Category Archives: Business

Free Things Worth Paying For

As I’m revising the ShelfMade business plan I find a post by Kevin Kelly and reposted by Seth Godin. Normally when I get distracted and find myself off-task online I try to get back to work. This was different. Better Than Free is a worthwhile read, and helped clarify some value that I am building into my website.

In a world filled with free digital copies on the Internet, why do people actually purchase anything? Kevin lists 8 qualities that customers are actually paying for when you think they are buying free goods. Immediacy, Personalization, Interpretation, Authenticity, Accessibility, Embodiment, Patronage, Findability.

Kevin supports his argument with more than just abstract logic. He includes airtight examples of each point. Regarding interpretation being valuable, he brings up Apache which gives away software and charges for interpretation and guidance of the free software.

How does this relate to my business plan?

ShelfMade is an embodiment company (we call it form). We give online articles a body, in a magazine. We aren’t selling paper, we are creating a reading experience that is better than the laptop screen – with the same content diversity as the blogosphere.

From another angle ShelfMade is a personalization company. Traditional magazines have a wide niche. National Geographic explores the world, but ShelfMade explores that certain corner of the world that you care about. You build the magazine that you would like to read.

Back to work. Be sure to read the full articles.


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Distribution Model

Sorry about the long absence from blogging . To bring me back, this is a response to Jonas Sandberg from Wagazi, a great blog about the convergence of old and new media. Jonas asks about the distribution model for ShelfMade. (You can read the business concept for ShelfMade)

ShelfMade is a service that allows users to publish their favourite online articles into a personalized magazine. It hasn´t launched yet, but I think it´s a really interesting way of combining new media and old media, and putting the power in the hands of independent publishers… However, one big issue for magazines are distribution. It is time consuming, and expensive. But if the magazine I create through ShelfMade isn´t distributed, no one will read it. And how fun is that?

So my question is if they have given the distribution problem any thoughts, or if they believe people will sort it out for themselves?

ShelfMade isn’t focused on traditional distribution for our magazines. In fact, eliminating the waste of a traditional distribution is a key part of business model, and it offsets the increased cost of customized, on-demand printing.

We are still going to make it fun.

The distribution will be direct, like a physical RSS. So just as your personalized magazine can be built from blogs, your website readers and online network can subscribe to your magazine and make you a publisher, not just a consumer. Imagine a widget on Wagazi where your readers can purchase or even subscribe to your magazine.

With a networked and direct distribution the newsstand isn’t necessary. The goal is to have employees subscribing to the CEO’s magazine, Ron Paul’s supporters can subscribe to the magazine his campaign builds and everyone contributes to Michael Arrington’s magazine.

If the business is successful and growing at a decent pace it would be nearly impossible to manage the process of getting magazines on shelves. Jonas, your correct, traditional distribution is costly and time consuming that is why we’re avoiding it.

Of course I am open to hearing all ideas.

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Long Tail + On Demand

We are huge fans of Seth (isn’t everyone) so we’ll link to his site and his articles often. His writing style, philosophy and the volume of his output align very well with what we are trying to do at We kind of stole our idea from Small is the New Big.

Today Seth talks about Sweet Spots in marketing – the product built for the masses that the big guys, NYT and Oprah, want to talk about. I think what he is really talking about are the not so sweet spots, after all the sweet spot is a very small part of the tennis racket. What if we are not in that spot?

Bloggers around the world are discovering that it’s cheaper and faster and more effective to build their own media channel than it is to waste time arguing with the old ones.

When you are not in the sweet spot, you’re in the long tail. The great news in 2007 is that as long as people can find you, and you are doing/saying/selling something worthwhile, you don’t need to be in the sweet spot.


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