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Thinking about JoS and PParadise...

I just visited ProgrammersParadise.com, the website of the company for which catalogue our poster boy Joel writes articles. As far as I can see, there are not only products listed there, but also quite a few interviews and articles. Ofcourse, they serve promotional purposes (i.e. interview with [let's say] Borland CEO on a Borland promo page), but isn't PParadise using Joels articles for promotional purposes, too?

Being from "old Europe" (I couldn't resist it ;))), I cannot order the North American catalogue for the reasons mentioned in a thread at this website a few weeks ago. Anyway, I'd love to read about Joels expiriences with software products from a software developers perspective.

So what's the reason for PParadise NOT to publish these articles (so far just one, but hopefuly more will follow) at their website? And what do you think about starting a champaigne (to collect signatures) to get PParadise change their minds and finally make Joels article available to the whole planet! According to the translations there's demand on this information across both oceans.

Enjoy
Saturday, February 08, 2003

One thing you must understand about outfits like Programmer's Paradise and others who publish a printed and mailed catalog:

Every square inch of space in the catalog is sold in one way or another.  Space is sold in these catalogs just like a magazine.  If there is a big interview with someone from Borland, Borland bought the pages either with cash, a product barter (catalog space for free units to sell, very common), or something.

Ever notice the Programmer's Paradise "featured product" section in magazines like Dr. Dobbs?  PP buys the page and then resell's the 1/9 page ads to their customers, making a fair buck on the whole operation.

Joel is doing the same thing - he is writing articles for the "catalog" and getting something in return - since the PP web site does not seem to be selling Fog Creek software, maybe he bartered a couple thousand email addresses in exchange for the article.  In the old days joints like PP would sell snail mail addresses of their customers, already printed on stickers or machine readable (on 5.25" floppies back then) ready to go.

The rule of thumb used to be that to get sold by PP or somebody like that, you had to buy a 1/4 page ad when they first started carrying your products.  Generally this cost between $2K and $3K.  They would normally insist on a 40% reseller discount, so if you wanted to barter product for the ad (very common) you would have to give them ton of your stuff at 40% off to satisfy the ad barter cost.  Basically you were the very last guy to get paid if you got paid at all.

It is the dumbest business model I have ever seen, and very few make money at it over a long period of time.  The ones that do charge out the ass for their stuff just so they can pay for their fancy schmancy reseller "partners".

I'm not bitter - just weary of outfits like PP - they are one of the last operations like them still standing, Mitch & Murray has been around the block with them and many of their (no longer in business) buddies.

Don't even ask me about "Component Source".  ACK.

Mitch & Murray (from downtown)
Saturday, February 08, 2003

"Joel is doing the same thing - he is writing articles for the "catalog" and getting something in return - since the PP web site does not seem to be selling Fog Creek software, maybe he bartered a couple thousand email addresses in exchange for the article"

- Do you have the beef to support this?

Prakash S
Saturday, February 08, 2003

I have no "beef" with what Joel is doing - but I've been in the developer tools business for almost 20 years, including dealings with PP and many of their fallen comrades, and I known first hand that nothing happens for free - that is the way the world works.

That does not make Joel's gig with PP bad.  Both parties are getting something out of the arrangement, and that is how bidness happens.

Mitch & Murray (from downtown)
Sunday, February 09, 2003

M&M,

I'm with Prakash here. Where's the beef to support this?

Your comments go beyond idle speculation and I believe would be considered libellous in some jurisdictions. Proceed with caution. I do recall that you posted some stuff about PP before and didn't back up your statements. Perhaps this would be the time to provide some clarification of what you are getting at.

Dennis Atkins
Sunday, February 09, 2003

Sorry guys, not wanting to make a stink here.  I am just relating to you how the software reseller business works.  As I think I mentioned before, we are a software tools vendor and have dealt with catalog resellers for years.

Nothing libelous about my comments that I can see - I am just commenting on how the business works.  It sounds like many of you have no experience with it - hence the slack jaws of disbelief.

Call up PP and ask them for a media kit for their catalog - they will send you their rate card and their requirements for doing business with you.  It is not secret information.

Mitch & Murray (from downtown)
Sunday, February 09, 2003

Mitch and Murray:

>> since the PP web site does not seem to be selling Fog Creek software, maybe he bartered a couple thousand email addresses in exchange for the article.


This alone appears to be the hypothesis you stated that is the object of the contention.


I personally found this statement that Joel would have paid to author *this* particular article odd to weird. The article was a summary of the use and benefits of VMWare, basically a pitch for VMWare, and contains nothing about Fog Creek's products except a short blurb and a link at the bottom of the article to Joel's editorial site Joelonsoftware.com.


My guess (not that it carries any weight) is that an article like this would be worth writing for free in exchange for having a URL appear in print in a widely distributed catalog.  If I were Joel, I would w/o a doubt *NOT* pay to lend my name without some benefit. I could see the article being contributed in exchange for a byline; paying to be in print crosses a line. I dunno, maybe I'm off base here.


After all, while the ink is worth *something* to the author -  the catalog is in the corresponding position of requiring intellectually respected people in the industry, and not merely corporate shills, to occasionally help them pitch their products.

Anyway - on the email sharing theory verging on libel - there is a subculture in current geekdom that specifies that sharing of email addresses is a sort of internet identity theft and is "almost" the worst thing that an online company can do to its customers. Hence the promotion of this theory to "libelous".

Personally, I think that people who get incredibly hot and bothered about SPAM must lead very blessed lives devoid of real problems... but what do I know.

Bored Bystander
Sunday, February 09, 2003

>> Personally, I think that people who get incredibly hot and bothered about SPAM

Whoops, I better clarify this statement. I'm not speaking of system administrators who deal with SPAM traffic load and problems resulting from viruses embedded in incoming email.

I meant among those in the "should get a life camp" the zealots who consider the sale of an email address from Legitimate vendor A to Legit Vendor B to be tantamount to crushing babies under white hot steel rollers.

Bored Bystander
Sunday, February 09, 2003

Sorry, you misunderstood me - perhaps I was not clear, in which case I apologize.

For writing the article I meant to suggest that Joel may have been compensated via some email sales leads - he receives the leads from PP in exchange for writing the story, not the other way around.  Certainly he should get something for his troubles, and these catalog resellers generally like to barter for something rather than cough up cash.

It is just conjecture on my part, based on previous practices in the industry.  Maybe he got nothing out of the deal at all other than a brief mention of him and his company in the article.  I really don't know, I was guessing based on what I have seen (any been offered myself) before.

Example - buy a magazine ad and the mag will frequently throw in 5000 names from their subscriber list for you to use as you see fit to sweeten the deal.

Sorry to have ruffled feathers here.  I am not suggesting that anything sleazy was taking place.

Mitch & Murray (from downtown)
Sunday, February 09, 2003

Thanks for clarifying. It did sound weird and I think everyone else got the same impression I did.

One thing, though - I would bet good money that some developers *would* pay to write and place even a generic tech article for a catalog/magazine like Programmer's Paradise, just to get a sample of a high profile published work out there. I wonder if  P.P. had ever considered this new source of revenue... exploiting developer vanity for cash. :-)

BTW - on catalogs - I used to hear that the founder of Zac Catalogs (now defunct) made a mint off of that business. I wonder why they closed...

Bored Bystander
Sunday, February 09, 2003

Well, we did business with the ZAC Catalog, and I can tell you _exactly_ why they closed ....

Mitch & Murray (from downtown)
Sunday, February 09, 2003

"Example - buy a magazine ad and the mag will frequently throw in 5000 names from their subscriber list for you to use as you see fit to sweeten the deal."

Including my name on such a list would be a great way to ensure i never did business with the seller of the list or the buyer who used it to spam me, ever.

In Europe it would also be against the various data protection laws.

And yes, I'm a sysadmin who has to deal with it all day. No I don't think its a crime against humanity, its just something that makes my job more difficult. And as such I won't support it as a business model.

Robert Moir
Monday, February 10, 2003

Once again a mis-understanding.  The magazines throw in snail-mail addresses, not email addresses.

Did you ever notice that if you subscribe to Dr. Dobbs or the C/C++ User's Journal, you invariably get junk mail (snail-mail!) from some of their advertisers?

That is the type of thing I am talking about - not SPAM.

Mitch & Murray (from downtown)
Monday, February 10, 2003

I beg your pardon mitch and or murray. I thought we were talking electronic magazines.

Ok its not spam, but here in Europe I'm still inclined to think giving my details out without my express permission to do so would actually be illegal.

Robert Moir
Monday, February 10, 2003

I fail to see how paper junk mail is somehow better or more excusable than electronic junk mail. At least the electronic variety doesn't waste paper or landfill space.

Martha
Monday, February 10, 2003

The sender pays for paper mail.

The recepient pays for electronic.

Sending someone unsolicited commercial email is therefore stealing.

Some of the tricks spammers use to send emails certainly count as illegal system hacking.

Robert Moir
Monday, February 10, 2003

I am more appalled by the "traditional" paper and plastic spam then by its electronic equivalent. I do not care whether "they" pay or "I" pay in theory. In practice its all in the price of the package. The ad-wars are paid for through product mark-up, and the DSL line is bulk paid for, so who pays what?
As another poster said before, at least withemail we are not talking landfills.

On topic: Why all jump the gun? Maybe Joel will be as forthcoming with this PP deal as he is in the Peer1 case.

Just me (Sir to you)
Tuesday, February 11, 2003

Well "Just Me", we'll agree to disagree. I can show how spam costs my employer direct money.

I can show you how as a home user, when i dial up while travelling on my laptop, it costs me money because my modem connecttion is paid for by the miniute and when i have to do it via my mobile phone its a 9.6k connection at a very expensive rate.

But I gather you ain't interested so I won't bother.

Robert Moir
Tuesday, February 11, 2003

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