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David Barnes
Product Manager, Packt Publishing
Product Manager, Packt Publishing

David's posts

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Speed is the new king on the web. Here's how Patrick Hamann cut Guardian load times from 8 seconds to 1.

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Want to learn Polymer? I'm working on a book to help. Sign up here and you'll get free content and updates as we write it.

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Selfie journalism

People moan about selfies showing us how self centred we've all begun. But photography has always been a self directed medium -- something we use to canonize our own personal experiences or our own moments -- births, weddings, holidays, or wild nights out. The selfie is just the next logical step.

When an internationally respected newspaper's most popular piece of content is an interactive quiz about the reader's identity, you have to wonder what's happening to news. It turns out that whatever's happening in the world, there is nothing so fascinating as ourselves.

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Are Americans really paying 10x more for an ebook than us Brits?

Short answer: NO. The data looks at purchases on a price comparison site, and doesn't tell us much at all about the behavior of the typical consumer.

Over the weekend a Boing Boing article did the rounds. It looked at book pricing and purchase data in the US and the UK and came to a surprising conclusion: In the US, the "revenue maximizing" price for a typical ebook is about $10. In the UK, it is about $1.

So... what does the analysis mean for pricing ebooks? How should you address these two big English-speaking markets?

First, he analysis is not based on a random or representative sample of ebook buyers. Instead it comes from ebook price comparison site, Luzme ( Thus we are looking at a particularly price sensitive group of customers here -- customers who will shop around for a bargain, and not commit to any one platform.

The ebook business in the UK appears to have more variable pricing, meaning that shopping around is rewarded more. Luzme's own analysis pointed to this... but until you realize that they're a price comparison site it doesn't make much sense, because most people don't shop around for ebooks. But for those that do, the degree of bargain available is larger in the UK.

If you use Luzme in the US right now, the "best price" for the 5 best selling books listed on the homepage would be 42% less than the 5th best price. So, by shopping around you could save 42%.

But the UK version of the site offers you 64% off compared to the 5th best... saving half as much again.

Luzme's data showing Britain's love of a bargain needs to be treated with caution. What it actually shows is that British users of Luzme save more than American users. In the UK, it pays to shop around for ebooks.

The data doesn't tell us the optimum list price for a book in either market. It does tell us that some people will pay a high price, and lots people will pay a low price. If you can find a way to sell high most of the time, and cut the price low occasionally for everybody else, you get the best of both worlds.

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Should you publish your ebook as a Kindle ebook, or DRM-free on the web?

Paul Jarvis offers a thorough discussion of the pros and cons. In summary:

- Publishing on Kindle is much easier. If you want to focus on writing your book and getting it out there rather than promoting and supporting it, choose this.
- Online sales platforms can make more money if you're prepared to put in the time. You can charge a higher price, create value add packages, and build a contact list of customers.

Read the full article for deeper analysis and discussion.

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Products for Prisoners

Sony' detailed understanding of prisoners' needs enabled them to build the perfect prison radio, now a stable and sizeable revenue stream for the company.

From great idea to great product

A recently unearthed Steve Jobs interview sets out a big problem. It's...

“thinking that a really great idea is 90 percent of the work. The problem with that is that there is a tremendous amount of craftsmanship in between a great idea and a great product and as you evolve the great idea, it changes and grows. It never comes out as it starts.”

Apple is never about earth shattering ideas. MP3 players, smartphones, and tablet computers all existed for years before Apple got involved. But they were the first company to produce truly great products in any of those categories.

These products weren't great because of one big idea. They were great because of hundreds or thousands of small trade-offs, smart assumptions, and tiny choices that refined and developed the idea to make it a commercial success that customers loved.

This is painful work. Sometimes you have to make decisions that make your idea worse — the decision to do without 3G in the original iPhone must have been a painful and risky one. But you can’t make a great product without it.

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Today China announced reforms that are going to make life better for a significant proportion of the world's population. It's rare that the daily news really makes me happy but this is great.
China has issued a detailed reform roadmap, which promises to abolish the controversial labor camp system and allow some families to have two children instead of one. The reforms are part of a plan to stimulate the decelerating Chinese economy.
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