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It’s a media company, not new TV show

I was at class by 9:30 today, without coffee since my little pot decided to be on the fritz, so it was a huge tease when Seth Familian came on screen, with his video projected straight from San Fransisco with a clear image of his steaming mug.

familianFamilian is listed in our program as “CEO, 8020 Publishing”, but apparently as of very recently (last night, perhps?) he resigned from the position due to different thoughts on the business.  So that made me realize a) I can’t believe he is out of bed at all and not ridiculously hung-over after quitting and b) 9:30 NYC time is 6:30am SF time, so Seth, I applaud you.

I also applaud the new revenue models Familian was generous enough to share with us this morning.  With experience at Zinio (another company I admire) and an MBA from Berkeley, he’s definitely an authority on media.

JPG Magazine, “Your World in Pictures,” is the title for which Familian was responsible.  Living in both the digital and print realms, JPG is submitted hi-res pictures from a global community.   jpgmag.com boasts more than 200,000 active members, with 20-25 page views/returning users while the magazine has more than 35,000 submissions/issue.

Quick look at the concept: Photographers submit hi-res pictures falling within certain categories, which are then voted on by the other members on jpgmag.com, with the winning images appearing in the print magazine.

Where does the name “8020” come from?  That’s the split in content: 80% of work done by users, with only 20% being editorial contributions.

The 8020 concept is new by itself, but combined with the 3 Key Strategy Mechanisms Familian presented, it’s ingenious:

  1. Theme-Based Content
  2. Community Driven Curation
  3. Diversified Monetization

1. Theme-based content may be the cornerstone to success.  It gives users the parameters for what to submit, so compares like things to one another.

2. Community Driven Curation gives power to the users and drives growth.  This involves social layers on top of content interactions – not only can users vote on their favorite image, but can contact each other and see what others have “favorited”, establishing common ground.  Also compliments and constructive criticism are exchanged, resulting in what Familian says is an extremely friendly space.

3. Diversified Monetization is the ah-ah moment; the light bulb in the head.  Obviously, we all know content is not free.  But, in this case, with UGC it mostly is.  Not only that, but Familian found ways to stabilize the cash flow using on-demand options and price differentiation.

While print on demand still isn’t as cheap as the mass print runs, it is risk neutral.  So instead of just offering digital “issues” of the prints that didn’t make it into the print magazine, Familian has worked with POD agencies to offer it in book form.  By selling the book it generates profit, and the users/photographers featured end up being JPG’s marketing agent by WOM saying that their image can be found, published.

Whatever venture Seth Familian finds himself in next I have no doubt it will be a success.  He seems to be the rare person with a firm grasp on media’s potential as well as the business and finance facets of a company.

I am so far from a photographer with hi-res images, though I plan on joining the jpgmag.com community just to interact with other talented people and communicate in the universal language of pictures! I encourage you all to try it.

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It’s not even 9am and I already feel as if I’ve had a full day, probably because I’ve already:

  • Drank four cups of coffee
  • Digested a muffin, bagel, and half a watermelon
  • Met with and been inspired by Author Solutions!

Needless to say I could already use a nap; my 5:30am alarm did nothing for my beauty sleep, but right now I’m too excited!  Not knowing much about  self publishing companies, I was thrilled to discover a free Chicago event on LinkedIn put on by Author Solutions.   I invited my successful self-publishing author friend Scott E. Smith of the award-winning title Like Dizzy Gillespie’s Cheeks to attend with me and off we went, to what proved to be an inspirational and enlightening discussion of the publishing business.

Though the intended speaker from Author Solutions failed to show (probably contributing to the non-sales pitch feel of the meeting), Sandy Powell and Scott Walters from the Business Development team were available for questions and discussion.  It’s always interesting to learn about a new segment of the career I’m aspiring towards, and Powell and Walters both had experience and opinions to share.  In a nutshell: Publishing has not reached its end, books are not going to die, what will inevitably happen is a necessary shift in the business model.

There are many options available for a revised publishing business model.  Among the factors are changes in author’s payment (maybe less advance and higher royalties?), fewer print runs (more print on demand vs. warehouse space) or even the big publishing houses starting an imprint for self publishing; a lower risk way to test new authors to see if the titles catch on, with less impact on the already-stressed finances.

Of course, social media and personal interaction is never to be overlooked, as a new article on “Mashable” looks at traditional books in two new mediums in “5 Ways Traditional Media is Going Social“.

Unlike VHS tapes, book publishing continues to evolve and have space and opportunity for advancement.  I look forward to seeing some of these changes implemented in the influential hallways of Random House, Penguin and HarperCollins and I can’t wait to be an active participant.

Please share any additional thoughts/insight on new publishing opportunities!  And for all you aspiring writers out there, take a look at what the Author Solutions portfolio has to offer, I think you may be pleasantly surprised…

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