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Take Control Books Acquired by Joe Kissell

We have big news! It is with great pleasure that Tonya and I want to tell you that, after nearly 14 years of publishing, we’re selling Take Control Books — lock, stock, and bit barrel — to Joe Kissell and his wife, Morgen Jahnke. (According to the lawyers and accountants, what’s actually happening is that TidBITS Publishing is selling the Take Control Books assets to Joe and Morgen’s company, alt concepts. Sure, fine, whatever. This is really one mom-and-pop company transferring a functional business to another mom-and-pop company, and as I’ll explain, Tonya and I only earn anything if Take Control stays successful.)

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For Take Control readers, little will change. After all, Joe has written more Take Control books than anyone and has contributed greatly to both the editorial and technical direction of Take Control. Plus, all our authors and editors are on board with the move, and Lauri Reinhardt will continue to provide customer service. One thing that will change is that the required server move will mean that Take Control and TidBITS accounts will have to be managed separately from now on.

Of course, Joe has lots of things he wants to do with Take Control in the future, so you’ll see new books, new authors, and more after he gets past the initial work of the transition. He’s also totally open to ideas — he has set up a virtual guestbook where you can leave feedback for him or tell us what Take Control has meant to you.

So where did this acquisition come from? It was our idea, and Joe was literally speechless when Tonya and I first floated it. Here’s the thing. In 2017, all three of us turn 50, which is one of those ages when you start reflecting on where you want your life to go next.

Put simply, we were all stuck in our own ruts: Joe writing books, Tonya juggling multiple authors and titles, and me wrangling servers and whatever else needed doing. But since we all rely on Take Control for our livelihoods, it was hard to see any alternative.

The key came from a friend of mine who is a high school principal. He recently explained why K-12 school principals tend to last only 3–5 years in the job now (as opposed to when we were students, when principals were fixtures for decades). He said that, as a new principal, you’d come into a job full of energy, ideas, and solutions, and many of the problems you faced were low-hanging fruit. But after a few years, you’d done most of what you came to do, and the remaining troubles seemed intractable. That’s when, he said, you knew it was time to switch schools, since your intractable problems were someone else’s low-hanging fruit, and a new position would give you back your drive.

No, Tonya and I aren’t going to become school principals — once Tristan graduates in six weeks, we are so done with all things related to secondary education. But we do want to focus more attention on our new TidBITS Content Network service, which provides syndicated content to Apple consultants and resellers. And as I said in “TidBITS Turns 27: Pondering the Future” (17 April 2017), I desperately want to update the ancient infrastructure underneath TidBITS. And to reiterate a point I made in that article, Tonya and I see this as Life 2.0. Maybe we’ll start writing about that too!

By selling Take Control to Joe, we get the comfort of knowing that we’re putting a successful business in highly capable hands, especially when it comes to taking care of our people. Numerous authors and editors rely on Take Control for income, and it was important to us that they be able to continue to do so. And when it comes to readers, we know Joe shares our commitment to quality, so you’ll be able to continue to trust what you read in Take Control’s pages. There’s no room for alternative facts in our books.

The Transition FAQ on the Take Control site has more details about the sale, and you can hear us talk about it on MacVoices. If you want to talk to us about it or just say hello, we’ll be hosting a live video chat on Saturday, May 6th from 3–4 PM Eastern. Just load the YouTube Live page at the right time in your part of the world, which you can figure out on the Every Time Zone site.

Finally, I want to emphasize that as much as Tonya and I appreciate your support over the last 14 years, we’re depending on you to keep supporting Take Control in the future too. As is common in small business acquisitions, we’re financing the deal from future revenues, which means that we only earn anything if Joe is successful. To that end, we’ll be helping Joe during and after the handover, so it’s not like we’re just walking away from everything we’ve built.

 

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Comments about Take Control Books Acquired by Joe Kissell

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Chris Pepper  An apple icon for a TidBITS Staffer 2017-05-01 13:29
Best of luck to you all in the new configuration.
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Mike Vlasman  An apple icon for a TidBITS Contributor 2017-05-01 15:14
Congratulations to all! This sounds like a win-win-win-win-win-win, and on until your last Take Control reader is reached.
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Robyn Weisman  2017-05-01 15:15
Congratulations to all of you! What great news 😊
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David Redfearn  An apple icon for a TidBITS Supporter 2017-05-02 12:43
Joe will be great - he is my favorite Take Control books author. But weren't the books your primary income source? Tidbits is great - and I pay for membership - but you can't be making a lot of money on that - if any. I want both the books and Tidbits to survive and flourish!

David
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Adam Engst  An apple icon for a TidBITS Staffer 2017-05-02 13:16
Yes, Take Control was very much our primary source of income, and you're absolutely right that TidBITS doesn't make much for us. It's self-sufficient in terms of paying for Josh as managing editor, and outside authors, and its servers, and development, and so on, but that doesn't leave much left.

As I said in the article, the key is that we're financing the sale of Take Control to Joe, so he'll pay us out of future profits. If he can keep Take Control ticking along at its current level or increase sales, that will keep us going too. That's why it's important to us that people still keep buying Take Control books and why we're happy to help Joe get his feet under him.

In the meantime, we're not planning to, as we say, sit around and eat bonbons all day. Most notably, the TidBITS Content Network is starting to gain traction with Apple consultants and resellers. And, of course, we could always write some Take Control books — we know a guy there. :-)
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Michael E. Cohen  An apple icon for a TidBITS Staffer 2017-05-02 19:13
Oh, Adam, should you write one, can I edit it? It would be a nice shoe-on-the-other-foot moment for me! 🤣
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Adam Engst  An apple icon for a TidBITS Staffer 2017-05-03 10:44
I don't know, you're not nearly as cute as my normal editor. :-)
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Michael E. Cohen  An apple icon for a TidBITS Staffer 2017-05-06 13:41
💔
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Congrats all ! Joe will do an excellent job, as usual.

Hope Life-2.0 will work out well for everyone !!
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