The Bus: Journey into the Strange
Self-Published Fantasy Blog-Off! [Updated] [Again] [For the last time]

British Library Labs, Niche Marketing & The Walking Dead

Eduardo Souzacampus

The British Library Labs are amazing.

Last year's projects are viewable online (in various states of existence), and they're absolutely fascinating. These include everything from a Victorian joke generator, a tool that helps connect handwritten manuscripts to their transcriptions, a gamefied way of creating metadata and one of the most clever (and perhaps significant?) open source maps I've ever seen.

Do yourself a favour and have a play.

The power of niche marketing

Book Business spots a trend in recent activities by Penguin Random House and Simon & Schuster: niche marketing. A compelling argument:

Magazine publishers who have targeted affluent niches, like mountain bikers, knitters, and equestrians, have come out ahead despite the tumultuousness of the digital revolution. If you can create great content for an audience that loves it, you’ll always find ways to monetize, no matter the technological disruptions that arise next.

Questions with no answers!

This New York Times column spends a dozen paragraphs posing the question 'why does old media survive?' and, eventually, stumbles over the finish line with:

So why does old tech survive and, in some cases, undergo a revival? For some consumers, it’s about familiarity (e.g., newspapers and print books), while for others, it’s about nostalgia (e.g., record players and film cameras).

I suppose I'd buy this if there were some support, but, quite literally, the sole piece of evidence given is anecdotal: "I've used a camera for 25 years!". The initial set-up is cool though, wherein the writer aggregates all sorts of interesting trends (from the rise in film sales to the flourishing vinyl trade). Shame it goes nowhere.

Batman vs Superman, The Walking Dead and other Comic Book Stuff

Batman v Superman has brought all the hatchets to the yard, but also a few more interesting opinions on what it 'means'.

Susanna Polo, at Polygon, nails the 'missed' opportunity of BvS. They're redefined the entire DC Universe in a really fascinating way, something that goes (of course) unexplored:

The idea that Batman has been around for years, maybe a decade or more, before any other superheroes have gone public about their abilities and intentions. A mundane superhero veteran in a world of superpowered newbies.

That's... actually pretty cool.

Another interesting take is actually more about Deadpool, via The Wrap, who posit how Deadpool's success was linked to its deeply meta, deeply ironic response to 'superhero fatigue'. The popularity of that movie can be taken to indicate a rising consumer exhaustion with the genre.

Or, as 538 points out, maybe the most successful superhero movies aren't only superhero movies:

There’s some evidence that the era of straightforward superhero movies is coming to a close. In a given year, some movies will come out that are straightforward superhero movies and some will have that secondary genre, but lately we’ve seen that the box office dollars are increasingly derived from the latter group.

Walt Hickey also looks at the economic impact of The Walking Dead:

The real success of “The Walking Dead” for Image has been in the trade paperback market, where comic book arcs are bundled into books and sold at bookstores in addition to comic shops. Trades of “The Walking Dead” are nearly permanent fixtures in the monthly Nielsen  BookScan top-20 graphic novels list. This means a large revenue stream for Image — where “Walking Dead” creator Robert Kirkman was made a partner in 2008 — that can be used to fund new books.

Five-ish years ago we had the 'Watchmen effect', where everyone thought the Watchmen movie was going to sell more graphic novels (spoiler: it didn't, except when those graphic novels were Watchmen). Now we have the 'TWD effect' instead, as this crazy TV money is 'trickling down' (oy) and creating a ton of new comics, which are, being Image, creator-owned and rather daring and somehow successful and therefore making for more daring comics and and and... go figure.

More links!

This company makes millions by algorithmically trading on Amazon. Not books - just stuff.

Amazon Prime was supposed to be a shipping service with video perks. Now it is... something much more.

Google has released 'best practice' for bloggers reviewing free products. Includes full disclosure and - interestingly - 'nofollow' tags. Wow.

Umberto Eco's legacy in open world games.

America's first all-romance bookstore.

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