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Out of Our Minds
Monday, May 01, 2006 9:02 AM
Brewing up a Bestseller
Anita Sharpe on Business

Starbucks has hired a talent agency to help it find movie and book projects to distribute through its more than 7,000 stores. If its success with music is any indication -- Starbucks sold 3.5 million CDs in fiscal 2005 -- the java joint might well become one of the most powerful book publishers in the world. Indeed, Chairman Howard Schultz says his company isn't just looking to sell books produced by existing publishers. "I want to bring books to the marketplace that perhaps can't be found,"Schultz told the New York Times. "There is no reason to believe we can't be a self-publisher."
Take this to its logical conclusion: any company/entity that is both a.) trusted as a tastemaker and b.)has a big distribution channel can become an important entertainment packager. So what does this mean for the Web? With the unlimited distribution and shelf-space capability of the Intermet, does this mean that well-trafficked blogs will start aligning with authors, musicians and filmmakers? Are we all potential media moguls?
And if so, is this more exciting or jarring?


Alexandra Levit - 5/2/2006 1:40:48 PM
This is just another example of the drastic change old-school publishing is undergoing. Last week, during the Harvard student plagiarism scandal, we saw how traditional publishing house editors are now taking a backseat to marketing-savvy book packagers, who sell and promote a book based on its concept rather than its inherent literary value. Starbucks, with its Internet marketing chops and worldwide brand, is the perfect company to bring book publishing into the 21st century.
Eric - 5/1/2006 2:19:17 PM
I think what's developing is actually the reverse of what you've stated where authors, musicians, filmmakers, and other product and service companies will align with well-trafficked blogs and other social commentary on the Web to create more traction for their work, products and services. The movement of the Internet toward "Web 2.0" points to the creation and growth of "citizen journalists," where the voices of consumers become as important as the media’s voice to companies or individuals building momentum around their products and services. This is an exciting time, because finally consumers can and will be heard. It will be up to companies to make the critical decision to embrace and re-align with them or suffer. I think it also provides more opportunity for independent authors and musicians to really have their creations heard even when the major publishers and record labels don't see the value. I believe we’re at a point to usher the return of the consumer voice, and it's up to consumers to not only recognize it but also capture the moment.
Joe Kasich - 5/1/2006 1:01:00 PM
This scares me a bit. Does anyone else think Starbucks' full-court press for that Akeelah spelling movie has been obnoxious and in your face? Every Starbucks seems to have promotion after promotion of the movie. Seating reserved for "Spelling Bee champions", words of the day, cards everywhere, spelling on the sleeves. ENOUGH ALREADY. Honestly, it made me go from wanting to see the movie (I liked the trailer) to wanting to see it flop enormously so I would have to endure this promotional crap again.
Catherine Howell - 5/1/2006 12:55:17 PM
I don't see why not. We already are influential with our friends, that's why we're already being recruited to "buzz market". So if we can figure out how to use those connections to make money, I think most of us will. But it has to be legitimate, I think. In other words, if my friends know I'm pitching stuff just to make money, they will stop trusting me. But if they know I might make money on things I truly believe, I don't think they'd push back much. Then again, I don't have a well-trafficked blog. Those, I think could be tastemakers today.
Jean Peelen - 5/1/2006 9:56:57 AM
This is WONDERFUL! How, when, where are my questions.


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