Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Hi everybody,

today I would like to draw your attention to a really cool widget which was launched by my colleagues from Bertelsmann HR Services North America.
In these turbulent times it is a great sign and indicates Bertelsmann’s ability to be cutting edge in the digital arena. Well done guys!

Miodrag Perin describes the Windows Vista only Gadget: “as a tool that allows anybody, whether they are a job seeker or not, to “connect, learn, and interact with our company”:

The main functions are:

  • Read and apply online to any Bertelsmann company or division Job worldwide
  • Read blog entries, view photos and embedded content
  • Read twitter entries, respond, reply, and retweet
  • Twitter directly from the widget to you twitter account and with the BertelsmannCYOC twitter channel
  • Interact with Bertelsmann in a whole new way

Future version will be available in ADOBE Air and will work on all Operating Systems including MAC.

The New CYOCwidget Windows Gadget can be downloaded at

If you want to digg the widget, here is the link


I have returned to Europe and currently enjoy a quite time on the beach.

I”ll be back next week with some concluding comments on my experience in the publishing world and a taster of what will keep my mind busy for the end of the year.

Un abrazo desde España,


As one of my last official acts for Random House, I participated in the 2009 J.P Morgan Corporate Challenge, held last night in Central Park.

We had a fantastic team and a great run, despite the rain. My time for the 3,5 miles was 24:07 minutes. If you are used to run kilometers instead of miles, the 3.5m may sound like a walk in the park but that is not quite the case, trust me.

Thanks to Random House and my colleagues  for the great organization!

The winning times are here and the official website of the challenge here.

Keep running,


Last time I highlighted three points publishers should focus on in an increasingly digital business; pricing, new competencies and distribution. Today I want to share  some recent industry news that support my position. It is all about the consumer, he is in the driving seat. We need to focus on him and only on him. Here is why:

Let’s start with pricing again. You probably recall my point about how consumers will demand a $9.99 price tag for ebooks. Check out this entry (one of 1313 up until today) on an forum called  “boycott everything over $9.99”.

Jeanette says: I agree. I think this is just bad news for us. I want to order a book the other day and found it as 11.99. I won’t buy it. I went to the library and go a audio book version. I tried to download it onto my Kindle and it is in secure WMA format and Kindle won’t except it, so I put it on my MP3 player. The selling point of this device was that NO BOOK WOULD BE MORE THAN 9.99. What happened to that???

This is a powerful force not to be underestimated. If you read “The Groundswell” you might be aware that this is unstoppable. So instead of talking up the value and defending our old pricing model we should listen to our customers and change the status quo.

What about competencies and distribution? Knowing what readers wanted to read was and still is a competency publishers claim for themselves. Correctly so, I believe. There is more content than ever and giving consumers some guidance has a value. However, in an increasingly digital world, it is not only about what the consumer wants to read but also how he wants to read.  Whether it is on a Mac or PC, an iPhone, G1 or Blackberry or even on a dedicated reading device, publishers have myriad ways now to reach out to their customers  and help them to find the stuff that matters to them. The focus has to be on what consumers want and how they want it.

A promising new model is This new digital marketplace for ebooks, magazines and other content allows users to purchase, preview, share and create content for every device. No locking in tricks, no empire building just consumer focus. It is integrated with all major social networks, let’s you buy single chapters of a book, create mixes (like playlists on itunes) and share stuff with your friends. You can preview chapters or upload your own work and build communities. This is what I call consumer centric. OK, shortcovers is born out of the initiative of Indigo, a Canadian book retailer and you could argue that this is their business. Fair enough, but the point I want to make is that the line that divides who does what in our industry becomes more and more blurred and that publishers could (should) have made an effort to gain access to consumers too.

We have retailers moving into the device business (amazon), device manufactures moving into retail (apple), search engines into advertising (google), book retailers into self-publishing and community building (shortcovers). When do we have a publisher moving into anything? Everyone understood that the internet kills the middlemen (Jeff Jarvis). It is time we understand this too.



My time here in Gütersloh at the Bertelsmann Corporate Centre is up. I really enjoyed the tranquility of this place, made good contacts and got a pretty good understanding of the culture of Bertelsmann. I would like to thank everybody involved in the administration of the entrepreneurs program, as well as all the other colleagues who made my stay here so enjoyable and interesting.  Let’s keep in touch!

Now it is time to learn how business in the several units is conducted. My experience at the corporate office will be a valuable resource. No doubt.

Here are some of impressions of the corporate centre in autumn and winter. As I said, tranquility I am going to remember very soon.

Only a couple of days before I start a new project in my entrepreneurs program @ Bertelsmann. In January I will join Random House Inc. in New York. Most of the time I will be working for a group of people in the digital marketing and business development area. The main topic for the next month will be social media and publishing.

A great webinar held just before Christmas got me up to speed. Special thanks to Chris Brogan who talked about social media and the publishing industry. What I found most relevant is the following: Marketing the long tail is going to be much easier and much more effective in the future. Due to the tools of web 2.0, authors and publishers will find the relevant audiences without the need of mega marketing budgets.

Chris explained the mechanism to self promote your content in the following way. Authors need a digital homebase. Blogs are going to fulfill this purpose. Outpost messages through twitter, facebook, etc. will draw the attention of users to the authors homebase. Alternatively, these outpost messages consist of some form of extended content (trailers, excepts) which are easily shared among users. They thereby become the centre of conversations on the web. For publishers, listening and information exchange are the two critical things to get right in the future.

Here are the slides of the presentation.

Two years ago,  Blagoja, Guillermo, Philipp and myself went to Pheonix Arizona to participate in the Thunderbird Sustainable Innovation Summit. Since we won this case study event open to leading business schools around the globe, we get interview requests from time to time. Mostly related to our stance on Corporate Social Responsibility. Lately, Brandeins Wirtschaftsmagazin (a German Business Publication) contacted us for a book related to CSR and business. A couple of other MBA students were asked how the study of CSR has influenced their opinion on the topic. Here is an abstract from the book, that is available here.

Tobias Schirmer speaks for the team that also includes: Philipp Pausder (Germany), Blagoja Hamamdziev (Macedonia) and Guillermo Ortega Rancé (Mexico):

When it comes to CR, the IE is regarded as the best school in Europe. What is special here is that the subject is not taught in terms of fixed concepts; instead each individual has to form his or her own understanding of it. This philosophy pervades all courses and programmes. CR is naturally an area of focus in fields such as sustainability, social impact management and social entrepreneurship, but even students studying here for an MBA in marketing or finance are unable to avoid developing their own answers to the pressing problems of social justice and sustainability. Before we met in Madrid, we were working in investment banking, advertising, financial analysis and development aid. For us, the central question was always whether CR activities which aim to maximise profit are really socially responsible. We have seen a lot of companies where CR is only practised in order to get good publicity and distract attention from the negative consequences of their business activity for society and the environment. It goes without saying that a company has to increase its profits. However, a company that hopes to retain its customers’ loyalty in the future will also need to curb the negative effects of its business operations. The Internet makes it virtually impossible to hide wrong-doing from the general public. This realisation was the incentive for us to participate at the Sustainable Innovation Summit in Phoenix. We had to develop a business model for Merck & Co which would make it possible to sell medicines profitably in India without passing on the expensive development costs to the end consumer. We were able to demonstrate that it could be done in a way that was both socially responsible and profitable. And for this we won the Thunderbird Sustainable Innovation Challenge. In the future we will all go our separate ways, but we will incorporate a socially responsible perspective into our business and professional decisions. Nothing more than this is needed: individuals must accept responsibility in their everyday decisions, and take personal responsibility for what they do within the company. In order to do so, they need to have an idea of the long-term social and economic consequences of their actions. Responsibility is a basic attitude that can have an impact everywhere.”

Tags: ,