This Week Marks a Huge Milestone for This is True: the end of its 20th year. It started as a bulletin board item outside my office at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory. The first one, dated 26 June 1994, was written to go into my business plan — I hadn’t actually gotten distribution set up. As I was working on the tech, I kept writing a new column each week and, when it went online in July 1994, it was an instant hit, quickly ramping up in circulation.
Facebook is about to get worse — a lot worse — and I think my days there are numbered. I can’t be the only publisher getting ready to give up.
Once per month, there’s an extra story in the Premium edition without a tagline, so that readers can try their hand at ending the story. I call it the Reader Tagline Challenge, and the readers come up with a wide variety of funny endings to the extra story.
While doing my research this week, I stumbled across an interesting tidbit: Paramount Pictures has become the first major film studio to announce that it will no longer be distributing movies on film, and is going exclusively to digital distribution.
It’s been forever since I’ve written a “What I’ve been reading lately” blurb. You’ll like what has been on my tablet lately. (It’s amusing that while putting this in my blog software and having to choose categories, both “Away From Work” and “True Business” seem appropriate. Read on, and you’ll understand!)
The 11 August 2013 issue — Issue 1000 — brought a new look to This is True: as promised nearly two years ago, plain text is out, and “simple HTML” is in. I introduced it to the Premium subscribers this way:
It has nearly been a decade since the price for a Premium upgrade changed — it went to $24. Premium subscribers themselves have said it’s too cheap. I wanted some detail, and was boggled by what they told me.
OK, my old buddy Paul hasn’t gone anywhere, but I’ve talked about him before on this blog, and it’s time I talked about him again. He’s the type of friend that if I make a quick phone call to him (as I did today, to catch up), we end up gabbing for over an hour. Sometimes three.
When people unsubscribe from This is True, they have the opportunity to leave comments. Most don’t, and oddly some think they “have to” (I mean really: “No comment.”?) And of course some use it as an opportunity to protest — like when I tell the truth that they don’t want to hear.
I’ve been meaning to write this up for some time, and with the holiday ad season ramping up, now’s the time.
I’ve had some of the savviest people in the world advertising in This is True — Seth Godin, the first online marketer ever, was actually the first, way back in 1994. I’ve also had some really clueless (in a business sense) advertisers. Most, of course, have been somewhere in between. Here’s a quick review on how to help your ad buy achieve the best result it can.
After years and years on this distribution, Jeff in Virginia unsubscribed last week, complaining there were “too many ads for the premium edition — it like [sic] a never-ending pledge-week on PBS.”
I’ve asked readers to please recommend True to their friends — that, after all, is probably how they heard about the newsletter in the first place. But a reader wants help to do that: “I’m not a writer,” says Carla in Oklahoma.
YAIBB — Yet Another Internet Business Book — arrived here on Friday, sent to me because it’s YAIBB that mentions me, This is True, and the GOOHF cards.
Looking at its Amazon reviews elicited a chuckle.
I ran a survey the past week asking what you wanted to see in True’s book compilations. Here are the results.
I’m getting more and more mail asking about this, and I’ve been dropping hints here and there that something’s up. So it’s time to give you the skinny on where things are with True’s book collections. Exciting things are happening!
Both the Premium (paid) subscribers and the Free edition subscribers were asked:
I’ve already run interviews with True’s contributors Jennifer Weiner and Mike Straw. I finally got my newest contributor, Alexander Cohen, to take time from has day job and his True sideline work to answer some questions — just in time to get some feedback from him about two stories he wrote that promise to be …controversial. Let’s start with those two stories, from True’s 11 September 2011 issue.
I noted in Friday’s free edition that I received a “take-down” demand from an attorney about an article. The letter was dated August 4, but I didn’t get it until Thursday, August 18.
Some interesting statistical analysis on True story locations from Premium subscriber Mark in (yep!) Florida:
It always fascinates me how readers perceive me and the business behind This is True. This is the story of one reader’s …well… “interesting” impression.