Sunday, February 19, 2006

Books With Street Cred

Relentless Aaron, according to his website, is a bestselling author, publisher and visionary. He is the self proclaimed “Father of Urban Fiction”. He is also an ex-con.

During his seven year sentence, Relentless Aaron completed numerous manuscripts just to pass the time. Upon his release, Aaron self published his manuscripts and hit the streets to sell them. This “relentless” drive, comined with tactical guerilla marketing techniques, soon landed him a four book publishing contract with St. Martin’s Press.

This is more than just a mere success story of an ex-con turning his life around. Aaron’s story highlights large publishers’ growing interest in street lit. With titles like Rappers ‘R in Danger, Sugar Daddy and To Live & Die in Harlem, the books are filled with excessive sex, drugs and violence. Often set in prison or on the streets, the prose is marked with slang and the rough personality of cell block walls.

These explicit tales that play themselves out in Relentless Aaron’s novels are not just jailhouse scribblings, but according to St. Martin’s Press, show craftily weaved narratives with strong stylistic potential. Coupled with the street credibility that Relentless Aaron brings to his prose, it makes him an ideal street lit author.

This combination has worked well for rappers, but will it work for serious authors? As hip-hop continues to increase its presence in mainstream culture, it seems that street lit is an ideal off shoot. With stories that are a combination of a Sue Grafton novel and a 50 Cent music video, the growth of street lit is inevitable.

Street Lit With Publishing Cred: From Prison to a Four-Book Deal

Thursday, February 16, 2006

Finally, a Portable Super Model

Maria Sharapova, Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Edition 2006

Men can never get enough of women in bikins and the annual release of the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Edition is no exception. With the release of this year's edition on February 14, Sports Illustrated estimated newstand sales to exceed 1.5 million, in addition to the magazine's 3.3 million subscribers. From this paid readership Mark Ford, the president and publisher of Sports Illustrated, estimates that an additional 60 million readers see the magazine. With one of the largest single issue readerships, it is apparent why Sports Illustrated is pairing the magazine's release with multimedia options.

For this years Swimsuit Edition, not only will it be available at newstands (for the premium price of $5.99), and on, but 8 exclusive videos have been produced to be sold through iTunes ($1.99 each). Content also has been developed for cellphones and other hand held devices through a partnership with American Greetings Interactive. The rationale behind this interactive approach according to Mr. Ford "[The Swimsuit Edition" is the mother ship of what we do. We want to leverage the power of that franchise," said Mr. Ford, "Sports Illustrated is a multimedia brand. It's a magazine, it's online, it's mobile, it's an event."

Today, many magazines have tried to immitate the Swimsuit Edition's formula. Therefore, the iconic magazine can no longer solely exist in one media. It must create a synergy between different media. In creating this synergy, the magazine must direct readers to access this content that is available. For instance Sport's Illustrated has included a unique number in each issue, which can be used on iTunes to download one free Swimsuit Edition video. The release is also expected to drive increased traffic to the website, which is where visitors can download content for their cellphones. By offering content on a variety of portable media, it allows for Sports Illustrated to keep the "wow" factor that is associated with the Swimsuit Edition. As long as there is reason to go.

Article Links:
So Many Models In Bikins, So Many Ways to See Them (Requires Registration to read)
Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Edition 2006

Saturday, February 11, 2006

Al Gore created a TV network?

Al Gore, the father of the Internet, has made another foray in the mass media. About six months ago he established the San Francisco based television network, Current. In developing this network, it is Gore’s intention to make the youth TV news addicts. Rightfully so, Current is being billed as a “national cable and satellite channel dedicated to bringing your voice to television.”

As a network, Current sounds like a novel approach to get youth involved with the news. First, it eliminates the classic cable news format, no more extended torso view of some news anchor reciting the news. Instead, Current focuses it’s programming around “pods” consisting of segments ranging from thirty seconds to ten minutes. Next, the network operates around VC2, viewer-created content, which makes up about one third of the networks programming. This allows viewers who are tired of channel surfing and who want to be more involved to get out there and make their own programming. They then post it on the Current website, and hype it up to get people to vote for the segment. And if enough people vote, presto, they might just see their clip on TV.

Will this idea limit content to those fortunate to have the equipment and knowledge to produce programming as Current begins to use more viewer created content? Or will it cause a TV revolution? Such active participation has worked well in the past for many advertisers. For instance, Converse challenged its users to create short films, not advertisements, of their sneakers. The Internet also thrives on user created content. From blogs to podcasts to fan sites, Internet users spend countless hours creating content. So, why shouldn’t this formula be able to work for a television network, especially the youth oriented Current?

Current TV

Thursday, February 09, 2006

Net Neutrality

Should Internet users have unrestricted access to all “legal” websites? Or should internet service providers be given the opportunity to restrict access to certain sites?

In the Senate this week Google battled it out with broadband providers over the possibility of future net neutrality legislation. Net neutrality legislation, simply put, would allow users unrestricted access to all websites.

It appears that Web based companies, like Google, whose mission it is to provide users with information or services, favor unrestricted access to the contents of the Internet. These companies feel that because broadband carriers provide consumer’s with the connection to the Internet, it would be possible to deny users access to websites in direct competition.

Broadband providers, however, feel that such legislation is currently unnecessary. These companies believe that the Internet, as a marketplace, should dictate the necessity of such legislation. Broadband providers explained that such legislation will stifle the growth of Internet services.

The current situation shows that both sides believe two different things. According to the argument raised by the broadband providers it seems as if they believe that the Internet is currently unrestricted, and that their services do not prohibit users from accessing competitor’s websites. However, John Thorpe, a Senior Vice President at Verizon Wireless commented that many free Web based services use extensive bandwidth and attract consumers for long periods of time. He feels that the "free lunch" broadband providers give to Web based information and services has an impact on their businesses. Thus, it seems that broadband providers would like to begin to limit Internet access to specific Websites. These restricted websites would most likely fall into one distinct category: those websites that are in direct compeition with the broadband provider's interests. By limiting customers access to these services, it will eliminate the consumer's right to choose. Also, such policies will diminish the Internet’s purpose, which is to provide individuals with access to unlimited information.

Article link:
Google, Telecoms Clash Over 'Net Neutrality'