Why Publishers Should Be Thanking Mark Zuckerberg

Mark Zuckerberg

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By Cori Cagide, Publicist

The New Year marks the start of new beginnings, “new year, new you” mantras, an influx of gym memberships and an uptick of self-help books being published. New Year’s resolutions are taken pretty seriously by some, who vow to be better, work harder, work less, eat right, get in better shape, etc., with a large majority vowing to do better than last year, and an even larger majority failing to last past the first month of their promise.

Zuckerberg_The End of PowerDon’t fret – it’s not just the common folk of the world who make these resolutions, celebrities are also making promises to themselves on how they’d like to improve themselves or their lifestyles in the New Year.

Take Mark Zuckerberg, for example. For 2015, he is challenging himself to read a new book every two weeks.

He has plenty of encouragement, too – with over 30 million followers and a self-proclaimed “book club” there’s no reason the CEO/Founder of Facebook should have any qualms with completing his challenge. I mean, it’s not like he has to run a company or anything, right?

Zuckerberg announced his plan to do so on January 2nd, encouraging his massive following to join him in a Facebook group aptly named, “A Year of Books” (which has over 67,000 likes to date). According to a piece from Publisher’s Weekly, Zuckerberg says he will be selecting titles with “an emphasis on learning about different cultures, beliefs, histories and technologies.”

The first book on his list is The End of Power, by Moises Naim, which was released by Perseus in March of 2013. Although the book is almost two years old, publishers are starting to notice the effects of being a part of Zuckerberg’s book club, with the hardcover skyrocketing to #1 in all of its categories on Amazon.

Zuckerberg_OprahAccording to big players like the WSJ, The Atlantic, and the New York Times – being on Mark Zuckerberg’s book list is great for sales – and I think most would agree.

However, the question that keeps coming up is: Will Mark Zuckerberg’s “A Year of Books” be the next “Oprah’s Book Club?” Will he venture into publishing like Oprah did with Harpo? The answer seems to be an overwhelming no. It’s even gotten to the point that Zuckerberg addressed the question on his Facebook page, responding:

“Hello readers, recently I got a challenge from a member of the ‪#‎AYearOfBooks club and it said “Can you beat the popularity of Oprah’s Book Club?”. I don’t know if the number of members of a club is very important, but I had accepted that challenge and you can now find us on Twitter. Follow us here https://twitter.com/AYearOfBooks15.”

I’m curious to see how Zuckerberg will go about finishing the book. True to the typical agenda of a book club, will he open it up for discussion on the “A Year of Books” Facebook page? I was quite surprised to see that after two weeks, Zuckerberg had very little updates on the page. I’m sure his following would appreciate some type of update – what he thinks of the book, how long it took him to read, etc. Maybe that will come at the end.

But watch out, Mark. The clock is ticking. He’s just started the third week of the New Year, which means the second book for your book club. I wonder who the lucky sucker will be to not only gain one of the most famous faces in the world, but his 30,000,000+ followers as well.

Related: Facebook At Work: Will it Work?

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Why You Should Make ‘Time to Read’ on January 24

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By Nicole Martineau, Publicist

 

This past July, book lovers across America awoke to the devastating news that the popular book-giving project, World Book Night, will suspend its operations. But thanks to a recent collaboration of top literacy advocates, bookworms have a brand new reading event to look forward to.

Penguin Random House, the National Book Foundation, Mashable and GoodReads have come together to launch National Readathon Day, a “marathon reading session” set to take place on Saturday, January 24 from noon to 4:00pm EST.

During the Readathon, participants will gather and read at homes, libraries, bookstores, schools, and other venues to raise awareness of illiteracy in America and support the efforts of the National Book Foundation.  

According to the U.S. Department of Education, illiteracy is a serious problem in the United States: 14 percent of Americans, or 32 million people, cannot read. The National Book Foundation hopes to combat these alarming statistics through signature programs like BookUp, the National Book Awards, 5 Under 35, the Innovations in Reading Prize and NBA On Campus.

Advocates have been using #TimetoRead, the official hashtag of the Readathon, to spread the word on social media. According to Ad Week, as of January 16,2015, $20,000 has already been raised since the launch of the program.

So if there’s a book you’ve been itching to read, January 24 is the perfect day to start! To see a list of participating venues or to learn more about the event, visit their site here.

MEDIA CONNECT publicists will also be participating, join us on social media using #TimeToRead with your book choice and progress – we will be tweeting from @FPmediaconnect!

 

Related: World Book Night 2014 Recap

 

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Facebook at Work: Will It Work?

FacebookAtWork

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By Dee Donavanik, Publicity Director

 

This week, Facebook announced that it would be launching a new platform that aims to increase office productivity. According to the Wall Street Journal, though in the early stages and currently available to only a number of test companies, Facebook at Work is a “collaboration tool that lets colleagues communicate through a web interface or a mobile app, instead of using email… Facebook says a key feature of the app is Groups, which the company believes could replace email lists that appear never-ending and seem to grow larger with time.”

“We have found that using Facebook as a work tool makes our work day more efficient,” Lars Rasmussen, Facebook’s director of engineering, tells WIRED. “You can get more stuff done with Facebook than any other tool that we know of, and we’d like to make that available to the whole world.”

Though it has been compared to existing programs such as Yammer or Connections, Facebook at Work hopes that the Facebook platform, already familiar to its billion users, will give it an advantage amongst its competitors.

But is this enough to sway users? According to ZDNet: “unlike the social network you already know, however, it won’t have ads nor will it, Facebook promises, track your corporate user data.” However they also point out, users don’t exactly trust Facebook with their privacy anymore given its track record. So if individuals don’t trust Facebook with their personal information, why would organizations trust them with even more delicate and sensitive business data?

There are several other questions that could be raised here. Most of us have smart phones and are usually constantly checking our email anyway, so is another outlet necessary?  Even though the personal and professional networks are separate, is there any chance the information could accidentally overlap, thus revealing private details you didn’t wish to share with our colleagues?

Do we really want Facebook to know all that goes on in both our personal and professional lives? Probably not. But like or dislike, the success of Facebook at Work remains to be seen.

 

Related: Twitter: The Bookstore?

 

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2014 MEDIA CONNECT and Finn Partners Annual Holiday Parties

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Back, left to right: Anna Patrick, Cori Cagide, Emily Labes, Mick Andreano, Deborah Kohan, Steve Matteo, Karissa Hearn, Brian Feinblum, Adrienne Fontaine, and David Hahn. Front: Joy Smith, Alexandra Israel, Johanna Dickson and Lindsey Hall

 

December 12th marked the annual Finn Partners holiday party, held in the D&D building in midtown east just a short walk from the office. A gourmet pasta bar was featured, and cocktails were served.

 

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Back, left to right: Emily Labes, Karissa Hearn, Cori Cagide, Alexandra Israel, and Anna patrick. Middle: Adrienne Fontaine. Front: Lindsey Hall and Johanna Dickson

 

My favorite thing about the holiday party: Karaoke! Having the chance to get to know other people in departments. Very friendly, jovial event.

Lindsey Hall, Associate Publicist

 

The gourmet pasta bar was delicious! We all had a great time with our teammates and FP colleagues.

Karissa Hearn, Senior Publicist

 

The karaoke performances were most memorable for me. There are so many talented people in our office!

Joy Smith, Administrative Assistant

Cori Cagide and Anna Patrick

Cori Cagide and Anna Patrick

 

A fun night had by all! The photo booth was my favorite, we felt that we had to top last year’s group photo and I think it’s safe to say that we did! It was great to catch up with everyone outside of the office, get dressed up, and enjoy wonderful food.

Anna Patrick, Digital Publicist

 

The photo booth is always a great time, and there’s never dull moment when a microphone and karaoke system is readily available to the talented group at FP.

Cori Cagide, Publicist

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Clifford The Big Red Dog Outlives His Creator, But Not Our Imaginations

Clifford

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By Brian Feinblum, Chief Marketing Officer

 

Norman Bridwell, creator of lovable children’s book series Clifford the Big Red Dog, died at the age of 86 early this year. Dozens of his books have been published since the first one launched over a half-century ago, in 1963.

Could a dog be big enough so that its owner – a little girl – could ride him? Sure, when you are about the size of a house!

Through he was clumsy and had a tendency to dig things up, the affectionate dog embodied kindness and playfulness. The four-legged creature became a friend to several generations of children, including my two young children.

The New York Times reports that over 129 million copies have been sold.  The books led to an animated TV series and a full-length animated film.

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Video’s Failed Assassination Attempt on the Radio Star

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By Emily Labes, Associate Publicist

 

It seems that every time there is some major technological advancement in broadcast media, there’s always that one guy who pipes up and says: “I’m curious to see how this [insert catchy name of newfangled app or device here] will affect the radio industry.” This is almost always inevitably followed by that other guy, who knowingly replies: “Well, radio is a dying medium anyway.”

Is it, though?

While smug guy and even smugger guy might be content with this resolution and ready to turn their conversation to more pressing topics, perhaps they should look at all the facts first, or more specifically, one incredibly statistically significant fact: terrestrial radio reaches roughly 9/10 of the American population each week.

According to the Pew Research Center, in 2013, 91 percent of Americans over the age of 12 reported listening to the radio at least once a week. This number dropped a mere 1 percent from 2012, when 92 percent of Americans heard AM/FM radio each week. In fact, although there has been some fluctuation, this number has remained virtually unchanged for the last decade.

This data doesn’t even take satellite radio, online radio, and podcasts into consideration. Sirius XM subscriptions now sit at a hefty 26.3 million, up from 25.6 million in 2013. Given that many of these subscriptions likely belong to families of two or more people, it’s pretty safe to assume that there are at least twice as many listeners as there are subscribers.

Internet radio is, unsurprisingly, on the rise as well. Edison Research reports that 47 percent of Americans over the age of 12 currently tune in to internet radio at least once a month (up 2 percent from 2013), with 36 percent of Americans listening to internet radio each week. Terrestrial radio stations are starting to take notice of this trend. WGN-AM, the #1 News/Talk station in Chicago, with 1,085,800 estimated listeners, recently launched a .fm station, in lieu of an FM counterpart.

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Twitter: The Bookstore?

TwitterBookstore

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Dee Donavanik, Publicity Director

 

If you have a thought you feel the need to impulsively share, where do you go? Twitter!

If you see something you need to impulsively purchase, where do you go? A physical store perhaps, if you need to have it this very minute. Maybe Amazon or another online marketplace if you can wait for it to get shipped (only two days, if you’re a Prime subscriber!). And now, perhaps, also Twitter!

Publishing house Hachette recently announced that it will be partnering with Gumroad  to allow select authors to sell their books directly through their Twitter accounts.  According to Michael Pietsch, CEO of Hachette Book Group:

With so much of our book marketing done socially now, in-stream Twitter purchasing is a natural next step. Gumroad’s success working with music labels and artists to enable sales to fans, and their partnership with Twitter, put them at the forefront of social media commerce. (via Publisher’s Weekly)

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Book By Former New York City Mayor Highlights New York Nuggets Of Wisdom

NYCbooks

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By Brian Feinblum, Chief Marketing Officer

 

In a visit this past week to a Barnes & Noble store on 82nd Street and Broadway, near the heart of the Upper West Side, I found myself doing what I love best to do in a bookstore. I strolled across the shelves and let the books speak to me. I’d see a random cover and pull the book off the shelf, contemplating its adoption. I repeated this act dozens of times. To do just that, without reading or buying a book, is an act of fulfillment. I’ve been doing this my whole life and few other experiences equal the satisfaction this delivers.

Don’t get me wrong, eating chocolate, reading The New York Post, or watching Zach Wheeler pitch for the Mets could rival or exceed the act of browsing books, but the open discovery of ideas and knowledge one comes across by walking just a few feet is really amazing.

I ended up pulling a half-dozen books off the shelf for further skimming. I looked through them as I sat in the upstairs café and imbibed on green tea that was accompanied by a triple chocolate brownie. The first book I examined was The Little Red Book of New York Wisdom.

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What Does the Success of ‘Serial’ Mean for the Future of Traditional Radio?

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By Nicole Martineau, Publicist

 

Podcasts have been around for years, but none in recent memory have been able to generate as much buzz as Serial, a record-breaking nonfiction crime drama created and brilliantly hosted by This American Life producer Sarah Koenig. This addicting multi-episode podcast re-examines the 1999 murder of a Maryland teenager and the eventual conviction of her ex-boyfriend.

In a recent New York Times piece, columnist David Carr reports that since its debut in October, Serial has been streamed or downloaded for free on iTunes more than five million times and averages over 1.5 million listeners per episode, a number This American Life took four years to reach.

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2015 Book Trends To Watch For

2015 Trends

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By Cori Cagide, Publicist

 

A recent post on Huffington Post Books had me reminiscing on some of the interesting trends I’ve witnessed in the world of books over the last year. I think we’re finally beyond vampires and werewolves, and barely made it through that random Amish vampire thriller stage that had floated around as a potential trend for 2014.

GirlOnline2014 seemed to be the year of books-to-movies, particularly dystopian thrillers – we had The Hunger Games 3, the first of the Divergent series and others that made it to the box office this past year and proved to be wildly successful yet again (even more of a reason for them to continue splitting up series into more and more movies to spin into cinema gold). It was also the year of short stories that help to bridge some gaps in the book, or in the case of some, keep readers from going insane until the release of the next book in the series. Veronica Roth’s Four proved to be wildly successful, and many other authors have followed suit.

We also saw a lot of political and presidential theme books, timed perfectly with the November election. It was also the year of the rising YouTube stars – Michelle Phan’s “Makeup” and Grace Helbig’s “Grace’s Guide: The Art of Pretending to Be a Grownup” were published in October. “The Pointless Book” by 21-year-old YouTube star Alfie Deyes hit shelves in September and his girlfriend and fellow YouTube celeb Zoe Sugg’s book, “Girl Online,” was published in November and became a bestseller almost instantly.

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