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Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Barnes & Noble Changes The eReader/eBook Game Again With Nookcolor!

Yesterday Barnes & Noble announced it's latest eReader option with Nookcolor.  This new device is a full 7" color touch screen focused on reading ebooks, newspapers, and magazines.  Since it is a color touch screen, it adds in the ability for full web browsing capabilities.  This new option now fills the gap for those who want easy access to a vast selection of ebooks, a good reading experience, and more functionality at an affordable price ($249.00). It's available for pre-order and plans to ship on 11/19/10.

The device is WiFi only and comes loaded with 8GB of memory that can be expanded to 32GB.  That kind of storage can hold thousands of ebooks plus photos and music.  The WiFi only was a great decision to keep the cost down and since so many wifi locations are available these days, 3G isn't always necessary. The only downfall is battery life decreases to 8 hours and is not accessible like in Nook 3G and Nook Wifi.  Then again, the battery is also not accessible in the Kindle or iPad.

So why is this a game changer in the world of eBooks?  First of all, you have to look at the availability of ebooks themselves for a device.  Barnes and Noble provides the largest and most powerful ebook store in the industry.  By using a standard format for the ebooks (epub) and a strong relationship with publishers, they are able to offer a huge selection (over 2 million and counting) plus other sources such as Google Books (which is fed right into the B&N ebook store).  All of which can be delivered to the device without the need to hook up to a computer using the wifi signal (or the 3G signal in the Nook 3G).

Second, the Nookcolor option fills the gap for readers that has existed between eink displays and emerging tablets while still keeping the price affordable.  Currently, consumers wanting the ability to read ebooks and also want multi-function ability are looking at devices like the iPad which starts at $499.  Nookcolor provides similar functionality at a much lower price.

Third, the tablet format of Nookcolor also provides new options for certain books that do not work well in the eink display such as children's picture books and newsstand magazines and newspapers.  Barnes and Noble is unleashing Nookbooks (B&N's new name for ebooks) for kids which will offer thousands of interactive children's titles.  They are also releasing Nooknewsstand which will provide readers with digital versions of newspapers and magazines in full color with a rich reading experience.

If no one has noticed (which it seems many haven't); Amazon has been playing follow-the-leader with B&N over the past year with price drops, a new wifi version of the Kindle, and now a lending feature.  Amazon's biggest barrier is its insistence on using their own unique file format for ebooks (Kindle Books) and the blocking of the epub format which keeps their selection at a fraction of what B&N offers.  So the release of Nookcolor will definitely be interesting to see what Amazon does.  Likewise, B&N also announced that Nooks will now be the exclusive ereader devices sold in Books-a-Million's 229 stores as well as Best Buy and Wal-Mart.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Multiple Social Networking Accounts For Business & How do I Manage Them All?

You're not alone if you're thinking that this world of online social networking has been moving at lightning pace around you.  New services pop up almost daily with others seeing success leaving you wondering how they are doing it.  You may have even signed up for several accounts and are wondering what to do next (and you'll need presence on multiple services).  It's pretty common, and here's some tips to get you on the right path.
  1. Know your business mission and customer base first.  With out knowing these two components, you are basically getting in the car and driving with no idea where you are going.  Your mission will tell you why you are engaging in social networking.  It will also direct you how to use the services.  Your customer base will tell where to be and which ones are the best for your business.  Utilize Quantcast for rough demographic and user trends for data on the various services you are exploring. 
  2. Set up a plan like any other marketing and advertising you do. The biggest difference here is that unlike traditional promotions that you put out over lengthier time frames, you'll want to be actively engaged on a more regular basis.  For example, Facebook fan pages should be updated routinely (daily).  
  3. Advertising is not so direct.  Although the foundation of using these systems is about promoting your business, it's not always about direct advertising.  For example, a blog is best used to convey your expertise or expert insight into your industry.  Facebook pages that ask questions and solicit responses from participants are a better strategy.  Mentioning your promotions or services within these mechanisms is ok, but it shouldn't be the main focus. 
  4. Don't be afraid to experiment.  These services are unlike anything most have ever engaged in before.  Who would of ever thought that telling others where you were through location-based services such as Foursquare would have ever been popular with people?  Who would have ever thought you could offer a benefit to people who do that a lot (i.e. the coveted Mayor badge)?  We didn't.  But people are using these services like crazy.  The great thing about services is that you can test them for free using personal accounts to see how they work and how others are using them.  Now you have real insight to develop the best plan for an effective launch.
  5. Look at what the competition is doing.  The easy thing to do is to look at the major competition which are often the ones doing the same or more business than you.  But don't disregard smaller competitors.  They may be building a good online strategy that can creep up and grab market share from you out of no where.  The benefit is you can learn from you competition and you can see what they are doing a lot easier than you ever could before.
So now you are set up on all of these services and are probably thinking how one can actually maintain all of these without going crazy.  There are couple of stand-alone applications which allow you to manage multiple social networking accounts all in one spot.  My two favorite are:
  1. HootSuite - Not only can you manage mutliple accounts such as Twitter, Facebook (including Facebook Pages), Foursquare, and LinkedIn; this app adds in data for links you share through the service.  Plus it allows you to schedule tweets to be sent in advance.  And, yup, there's a mobile app for the service as well.
  2. Tweetdeck - Again, this standalone application allows you to manage multiple accounts all in one spot.  The layout is nice with customizable stream columns.  And, again, they have mobile applications for use as well.  
Check out the above two applications and I guarantee you'll see a huge difference in trying manage an online social strategy.  In fact, what you thought was work, I'll bet you'll begin having a lot of fun with while also building a solid presence online.    

      Thursday, October 14, 2010

      Shopping Savvy This Holiday With Mobile Tech

      Mobile devices are changing the way we do things everyday.  They are also providing shoppers with more information to make better decisions.  One of my favorite mobile applications is Shop Savvy by Big In Japan, Inc.  
      Shop Savvy makes use of your iPhone or Android mobile phone's camera allowing the user to scan barcodes.  Once you scan the barcode on a product, within seconds it provides you with the price of the product locally and on the web.  The shopper can then check with the store they are in to see if they price match or make a decision to purchase elsewhere.  While in a store the other day, I was shopping for an all-in-one laser printer.  I scanned the barcode with the Shop Savvy app and saw that the product was being offered for $30 less at a competitor.  I asked the clerk if they price matched and showed the information on my phone.  They gave me the printer for the lower price.
      Sacn Me
      Scan Me With The Shop Savvy App

      Shop Savvy also can be used to scan QR Codes.  If you are not familiar with QR codes, see my blog post on that topic.  These images are showing up on products, signs, and other places.  Once you scan them with the Shop Savvy app you can get more information on a product, discounts, contact information, so forth and so on.  The great thing is that by using Shop Savvy you only need one app, which is FREE, for multiple purposes.

      So while you are out this upcoming Christmas season and shopping, put that smartphone to work and do some Savvy Shopping.

      Wednesday, October 13, 2010

      Adventure Racing coming to Palm Coast this weekend – October 16th

      A recent visit to Kevin Mims' Blog  announces that the Princess Place Preserve will be site of the Pangea Adventure Race event on Saturday, October 16.  Mims is a former IT guy who decided that he’d rather be on the road than at a desk. 

      He is a freelance writer for Visit Florida, the state’s official tourism marketing corporation.  Mims’ specialty is Outdoors and Nature.   He spends his time exploring Florida and keeping the rest of us in the loop by blogging and posting to Twitter and Facebook among other places.  He also shoots video that is part of the Visit Florida Outdoors and Nature.

      According to a recent post on his blog, Pangea Adventure Racing will be putting on the LighterKnot AR at Flagler County's Princess Place Preserve this Saturday (10/16/10).  Those of us that are lucky enough to live here know all about this 1,500-acre tract of land that was once home to a Russian princess.    For the rest of our readers that may be unfamiliar with this amazing spectacle of Nature, suffice to say that aside from the history there, you will find this to be one of the most beautiful places to hike, camp and paddle.  This week’s LighterKnot Adventure Race brings those activities together with two separate racing categories - a 4-hour sprint or a 8-hour elite event. 

      A visit to Mims' blog will enlighten you about why he is so excited about this race at Princess Place.  He will also be on hand this weekend to film video of the event.  This will be great exposure for our area so be sure to check it out if you can and either get involved or support the teams!

      Watch for a link to the video in a future post.  In the meantime, visit Pangea Adventure 2010 Race Calendar to view and register for other upcoming events.
      So what exactly is Pangea Adventure Racing??
      Adventure Racing is one of the fastest growing sports in the world, engaging all of your senses.  It will push you, both mentally and physically, to reach new heights.  According to the Pangea Adventure Racing site this sport,
      "commands full engagement of all your senses. It pushes your mental and physical abilities, and it fulfills a deep yearning for total immersion in the raw elements of the wild. Join the casual gym-goers, outdoor adventurers, elite athletes, and triathletes who are making the cross-over to adventure racing. Be warned: this sport is highly addictive!  Check out our 2010 Race Calendar for all upcoming Florida races. Register early and save!"
      This is about team-building rather than being super fast.  So don't be afraid to join in the fun by getting a team together and help show off our very own Princess Place Preserve!
      Princess Place Preserve is located at 2500 Princess Place Rd., Palm Coast, FL.  Map it here  Google | MapQuest | Bing | Yahoo!
      Contact the park at 386-313-4020.  See the lodge tour here Princess Place Preserve Video Lodge Tour

      Friday, October 8, 2010

      Book Publishing Made Anew: Pubit!

      Most people in the book world will tell you that the publishing world has not really changed much in the last 100 years or more.  In fact, many of the same debates between publishers, distributors, and booksellers that existed then . . . continue today.  In the middle of all of that is the author.  The actual creator of the content.  Experienced authors know the barriers they face in actually getting the book to readers.  Not only is it costly to actually publish the book, but there is the difficult challenge of actually getting the book on shelves in stores.  But like any problem, there is a solution waiting to be applied.  And along comes . . . ebooks.

      Not only are ebooks revolutionizing the way we read books, but they are revolutionizing the way books are published and sold to readers.  They are breaking down almost every barrier authors have experienced over the years.  Barnes and Noble, for example, just launched Pubit!.  This is an exciting new publishing model for writers that allows them to upload their book, have it converted to the .epub format (quickly becoming the standard ebook file format), and it is available to the masses within a day or two through Barnes and Noble's ebook store.  The author gets paid a portion of the sales and has access to sales reporting for their book.  Up until now, nothing like this has existed in the traditional publishing world.  

      So how can this new publishing avenue be used?  There are several new opportunities this type of publishing open up for authors. 
      1. Self-Publishing Authors - Rather than pay out a lot of money to produce a print book, self-publishing authors can go straight to ebook with no out-of-pocket costs.  The challenge of trying to get one's book on 'store shelves' is also eliminated since the ebook is available on the same virtual store shelf as every other author in Barnes and Noble's ebook store.  
      2.  Authors Seeking To 'Test' a New Book - Maybe you had an idea for a new character or story line that is different than what you've done before, straight-to-ebook provides a great opportunity to get the book into the hands of readers who can give feedback.  Or perhaps this is the first time writing a book and the author now has an opportunity to test out both the book itself and various marketing strategies without the expense.  Then go to print after raising some money and maybe making some changes based upon feedback.
      3. Students and Teachers - A few years ago I had a teacher in the area who compiled classwork from his various English Class students into a book.  He used the book as an educational experience to teach the students about creating the work to publishing to selling.  Great idea too.  Now teachers can do the same thing with ebooks or perhaps a student wants to create a book of fiction, poetry, short stories that they've written and publish it as an ebook for a project.  Or maybe the student just wants to publish their own book.  Now they can without the expense and hassles of before.  
      I'm sure there are many other ways authors can use this new model to get their work out i front of readers.  What do you think? 

      Tuesday, October 5, 2010

      Breast Cancer Fundraiser at the beach - Saturday October 9th

      Derelict Productions and the Pink Army at Florida Hospital Flagler will sponsor a fundraiser for breast cancer on Saturday night, October 9th  at the 14th Street Beach south of the Flagler Beach Pier  The fun begins at 6:00 p.m. and will last until???
      All ages welcome.

      This event will  be the final gathering of the season for Derelict Productions.  This fun-loving bunch brings together food, entertainment and fun at the beach. Now you have a whole new reason to get your beach burn on: Saving lives!! With the help of the Pink Army at Florida Hospital Flagler, they are turning this season's last burn into a Pink Party!

      For those of you unfamiliar with Derelict Productions,  Greg Starr and  Michael  “Skip” Van Nieuwenhoven started this group earlier this year,  and it has grown into something beyond their expectations.  They call their bonfire-get-togethers “Flagler Beach Burns” and appropriately so. 

      What started out as just a bunch of people having fun turned into a regular event every couple of weeks at the beach.  This last get-together takes it one step further by their collaboration with the Pink Army at Florida Hospital Flagler as they strive to contribute to the cause of fighting breast cancer.

      So dig into your pockets, grab your pink shirts, pink socks, pink everything and join everyone on the beach for good times, great food, and to help spread raise money to fight breast cancer while we raise awareness and promote education about the disease.

      Starr says, “ as October is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month, we felt it was an appropriate way to funnel our energy and have fun while doing something that feels great in helping the community – both locally and world-wide.”

      See you there and help us Find the Cure!


      The Florida Hospital Flagler Foundation is sponsoring a Saving Lives donation event from October 18-22 at participating restaurants in and around our area.  You will help the fight against breast cancer just by dining out for lunch or dinner at the participating restaurants.  Please visit or call 386-586-4440 for more information.  Co sponsors: Beach 92.7, Flagler County Chamber of Commerce and WNZF News Radio.

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