Links for 3/30/2021

Problem with going a week or more between big links posts is I bookmark a lot of things that aren’t so relevant now. Lots of great Suez Canal memes, but that ship has sailed (#dadjoke). Anyways…

Microsoft is supposedly talking with Discord about an acquisition for more than $10 billion. When digging through the J’s Notes archives I’m finding a lot of historical acquisitions, like Google buying Pyra (Blogger), and how acquisition seemed to be the norm but the price point has changed drastically and now seems so quaint. In 2007 Google bought DoubleClick for $3.1 billion when it’s advertising revenue was $16.41 billion. Google rolled DoubleClick into their overall marketing platform and logged nearly $147 billion in ad revenue in 2020.

Marvel Comics is finding a new distributor – Penguin Random House

Marvel’s new agreement with PRHPS follows the unexpected departure of DC from Diamond in 2020. The new distribution agreement means that the Big Two of American superhero comics—Marvel and DC—which are also Diamond’s two biggest accounts as well as pillars of the direct market, have left Diamond Comics Distributors. It is unclear how this will impact Diamond and the comics shop market going forward but it does mark the end of Diamond’s dominance of periodical comics distribution.

Comics shop retailers, however, will still be able order Marvel comics from Diamond. The deal effectively turns Diamond into a wholesaler account (they will get their stock from PRHPS) although this is likely to effect the discounts available to retailers that order via Diamond. Direct market retailers will be able to choose between ordering Marvel products directly from PRHPS or through Diamond. Hachette Book Group will continue to manage the distribution of Marvel’s graphic novels and trade collections to the book market, including independent bookstores and elsewhere.

On its face this seems good because Diamond’s hold on the comic industry after inking exclusive deals during the heydays of the ’90s has drastically impacted the comic book market in ways that strangled stores and limited distribution through so many potential channels. Depends on what kind of arrangements comic shops can make with multiple distributors to ensure profitability.

We’re way past the time of comics selling millions of copies of a single issue (1991’s X-Men #1 is the best selling comic of all time at 8.1 MILLION copies, 2020’s best selling comic Batman: Three Jokers #1 sold 190 thousand copies) but the market’s still there.

RIP Jessica Walter.

By the time Arrested premiered in 2003, Walter had already earned an Emmy for her performance as a trailblazing detective on the short-lived Amy Prentiss,in 1975. But the cult classic Bluth sitcom would introduce her to an entirely new audience. Arrested Development wasn’t just contemporary; it was light-years ahead of its time, too niche to last long on broadcast but popular enough in its afterlife to fuel the rise of Netflix, which shrewdly saw a revival as a shortcut into subscribers’ hearts. And Walter was key to its success. The bitchy grande dame is a classic archetype, but Walter carried it into an era of shaky, handheld cameras and layered, meta in-jokes, years before 30 Rock or The Office.

RIP Beverly Cleary.

“I think children want to read about normal, everyday kids. That’s what I wanted to read about when I was growing up,” Cleary told NPR’s Linda Wertheimer in 1999. “I wanted to read about the sort of boys and girls that I knew in my neighborhood and in my school. And in my childhood, many years ago, children’s books seemed to be about English children, or pioneer children. And that wasn’t what I wanted to read. And I think children like to find themselves in books.”

RIP Larry McMurtry.

Whatever you think of McMurtry as a writer, it’s worth reflecting on this plain fact: No other writer has ever had a career remotely like his, and no writer ever again will have such a career.

Alan Jacobs – Snakes and Ladders

Growing up on a family ranch outside the town of Archer City, Texas, Larry McMurtry recalls that the family told one another stories by necessity: They owned no books. The prolific author has been making up for it ever since; in addition to his own large body of work—which includes The Last Picture ShowLonesome DoveTerms of Endearment, and the screenplay to Brokeback Mountain—he is the owner of a virtual town’s worth of volumes. Indeed, in Archer City, books outnumber people by a good margin.

Inside the ‘Vibrant Intellectual Ecosystem’ of Larry McMurtry’s Home Library

Welcome back, Tower Records?

If Tower can become the place people go to buy vinyl, it might carve out a nice niche. But there are a lot of problems here. First of all, streaming and digital downloads still make up about 90 percent of music revenue. To sell records is to play in a relatively small sandbox. And even within the world of physical media, you’ve got a vicious competitor in Amazon, a tough foe for anyone selling and shipping anything. Danny seems to think that for Tower Records to become the place where people choose to shop for music, there will have to be some emotional connection with the brand, some added value, some tribal bond.

One idea is to have in-house music experts—maybe customers pay a monthly subscription fee to access them, talk about records, get suggestions for new artists to try. “Just like when I was a kid, going into the store and learning about music and the store clerk or store specialist telling me, ‘You need to buy this, you need to buy that. Have you heard of this person and this artist?’ That’s the stuff that we want to bring back, and we’re trying to do that online as much as we can,” Zeijdel says. “Yes, maybe for a dollar cheaper, you can go to Amazon. But that’s it, that’s where it stops. You’re not really interacting. We’re building out a site where it becomes something more.”

In an era of subscription boxes of random stuff like clothing, jewelry, games, makeup, grab-bags personally curated for you based on your tastes and preferences (or an algorithm), seeing the same for records isn’t a bad idea. It’s a small audience with refined tastes but a willingness to spend. And using a known nostalgia inducing brand name like Tower Records to run it? Could work. Certainly not on the scale that Tower once was, but the idea has merit.

Loosely related:

It is one of my life’s greatest heartbreaks that Kurt isn’t still here to write more amazing songs

NME – Dave Grohl says Kurt Cobain was “the greatest songwriter of our generation”

From the twits:

OK, maybe one more Suez Canal joke…
Ah, working from home…

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