I visited a friend this week whose living room boasted quite a tall bookshelf. I was impressed! Only until she told me that the right side of the shelf was a ‘to-be-read’ (TBR) pile.
But wait. She still had a ‘bookshelf wealth’ of close to 200 books.
What’s bookshelf wealth, you wonder?
Well, if you’re a social media aficionado you probably already know. But for the others, here’s what it means. Last month Kailee Blalock, an interior designer from California defined this fancy term on her TikTok video. It was simply using the actual number of books she’d read to deck up her space rather than just arranging books on shelves for their aesthetics. And it could be a way to show your internet friends how authentic or rather how much of an avid reader you are.
Now, many of us often buy books we aspire to read but only end up arranging them neatly on a visible bookshelf. But this trend seems to be giving the internet a reality check. It could push more people to actually pick up their TBR pile this year rather than buy more and more books and leave them unread.
Do you have a bookshelf that says “Read me”? Well, the #BookshelfWealth trend says it’s time.
Here’s a soundtrack to put you in the mood 🎵
Moondance by Dhruv Visvanath featuring Benny Dayal
Got your feet tapping? Let’s dive in then!
A couple of things caught our eye this week 👀
Spotify is in a spot of trouble
If you asked Spotify’s CEO Daniel Ek about the future of Spotify in 2021, he’d tell you that he wanted it to become the Instagram or TikTok of audio. And despite having a 30% market share in the audio streaming business today, it seems to be struggling quite a bit.
Its podcast business seems to be falling short of its lofty expectations.
You see, audio streaming is a tough business with wafer-thin margins. Nearly 70% of the revenues go to labels, artists and publishers. So the pandemic gave Spotify the idea of investing heavily in non-music streaming such as podcasts. It thought of roping in big podcast networks like Gimlet and Parcast as well as popular names like Meghan Markle and the Obamas. By the end of 2023, it had already spent $1 billion in the segment. The idea was to get more people to listen on the platform.
But there was one thing missing ― strategy. Spotify didn’t worry about making money initially. It simply believed that churning out more interesting content would attract listeners.
But here’s the thing. Celebrities can draw eyeballs wherever they go. So the audience naturally builds up. But other shows needed fresh marketing pushes, which Spotify may have failed to give. If things went downhill, it simply tried to experiment with new podcast formats. But podcasts can be time-consuming and expensive to produce — as much as $250,000 an episode. So frequent experimentation wasn’t really a good idea.
One more thing that backfired was exclusivity.
Spotify acquired podcast production companies. And the shows they produced were restricted only to Spotify platforms. But the thing about podcasts is that they make more money from ads when more people listen to them. Not having more platforms, meant a lower audience. So it may have dropped the axe on its own foot.
The end result?
Spotify went through three separate layoffs in 2023, also cutting down a sizeable chunk of its workforce in the podcast segment. Not just that, they’ve also dropped shows like Meghan Markle’s Archetypes, and other critically acclaimed podcasts like Heavyweight and Stolen.
And that’s what has helped the company to turn a rare profit in the third quarter of FY23.
But can Spotify turn around its failing podcast business? We’ll have to wait and see.
Private jets are flying high
Now, we’re not sure if that prediction came true. But flying on swanky private jets seems to be in trend again. Courtesy: Big companies and their big perks.
A Wall Street Journal report this week suggested that as of 2022 the number of big companies providing their top executives with private flying perks rose about 14% since 2019. The number of executives receiving free flights grew by nearly 25%! And this may have meant that companies in the S&P 500 spent $65 million for executives to use corporate jets for personal travel alone.
You see, the pandemic popularised the idea of social distancing and safe travel. And people who could afford it started to fly isolated. As things opened up private jets were also seen as a way by companies to protect their work discussions from being eavesdropped while flying on commercial flights. So that explains the private jet uptrend.
But here’s the thing. This trend may get bigger as private jets outside of the corporate world may also rise. Thanks to global governmental policies that make owning or using private jets easier.
India might soon roll out a policy where multiple owners can fractionally own a 20-seater private jet. And that could bring down costs for first-time buyers who aspire to own private jets. The UK too has been in the news this week for hiking taxes on domestic flights, while excluding private jets and helicopters from the hike.
The irony? Both big companies and global governments have committed to cutting down emissions and bringing them down to net zero in a couple of decades. Private jets aren’t helping this cause.
Jargon of the day ✏️
Money tips 💰
How a silly habit can save you taxes
Here’s a question for everyone who draws a monthly salary.
Do you check your payslip?
We know it can be a silly question. But here’s why it’s important. See, when you make a fixed monthly income you often tend to assume that it’s going to be the same every month. But that’s not true. Sometimes you could make more because of bonuses, incentives or even reimbursements for expenses. And if you miss out on accounting for these variables you might not be able to plan your taxes properly.
That’s not it. It’s always good to be aware of what’s in your payslip as different components of your pay such as specific allowances can have different tax treatments.
So yeah, if you work for a salary don’t just be happy with the salary credit SMS beeping on your phone. Be silly and hit download on that payslip email every month. It can actually make a difference in how efficiently you plan your taxes from April rather than from March.
Readers Recommend 🗒️
This week our reader Srujan Thati recommends a behavioural economics podcast by, Katy Milkman, a Wharton School Professor. Srujan suggests that this podcast could help listeners make better choices and that it could be very interesting for the Finshots audience.
We hope so Srujan. Thank you for the recommendation!
Finshots Weekly Quiz 🧩
It’s time to announce the winner of our previous weekly quiz. And the winner is…🥁
Apurva Mukherjee! Congratulations. Keep an eye on your inbox and we’ll get in touch with you soon to send over your Finshots merch. And for the rest of you, we’ve moved the weekly quiz to our weekly wrap-up. So make sure you answer all the questions correctly and tune in here next week to check if you got lucky.
Oh, and keep your book, music, business movies, documentaries or podcast recommendations coming. We’ll feature them in the newsletter! Just hit reply to this email (or if you’re reading this on the web, drop us a message: firstname.lastname@example.org).