Friday, July 27, 2012

Remembering a dear friend, Jan-Paul van den Hurk of RPI-Paro

A memorial fund has been set up to help with Jan-Paul's family during this transitional time.  Please give generously at

We often try to separate 'business' from 'personal' in our work lives. Many times that just does not work.  Such is the case with the sudden passing of my friend and business associate Jan-Paul van den Hurk, CEO of the Paro Group BV, Founder of Book Factory Systems, and SVP of Business Development for RPI-Paro BV.

There are times when you are investigating partnerships that you meet someone you just know is the right guy.  Such was the case when Brian Segnit from xerox introduced me to JP as Blurb was looking to expand our nascent book business into Europe.  JP and I exchanged a couple of emails and before I knew it he was on a plane from The Netherlands to Seattle to meet me in person.  It was obvious the guy was an entrepreneur and got it from the start.  Not long after, our COO Pete Wheelan and I flew to Europe on one of our many-days-in-many-cities tours to find a partner who shared our vision.  Pete saw the same things in JP that I had and it was the beginning of a business relationship that has continued since.

JP was not just Blurb's 'vendor' in Europe.  From the beginning he viewed his role as that of an ambassador for us in Europe.  With his help that market represents over 1/3 of our revenues, and we owe much to his efforts, connections, and passion.

Always the entrepreneur,  JP took over Paro in the mid-90's.  A long-established printing company that was originally in the typewriter business in Geldrop, he created an entity increasingly specialized in printing high-quality marketing materials and catered to companies like Philips that wanted to outsource the entire print process. To  guide this, Paro developed more activities in the field of strategic marketing and communication, creation, design, graphic design, software development and organization. 

Along with partner and engineer extraordinaire Peter Sygall, JP founded Book Factory Systems in 2008, allowing for books that are not only be printed automatically, but also simultaneously bound and packaged, providing extra processing speed and efficiency, and decreasing labor costs.

Last year JP's efforts were rewarded when the company was acquired by RPI in Seattle, creating RPI-Paro BV, which JP was SVP of Business Development at the time of his passing.

JP is survived by his lovely wife Astrid, and four children Sophie, Eline, Paul and Olaf, who he loved and cherished as much as a man can.  The family and friends will be saying farewell to him this Monday, July 30th and if you knew him (or knew of him or are touched by his story) a memorial site has been created in order to raise funds for the family he left behind.  Please give generously if you can at There are also links there to a condolence page as well as contact information for the family.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Could the iPad save magazines? It’s looking ever more likely. From @CJR

Though it may have gathered the most attention recently, Huffington, The Huffington Post’s new iPad-only magazine, isn’t the only publication making a serious tablet push these days.
Publications continue to request entry to the Apple Newsstand app, that comes with all iPads, and to digital newsstand databases like Zinio, which goes by the tagline, “The World’s Largest Newsstand.” The recently hyped Next Issue, likened to Hulu or Netflix, additionally offers tablet users an all-you-can-read array of digital magazines.
Next Issue was first released in May 2011 for the Samsung Galaxy tablet, and since then, new platforms have been added gradually—most recent was the iPad launch on July 10. The product of combined efforts by five magazine publishing giants, Next Issue, currently offering about 40 magazines, has received some complaints for its hefty price tags but still has the potential to be very successful. Some of the significant magazines making appearances on these apps include Vogue, The New Yorker, Time and Sports Illustrated.
It may seem unreasonable for publications to be channeling so much effort into tablets when only about 19 percent of Americans own them, according to a study released in January. But the army of iPad and other tablet owners is rapidly expanding, so it could prove to be a lucrative outlet for magazine publishers.
Read on here....

Anniversary Of The First Hasselblad On The Moon. From @redbubble @hassyusa

On this day, 42 years ago, and some 238,857 miles from Earth, the first humans touched down on the Moon’s surface and along with them a modified Hasselblad camera. As on all manned American space missions since October 1962, the crew used Hasselblad camera equipment for the photographic documentation. To date there are currently 12 abandoned Hasselblad cameras on the moon’s surface.

Read on here....

Thursday, July 19, 2012

If Amazon is allowed to rule the e-book market, "we will all suffer." Schumer says Apple e-books suit "could wipe out the publishing industry". From @arstechnica

The US Department of Justice's lawsuit against Apple and a handful of e-book publishers "could wipe out the publishing industry as we know it," according to Senator Charles Schumer (D-NY). In an editorial published in the Wall Street Journal on Wednesday, Schumer argued that the lawsuit could make it more difficult for new authors to get published if Apple is forced to adopt Amazon's wholesale model for e-books, and that by moving forward with the suit, the DoJ is "[missing] the forest for the trees."

"If publishers, authors and consumers are at the mercy of a single retailer that controls 90% of the market and can set rock-bottom prices, we will all suffer," Schumer wrote in reference to Amazon, which completely dominated the e-book market until Apple introduced the iPad and its iBookstore in early 2010. "Choice is critical in any market, but that is particularly true in cultural markets like books. The prospect that a single firm would control access to books should give any reader pause."

Read on here.....

Are Instagram and other image processing tools debasing real photography? From @guardian

Old or new … is this photograph an old scanned image, or is it a modern one with the faded colours added by a filter? Photograph: Kate Bevan 
It may seem odd to start a piece for a ranting slot by saying how much I love something, but I love photography and I particularly love the way social networking means I can share my photographs and the way I can keep up with friends through their shared images.

But I deeply dislike Instagram, which is the sharing app that millions of people seem to prefer. Indeed, Facebook loves Instagram so much that it is bidding $1bn (£637m) to buy it (assuming the UK's Office of Fair Trading doesn't block it, of course).

Every day my Twitter stream and my Facebook newsfeed are full of Instagram images, all sporting the cutesy faux-Polaroid filters and ragged white borders added by the iPhone or Android app.
Or more recently, the disconcerting faux tilt-shift filter that makes everything in the shot look like a toytown miniature.

It's not just Instagram – other software produces the same effects: Hipstamatic, Snapseed and of course the big boys: Gimp, Photoshop and Lightroom.

For me, these filters spoil pictures: they get in the way of the image and they distort the story the picture is telling. It jars to see a picture taken a few seconds ago, in the summer of 2012, that looks like a picture from my childhood (I'm a 60s baby).

Read on here....

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

E-Books Added to Google Play in France. From @pcmag

French bookworms can now access e-books via Google Play.

The addition of the e-books to Google's marketplace comes a month after the corporation reached an agreement with French book publishers to return out-of-print works to the public by digitizing millions of stories.

Google said its selection include hundreds of thousands of French titles – everything from new releases to classics to bestsellers.

With the new book launch, France becomes the fifth European country to add books to its Play store, following Germany, Spain, Italy, and the U.K., Google's Philippe Colombet wrote in a blog post.

Read on here....

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

100 Mind-Blowing Facts About the Economy. From @themotleyfool

Lots of interesting stuff here...a few that caught my eye (with a Seattle bias):

1. The unemployment rate for men is 8.4%. For married men, it's 4.9%.
7. China's labor force grew by 145 million from 1990 to 2008. The entire U.S. labor force today is 156 million.
9. In 1999, one of the best years for the market ever, more than half of stocks in the S&P 500 declined. Two companies, Microsoft (Nasdaq: MSFT  ) and Cisco, accounted for one-fifth of the index's return.
10. From 1929 to 1932, the total amount of money paid out in wages fell by 60%, according to historian Frederick Lewis Allen. By contrast, from 2007-2009, total American wages fell less than 5%. What we experienced in recent years was nothing close to the Great Depression.
11. A Honda Civic hybrid starts at $24,200 and gets 44 miles per gallon. A Civic with a normal gas engine starts at $16,000 and gets 39 MPG. If you drive 15,000 miles a year and gas averages $4 a gallon, it will take 47 years for the hybrid to justify its cost over the traditional model.
14. At the height of his success, Andrew Carnegie's annual income was 20,000 times the average American's wage, according to historian Frederick Lewis Allen. That's the equivalent of about $720 million in today's economy. In 2010, hedge fund manager John Paulson earned $4.9 billion, or nearly seven times what Carnegie earned in his prime. The key difference: Carnegie made steel to construct buildings. Paulson bought derivatives to bet against them.  
20. Boeing (NYSE: BA  ) accounts for almost 2% of all U.S. exports.
26. Since December 2007, male employment has fallen 4.7%. Female employment fell just about half that amount, 2.7%
31. PCs outsold Macs by nearly 60-to-1 in 2004. Last year, the ratio was closer to 20-to-1, according to analyst Horace Dediu.  
32. Apple (Nasdaq: AAPL  ) earned more in net income last quarter than its entire market cap was in 2004. 
49. According to UCLA: "Only 3.1 percent of the world's children live in the United States, but U.S. families buy more than 40 percent of the toys consumed globally."
60. Since 1968, the U.S. population has increased from 200 million to 314 million, and federal government employees have declined from 2.9 million to 2.8 million.
62. From 2002 to 2008, 12 congressional incumbents lost in primary elections. During that time, 13 members died in office. So the odds of losing a primary are lower than the odds of dying in office.   
69. Americans drove 85 billion fewer miles over the last 12 months than they did in 2008, according to the Department of Transportation. 
75. America is home to less than 5% of the world's population, but nearly a quarter of its prisoners.

See the full list here.....  


This may be a rare case in which a $695 class might actually save your life: Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism is offering a safety course for journalists who cover war, conflict and disaster zones.

Included to the course description:
Specialists will provide instruction in the following areas:
1. Risk assessment: making the right call, setting limits, sound practices amid riots, snipers, mines, shooting, roadblocks, infiltrators and general mayhem
2. Trauma: emotional self-care on troubling stories
3. Cyber security: safeguarding sensitive communications and data. Codes, encryption and cloud computing
4. Emergency first aid: tourniquets, triage, fractures and bullet wounds
5. Rape/assault prevention, setting boundaries, delaying tactics, basic self-defense, healing
Journalist Judith Matloff, who has over 20 years of foreign correspondence under her belt, will teach the intensive course from October 19-21. The course description notes that some scholarships are offered to offset the total cost of the course that give preference to freelancers and freelance camerapeople.
Resources and training could be particularly worthwhile for freelancers who may not have the benefit of a newsroom or larger agency to support them from beyond the conflict zone.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

What Is the Future of Publishing? From @forbes

There has been a great deal of handwringing in the book publishing world for the last decade or so over what the Internet is going to do to traditional publishing.  And in the last few years, experimentation has increased, with successful authors like Seth Godin by-passing traditional publishing, new ventures like NetMinds from Tim Sanders and team, and the explosion of various kinds of self-publishing.  Amazon has become, of course, a huge presence in the book with, now paying advances just like traditional publishing, as well as trying out print-on-demand books and of course the Kindle.

I get questions all the time from prospective authors who wonder whether it’s worth it to publish in the traditional way at all.  The quick answer is, for speakers it’s still important, for now.  For everyone else, it depends.  But everyone wants to know, where’s the book business headed?  Who’s going to survive, and what will the terrain look like when the battle is over?

Of course no one knows, but already an outline of what’s going to happen is becoming clearer, and the picture is not cheery for traditional publishers.  Following are a few fearless predictions based on my vantage point interacting every day with authors, publishers, agents, and others in the industry.

Read on here....

Thursday, July 5, 2012

André J. Hermann's Street Photography, Hidden on the Street From @NYTimes

André J. Hermann wants his audience to pay for his photography books, not with their money, but with their time. He envisions a world where people go beyond Facebook, Instagram or elsewhere on the Web to view photographs.

Today, most photography begins and ends with digitization: a subject is photographed, the light is turned into digital information, and that information is put on the Internet. But Mr. Hermann wants to take that process a few steps further. His photography begins with those digitized moments and ends with a graspable object, fostering along the way a modest adventure.

For the past two months, he’s been taking his Instagram images, printing them, bundling them into books, and hiding them in nooks and crannies around San Francisco. He’s hidden 16 one-of-a-kind books, and he’ll hide four more over the next few weeks.

Every time he hides one, he posts a photo clue on his blog. So far, all but two have been found.

Read on here.....