The Metaphysics section of the bookstore…

There I was, 21, an alcoholic and a bartender.  Not a very good combination for a college dropout.

But thankfully for me, I worked with a guy who got his Master’s in Philosophy who would try to blow my mind with crazy new thoughts and ways to look at the world.  It worked.

For months we would talk about subjective realities, postmodernism, and the baby boomer generation’s influence on public policy.  It was great.  Eventually we got to the point where he didn’t want to talk anymore about stuff, but instead told me to go check out Ken Wilber’s book A Brief History of Everything.

I remember thinking that this guy must be a pompous ass.

But after reading a few chapters (with a dictionary close by, I will admit), I started to realize that I was internalizing a lot of the contents.  Most of it has to do with the postmodern situation and integrating it and other cultural and social philosophies into one all-encompassing framework.  He covered stuff from Jung’s obsession with UFOs to Robert Monroe’s ego-centric and pseudo-scientific approach to Out of Body Experiences to chemical differences between the sexes to improperly handled ecological public policies.  When it said Brief History of Everything, it meant it.

What was great about the book was the way the words fell from the page and into my head, leading me to talk about things in a new way with those around me; all the while I tried to constantly strive for that chich encompassed Truth, Beauty, and Goodness.  I grew up with the Bible always close at hand, so this was a real change (zing!).

Pretty soon, most of us bartenders had read it, and the nights after closing were spent talking about the world instead of trying to drink our body weights.

Wilber has gone on to publish several other books, of which I’ve read a few, but it was that first book, in that certain time, in that specific place that held a lot of magic.

-bk

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Not to get all serious or anything, but

martin_luther_zum_reichstag_in_worms2

I am kind of an idealistic guy.  I look out there into the world and see mostly good people trying to do good things (instead of attacking some sort of postmodern, relativistic interpretation of what “good” is, we’ll just leave it at that).

That being said, we’re looking at some crazy economic stuff going on (did sensationalizm start it? Did corporate greed? Is this some sort of necessary maintenance of the overall market equilibrium? What’s the chicken and what’s the egg?), but for those of us looking to get into the publishing business after graduation, take heart.

I think about Kent Watson sometimes and how he attempted to differentiate “evil” marketing from book marketing.  After all, they’re books, right?  And we all love books.  It’s not like we’re trying to sell some pyramid scheme to a poor single mother or some hyper-inflated mortgage to some poor schmuck who believes the media when they say that the housing market is just going to go up, up, up.

But, the big boys aren’t hiring right now.  Unemployment is on the rise.  People are buying less books.

But people are buying more ebooks.

And you people can help your friends self-publish.

People will give their penny-pinched money to an ethical company (and to casinos, so I guess it’s just to honest ones, I mean who honestly thinks they can walk out of a casino with a lot of money on a consistent basis? [Besides me, of course]), because of the immeasurable value that comes from honesty.  It’s the one thing that doesn’t come up on those stock reports in the mornings.  But I have a friend that started a fair-trade certified chocolate syrup company out of his house a few months ago, not in the hopes of making tons of money (he had a waiting job to pay the bills), but in the hopes of helping people receive a quality product that was good for them.  Another friend started a community acupuncture clinic in Tucson (even though he could have worked at a boutique and made more money), deciding it was better to have a sliding scale payment system (ranging from 15-30 dollars, depending on what the patient thought they could afford) as opposed to the traditional upwards-of-a-hundred-dollar treatments where you only take care of rich people who have really great insurance.

Both of them are doing really well, even though they started less than a year ago.

The market is screaming for ethical businesses to replace the raping, pillaging, selfish bastards stealing from the poor to make themselves even richer. And ebooks are cheaper than books.

Unsubscribe! Unsubscribe!

socratesI like to think that I am above all the useless email marketing that I have been inundated with over the years across my multiple email accounts.  But that would be lying.  Every once in a while, Amazon will hit me with a beautifully personalized email offer (You like Blurays? We’ve got these on sale at 35% off!).  And then I’d go, look through their site, find one that I wanted and checkout, somehow still convinced that I was media literate.

Well now I have this unique defense against all these damn emails: graduate school.  No money equals no fun email sales that I respond to.  

But I think what worked so well from them was the segmentation that Amazon probably did in sending out its email to me.  I’m not sure if they have robots working on this or not, but my gut reaction is that they catalogue my buying habits and then craft the specific subject line directly to me, which then gets me to open it, and then I see all the goodness that comes from their marketing savvy.  This is all stuff that we talk about in the online marketing class.  

Which brings me to an offhand comment on the beauty (horrors) or marketing: it’s all rhetoric and sophistry.  Knowing your audience is key to knowing what to say in the subject line, and that is extremely similar to the notion of audience based composition theory.  Yeah, I’m sure Plato and Socrates are rolling in their graves, but that’s how I see it.

Who knew that it would be Amazon’s rhetorical mastery that would syphon so much of my money over the years…

The Long Tail and Time as Money

Recently I got to hear from Vintage Roadside and the way they have embraced Web 2.0 strategies into their marketing plan.  Well, it basically is their marketing plan.

When I first started learning about all of the potential inherent in some of the options out there for Web 2.0 integration, all I could think of was how we’re going to bring down all of these evil corporations with grassroots networking and blogging.  But now I think I have a little more cynical and realistic opinion about it all.

It’s not simply about making a facebook page and having the people flock to be your friend.  It takes a lot of work to really utilize social networking’s benefits for your company.  Vintage Roadside talked about the many hours a day that is spent cultivating online relationships and networking.  That’s worrisome to me, someone who can’t seem to juggle all the various online identities out there.

As much as I’d love to say that I can sit down, blog here, blog there, network with facebook people, trudge through the littered halls of myspace, blog again, and still manage to have any sort of time to spend with family and school, in reality I don’t find the time.  

Instead of actually doing all of those things, I sit and think about things that would make my life easier (I am an American).  I think the key is some sort of user-defined layer that can manage multiple accounts, passwords, bookmarks, all that stuff.  If you have to work on multiple books, multiple accounts, or anything like that, the key is being able to switch between those accounts on the fly and without too many obstacles between them.  

Before I go any further, I have to admit that I have no idea if there is already something out there that is able to do those things (ProfileLinker is almost there).  This all ties back into the idea of online identities and being able to manage those newtorked relationships.  Unless the IP in question is something that is tied personally to you, spending all of that time doing all of the required hours of work on managing social networking sites will not happen (without a fat paycheck).  So, let’s go techies!  Make our future jobs easier.  Please.

 

-bk

How many email addresses do you have?

too_much_mailSo I’m one of those guys out there that was worried about internet privacy for a while.  As such, I started up separate accounts for registering with certain places and all that; I’m sure that you have done it, too.  

What’s interesting, though, is how virtual identities are linked to an email address.  It’s your primary method of distinction in the World Wide Web of Wonder (why else would you be required to type the thing twice when registering at some website?), and as such, most of us have a JUNK mailbox (probably a hotmail or yahoo account, am I right?) and the one where we get our work done (unless you go to Portland State and decide to use the PDX mail and then you’re screwed).  

Right now I have 5 email addresses.

My yahoo account is the one that I use when signing up for online offers and when I may or may not actually want to talk to someone.

My PDX mail account is where I do most of my correspondence for school and such (and my Facebook account – I’m old school from back when you needed to go to college to get on the site).

My gmail account is used primarily for my bl0gs and Blogger Identity.  I try to maintain anonymity, but it never happens.

Then I have a yahoo account that I use for Sarah Lincoln, but I rarely check it; it was created mostly for Facebook registration.  

And I have a mac email account, too, but I feel like I reached critical mass and can’t respond to the sixth account.  Camel’s back and straw sort of thing.

Additionally, I have several yahoo accounts where I forgot the passwords and a hotmail account that I don’t remember the address to.  

And in the end, I feel pretty typical.  

What there needs to be is some sort of Meta-email center that will not only remember all of the passwords to my various accounts, but it will also list them all in one place at the same time.  Then I could get some work done.

 

-bk

Give it away and they will come

I personally think that we need to start thinking about new ways to sell things.  One of the newer methods that some people are trying have to do with giving away certain versions of the book for free, only later charging for a print version or whatever.

Marvel just announced that they were doing something weird with a new series that they are going to start off: they are giving the first issue away for free online prior to the first printing.

I know, I know, big deal, right?  Smaller publishers have been doing that for a while now.  But this is important for the fact that they are not a small publisher and comics and graphic novels are not hurting for sales, either.  So this means that even the big guys are starting to realize the marketing power and possibility within the “give a little, get a lot” theory.

An interesting side note: for fans of Monty Python, there was a good deal to be happy for when they decided to release their own channel on youtube.  It seems that they got tired of going after copyright infringers who repeatedly kept putting up ripped videos of theirs, and instead started their own channel where they gave away some of the highest watched videos in their library.  Directly afterward, their sales rose 23,000%.  Yep, that’s right, 23,000%.

“Give a little, get a lot”

Know what I mean, nudge, nudge?

-bk

Time-traveling Lincoln meets daughter

Abraham Lincoln traveled through time. We all know this. But what we may not know is that when Old Abe went into the future, he fell in love with Joan Matcham and their time together would transcend time to bring forth a daughter: Sarah Lincoln.

It all seems so obvious to me, but there might be some people out there who don’t know about Lincoln’s time-traveling exploits.

Curiously, it’s not the time-traveling Lincoln that has been getting attention so much lately, but a combination of Lincoln as savior and Obama as Lincoln that have caused semi-ruccus around his 200th birthday.

In addition to this time-traveling Lincoln, his fictional daughter has come alive and claimed her own Facebook page, creating a point for dialogue about creativity and reality.  Because now she is just as real as his own trip into the future, which still didn’t stop Old Abe from going back into the past and embracing the reality of the pre-existing timeline.

Shew.

But in the end, it’s about a dog that brought these two people (Joan and Abe Lincoln himself) together for a short time and how it created a love that could make this little girl (Sarah Lincoln) be a kind and gentle soul.

Lincoln’s Daughter, out now and published by Ooligan Press.

Buy here

-bk

Super Bowl marketing and 3D imaging

3d-glasses-404_675044c1Well I just got done watching the Super Bowl, and the results are in: advertising is cool.  A call to arms to all people involved in 3D imaging, “Ride this free publicity train as long as you can!”

Call me a nerd or a sucker, but I was impressed with the way that the colorcode 3D stuff was covered in the commercials.  Grab your free 3D goggles made by intel and check out some videos:

here’s one

here’s another

one last one

Now, what does this have to do with books?  Everything.  If you think that marketing and advertising for books should adapt to the technocrowd (I’m talking to you Book Promo Trailer fanboys), then it seems so simple: all you have to do is to be the first to encode your book promos in 3D and they will come.  Quick searches on Youtube show that there are already a variety of 3D videos to choose from, and right now there are approximately a 100 million free 3D glasses on people’s coffee tables from the Super Bowl.  Now get out there and do it.

 

-bk