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