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 #601: The Hold Steady – “You Can Make Him Like You”

July 24th, 2016 · No Comments

hold steady boys Album: Boys And Girls in America
Year: 2006

This is my favorite song on Boys And Girls in America.

“You Can Make Him Like You” is everything I could want in a rock ‘n’ roll song: catchy, smart and anthemic, and not for a second does it ever stop moving and changing, even as it builds to a fist-pumping, screaming-at-the-top-of-your-lungs climax.

It comes roaring out of the gate with a balance of stinging guitars and big piano hook, before dropping into a quietish first verse where Craig Finn’s giving some pretty sketchy advice:

You don’t have to deal with the dealers
Let your boyfriend deal with the dealers
It only gets inconvenient
When you want to get high alone

You don’t have to know how to get home
Let your boyfriend tell the driver
The best way to go
It only gets kind of weird
When you wanna go home alone

I can’t deny it, there is a bit — maybe even a lot — of meanness in “You Can Make Him Like You,” but the second the full band roars back in between those first two verses, I’m gone. I’m totally and completely gone, so I’m going to make the excuse that this song is about a specific, damaged person.

You don’t have to go to the right kind of schools
Let your boyfriend come from the right kind of schools
You can wear his old sweatshirt
You can cover yourself like a bruise

For four verses, “You Can Make Him Like You” gets more and more intense, so when Franz Nicolay adds a soaring organ and piano triplets to the mix for the chorus, all I can do is sing along.

If you get tired of the the car he drives
There’s always other boys
You can make him like you
If you get tired of the music he likes
There’s always other boys
You can make him like you

At that point, the music drops into a “Candy’s Room” drumroll and piano duel for the bridge, and Finn makes one last observation:

They say you don’t have a problem
Until you start to do it alone
They say you don’t have a problem
Until you start bringing it home
They say you don’t have a problem
Until you start sleeping alone

And then, “You Can Make Him Like You” trumps itself one last time by going into a full-throated stop-time singalong of the chorus:

There’s always other boys
There’s always other boyfriends
There’s always other boys
You can make him like you
There’s always other boys
There’s always other boyfriends
There’s always other boys
You can make him like you

It’s so huge and anthemic that maybe it comes across as empowerment. After all, who wants to deal with the deals or the drivers or the status. Let him deal with all of that shit, and if he turns out to be a dud, find somebody else.

Maybe. All I know is that except for “The Swish,” the ending of “You Can Make Him Like You” is the part of any Hold Steady concert where I lose it the most, just shouting that chorus at the top of my lungs for all I’m worth.

“You Can Make Him Like You”

“You Can Make Him Like You” performed live at Glastonbury 2007

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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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