Sam Zell Examines New Crockery, Has Neck Problems

zell.jpg Sam Zell reportedly made a trip to one of his new (awaiting FCC approval) Tribune properties at the LA Times. Despite Times Publisher David Hiller’s attempt to make Zell seem as fuzzy as possible, other accounts contend that Zell tore the Times a new one.
Among Zell’s alleged “constructive criticisms” of the LA Times:
-It has a crap business section
-Its reporting is not guided by popular demand
-It lacks a focus on foreign coverage
-Called the idea that front-page ads compromise the integrity of the paper a crock of shit
-Said that the paper was pretty bland in general
Hiller’s memo provided a laundry list of Zell-isms and Zell advice, designed to summarize a videoed Q&A that was posted for employee viewing (if anyone has a copy of the vid, send it or a link over to tips at dealbreaker dot com). Some of the gems:
–“I promise you I did not come here to be captain of the Titanic”
–“My head and neck only look forward;” “I don’t really give a [ ] about the past”
–“I can’t do it” has to be eliminated from our vocabulary
–The future is up to us; Sam wants our plans not his plans; wants open, candor from us (doesn’t kill the messenger)
Hiller’s take on Sam Zell [LABizObserved]
Zell’s Big Dis [Slate]

Expecto Patronum Huge Sales, Spell Works For Now

harry potter 2.jpg The latest Harry Potter book is the fastest selling book in U.S. history, with publisher Scholastic estimating that the title sold 8.3 million copies over the weekend since the 12:01am Saturday release. Major retailers Borders, Barnes & Noble and Amazon all sold over 1 million copies and many book retailers offered discounts on the $34.99 cover price to charge additional purchases (translation – please read something else… we’ll settle for the trivia on the back of our coffee cups, which is more literary than Rowling’s prose).
It seems that the wild Potter sales expectations were mostly priced into Scholastic’s (Nasdaq:SCHL) stock, up over 1% in daily trading, but down over 3% in the last week since the Company released earnings.
As for who dies in the book – the answer is publishing. Scholastic posted slight revenue and net income gains for the quarter, but declining revenue and profit for the fiscal year, suggesting that even Harry Potter can’t save the publishing sector.
Harry Potter and the Magical Coattails [Wall Street Journal]