Firebrand Technologies is excited to share the following news with our loyal customers and extended community!

Firebrand is now the North American distributor for Book2Look, an innovative widget for reading and sharing book content online. The Book2Look widget will be offered alongside Firebrand’s Content Services, offering users faster setup and implementation than mainstream commercial offerings and as a promotion option for NetGalley customers. Book2Look is also available for non-Firebrand customers.

untethered-soulPlease take a moment to view a sample of the widget implemented for “Untethered Soul,” from New Harbinger Publications. The book – already a breakaway success – was recently featured on Good Morning America by Oprah, and is a New York Times bestseller. Untethered Soul is expected to see high volume use of this newly featured content view tool.

Please view and download a copy of our brochure, or Contact Firebrand for more information.

Sign up for an informative overview webinar on Book2Look being offered on Wednesday, January 9th from 1:00 PM – 2:00 PM EST. Register here.



Congratulations Globe Pequot Press

Firebrand would like to congratulate Globe Pequot Press for the recent nomination of their New York Times Bestseller – Domingo Martinez’ The Boy Kings of Texas: A Memoir – as a National Book Award Finalist in the nonfiction category.

Globe Pequot have been a part of the Firebrand family for years; both as Title Management and Content Services users. We’re thrilled to have them aboard, and are elated to pass along our congratulations on this fine achievement.

First-time author Martinez is included alongside four renowned journalists in the nonfiction category. All four of Martinez’s fellow finalists are Pulitzer Prize winners: Anthony Shadid, House of Stone: A Memoir of Home, Family, and a Lost Middle East (Houghton Mifflin); past National Book Award winner Robert A. Caro, The Passage of Power: The Years of Lyndon Johnson, Volume 4 (Knopf); Katherine Boo, Behind the Beautiful Forevers: Life, Death, and Hope in a Mumbai Undercity (Random House); and Anne Applebaum, Iron Curtain: The Crushing of Eastern Europe, 1945-1956 (Doubleday).

Partly a reflection on the culture of machismo and partly an exploration of the author’s boyhood spent in his sister’s hand-me-downs, The Boy Kings of Texas: A Memoir delves into the enduring and complex bond between Martinez and his deeply flawed but fiercely protective older brother, Daniel, and features a cast of memorable characters—including his gun-hoarding former farmhand Gramma and “the Mimis,” two of his older sisters who for a short, glorious time, manage to transform themselves from poor Latina adolescents into upper-class white girls. In telling his story, Martinez provides a real glimpse into a society where children are traded like commerce, physical altercations routinely solve problems, drugs are rampant, sex is often crude, and people depend on the family witch doctor for advice. In short, there is never a dull moment within the covers of The Boy Kings of Texas: A Memoir. The book was published in July 2012.

“This award has given deserved exposure for such an eloquent writer, Domingo Martinez,” said Globe Pequot President, Jim Joseph. “The other finalists in the nonfiction category all have a Pulitzer Prize to their name and this is Domingo’s debut work. The book is so deserving of the attention and it’s great to see that others recognize it too. Having an author as a finalist in the National Book Awards is the highest honor for Globe Pequot Press. We have the most talented and committed people here. We’re excited that a piece of the fine publishing we do every day will be seen and recognized by so many others as a result of this.”

Commendable work, Globe! We’re happy for you in your achievement here, and are continually grateful and proud to be able to serve you.

For more information on The Boy Kings of Texas: A Memoir, and Domingo Martinez, click here.

We love hearing Firebrand Community success stories. If you’ve got something you’d like to share, we’d love to hear from you!

The Truth About Cats and Dogs: Navigating the Digital vs. Print Publishing “Debate”

In the world of pets, the two major players are cats and dogs. Some of us refer to ourselves as cat lovers, some as dog lovers, and there are even some that walk both sides of the line, which is totally acceptable. And yes, it would be remiss if we didn’t report that there are even folks that don’t care for any of the aforementioned descriptions.

In the world of publishing, the two major players that have been debated at great lengths in recent times are digital and print.

Some of us refer to ourselves as digital consumers. Like a cat, digital publications are seemingly independent entities. They don’t need much in the way of care, and they’re there when you’re ready for them in an instant. If you’re not in need, they’re just as happy hanging out tableside, taking up little space, and making little noise. Digital publications, in many ways, are easier, and cheaper to obtain. If you’ve got one, you’ve likely got two or more, as merchants are constantly waving “sale” flags. In some cases they’re virtually giving ‘em away.

Some of us refer to ourselves as print consumers. Like a dog, the print publication generally takes up a bit more space. You’re more apt to trip over them. Wherever you’re at in a room, they’re there staring back at you, yearning to be picked up. They don’t want to be banished to the book shelf, where they’re doomed to collect dust and not bask in the glory of being touched by their owner. Fact is, they demand far more care than that of their counterpart, and investing in a book takes a bit more work at the outset.

Of course, there are some of us that appreciate the benefits and features of both digital and print publications. And furthermore, there are even folks that don’t like reading at all. To each their own…

No matter what category you fall into, the truth can be boiled down into simple terms (and without any debate whatsoever): There is no right and/or wrong.

The importance of this notion for publishers is that you must pay attention to, and focus on “all of the above,” which many have been working to achieve for quite some time now (this is not “new” news by any means, and if it is, you’ve been spending a bit too much time walking the dog).

eBook architect (and guru) Joshua Tallent summed it up best during his presentation at this year’s Firebrand Community Conference (#Fire2012). He claimed that no matter the track – digital or print – the end result is merely a container. The container is either a bunch of pages bound together with glue, or an ePub file. Simple as that.

For publishers, it’s important to think of yourself as not merely a book publisher, but as a content publisher. Content, as they say, is king. Your audience is filled with folks that walk on both sides of the line (and even on it), and thus, it’s imperative to the lifeblood of your organization that they’re all equally accounted for and taken seriously.

For readers, there are many exciting developments in the world of publishing, and in the way you consume content. The idea that you can cross back and forth between formats and pick up where you left off is a convenience and a revelation that is worth looking into. The future, as it stands now, is an intriguing study with an uncertain, but exciting landscape. It’s okay if you’re not willing to walk both sides of the line. It’s just an option. And whether you’re a cat lover, or a dog lover (or both), options are good. We can all agree on that. Oh, and if you leave a dog and a cat in room together for long enough, they’ll eventually get along (right?)

The bottom line is, all of this boils down to content, or the personality of an entity that will either make or break a story and whatever “container” it’s presented in. The truth about cats and dogs is; truth is in the eye of the beholder. In truth there may exist variety. In variety the point is not found in debate; it’s found in executing both sides of the coin effectively. Adapting to this variety and rewriting a bit of your own story in the process should be considered a fruitful and engaging endeavor. The story (on all levels), and that quest for truth, is, quite frankly, all that matters.

How are you managing your digital vs. print initiatives?

The Answer is…

The 2012 Firebrand Community Conference (#Fire2102) was an eye and mind opening experience for all in attendance. The publishing industry has been in a state of flux for a number of years now with debates looming large over the battle between digital and print formats, how to market effectively and efficiently amidst a stream of ostensibly relevant channels, and who to turn to for answers in one’s attempt to navigate the myriad of other issues, advancements, and new noisy terrain present in the publishing world today.

The answer that seemed to prevail was: There is no answer.

That’s not necessarily a bad thing. Sometimes having an answer detracts from the exploration of other avenues, and those other avenues happen to be the present beauty within a scene in flux. Sure, not having one true answer can feel uncomfortable. But what good is comfort when there is literally no time for rest? What the Community Conference successfully accomplished was the notion that everyone in the room is in the same boat. There’s no such thing as smooth sailing. Power in numbers will allow you to steady the boat to some extent… The answers are in our uncertainties; they’re present in every campaign we launch, for better or worse. They’re in experimenting with new ways to conduct antiquated practices. They’re in harnessing the power of technology and using that power to better put forth a message or task. They’re in accepting change and welcoming that change into our daily routine(s). They’re in communicating with your peers to listen and hear stories of success and/or failure. And that’s what we’re all doing, isn’t it? We’re telling stories, and we’re hoping to get those stories heard.

When Firebrand’s Chief Igniter, Fran Toolan stepped on stage to welcome the crowd to “the show,” he stood in front of a projected quote from famed musician and songwriter David Crosby. This is how it read:

“Bands work, on the highest level, when there’s submission to a greater thing.”

The idea and overall validation that was found at the Conference is that we’re all an integral part of the band. Sure we represent a vast array of different organizations, but at the end of the day, we’re all in the publishing industry facing the same issues. By working together we’re strengthening the industry’s means of survival. The overwhelming participation by all in attendance during the two days that made up #Fire2012 is staggering proof that the sentiment outlined in Crosby’s quote seemingly rings true amongst publishing professionals. We may not have the answer, but collectively we have the answers to help construct the bridge that will get each of us from point A to point B. Without a doubt there was some beautiful, thought-provoking music made at the 2012 Firebrand Community Conference. As Brian O’Leary mentioned in his keynote presentation, “There’s plenty to do. Let’s keep working on it.” We’re all here due to a mutual admiration of what it means to be in publishing and working amidst a group of rousing individuals. In crazy, turbulent times the best work comes out of those that keep plugging away and keeping the lines of communication open. If we keep hitting the right notes and practice hard every day, both as individuals and as a member of the greater whole, we’ll be hard pressed to fall. It’ll be interesting to see where the band takes it from here.

A Community Conference Tradition Continues

On Thursday at lunch time, a tradition will continue at the Firebrand Community Conference:

The Stanley R. Greenfield Memorial Pizza Lunch!

Stanley, and his wife, Betty, attended our first conference, representing their company, Dial-A-Book. In keeping with the informal atmosphere we were looking to create, we decided to offer a Pizza Lunch for all attendees on the second day of the conference.  Stanley jumped at the chance of sponsoring that lunch, and made it a point to introduce himself to as many people as he could during that time.

Stanley was a great friend to Firebrand, and a true Firebrand in his own right.  When we lost him in March of 2009, we felt there could be no better tribute that we could offer than to continue the Pizza Lunch in his honor.

Stanley working away during a break at the first Firebrand Community Conference

Stanley, you are remembered, and missed by the Firebrand Community!

Traveling to Newburyport for the Community Conference #Fire2012

Hey All!

We’ve received a few inquiries into the best ways to get to Newburyport, Mass via plane, train, and automobile. Here’s a bit of info:

Airports and Train Stations

Boston Logan Airport and Manchester, New Hampshire are suitable for visiting Newburyport. Both airports are about 45 minutes from the office.

Also, for those traveling by train From anywhere along the Northeast Corridor, Amtrak can be taken into South Station (Boston). The Acela is 3.5 hours from Penn Station to South Station, and runs hourly until 7pm.

Transportation from Airports

Regal Limo was recommended by one of the inns. They have sedans, vans and other vehicles that can accommodate up to 10-14 passengers and even other larger vehicles for more passengers.

Our Friends at the University of Alabama Press found a reasonable shuttle service to and from the Manchester Airport. They also serve the Boston airport. They are a shared van service called Flightline. They have to be notified and paid a week in advance. After certain hours there is an extra charge, but it looks like they will pick up any time.

Other Local Transportation Services

C&J Trailways Bus Service – from Boston Logan Airport (and South Station adjacent to the Train station) to Newburyport.
Newburyport Taxi Service – Seacoast Taxi (978) 499-9990

Port Taxi978-465-2333

For those that are driving to our event there is parking available at the inns. There is also a public parking lot between the Firebrand Technologies office and the Firehouse Center and another lot located to the right and behind the Firehouse. The access road for this is just beyond the Firehouse when you are leaving the office. These parking lots are within walking distance of the inns in Newburyport. Another public lot is available across the street from the Firehouse but that is limited to 2 hour parking so parking there is not suggested.

Feel free to give us a shout with any further questions: 978.465.7755

Reflections on 25 Years

I know this is a big deal, and that, to recognize the efforts of so many people – both employees and clients – who helped us achieve our long tenure in business is very important. It has been quite a journey, and it’s hard not to say “What a Long, Strange Trip it’s Been”.

But, it’s funny.  It certainly doesn’t feel like we’ve been in business that long.  If anything, our company is even more vibrant and exciting than it was when we first started.  We seem to be reinventing ourselves every day, constantly questioning whether we’re doing the right things, trying to get the most from our dedicated team, celebrating victories, and learning from losses.

When I was asked to write this, my reaction was very mixed. Part of me wants to let this anniversary slip by unnoticed, and part of me knows that can’t happen.  The part of me that wants this to slip by is motivated by a sense that we have not yet accomplished what we set out to do.  To ignore it, though, would be disrespectful to those people who have dedicated most of their business careers to this endeavor.

So, some history:

I started Quality Solutions in the bedroom of my condo in Plainsboro, NJ in August of 1987.  I had been working for a large systems consulting company where involved in several projects developing custom royalty systems for Random House, William Morrow, Prentice Hall, and Addison-Wesley.  During those years, two things happened; I fell in love with the book publishing business, and became appalled that consultants (like my company) were being employed to work on publishing systems without the slightest knowledge of the business.  The mission then, of Quality Solutions, was to offer greater value and a better product than my generic brethren by understanding the needs of this niche market.

The first real client of Quality Solutions was Simon & Schuster in 1988.  And, I am very proud to say that S&S continues to be a client of Firebrand to this day.  However, trying to drum up business in publishing by myself was challenging. So, in 1988, I partnered with a colleague from my old company who was trying to do something similar for the financial services industry in Boston.  The financial services side of our business grew much faster than the publishing side, and in 1990 my family moved from New Jersey to Massachusetts.

The rapid growth of our business was a very heady time.  By 1993, we already had 45 people working for the company – 35 of whom were based in a swanky office in Woburn, MA, and the remaining 10 based in a satellite office over a restaurant in Long Island, NY.  My partner ran the financial services side which was all in the Boston area, and I ran the publishing side which was all in the Long Island office. But trouble was clearly on the horizon. My partner and I had radically different personalities and styles. And, our company structure and politics reflected those differences.

In 1994, my partner was involved in a scandal and was forced to resign. By the end of the year, we had no financial services customers’ left, and many employees resigned.  The mission of the company became one of survival.

I need to stop here and recognize some key people who are with Firebrand now, and were with me during that very tumultuous period: Susan Burke – the first person I recruited in 1989, is Firebrand’s chief Application Architect.  Her brother, Doug Lessing, joined us almost right out of college and is now the President of Firebrand. Bill Bennett, Alan Katzen, and Jen Lyman all went away, but came back.  And, of course, my wife, Catherine, who was not working for the company then, but she was my rock, and she is now in charge of our Eloquence service.  These folks are the heart of who we are today, and I cannot express my respect and gratitude nearly enough.

Survival was the mission of the company for most of the next 12 years, and that survival would not have been possible without the strong support of some key individuals at our clients. Michael Selleck, Howard Goldstein, Tim McGuire, Mike Shareck, Fritz Foy – all of Simon & Schuster at the time, and with the exception of Michael have all moved on to other ventures in publishing and continued to support us. Anet Sirna-Bruder, then of Book-of-the-Month Club, now at Abrams. Lou Peragallo, then of Addison-Wesley, now at Wiley.

There is no question that without the support of all of the people mentioned above and many who would join the company and client roster during the next 12 years, that Firebrand would have been just another statistic in the world of business.

During those 12 years, we learned to pivot and adapt, and work to understand the needs of publishers.  We learned how to borrow money, protect our cash, and invest in ourselves.  We also added a backbone to the company with the addition of Rob Stevens, Paul Milana, Kate Wiewiora, Barbara Burns, Kusum Basra, Denise Muise, Linda Adler, Steve Quaglia, and Barbara Blanchette – all of whom are still with us.  It was a time of great challenge, but having weathered it, we were very well suited for what was to happen next.

Fast forward to 2008, and we know we’re on the brink of some good things. We started looking at how we branded our products, and eventually re-branded the entire organization. We realized our role in the industry.  We were truly Firebrands, and this was the time to embrace what we were. We held our first community conference in April that year, unveiled our new brand, a new line of products, and a new attitude.

That first community conference was a real watershed moment for us, and we used it very well to propel ourselves to where we are now.  Since 2008, we took over NetGalley, started several new service offerings, grown our company size to about 50 people, and have grown our base of customers by over 100%.  It has been a time of great change for us, but interestingly, much about who we are and how we work has remained constant.

We are a team that always tries to do the right thing for our clients, relies heavily on each other, and tries to never let anyone down.

It’s really nice to be able to say that the more things changed, the more they stayed the same.

What will be really interesting is the next chapter…  The mission now is to be a force for the betterment of the publishing industry.  Maybe it took 25 years to learn, but life really is all about the journey, and very little about the destination.  I hope you will join us on the path ahead.