Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Publishing Centers and Pockets of Social Capital

Back in dot.com days, I was part of a team that did a start up called Chapbooks.com. We enabled student publishing with what was state of the art technology in 1998.

That was then. This is now.
Software that cost many 100's of thousands to build then, are readily available now. Very expensive sales channels then, have been eliminated by the Internet now. Then, back in the day, just as the pieces were coming together, came the dot.com stock crash.

A Publishing Center is the 2009 version of a 1998 idea
All the technology is now in place. The only missing pieces are editors and designers. With the addition of that human creativity - but not any new technology - student publishing can evolve into excellent student publishing.

This is what I mean by creating pockets of social capital:
We are proud to already have a partnership with the School District of Palm Beach County called the Oce Future Authors Project, now in its fourth year.

Every summer, we gather a group of middle and high school students for a free eight-day writing workshop taught by licensed language arts teachers and professional authors. Writings produced by the students during the workshop are then digitally printed on Oce equipment. The formal book is then unveiled at a commmunity-wide book signing event attended by local community leaders, politicians, school officials, teachers, parents and other family members. We also invite the media.

The public-private partnerships does fill a void in the District and demonstrates what great education opportunities can be created for students, despite budget cuts and a challenging economy. Local companies, such as BankAtlantic, as well as the Lawrence Sanders Foundation have joined the effort to help cover the costs of the teacher salaries.

comment posted February 16, 2009 at Tough Love for Xerox.
A Publishing Center would turn this experience from a once-a-year event into the normal way of doing the learning business. Consider how this might scale if struggling regional and community newspapers added a Publishing Center to their normal ways of doing business and reinvented textbooks by inventing textbooklets.

textbooklets here for newspaper people. .
textbooklets here for printers and their vendors


  1. Michael: Boy...food for thought! I started to comment a week or so ago but got interrupted and have been thinking about this concept ever since - even going so far as to meet with a respected business associate to discuss implementation. We discussed the possibility of implementing it as you have listed (for students) and/or for taking it to the self-publishing community. We've got ideas about collaborating with a near-by self-publisher (that doesn't have printing capabilities) for the “getting books noticed and sold” part of the publishing process.

    For me, though, the biggest take-away from your blog is that it finally drove home the idea of creative niche marketing as something I should pursue as I continue to grow my printing business.

    I look forward to reading other creative out-of-the-box ideas you have about the printing biz!

    -Lisa Bickford
    Highlight Printing

  2. Lisa,
    Thanks for the comments. I blame 30 years of running a Print brokerage and 7 years of teaching for whatever good ideas you find.

    The real secret sauce is having the time to let other people's ideas rumble around without having to answer the phone or make sure the next job is delivered on time, up to spec and within budget.

    You might want to consider looking into Google Apps. They have an affiliate program where your salespeople can get comped for making a sale.

    I think it would turn out to really add value to a sales call and keep your folks top of mind when the printing event is about to occur.

  3. A nice post covering an important issue. The only remark would be,
    you never know what are the requirements for your editor, until you have completed at least a level.