Square One

Tools of Change 2013: What Excites Me Right Now

February 2nd, 2013 · 8 Comments
by Kassia Krozser

In about two weeks, I, along with a couple thousand or so of my closest friends, will be attending the 2013 Tools of Change for Publishing conference in New York. As you may have guessed, recently I’ve felt I haven’t had much to add to the digital publishing conversation. In many ways — while I know there has been exciting innovation — I’ve felt like we’ve been at a standstill.

(Or, to misquote my friend Eoin Purcell, publishers feel like they have this whole digital thing sorted. Done and done.)

Of course, if you’ve been paying attention (and I know you have), you know there is a lot of innovation happening outside the world of traditional publishing. And, to be honest, inside of traditional publishing, though I would characterize many of those experiments as baby steps instead of bold initiatives. Perhaps this is how it should be.
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File Under: The Future of Publishing

The Daily Square

Certain Songs #604: The Hold Steady – “Constructive Summer”

July 27th, 2016 · No Comments

hold_steady -stay_positive-frontal Album: Stay Positive
Year: 2008

Some of you might have noticed that one of the things I really like in an artist is prolificness.

And by the standards of the 21st century, putting out their three albums in three years, the Hold Steady were absolutely on fire. So to me, the two years between the world-beating Boys and Girls in America and the 2008 follow-up seemed almost interminable.

All of which was instantly forgiven the second “Constructive Summer” came pouring out of the speakers, combining Tad Kubler’s punk riff with Franz Nicolay’s Jerry Lee Lewis piano and maybe Craig Finn’s best opening verse ever.

Me and my friends are like
The drums on “Lust for Life”
We pound it out on floor toms
Our psalms are sing-along songs

Man. It was great to have them back, this band that somehow crammed nearly every other band I ever loved into their super-smart, super-rocking songs.

Summer grant us all the power
To drink on top of watertowers
With love and trust and shows all summer
(Get hammered!)

Let this be my annual reminder
That we could all be something bigger

“Constructive Summer” perfectly captures the essence of first week of summer, when you’re still reeling from the last days of class, but you know that you have just limited amount of time to get the shit done you wanna get done.

And with Tad Kubler’s guitar squealing around the edges, the last verse nearly tops the first.

Raise a toast to Saint Joe Strummer
I think he might have been our only decent teacher
Getting older makes it harder to remember
We are our only saviours
We’re gonna build something this summer

An absolute scorcher from start start to finish — even the piano-driven breakdown burns and crashes — “Constructive Summer” a near-perfect way to kick off what turned out to be the difficult follow-up album.

And if Stay Positive turned out to be a skosh too restless — some of the experiments slightly off, some of the rockers slightly rote — I still loved it nearly as much as the two titanic records that proceeded it.

“Constructive Summer” performed live in 2009

Fan-made video for “Constructive Summer”

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Certain Songs Spotify playlist
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The Daily Square Archive

Quote Of The Week

On Acknowledging Truths

May 3rd, 2010 · 12 Comments

The shifts in today’s publishing business are happening lightening fast and iceberg slow. Epiphanies strike at odd moments. Brett Sandusky had one. Below is where he ended up; read his entire post (linked below) to see how he got there.

In the end, no amount of market research, anecdotal evidence, kaffee klatsches, or cocktail parties can ever replace actual and real interaction with our customers. Recently, I attended a conference where a panelist kept repeating throughout her presentation, “The reader is the consumer who is your customer. I openly admit that, at the time, I begrudged this panelist for stating the obvious. Of course the reader is our customer.

It wasn’t until much later that I realized what she was really saying: in an age of digital books, in an age where many of this industry’s institutions are, one by one, going away or becoming irrelevant, we are no longer the industry we thought we were. And, the reality is this: we can no longer afford to act as a B-to-B business. The future, if we have one, depends on our ability to reconfigure as a B-to-C business and start interacting with readers directly free of buffers and intermediaries. From product development, to consumer feedback, to buyer-less sell-in for digital products, to direct to consumer sales, to verticality, to providing readers with what they want, a new wave of customer interaction needs to guide us along our paths to the future.

Now, do you remember that money which we took from marketing budgets slated for BEA? What if we funneled that money into establishing direct consumer contact? Think of the awesome changes we could make in place of printing thousands upon thousands of galleys that end up in the hands of someone who could get the book for free regardless.

I can only repeat these wise words, something I didn’t fully understand just a few months ago, “The reader is the consumer who is your customer.”

Quote Of The Week Archive

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