Monday, July 5, 2010

Update On My Next Book

Today is the first time in several weeks that I have a day off from basically everywhere I work (FYI, on top of working for a public library, I also work P/T at a college library, freelance gigs, and teaching writing through the Gotham Writers’ Workshop). Seems like a good time to update this blog regarding information about my next book.

I officially signed a contract last month with ALA Editions to write a guide on mobile app development for libraries. The book is tentatively called “Going Mobile” and it will be due out, assuming all timetables are meant, sometime in 2011.

As some of you know, I published my first iPhone app back in May; this was essentially prep work for this book. I have believe for quite some time that libraries needed to get into the mobile app game, and I wanted to see how easy (or hard) it is.

The goal of the book is to show that mobile apps aren’t as hard as you may think; new software is making mobile development both easy and practical with people with only HTML skills.

Washington DC is the only library that has kind of experimented in getting the library online (they have a free app on the iPhone store); there are a handful of library related apps (like WorldCat), but it is extremely limited. I’m excited for the opportunity to write about a topic that has yet to be thoroughly covered.

So stay tuned, and I’ll keep you updated on its progress. And if any librarians are currently working on apps for their libraries, I’d be interested in hearing from you…leave a comment below or email me scottdouglas  at

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Happy 4th

American...the land of make racist remarks now, and apologize for them later

Happy 4th!

(photo curtesy of the National Archives)

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Publishing is Dead?

Two years ago, I would have said a bold statement like "Publishing is Dead" is a little extreme. Two years later, I now rexamine that statement and question, if not dead, then is it fair to say, at the very least, that traditional publishing it's dying? I think so.

The death, or dying, of publishing is not triggered by electronic publishing, rather the lack of publishing in general figuring out what to do because of it. The best way to deal with a problem is to figure out a solution before the problem hits--that didn't happen.

Here's the problem as I see it: Publishing in general is more worried about what distributer will get them the most money than developing a model that works. They are approaching eBooks the same way they approach physical books. The biggest mistake of publishing is using yesterdays publishing model on a platform that is still defining itself. Instead of learning new platforms, they are simply opting in with little understanding of how it actually works.

I saw this as an opportunity.

I told my friend, and now business partner, Roland, that we should try and take advantage of traditional publishings present mistake--to develop a model that just might work.

In June we started setting up our model; we drafted out our first books, opened up accounts, registered the name, and did all the stuff necessary to make the business legal. We called our publishing business Minute Help Press; by the end of the month, we had our first two books. By the end of July, another dozen should join their company. Our plan is to release 5 to 10 a month.

So, in less than a month, we had two books designed, edited, and submitted to electronic distributers. The process for traditional publishing is 1 to 2 years.

The first thing we decided was that people tend to read eBooks on the go. Yes, people read it from home, but truly the best feature of eReading is the ability to have a book literally on your phone, your compuer, and your eReading device--this means wherever you are (at home, at work, or on the go) you have your book at your fingertips. The average person probably is not going t want to read "War and Peace" on their commute to work. The best eBooks are the ones you can read with a subway full of people--something that is easy to read when you are surround by distractions.

The second thing we considered is a growing number of people want to know as much as possible in the least amount of time possible. There are lots of people who are completists--they want to know every single detail about a subject. Those people are not our audience. Our audience is the business man or woman who just picked up a copy of Office 2010 and wants to know what's different about, what the basic features are, and how to use it--the people, in short, who want nothing more than a crash course on the subject.

The second thing we considered is price. We aren't paying anyone to print the books, market the books, edit the books, design the books, etc--we are doing it all ourselves. That means we can sell the books for $0.99 to $2.99 and still make a profit.

There are literally millions of people with eReaders; once people stop being stubborn and realize that eReading doesn't mean the death of physical books, that number will only grow. But as more people launch home-based publishing companies such as ours, publishing is going to take a hit--by the time they realize this, the competition might just be too great, so tomorrow's publishing companies might very well be one's just like Minute Help. In ten years, the books you see in the bookstore, might be books put out not by companies like Random House, but by two little guys with a little bit of know-how. Only time will tell.

If you want to watch the story unfold, you can join our newly launched Twitter feed here @minutehelp or see are new and future releases here:

The first two books are currently available on Kindle; next week they should be available on the iBookstore; very soon they will be available on Nook and Google Editions. To see the current catalog of books, visit the following link. Previews of select titles are available.