As many Joe On Tech readers know, I have been an author for over 20 years, and for the last 14 of those years, most of my books have been published by Take Control Books. In fact, I’ve written 56 Take Control titles so far (nearly a third of their catalog), and royalties from those books have been my primary source of income for a long time. It has been a pretty good gig.
In a twist I never could have predicted or even imagined just a few months ago, my company (alt concepts inc.) has acquired Take Control Books from TidBITS Publishing Inc. (owned by Adam and Tonya Engst). I can’t say I’ve ever heard of an author purchasing their publisher before, and I’m still boggling at the weirdness of it all. But this arrangment is a Very Good Thing for everyone involved.
First of all, the venerable Take Control series will continue indefinitely, with an unbroken string of new and updated titles from the usual array of popular authors (including yours truly). If we’ve handled the technical details correctly, everything that was working before should continue to work in the future (and if not, we’ll fix it). Although there are various behind-the-scenes infrastructure changes like new IP addresses and author royalties being paid from a different bank account, the transition should be essentially seamless from our customers’ point of view.
This transition means that Adam and Tonya get a much-needed change of pace. Doing the same thing for too long can lead to boredom and burnout, and I think they felt the time was ripe to explore a different direction professionally. They didn’t want to simply discontinue Take Control, because the series has been so valuable to so many people (readers, authors, and editors alike), but they needed to find it a good home while ensuring that their income didn’t suddenly dry up. Because I’ve been so deeply involved with Take Control since the beginning, I was in a unique position to take over without having to learn the business from scratch.
And so I get a new title: Publisher! I’ll still be writing books, but not as many as before, because a great deal of my time will now be spent publishing other people’s books; managing the business; and dealing with various technological, financial, and logistical matters. I’ll help to recruit and nurture more authors and editors, develop new titles, and do the various other sorts of schmoozing and networking that publishers apparently do. My wife, Morgen Jahnke, will be a big part of this business too. Her main focus will be marketing and publicity, and one of her main goals is to help Take Control books reach a wider audience. Our calculations suggest that this new arrangement will give us greater financial stability, and with luck and hard work, we might even get a bit of an income boost over what would have been possible previously. That would be nice.
Take Control has been incredibly successful as a publisher of tech-focused ebooks, and the last thing I’d want to do is muck up a system that works well. I do, however, have lots of ideas about ways in which Take Control can be improved and expanded. It will take a while to work through my to do list—everything requires time, money, or both. But I am extremely motivated to guide Take Control onward and upward. It’ll be exciting.
You may be wondering what this all means for Joe On Tech. Well, the main reason I started this site was to give a home to several of my favorite Take Control titles that Adam and Tonya were unable to keep updating. (The blog portion of the site, which was admittedly somewhat of an afterthought, didn’t get much attention because I was nearly always busy writing books!) The four current Joe On Tech books will continue to be available, both on this site and at takecontrolbooks.com. I expect to update them later this year after Apple releases the next version of macOS. At some point, I’ll probably reintegrate them into the Take Control brand, because having everything under one virtual roof will make my life simpler. Quite likely the other articles here will also move over to the Take Control site, and when that happens, I’ll probably retire the Joe On Tech brand altogether. And that’s all fine with me. The books will live on, and I’ll still have a platform to express my thoughts on technology, it just won’t be cartoon-Joe-in-a-purple-shirt everywhere.
In short, there are no problems. On the contrary, I’m thrilled to be embarking on this new adventure (or, if you will, the Pro version of the previous adventure). Off we go!
For more details about the Take Control transition, see: