It should come as no surprise to anyone that there is a mention of Apple CEO Steve Jobs in nearly every book Soundview Executive Book Summaries receives about leadership. Jobs is one of the handful of American business icons of the past 50 years and dozens of business authors use examples from his and Apple’s success to illustrate a variety of strategies and principles. In a time period when all eyes are already on Jobs due to his recent medical leave of absence, the famed CEO will come under increased scrutiny as a result of a U.S. Magistrate Judge ruling that lawyers in an anti-trust case have a right to question Jobs. The case deals with accusations that Apple created a monopoly by blocking music purchased from RealNetworks from being played on Apple’s iPod. Here’s an interesting article dealing with the case.
As I looked at the photo included in this story, it made me reflect on our Soundview Live event with Nancy Duarte last week. The photo in the news story is from one of Apple’s product launches (and from the looks of it, it was taken awhile ago). In Duarte’s book Resonate: Presenting Visual Stories that Transform Audiences, she points to Jobs’ presentations during these launches, particularly the Macbook Air and the iPhone, as being some of the best examples of using the power of story in a presentation.
One of the key phrases that propels Diamond’s book is “If you come to a negotiation expecting a war, you will get one.” Also, Diamond points out, you will get less from the negotiation. This notion moves negotiation into the realm of a collaborative endeavor where both parties attempt to reach a mutually beneficial solution. There are no victors or vanquished in Diamond’s world. The book contains some memorable stories of successful, positive negotiations. One of the most impressive is Diamond’s own foray into the jungles of Bolivia. He successfully negotiated with native farmers to forgo planting and harvesting the coca plant (used in the production of cocaine) and instead replace it with bananas. Diamond crossed cultural, economic and potentially life-threatening lines to undertake this negotiation. It’s an impressive feat that fits perfectly into Diamond’s book.
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This little news item certainly got the attention of all of us in the publishing arena. The Wall Street Journalreported today that two publishers are planning to delay the release of electronic book versions of top-selling titles. The e-books will appear after the initial release of the hardcover version of the book.
The two issues raised by the WSJ article (price and speed of delivery) are certain to spark discussions by both industry insiders and the book-reading public. I was particularly struck by the notion of e-books creating a new pricing model in publishing. As the article alludes, the music industry experienced this shift a few years ago. While iTunes has adjusted its prices recently, its original pricing strategy did two things: it caused a shift in the price-point from $15 for a compact disc to 99 cents for a single track, and it also caused the entire music market to return to a single-song focus instead of albums. Single songs hadn’t been the dominant format since the early days of the 45 rpm record.
While we aren’t likely to see people paying 99 cents for individual chapters of a book, there is growing concern that consumers will latch on to a $9.99 price for e-books and refuse to accept another format at a higher price. This would expedite the decrease in hardback sales. Since hardback books generally sell for nearly three times the amount of an e-book, the decision to withhold the digital version may simply be an act of self-preservation on the part of book publishers.
However, everyone loves a good conspiracy theory, so I’ll close with this thought. Type “iPad” into Google News (or just click this link) and see what some speculate is the real reason publishers are waiting to launch digital versions of their most popular titles.