Strong opinions, weakly held

Tag: publishing

Right justified text is coming

First, Blaine Cook says that ragged right is an abomination. Now Tim Bray jumps on board. Have I been conditioned by reading things on screen for so many years to prefer the old ragged right treatment? Will all of us soon be updating our blogs to hyphenate and justify our text? If I were going to go that route, I’d probably have to switch back to a serif font. I think that sans serif and right justified just look wrong together.

The Atlantic doesn’t get blogging

I’ve always been impressed with the stable of bloggers The Atlantic has amassed. There are some who I actively avoid, but it’s an impressive group overall. The latest redesign shows that whoever was in charge really doesn’t understand what’s good about a good blog. Take a look at this post from Ta-Nehisi Coates explaining to readers just what happened. Coates used to have a blog that had his posts listed in reverse chronological order, just like this one. Now he’s got what amounts to a category page on the Culture channel. I think that multi-author blogs are kind of iffy anyway, and diluting the pure voice of Coates (or any other blogger) in this way is very likely to kill their readership entirely.

The other bloggers at The Atlantic have weighed in as well, and they’re not too happy (with good reason). Here’s James Fallows and here’s Andrew Sullivan.

I’m sure that theory was that mixing up blog posts with all sorts of other content would give more exposure to the magazine content, but what it winds up doing is driving away the readers who wanted a quick fix from whichever blogger they were reading. This is especially true for the blogs that supported commenters. Any dedicated community of regulars is likely to just dissolve when subjected to changes like the ones The Atlantic has imposed. What they’re liable to wind up with is a group of commenters that are more like the ones you see on newspaper Web sites — committed cranks, total morons, and drive-by ranters who lower the value of the site every time they push the submit button.

Next we see how The Atlantic does damage control.

More on the state of publishing

Last week I made a flip remark about 10k forms in linking to Tim O’Reilly’s comments on Amazon.com competing with publishers. I wanted to link to his post again and urge you to skip down and read Tim’s responses to commenters to get a better idea of exactly what he’s talking about.

Tim points out that right now, there are only three wholesale buyers of computer books, and two of them are ceding a large part of the market to the third. Here’s his example:

Let me give you an example of how today’s much more consolidated marketplace makes it harder to place publishing bets. Borders and B&N have largely thrown in the towel on many high end books, saying “Amazon’s going to get that business anyway.” So they’ve shrunk their computer book sections, and are taking zero copies of important books, even from important publishers like us. We recently told them of our plans for a Hadoop book for instance, and both B&N and Borders said they won’t carry it. That leaves us with Amazon. Amazon will pre-order only a couple of hundred copies.

I’ve had to fight with my publishing team to get this book approved, since they’re worried that they won’t make back the investment it will take to bring it to market. It’s a lot easier to be sure of making money on a book like Mac OS X: The Missing Manual, to which the chains will commit an advance order of thousands of copies. Now that’s also good publishing, but you can see how the opportunities are shrinking.

© 2024 rc3.org

Theme by Anders NorenUp ↑