Publishing News: Blogging and the law

How to blog and not get sued, magazine apps miss the mark, and a publisher gets aggressive with marketing.

Here are a few publishing highlights from the past week. (Note: Some of these stories were previously published here on Radar.)

Legal ins and outs of blogging

In a recent post for Mashable, CEO Nellie Akalp noted the blogging industry has grown to include more than 160 million blogs and that there are more than 69,000 blogs created every 24 hours. Along with that growth, the number of lawsuits against bloggers is chugging along at a steady clip.

We recently covered the libel angle of blogging, tweeting, online publishing here on Radar. Akalp’s post offers three more general tips to help bloggers stay out of trouble, and she points out why every blogger needs to wrap his or her head around the legal aspects of blogging:

Most bloggers are probably aware that back in December 2009, the FTC revised their guidelines to bring social media and Internet advertisers into the mix. At the heart of this revision was a concern that it was becoming increasingly difficult to recognize an “advertisement” in social media. In 2010 the ruling reverberated throughout the marketing world and the blogosphere. Controversy surrounded Twitter, high profile celebrities, and improperly disclosed sponsor relationships. As a result, every blogger needs to be aware of the guidelines and take some simple steps to minimize their liability.

Magazine publishers don’t quite get digital yet

More and more magazines are embracing digital publishing and developing apps for digital editions. But are their efforts thus far succeeding in creating new consumer experiences, or are they simply regurgitating print content onto a screen?

In a recent post for PaidContent, Laura Hazard Owen noted that consumer response to magazine apps has been lukewarm and profitability is questionable:

Publishers continue to take some heat for producing apps that are clunky, not social enough, and overpriced. And at least one magazine entrepreneur/executive argues that his peers are deluding themselves about the likelihood that apps are going to generate profits anytime soon.

Joe Wikert, GM and publisher at O’Reilly Media, recently agreed that magazines aren’t properly using digital technology. He implored publishers to think “beyond the quick-and-dirty conversion of print to digital and take advantage of the e-reader capabilities.”

Brian Morrissey in a post for Adweek also said that apps are missing the mark. He highlighted design flaws (or perhaps a disconnect between publishers and consumers):

Publishers [are trying] to cram every tech gizmo possible into their apps. Everyone oohed and ahhed at the demo video of the Wired app. Then it arrived in the App Store weighing in at a monstrous 527 megabytes. Want the latest issue? It’s hardly an impulse buy when the file is close to the size of full movie download.

This disconnect also is apparent in a chart Owen put together for her post. A close look shows that “popular apps” do not include the magazine apps themselves.

Webcast: Digital Bookmaking Tools Roundup — Pete Meyers looks at the growing number of digital book tools: what’s best, what’s easiest to use, and what’s worth putting in your book-building toolkit.

Join us on Thursday, June 30, 2011, at 10 am PT

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Open Road’s aggressive marketing techniques

Last month, Jane Friedman landed $8 million in equity financing for her digital publishing company Open Road Integrated Media. In a recent NPR interview, Friedman talked about the company’s business model, with 50/50 profit splits for authors and a focus on digitally publishing backlist titles. Friedman noted that “aggressive marketing” is the key to the company’s success.

What does aggressive marketing involve? The NPR piece hinted at a few elements:

Open Road backs its titles with aggressive multi-platform marketing campaigns, making creative use of the Web, social media and video. The company produces short documentaries to promote its authors.

For more on what aggressive marketing entails and how the campaigns are handled, I turned to Open Road’s chief marketing officer Rachel Chou. Our short email interview follows.

What does “aggressive marketing” mean?

Rachel Chou: Aggressive marketing means marketing throughout the term of contract and not just at the book’s launch. It also means balancing real-time marketing vs planned marketing. We build quarterly marketing plans for every author or publishing partner and continue to think of new themes, topics or pitches.

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