Breaking news: joke alert!

Download DublinPsychiatricAnsweringMachine.mp3

I’ve known Malcolm for 23, nearly 24 years. And tonight, he told me a joke. And it is funny. Please go to the audio link above if you would like to share it with us.

I’ll get back to you with the next one in another 23, or maybe 24, years.

Smoothie books

I walked up Kingston’s mean main street the other day with Jenny on her heelies to buy her a fruit smoothie, so naturally persuaded her to drop in on British Bookshops (previously known as Sussex Stationers) en route. Jenny recognises the Kingston danger zones, and knows that this is the only one between our house and the fruit smoothie stand, so she tolerated my request.

As usual, I am amazed by British Bookshops’ (as I must now call it) marketing speed and prices. John Connolly’s Book of Lost Things was the featured paperback right by the door at £3.99, billed already as the Times book group selection (as of the day before, so pretty quick off the mark, assuming no prior knowledge). Although I told myself I would not read another John Connolly after the disappointment of The Black Angel, on flicking through it, I was tempted. Then there was a big shelf of new hardbacks at half price: the latest Mary Higgins Clark (a favourite of mine) at £9.99 (list price £17.99, Amazon price £11.87), Nikki French (ditto) at £7.99, Lee Child at £8.99, quite a few at £6.99 and so on. Next was a vast shelf of latest paperbacks, mostly at £3.99. I did manage to tear myself away without buying anything, mainly because of the impatience of my companion, but also because of my three-figure TBR pile at home.

Library of Congress blog

The Library of Congress has just celebrated its 207th birthday with its first-ever public blog. The Library of Congress has long been a pioneer and leading provider of online content, with a website that makes 22 million digital items available at the click of a mouse and receives 5 billion hits per year. The LOC’s blogger is Matt Raymond, director of communications. He’s already picked up on the Dilbert pointy-headed boss’s blog, which has been making me smile for the past few days. There is lots of serious stuff there too, I write hastily.

Where next for newspapers?

From the WSJ (23 April):
"Even with all the grim news the newspaper industry has faced in recent years, publishers have consoled themselves that they have a lifeline. If they could switch content away from print and onto the Internet — bringing advertisers with them — they could save their businesses. Last week, that lifeline began looking frayed. New York Times Co. warned Thursday that online advertising growth this year won’t be as strong as the 30% it had projected. On the same day, Tribune Co. reported that the growth rate for first-quarter interactive revenue was sharply lower than a year earlier. "

Although the Washington Post and others have yet to report for the first quarter, there seems to be general agreement among analysts that there is a trend, exacerbated by recent acquisitions and figures from Google and Yahoo. " Underlining this pressure is a shift under way within Internet advertising. The ad formats that have so far proved strongest for newspapers — banner ads, pop-ups and listings — are losing ground to formats such as search marketing. Ad buyers say automotive, entertainment, financial-services and travel companies — all major newspaper advertisers in print and online — are aggressively shifting dollars into search marketing." 

But Google and Yahoo may clean up here also, as they gain contracts to provide search on publishers’ websites.