Round up #149: The Hidden Empire, Reader’s Digest bankruptcy

Round up #149: The Hidden Empire, Reader’s Digest bankruptcy

The ILMK Round ups are short pieces which may or may not be expanded later.

Reader’s Digest files for bankruptcy (again)

As this

Bloomberg article

suggests, this doesn’t mean it is the end of the brand.

However, when you make a strategic move because you are $465 million in debt, it says that the decision wasn’t entirely due to your engineering of your own situation. 😉

To me, RD was a forerunner of the internet. Founded in 1922 and eventually reaching tens of millions of readers worldwide, it combined the curated nature of the web (providing shortened versions of longer written material), and the social feel by encouraging and publishing reader contributions. The latter often are short enough to fit in a tweet, and I can definitely see an evolution from

to Twitter.

I think it is likely to survive in some form, but they’ll really need to figure out the digital landscape.

Did Netflix create the first video novel?

I’ve been fascinated by the idea of Netflix’ original series, House of Cards.

First, it was “genetically engineered”.

Who do our members like to watch? Kevin Spacey.

What director do they like? David Fincher.

What source material appears to them? Adaptations of European TV shows.

Check, check, check…

While certainly most big risk entertainments make these sorts of calculations, it does sound like Big Data matchmade this one (“Six drops of essence of terror…three drops of sinister sauce…” That’s a tough one! 75 trivia points if you can identify the source of that “recipe”! Remember that trivia points are null and void if you look them up…you have to just know).  😉

More intriguing is that they released the entire first season (13 episodes) at one time…not once a week. Their research showed them that’s how their viewers liked to consume a TV series…often in one or two sittings, as a marathon.

In other words, rather than doing a “chapter” at a time, they released the entire book.

That moves us out of the less expensive “serialized” distribution, and into “all at once” (something that happened more will mass market books as the means to produce and distribute them got cheaper).

It’s literary cartoon time

A reader of mine, joeyboy55, alerted me to this “silly joke” by using the forum at my Amazon Author Central page (

Frank and Ernest February 15 2013

Book Patrol post

reproduces several book related cartoons by Tom Gauld (I presume with permission). There are some I think you’ll enjoy, including one featuring an EBR (E-Book Reader) in the kitchen.

Ironically, Gauld’s book (You’re All Just Jealous of My Jetpack) doesn’t appear to be available in the Kindle store.

faberNovel: “ The Hidden Empire” (2013 update)

I’d suggest you check out this presentation about Amazon: The Hidden Empire

It’s an info-packed slideshow (84 slides) about the e-tailing giant, how it got to be that way, and where it might be going.

It’s not perfect: slide 60 refers to the Paperwhite as being “backlit” (it’s not…it’s frontlit. That may seem like a small distinction, but it’s very important for user experience, including long battery charge life). There is a typo on slide 79 (“…Amazon growing its tentacular business in every directions may…” should be, I would say, “in every direction”).

However, I do think it’s quite a valuable read, and I recommend it.

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the I Love My Kindle blog.


3 Responses to “Round up #149: The Hidden Empire, Reader’s Digest bankruptcy”

  1. Zebras Says:

    Growing up I adored Reader’s Digest, so much reading material! As a grown-up I had a friend and her sister both get laid off from the organization several years ago with stories of how the place was being run into the ground, so its no surprise. And one funny story, about how my friend had to fact check a a story about diving in underground caves called “Deep, Dark and Very Scary,” and her boss asked her for her proof that it was “dark.”

    • Bufo Calvin Says:

      Thanks for writing, Zebras!

      I enjoyed RD as a kid, too!

      Well, I suppose the boss figured it could have been one of those well-lit caves. 😉 Did they also ask for calibration on “very scary” versus, say, “pretty scary”? 🙂

  2. Ridgefield Taxlady Says:

    This place has definitely been run into the ground. The magazine has potential, but the executives are more interested in their large bonuses. The Wallaces are probably turning over in their graves. Employees are treated terribly by an obnoxious few. I worked through their last bankruptcy and suffered severe health issues after I left. They deseve to go under permanently.

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