that 1 crucial hour being in the right place at the right time with the right people.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

I Just Bought the Same Book Twice

OK, for the second time, I just bought the same book twice. That's a bit abstract but true.

Grace bought me a Kindle 2 for my birthday. Yeah! Being in the publishing business, I have seen more blog posts on the shape, size, function and philosophical meaning of the Kindle and Kindle 2, so I think that ground has been covered quite well. So let this be a blog post for the people not in publishing that read this blog (I believe that number ranges in the area of a half dozen readers, give or take a few).

To put it simply, I like it. And yes, it is a game changer. I have been reading books with Ereader and Stanza on my iphone, which works, but only because of the convenience. But the Kindle 2 has been enjoyable - for the three days I have owned it. I find it is closer to a 'real' book and I have been reading it in the exact same scenarios - sitting in my Dad chair by the fire in the evening with my girls on all sides, or propped up on my bed.

And here is how I can tell I am enjoying it: I paid money, twice, to buy the ebook on the Kindle 2 for a book I already owned in hand.

OK, the first time was an experiment. I was reading Scott Turow's Ordinary Heroes in an old, tattered mass market paperback which I pulled off a book swap shelf in the British Virgin Islands. When the Kindle 2 arrived I just had to buy the ebook edition to try it out. So I did, and spent 7 bucks for it. It was worth it.

The second time - at 6:00am this morning - was not an experiment but instead was a bonafide consumer purchase. After finishing Ordinary Heroes, I was moving on to my next book - from popular fiction to popular non-fiction - and picked up Bill Bryson's "A Short History of Nearly Everything". I love reading Bill Bryson as he has a quick wit that I find essential at certain times of my reading career. This book is a layman's guide to all things science, starting with the Big Bang, and I figured Bill Bryson was just the right guy to steer me through a dense set of topics.

I received this book from Grace as a gift, which she bought in Borders a few weeks ago as a trade paperback. Surprisingly, I actually found it quite cumbersome to read after reading Turow on the Kindle. It kept flopping over like it was made of paper! So, sitting in bed this morning, I proved to my wife Grace yet again that I am nuts and bought the Kindle Ebook edition for 7 bucks, searching for the product in the Kindle Store, buying it, downloading it and getting to the same page in less than a minute total.

That is a game changer. She complained for a moment that she had bought the Bryson book as a gift, but I simply countered that she had also bought my Kindle as a gift - and thank you very much.

Friday, March 6, 2009

Am I Really That Far Behind??

Man, did I blow it!

I have been trying to keep our Community News on our Firebrand Site fresh and current, but time has advanced so quickly that I fell behind. No excuses.

Well, I just updated it with announcements of many new clients who have joined Firebrand in the last few months.

We are really excited to welcome these publishers to Firebrand,most of whom are well into their integration projects already!

Here is the link to our Community News page.

And I promise I will stay current.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

A Guilt Free Cruise on the Social Network Stream

Yesterday I spent a full day at the O'Reilly Tools of Change conference in New York listening, learning, and talking about social networks and communities. I wrapped up a long day talking with Michael Hyatt, CEO of Thomas Nelson and Mark Kuyper president of the ECPA organization. Michael is an accomplished blogger and twitter person (tweep? twitterer? I can never get that right) and we were probing him to learn how he could possibly keep up with running a large company, sending tweets and writing blog posts. His response was simply that he gets to the social community stuff in his small windows of downtime. Sounds so simple, but there is a unspoken discipline there that drives him. Chris Brogan in his talk yesterday mentioned that Michael's approach to Twitter is not 'what are you doing', but more importantly 'what has my attention'. That is a great line and cements the purpose of that particular platform.

I have tremendous respect for Mark, and simply enjoy talking with him, and we got onto the subject of his involvement with social communities and tools. He had commented that he had to swim through 1400 emails that day (that is harsh). Mark has recently joined facebook but is conflicted by the desire to be on twitter. He is concerned about making the committment to the platform and adding yet another baby to feed.

That got me thinking about my own involvement with these communities and I commented that, without really knowing, I did not twitter or facebook from Tuesday to Sunday last week. I was simply swamped and if I had the moments, I didn't have the mental energy to contribute to the cause. It struck me that my unplanned approach to social networks has been guilt free, and that we should not consider these committments in the same cateory of emails and phone calls where people are specifically reaching out to you. I likened it to a constantly flowing stream, where we can dip in and take some out when we have a moment, or add some into the stream when we have something to say. But, honestly, the stream keeps flowing wether we are engaged or not, and if we are not engaged for a little while, for whatever reason, then that's ok.

So, if you are one of the ten people that read this blog, and you miss this post, be assured that it is ok with me. Consider this a guilt-free exemption.

Now if you will excuse me, I need to go twitter about this new blog post.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Tip of the Iceberg: Title Management Style

This morning I spent some time with the Firebrand team reviewing our new configuration for our Marketing Plan/Campaign/and Marketing Projects plug-in for Title Management Version 7.

I must say, this is pretty exciting stuff for us. The Version 7 is essentially a highly configurable Project engine. Without any development, Susan Burke and Rob Sidor built out a robust set of Marketing Plug-ins. They include:

-Marketing Plan: Typically across a season, a collection of Campaigns adressing individual titles. Includes comments, files, costs rolled up from campaigns and projects(budget, actuals and variance)

- Marketing Campaigns: Typically a campaign for a specific title or series. Campaigns will include many Projects

- Marketing Projects: Any type of marketing activity including Emails, Ads, Press Releases, Exhibit Materials, Galleys, Interviews and so.

- Exhibits - managing contacts, registration, advertising, budget, attendees, materials, titles.

We are also building out new Baseline reports to support this including Marketing Plan Production Status Report, and a detailed Marketing Campaign Report for a title to deliver to Publishers, Editors, Authors, Book Buyers and more.

The most exciting part about this is how well the 'engine', built by our development team, served our needs without go back to our development team. This is one of the payoffs that we cherish after a long, long road developing. The tip of the iceberg emerging from the ocean.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009


Let this blog post simply be about a nice visit to a wonderful bookstore. No great book industry predictions or extrapolations, or insights on technology or the software business. Just a nice visit to a great bookstore.

Think Norman Rockwell, as my poor writing skills, attempt to recreate the visit.

It's Christmas week in Manchester Vermont - snow is falling, the ski mountains are excited to cover up the Vermont ice from a recent thaw, and we have arrived at lunch time with the afternoon to explore.

Manchester, VT is known for it's outlet stores, but at the heart of it is the Northshire Bookstore. They happen to be a trading partner for our Eloquence Onix services, but that is irrelevant to the story, except to point out that they have always taken a progressive approach to remaining a vibrant independent bookstore.

And vibrant it was. The place was packed. Sure, it was a vacation week, but it was still nice to see it packed. Moreso than any other store we visited. We added to the packing factor by walking in with 10 people: Grace and the girls, Grace's parents, my brother Peter, his wife Geralyn and their new son Maxwell.

Northshire is an old inn, amended over the years with new wings and nooks. They have a cafe in the store and a wonderful childrens section upstairs. We spent no less than 1 1/2 hours there, browsing, reading, chatting, playing with Maxwell. Given the option of outlet stores or a book store, take one guess which I would pick. What was neat about the visit was the simple fact that the love of reading was palpable - in the visitors and the staff. I spent 10 or 15 minutes eavesdropping on a staff member espouse his enjoyment or hatred of many different books with one single customer. Remember - the place was packed with a line at the register and all three registers ringing constantly, and this guy had an indepth discussion with a customer about his opinion on different books. The book I chose to buy and read was one of his recommendations.

Geralyn, being an English teacher, was recruited to find a book for my 4th grader Jillian. She enjoys reading but hasn't quite gotten the bug: she seems to be in between the early chapter books like Magic Tree House and older series like Harry Potter and hasn't really adopted a genre that excites her. After a long time, they declared success and found just the right book.

After much perusing and deliberation myself, I settled on River of Doubt, about a little known expedition undertaken by Teddy Roosevelt, shortly after his defeat in his second presidential election. This book is about a months long expedition into the heart of a completely unknown section of the Amazon, and descending a river never previously explored known as the River of Doubt - in a dugout canoe no less. It is remarkable to me how much there is to learn about this giant of a man. And as a non-fiction adventure book, this story has it all: malaria, insects, indians, snakes, panthers - and a ex-president who like to say "Bully!" and charge on. Man, do I love that.

On Peter's recommendation, I almost picked up the bestseller Einstein, but decided that it would have to wait for a long vacation - its big and will simply require some time to truly appreciate it.

My family was spread out all over the store for quite some time, but eventually we rendezvouzed at the cash register with treasure in hand and headed back up the mountain to Stratton.

If your headed that way, I recommend you carve out some time to go and enjoy Northshire. Save some appetite for the Cafe and some enthusiasm for finding just the right book. Bully!

Northshire Bookstore