December 5, 2013 in Daily Bulletin
Alex Mayyasi took an in depth look at ghostwriting – the practice whereby a book is written by an individual other than the person it is normally credited to:
- According to the dictionary an author is “a person who has written something or a person who starts or creates something, such as a plan or idea”. Readers normally think of authors in the first sense while publishers prefer to focus on the second.
- There are four tiers of ghostwriters. The lowest tier can be found on freelancing websites and earn around $10,000 for each ghostwritten book, and are usually required to sign a non-disclosure agreement.
- On the highest tier are authors with a history of writing multi-million dollar hits. They’re paid in the millions, usually receive a share of the profits, as well as some writing credit.
- Some are surprised by how quickly ghostwriters can churn out books – it normally takes them around four months to finish one.
- Celebrities hire ghostwriters because writing authoring can be lucrative. The bidding for the rights to Angelina Jolie’s autobiography are rumored to have reached $50 million.
- They also might not find it worth their time to write their own – especially when a ghostwriter will likely do a better job of writing it.
- According to experts ghostwriting is a billion dollar industry. 25% of the New York Times’ nonfiction bestseller list is thought to be ghostwritten, as well as virtually all celebrity books.
- Readers usually react negatively to the idea of ghostwriters. Yet nobody minds that Obama doesn’t write his own speeches, Jon Stewart doesn’t write all his own jokes, celebrities don’t design the fashions that have their names attached to them, or that research assistants write the articles that Professors get credit for.
The full article takes a comprehensive look at the industry, and its past, present and future. It also reveals several books that you probably didn’t know were ghostwritten, and tips about how one can get into the business. Read it here.
December 4, 2013 in Daily Bulletin
Adrian Uthayagumaran and Steven Lo at the always excellent Ivey Business Review took a look at the secondary market for sneakers:
- Today only 15% of sneakers are sold for athletic purposes. The rest are bought by customers looking to keep up with fashion.
- To maintain an air of exclusivity to their brands major sneaker companies keep the supply of their shoes low.
- The undersupply means that sometimes prices surge to incredible amounts in the secondary market. In 2012 a shoe that Nike sold to customers for $245 was then sold on eBay on the same day for $90,300.
- In fact the average pair of sneakers on eBay sells for $250 – more than double the $104 that sneakers cost in stores.
- Prices are driven by a community of hobbyists known as “sneakerheads”. An entire industry has sprung up to serve them – from annual conventions, to boutique sneaker stores that verify the authenticity of shoes.
- Estimates suggest that sneakerheads could be a $3.6 billion market.
Find out why this is an incredible opportunity for Foot Locker, and how it can take advantage of it, as well as how Fight Club, a boutique sneaker store, operates and more details about sneakeromics over here.
Source: Ivey Business Review
December 3, 2013 in Daily Bulletin
Max Strasser took a look at the business of funerals:
- The average funeral costs a heart-stopping $7,045
- Some are fighting against this. The “Funeral Consumers Alliance” – which has a surprisingly more spry membership base than one would expect – is advocating against rising prices
- Other protesters sit outside the Federal Trade Commission’s offices with banners such as “I can’t afford to die”
- One of the largest funeral companies, SCI, is listed on the NYSE and is able to save on costs through economies of scale thus paying low prices for things such as embalming fluid
You can read more about the company, how it operates, and regulations around funerals over here.
Source: Al Jazeera
December 2, 2013 in Daily Bulletin
In a world of price comparison websites and money-saving tips, a haven still exists for those who dislike talking about money; at fairs where people buy art.
- Dealers dislike the media’s focus on prices, because they feel that it detracts from more interesting conversations about the quality of the art. To an art dealer, the value of a work isn’t necessarily reflected in its market value.
- The co-director of Frieze, a London art fair, says that you can see that dealers hang their art in a way to be as aesthetic as possible; not to make the most sales as possible.
- Advertising prices also creates the illusion that a particular piece of art is for sale, when it may well not be. Or at least, not to everyone.
- Critics however say not disclosing prices is simply about controlling markets. A dealer may want to sell to particular organisations or groups. An artist may want to get displayed at a prestigious location and be willing to slash prices for this to happen, but wouldn’t want anyone to know about it.
- Price disclosure is also all about reputation. Artists want their art to become more valuable over time, and the difference between how much a painting sells for the first and most recent time is taken as an indication of the artist’s calibre.
For the full article written by a newspaper that would like more price disclosure, click here. If you’re interested in the difference between primary and secondary art markets click here, or for something a bit different here are a tailor’s suggestions on selling art through storytelling.
Source: The Art Newspaper
December 1, 2013 in Daily Bulletin
Mass supersonic air travel was meant to be the logical next step in the continued development of humanity’s air-faring capabilities and The Concorde was meant to get us there with a (sonic) bang. Yet it disappeared. Why? Simon Calder explained:
- Its mesmerizing speeds meant that it was fuel inefficient. It flew 45 miles per ton of fuel. In contrast today’s Boeing 787 can travel 120 miles on the same amount of fuel – and it can carry twice as many passengers while doing it.
- It had a really small range. Most flights required it to make a pit-stop to refuel.
- Its fuel problems were manageable when oil cost $30 a barrel. Now it costs more than three times as much making it too expensive to fly.
- The sonic boom that it produced meant that it could only travel at supersonic speeds over the ocean, limiting the number of routes it could be flown on.
- A fatal air crash in July, 2000 led to each of the Concordes having to be modified – at great cost to the airlines.
- After the modifications were carried out an initial proving flight first flew on September 11th, 2001. It landed soon after the World Trade Center was hit.
- After 9/11 the reluctance of Americans to fly put a final end to the Concorde.
- Today the planes are hosted in museums and can be rented out for weddings.
Read more about what it was like to fly on the Concorde, the dress code, and how passengers could once get £1,000+ tickets for £150 over here.
Source: The Independent
November 30, 2013 in Daily Bulletin
There’s a good chance our American readers have travelled over Thanksgiving and lost some change during TSA’s screening process – or so writes Justin Bachman:
- In the last fiscal year travelers left half a million dollars in loose change at security screening checkpoints.
- Miami did the best with $39,613 in spare change. Guam on the other hand only made $1.70.
- The money that is collected this way is currently spent on airport security projects.
- However there is legislation in place to channel the money to military welfare organizations.
Check out how much money is lost in other airports as well as details of the legislation that would channel the funds elsewhere here.
November 29, 2013 in Daily Bulletin
Youtube has changed a lot over the years, not in the least from becoming hugely more popular. Wired spoke with some of the vloggers (video bloggers) who used to be big names in early Youtube:
- The early vlogging ‘celebrities’ (think 100k views or so) describe the experience as being about connecting with people. It was organic, it was personal, and you could reply to videos with videos.
- Early videos were around 9 minutes long, rambled and weren’t edited. A far shout from the smooth, slick vlogging of today.
- Youtube’s inventors got out as soon as possible. ”They tried to sell it to dating sites, to eBay, you name it — which I think means they didn’t know what to do with it.” explains Paul, an early vlogger.
- Google’s arrival changed the approach. The focus shifted to profit making, and vlogging became a job first and hobby second. It took a long time for early Youtubers to accept the idea of making money from advertising, for example. As in, plugging products in videos for cash.
- Google has responded, saying that Youtube is still collaborative and a community. It’s just that these days to use the creator space, you need 5,000 subscribers. (The creator spaces are facilities with excellent equipment dotted around the world for use by successful vloggers)
The article is focused on the stories of early vloggers and their stories, as well as a pretty detailed and interesting response from Google. Check it out over here
November 28, 2013 in Daily Bulletin
The ever-excellent Freakonomics writers interviewed a number of poverty experts, and asked what the best way to help people is:
- Small nudges seem to work best. Set up a savings account for someone, 90% of the time they will keep saving. If you keep talking about it, savings rates drop.
- GiveDirectly was an initiative to just give poor Kenyan families money (around $1,000) to spend as they wished. Most say they spent on long term investments, but this was self-reporting.
- The ‘Nudge Unit’ of the UK government experimented with different ways of writing letters to people who owed tax. By writing respectfully and nicely, and by saying that most people in their local area paid taxes on time, the unit found that the increase in tax revenue paid for the team for 3 years.
- The trick to taking a small-scale initiative and making it nationwide is to keep it simple. Policy makers back what is easy to understand.
- Overall however, no-one is sure yet if the best way to alleviate poverty is through directly giving people money, or by more involved initiatives with goats, cows and follow-up visits.
Interested in the rest of the article, or how to get accurate data from self-reporting? For the full podcast click here, or for the transcript click here.
November 27, 2013 in Daily Bulletin
There are sometimes stories of the Google cars catching criminals in the act or even knocking over donkeys. But what about catching industrial scale overfishing?
- One way of catching fish on a large scale is by weir; a large, non-moving construct to catch fish (see picture above)
- Researchers contacted local, Persian-gulf academics to find out how many fish were caught per wier.
- Using Google images, the academics counted up the number of weirs, multiplied by average yields and estimated under-reporting of fishing catches.
- The worst offenders are estimated to be Bahrain, reporting around a tenth of catches, and Iran. Though, Iran doesn’t actually bother reporting any of it’s fishing to the Food and Agriculture Organisation.
- Inaccuracies in reported fishing can lead to depletion of fish stocks, and bad policy decisions.
For an overview head over to Quartz, which has a link to the very short and readable journal article.
November 26, 2013 in Daily Bulletin
Ever suspected that wine experts are just making it all up?
- After asking wine experts to sample more than 1,000 bottles of wine, a study by the French National Institute For Agricultural Research concluded that the price of wine is largely determined by its colour and vintage, not taste.
- Another study observed how people bid for bottles of champagne when they had and had not tasted the drink. Bidding was 33% higher when the champagne had not been sampled, implying that champagne tastes better in expectation than reality.
- The fine wine market in 2006 was worth more than $1.9 billion.
For the full story, head on over to the economist
Or, if you’re interested in a full working paper, the researchers over here show an interesting trend. High quality vintages increase in value in the short term, plateu, and then increase again when they become antiques. Low quality vintages by contrast don’t appreciate much at all for the first few years, then have a linear increase in value with time. We recommend heading straight to their conclusion (p.28)
Source: The Economist
And: Wine Economics