Video content has reached its pinnacle as a key source of content, in both the consumer and business world. YouTube is now the second most popular search engine behind Google, beating out Bing and Yahoo. Why? Because of the popularity of video as the vehicle of easy consumption.
Soundview began dipping a toe into the pool of video production several years ago with our Executive Insights interviews. These interviews with business people “in the trenches” has become a very popular download on our site as part of the Premium Subscription.
Recently we introduced our Smarttips videos to the marketplace. These short (3-5 minute) videos focus in on one specific skill, and have grown to a library of over 300 titles. This really fits the recent video trend, because who wants to read a whole book on a topic like management, when all you really need to know is how to run a meeting.
With the SmartTips videos, you can watch that short video on running meetings and you’ve got all the information you need, instead of digging through a whole book in hopes of finding the information you need.
This fits with Soundview’s goal over the past 35 years of providing business information condensed down to the key ideas and principles, to save busy business people time. Whether its book summaries, author webinars or SmartTips videos, our aim is to be the business world’s partner in time-saving resources.
There has been a surge of new tablet announcements lately. Kobo rushed out four new versions (Glo, Mini, Touch and Arc) to beat Amazon to the punch with their announcement of the Kindle Paperwhite and Kindle Fire HD. And both of these companies are in a race to grab market share from the recently introduced iPad with Retina Display, the Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1, the Barnes&Noble Nook Color and Nook Touch with Glowlight and the Google Nexus 7.
How a person decides which one of these tablets to buy is becoming a daunting task, especially since many of the tablets also have various screen sizes, screen types, functionality and wireless access options. CNET posted a great article last month taking consumers through the choices and options, but unfortunately it didn’t include the latest models from Kobo and Amazon.
What it really comes down to is how and where you’re going to use your tablet. If you just want to read books and newspapers, then you’re best off going with the Amazon Kindle or B&N Nook e-readers. If you want to browse the internet, watch movies, play games and more, then you want the iPad, Galaxy Tab 10.1 or Google Nexus 7, and if you want a device with some of the benefits of both, then you have the Kindle Fire and Nook Color in the middle.
Having all of these choices has also become a challenge for content publishers like Soundview. Our solution has been to develop and adjust our available formats to work with most devices, while launching apps specifically for iOS and Android devices.
What does the future hold? Most likely, over time some manufacturers are going to lose market share to the point that they drop out of the mix (BlackBerry?). And when the dust settles let’s hope we have a few clear options with standards for content formats. Consumers deserve to be able to purchase content from any source, and have access to it no matter what device they’re using. We’ll see if this is just a pie-in-the-sky wish or not.
In a recent article in Wired, Clive Thompson writes about “The Slipping Point: Why everything you know about the counterintuitive big idea is wrong. Maybe.”
In his article, Thompson points to the trend in books which basically tell us that everything we know is wrong. He raises two possible conclusions: 1. “When you live with an ever-expanding surplus of research and factoids, it may paradoxically make you increasingly unmoored from what you actually believe – so you’ll swallow anything,” Or 2. “Perhaps our willingness to have basic beliefs overturned is a sign of intellectual health.”
Well, I hope that the reality is #2! We have noticed this same trend in the books that we summarize and review here at Soundview. Thompson mentioned three of the books that we’ve summarized; Talent is Overratedby Geoff Colvin, The Upside of Irrationalityby Dan Ariely, and Drive by Daniel Pink. Here are some other recent titles that also fit this mold:
Perhaps it does take something completely counterintuitive to get our attention these days. But I think that at the core these titles demonstrate that the world is changing radically and swiftly. We must reconsider all of our assumptions about business and be willing to try radically different solutions in order to succeed in this ever-changing world.
While there are basic business principles that don’t change, that list is becoming shorter with the proliferation of online business, mobile access and an interconnected world. Our business model here at Soundview has changed completely in the last 10 years and we continue to adjust to the ever-changing needs of our clients. It’s the only way to survive. So don’t ignore those counterintuitive book titles!
For those who have not been keeping up on the big news in the e-book publishing industry, the DOJ (Department of Justice) recently brought a lawsuit against the 5 big publishers and Apple for price-fixing, based on their agreement to use the “agency” price model. The publishers made this move to gain back control of pricing from Amazon and it worked.
This story has quite a lengthy and complex history, which Charles Stross does a great job of explaining in detail in his blog of April 14th. One of Stross’ points is that publishers got themselves into this mess with Amazon by insisting on DRM (digital rights management) protection for their books.
Publishers were concerned about the pirating of their books, but in the process of protecting the content they made it much harder for customers to consume the books they had purchased on the device they preferred. So Amazon gained a monopoly by developing the Kindle and locking books to one device.
Years ago, when Soundview began publishing business book summaries in digital form, we had this discussion about DRM as well. We researched software, devices and customer preferences and came to the conclusion that what’s best for our customers was to provide them with summaries in as many formats as possible to provide them with flexibility. Could someone take advantage of the lack of DRM protection? Certainly, but we believed that what’s best for the customer would also be best for us in the long run.
This has indeed proven to be the case as this flexibility has allowed us to move quickly to provide our book summaries in formats for the latest devices for individuals, and to provide our content in the ways that work for our corporate clients as well.
Let’s hope that publishers learn this lesson soon before they’re put out of business by competitors who are willing to adapt.
I won’t detail the whole history of Soundview Executive Book Summariessince our beginnings back in 1978, but suffice it to say that we’ve learned a lot about business content summarization over the past 34 years.
While technology has changed; from paper, to cassette tape, to CD, and then on to digital formats like PDF, MP3, EPub and Apps – the two core advantages of concentrated knowledge have not. What all executives need is dependable content they can get through quickly, while retaining the key information.
Dependable Content – the proliferation of content on the internet has made it almost impossible to know when information is of high quality and from trustworthy sources. In a recent study by Bersin Research, they concluded that content libraries like Soundview’s “take much of the guesswork out of finding quality on-demand content.”
Our editorial staff reviews the books of all the major business publishers, and many smaller ones as well, to find books to then recommend to our professional review board. They choose the titles that meet our high standards to become among the 30 best business books of the year.
Retaining Key Information – When reading an entire book, it’s difficult to find and retain the key points that can really make a difference to your business. Research done at Carnegie Mellon soon after Soundview began publishing book summaries demonstrated that information gained from reading a summary was more easily retained for a longer period of time then the same information in a book.
Our summaries condense 250 to 600 pages of a typical business book down to an 8 page text and 20 minute audio summary. This enables busy executives to get the key ideas of a book quickly and retain those ideas long enough to do something with them.
Of course time doesn’t stand still, and so now we’ve entered into a period where more business people are choosing to learn from video. To enhance the summarization experience, we’ve added video introductions to our summaries for the iPad format, plus a new video series called Executive Insights which interviews executives that are out in the trenches of American companies practicing what our summaries teach.
If you haven’t already, take a minute to sample one of our summaries for free. Try it on your computer, smartphone, tablet or e-reader and let us know what you think. We’re always working to meet the changing needs of busy executives.