Tuesday, April 15, 2014

MediaWeek (V8, N15): Hilary Mantel, Easy Printing, Science Fiction, NYC Bookstores + More

Here is the flipboard version of PND

From London's Evening Standard last week a look at Hilary Mantel's writing after the stage productions of her Cromwell books:
The experience of seeing her characters brought to life in the RSC’s stage adaptations of Wolf Hall and Bring Up the Bodies, about to transfer to the West End, has changed Hilary Mantel’s writing for ever, she tells Alison Roberts

The third part of the Cromwell opus, called The Mirror and the Light, is even now “unspooling” before her eyes and ears, though there’s still no date for its appearance — “I won’t commit to that because this is the big project of my career and it has to be right, not only for all those readers who are waiting for it, but for me too”.
“Things happen on stage or I might happen to have conversations with actors that spark something off that will change my thinking and change the third book.”

The Economist (Babbage) learns how easy it is to get a book printed.  (I could have told them that).

Yet this Babbage has found that not to be the case, even though he has worked with e-books for decades across many formats. Your correspondent also has printer's ink in his veins: he trained as one of the last dedicated typesetters, worked in a printing plant in his 20s, and designed and produced dozens of books in the 1980s and 1990s. But even he was unprepared for how easy it has become to print a book and how difficult it remains to produce an electronic version suitable for a range of e-readers, including the Kindle.
As the result of a Kickstarter campaign, Babbage hired designers he knew and a recommended printer, and contracted to have made 1,500 copies of a 216-page book with a clothbound hardcover and dust jacket. While the process took longer than he'd hoped and expected due to his own bandwidth limitations, once the digital files went into the printing firm's operations, there was little to do but wait as a series of specialists carried out successive tasks at the printing plant. The final result exceeded his expectations, and as the project's backers have received the tome, delighted e-mails and tweets abound.
Underrated universal appeal of Science Fiction (Atlantic):
And now, a qualitative distinction creeps in. The assumption is made that the stuff on the “general fiction” shelves is the serious stuff—after all, it includes the literary greats—while the stuff cordoned off in those corners is, by definition, light, inconsequential, or even trashy. In fact, generalizations are made about the whole of “genre fiction” as if it were all one thing. “Genre fiction,” says Wikipedia, “also known as popular fiction, is plot-driven fictional works written with the intent of fitting into a specific literary genre, in order to appeal to readers and fans already familiar with that genre.” (Notice how, in a single sentence, the word “genre” is used in both of the two different ways I’ve described.)
Don’t get me wrong: You can certainly find lightweight stuff on the science-fiction shelves, and if you think of yourself as someone who doesn’t like science fiction, you would have no difficulty at all putting your hands on books there that would confirm all your assumptions completely. But then again, the fact that you can find lightweight, formulaic stuff on the “Romantic Fiction” shelves doesn’t mean that you dismiss any novel that deals with romantic love. Anna Karenina? Sons and Lovers? The Great Gatsby? Just because it is possible to assign a book to a “genre” (in the neutral sense of the word), doesn’t mean that it is “genre fiction” (in the loaded sense).

There are some thriving New York bookstores.  Go visit.  (NY Mag)

Does Michael Wolff make stuff up?  You be the judge (CJR)

Amazon Acquires Digital Comic Book Store Comixology

 

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Interview with Publisher's Weekly

I was interviewed for the PW Daily at LBF this week:
What has surprised you about the digital landscape in 2014? Can you give us an example of the kinds issues you see for publishers, looking forward?
Perhaps the thing that surprises me most is the we haven’t seen the erosion of foreign rights as quickly as I might have thought, given how digital distribution is no longer dependent on needing a local distribution node. I think that’s doubly odd, given the precipitous decline in physical retail options in places like Australia and New Zealand and to a similar extent in the U.K. and other English-language markets. Perhaps part of the reason is that print may be a little more resilient than we give it credit for.
I think one of the increasing concerns we work with is around reporting and how to interpret the vast amount of data that can be—and often is—collected through publishers’ platforms and their content. While we produce a raft of standard reports for our publishers, understanding and interpreting data is a significant gap in capability, and I think one of our added-value services could be to help publishers better understand and act on the information contained in these reports. There is also a lack of standardization across reporting formats and methodology that can make comparisons between sites and providers very difficult. Understanding these issues can make the marketing and sales staffs smarter about how they allocate resources, and I think we will see a lot more emphasis placed in these areas in the years to come.
More at PW Daily

Tuesday, April 08, 2014

MediaWeek (V8, N14): VIvian Maier, Rizzoli Bookstore, Amazon Prime, Local Bookstores, + More

Flipboard version: http://flip.it/rmD2x

Vivian Maier: The Unknown Photographer (Economist)

VIVIAN MAIER'S name deserves to be immortalised in the history of photography alongside the greats of the 20th century like Robert Frank, Helen Levitt and Diane Arbus. Yet the work of this Chicago-based nanny was unknown until the very last years of her life. Indeed it might have languished in obscurity forever were it not for the auction in 2007 of the contents of a storage locker on which she had stopped paying rent.
John Maloof, then a 26-year-old amateur historian, spent $380 on one box of negatives and undeveloped rolls of film. He put it aside for months, but eventually set about scanning the images, and duly uncovered thousands of captivating black-and-white photographs from the 1950s and 1960s: children crying, old men reading newspapers, women peering out from cars.
The building in which the Rizzoli Bookstore is located is being torn down (LBT)
All hope is not lost in the effort to save New York City’s beloved Rizzoli Bookstore and surrounding buildings from demolition, even as the fight between developers and preservationists on Manhattan’s rapidly changing 57th Street is getting dirtier -- literally.
Sources say Vornado Realty Trust (NYSE:VNO), which co-owns the three properties at the center of the dispute, deployed contractors to deface the exterior of the buildings in a premeditated effort to derail the landmark-evaluation process. “Preemptive demolition,” as the tactic is known, is not an uncommon strategy for property owners, which have been known to purposely disfigure a building’s distinctive features after catching wind of an effort to designate a property for landmark protection. In this case, the tactic was alleged in detail on the Save Rizzoli blog. The blog’s anonymous author noted that the gold caryatids and ornamentation at 29 West 57th St., a 90-year-old former piano showroom known as Chickering Hall, had been torn off the building’s exterior.
SF Chron has created a literary map of the city:
The interactive map plots literary facts from around the Bay Area onto a Google Map. Readers can find locations from novels, see where authors lived and wrote, as well as read passages from books set in the city. The map also includes a list of bookstores and Literary Journals that are currently active in the city.
Is there a renaissance in the local non-chain book market?  Can they be compared to restaurants? (Salon)
What explains this renaissance? The collapse of Borders in 2011 is one big piece of the puzzle. (Removing a dominant carnivore from the savannah gives all the other animals a little more breathing room.) The end of the recession also contributed to a more nurturing economic environment.
But there’s more to the story. There is increasing evidence that the same digital transformation that has so dramatically reshaped the publishing industry, and driven millions of consumers online, also paradoxically rewards locally rooted authenticity. Our digital tools are steering us toward brick-and-mortar stores that promise a more satisfactory consumer experience than either chain stores or online emporiums can provide.
In a world increasingly influenced by our social media interactions, it’s turning out there may well be enough room for the little guy to survive — and perhaps even thrive.

HBR has a look at Amazon Prime pricing:
Amazon recently hiked the price of its Prime service, which includes two-day shipping, Kindle book loans, and streaming video. Raising Prime’s price is especially risky as it’s a key marketing conduit that draws in and engenders loyalty from customers. Analysts estimate Prime members spend over double compared to the average Amazon patron. With a P/E ratio exceeding 550, Wall Street is expecting Amazon to continue dazzling investors with eye-popping annual revenue increases. As a result, the Seattle-based retailer needs to keep Prime – its key engine for growth – in tune.
Amazon did a solid job of raising the price of Prime from $79 to $99. Given its success, managers of all companies can learn from the tactics it employed:

From twitter:
The Killing’ Creator to Pen Crime Noir Version of Macbeth
News: During Cold War, CIA Used 'Doctor Zhivago' As A Tool To Undermine Soviet Union

Tuesday, April 01, 2014

CEO: Publishing Technology

Publishing Technology names Michael Cairns as new CEO

Publishing Technology plc (LSE: PTO), a leading provider of content solutions for publishers, has today announced that Michael Cairns has been appointed Chief Executive Officer with effect from 1 April 2014.

Michael Cairns joined Publishing Technology plc in May 2013, when he took the position of Chief Operating Officer of the company’s online division. He has been responsible for improving the divisional strategy to focus on business development and operational efficiency and with significant steps having been made towards these goals, the company is confident that Michael, with his blend of internal awareness and fresh external thinking is well positioned to carry that momentum through the business.

With 20 years’ experience in digital publishing and operations management, Michael has spearheaded major strategy and technical shifts across a portfolio of products and services, most notably helping organisations transition from traditional print-based media to online delivery. In addition to serving for seven years as President of R.R. Bowker, his previous roles include senior positions within professional information, trade and educational publishers as well as working to define and launch several start-up businesses.

Announcing the appointment, Martyn Rose, Chairman of Publishing Technology, commented: “Michael has already proven himself in his time at the company and I am delighted to be able to promote him to the role of Chief Executive Officer. His market knowledge and expertise in digital publishing are unquestionable and his appointment gives the business continuity and a leader who will drive the business to deliver the next phase of our strategy.”

Michael Cairns commented: “I am excited to be taking over the position of CEO at this important time in the company’s development. I will be working with the management team to deliver our strategy of growth with product and implementation efficiency. I look forward to meeting customers across the business and our investors over the coming months.”

Prior to joining Publishing Technology, Michael was a Managing Partner at Information Media Partners where he consulted for publishers on business strategies and digital transformation, an executive at MyWire.com, VP, Digital Production at Wolters Kluwer Heath Education, and for seven years served as President of R.R. Bowker.  Prior to Bowker, he was a media consultant with Price Waterhouse Coopers.  Michael has served as a board member of the Association of American Publishers (AAP) and the Book Industry Study Group (BISG), and Chairman of the International ISBN Executive Committee. 

Sunday, March 30, 2014

MediaWeek (V8, N13): Lonely Planet, Digital & Comics, Philip Roth Inteview, UCal Online Courses +More

Here are this week's articles at my flipboard magazine: http://flip.it/rmD2x

Outside magazine takes a look at Lonely Planet and wonders, Can it Survive?
Less than a year later, Kelley saw an opportunity. Lonely Planet, the Melbourne, Australia, guidebook company, seller of 120 million books, was struggling. In 2007, the BBC had bought Lonely Planet from its founders, Tony and Maureen Wheeler, for $210 million. Profits had since cratered due to the global recession, appreciation of the Australian dollar, and the struggling bonok industry.
Kelley offered $77 million for the company and closed the deal on April 1, 2013. There was no search for a new boss; he'd already tapped Houghton to captain the sinking ship. A few weeks before closing, the president of BBC Worldwide, Marcus Arthur, announced the impending purchase. Houghton, who was less than three years out of college, made the rounds at Lonely Planet's international offices. In London, before he introduced himself, someone projected an image of the biblical scene of Daniel in the lion's den on a screen.
"That pissed me off," he recalls, "but I tried not to show it."
Staffers were predictably bewildered. "I figured there had to be more to the story than 'reclusive billionaire hires 24-year-old with no known experience to run the joint,' " a veteran Lonely Planet author e-mailed me. "But I think it's as silly and fucked-up as it sounds."
Never a big comics person but I've always been interested in their particular transition from print to web.  Here a CNet story about the relationship between print and digital:
CEO David Steinberger said that the people have now downloaded 180 million comics since the app was released five years ago, a jump of 80 million from October 2012.
As digital comics have become widely accepted by publishers, retailers, and readers, the format has not been without its growing pains. While comics are available digitally from a wide range of marketplaces, including Apple iBooks and Amazon, Comixology undoubtedly offers the widest selection of major North American publishers. That relationship to the marketplace caused havoc when Comixology's servers crashed in March , following a Marvel Comics giveaway.
Another controversy erupted a few months later, when Comixology pulled a new issue of the extremely popular comic book Saga from its iOS app without warning .
It was an attempt to avoid a conflict with Apple, said Steinberger. "We put out a ton of books, almost 300 a week. It's tough to expect any channel to review every single one of those," he said. 
A Daily Telegraph interview with Philip Roth:
“The struggle with writing is over” is a recent quote. Could you describe that struggle, and also, tell us something about your life now when you are not writing?
Everybody has a hard job. All real work is hard. My work happened also to be undoable. Morning after morning for 50 years, I faced the next page defenceless and unprepared. Writing for me was a feat of self-preservation. If I did not do it, I would die. So I did it. Obstinacy, not talent, saved my life. It was also my good luck that happiness didn’t matter to me and I had no compassion for myself. Though why such a task should have fallen to me I have no idea. Maybe writing protected me against even worse menace.
Now? Now I am a bird sprung from a cage instead of (to reverse Kafka’s famous conundrum) a bird in search of a cage. The horror of being caged has lost its thrill. It is now truly a great relief, something close to a sublime experience, to have nothing more to worry about than death.
Janet Napolitano is the newish President of the University of California System and recently had some comments on online education that caught some off guard (LATimes)
Napolitano, who took over at UC in September, made her remarks Monday during an appearance sponsored by the Public Policy Institute of California. Some 500 spectators were present in person and, ahem, online. Her remarks can be seen on YouTube here.
Asked by PPIC President Mark Baldassare about UC initiatives in the online space, Napolitano moved promptly to separate fact from fantasy. She called the development of online courses merely "a tool for the toolbox."
For higher education, she said, "It's not a silver bullet, the way it was originally portrayed to be. It's a lot harder than it looks, and by the way if you do it right it doesn't save all that much money, because you still have to have an opportunity for students to interact with either a teaching assistant or an assistant professor or a professor at some level."
As for preparing the courses, "if they're really going to be top-quality, that's an investment as well." Taking aim at the dream that online learning might be most useful for students needing help in remedial courses in subjects like English and math, Napolitano said: "I think that's false; those students need the teacher in the classroom working with them."
Online courses might be all right for capitalizing on UC's multi-campus structure by allowing students at one campus to take courses developed at another, she said, but she indicated that there's still got to be human interaction.
Could (should) Costco be a role model for libraries? (David Rothman via LLRX)
The rage is to compare everything in creation to a business. But be careful when doing so with America's public libraries. They are civic and service institutions, not profit-making corporations. A major caveat!Just the same, in a library context, I was intrigued when President Obama once again singled out Costco for its success. It's delighted shareholders in recent years while paying hourly workers around $21 per hour on the average. Granted, Costco isn't your typical retail chain. It focuses on upscale markets (and bulk purchases). By contrast, public libraries need to serve everyone, especially the poor. That's yet another caveat.
Still, in Costco, I see a few lessons for public libraries in the digital era:
1. Costco has a strong retail corporate culture. It invests in its people and promotes from within as opposed to mindlessly going the usual MBA route. First-year employees get several hundred hours of formal training. Talk about ways to maintain customer-service standards!
Likewise public libraries should strive to help staffers adjust to the digital era while hewing to traditional library values and culture. Alas, budget cuts often make adequate professional development impossible. A national digital library endowment could assist in some cases, besides helping to pay for e-books and other digital content. Books by themselves aren't enough. Along with teachers, librarians can encourage books' absorption. It can happen through means ranging from story-telling hours to family-literacy drives updated for the era of econo-tablets and e-books on cellphones.
Did the letters of Mark Twain transform Mark Twain (Salon):
In his four months in Hawaii he wrote twenty-five letters for the Union, watched a volcano erupt, saw native girls skinny-dip in the sea, ate horrifying amounts of tropical fruit, and tried and failed to surf. The contrast with San Francisco exhilarated him: here he walked on coral, not cobblestone, and smelled jasmine and oleander instead of offal and sewage. Like Stoddard, he found the balmy, beautiful setting deeply relaxing: during five weeks in Maui, he took a much-needed holiday. “I have not written a single line, & have not once thought of business, or care, or human toil or trouble or sorrow or weariness,” he wrote his sister‑in‑law. But Hawaii wasn’t purely a vacation: it also gave Twain invaluable training in travel writing, the genre that would produce his first major book, “The Innocents Abroad.” He took Union readers on a galloping tour of a kingdom rife with lurid customs and costumes, rich with sugar and whales, infested with British, French, and American interlopers, and governed by the last of the great Hawaiian kings, Kamehameha V
From Twitter:
Oregonian Plans New System For Compensating Reporters
Harvard vs. Yale: Open-Access Publishing Edition  
College textbook startup heads to 'Shark Tank'

Friday, March 28, 2014

Image: Manhattan Bridge and Empire State


A bit of a touristy photo.  From December last year when I found myself in Dumbo for the first time.

Sunday, March 23, 2014

MediaWeek (V8, N12) Nielsen BookData?, Foriegn Language, eBook ILL, Netflix for Books + More



Check out these articles and more at Personanondata - The Magazine http://flip.it/rmD2x


Perhaps and old story... (Michael Kozlowski)
So it should now be obviously quite clear that some authors are buying their way onto the bestseller lists. Book sales are the main component, but Amazon is now employing other factors such as book reviews.  Todd Rutherford ran a website called GettingBookReviews.com that reviewed books for $99.99 a pop or arranged 20 reviews for $499 or 50 reviews for $999. He would post them on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and other booke websites to help authors get noticed. It certainly helped indie darling John Locke, who ordered 300 reviews and went on to sell over one million ebooks on Amazon. Before this website was shut down, it was generating $28,000 a month from authors looking for a competitive advantage.
So how many books do you need to sell to get on Amazon’s bestseller list? Normally you need to get between 500 and 1,000 sales of your book within the first few days following its release to make it to the top 100. If you’re really ambitious and your aim is to hit the Top 5, you’re going to have to be a lot more aggressive in getting higher sales numbers. It seems that a title in Amazon’s top five averages 1,094 print copies sold across all channels, including other retailers, on a typical day. Amazon controls close to 70% of the US eBook market and 30% of selling physical books.

The (estimated) value of learning a language (Prospero):
But for the sake of provocation, Mr Dubner seems to have low-balled this. He should know the power of lifetime earnings and compound interest. First, instead of $30,000, assume a university graduate, who in America is likelier to use a foreign language than someone without university. The average starting salary is almost $45,000. Imagine that our graduate saves her “language bonus”. Compound interest is the most powerful force in the universe (a statement dubiously attributed to Einstein, but nonetheless worth committing to memory). Assuming just a 1% real salary increase per year and a 2% average real return over 40 years, a 2% language bonus turns into an extra $67,000 (at 2014 value) in your retirement account. Not bad for a few years of “où est la plume de ma tante?

PEW takes on The Future of the Internet (Pew):
This report is the latest research report in a sustained effort throughout 2014 by the Pew Research Center to mark the 25th anniversary of the creation of the World Wide Web by Sir Tim Berners-Lee. He wrote a paper on March 12, 1989 proposing an “information management” system that became the conceptual and architectural structure for the Web.  He eventually released the code for his system  — for free — to the world on Christmas Day in 1990. It became a milestone in easing the way for ordinary people to access documents and interact over the Internet — a system that linked computers and that had been around for years.
The Web became a major layer of the Internet. Indeed, for many, it became synonymous with the Internet, even though that is not technically the case. Its birthday offers an occasion to revisit the ways it has made the Internet a part of Americans’ social lives.
Our first report tied to the anniversary looked at the present and the past of the Internet, marking its strikingly fast adoption and assessing its impact on American users’ lives. This report is part of an effort by the Pew Research Center’s Internet Project in association with Elon University’s Imagining the Internet Center to look at the future of the Internet, the Web, and other digital activities. This is the first of eight reports based on a canvassing of hundreds of experts about the future of such things as privacy, cybersecurity, the “Internet of things,” and net neutrality. In this case we asked experts to make their own predictions about the state of digital life by the year 2025. We will also explore some of the economic change driven by the spectacular progress that made digital tools faster and cheaper. And we will report on whether Americans feel the explosion of digital information coursing through their lives has helped them be better informed and make better decisions.

Eric Hellman on interlibrary loan.  He says the notion is silly.
For digital content, the buy vs. borrow equation shifts back a bit. In principal, there's no shipping cost and modern databases can retrieve a digital item in milliseconds. But if a library can do digital ILL, what is to prevent libraries from sharing a resource so widely that only one library in the world needs to buy the item?

Esposito: Everybody wants a Netflix for books ( or do they?):
So when people say they want a Netflix for books, which of these 3 services are they talking about? It’s my distinct impression that most people confuse Netflix #1 with Netflix #2, and they forget about the lag time for the DVDs. They want a comprehensive and fully up-to-date library for a low monthly price. This will hot happen for movies and video and it will not happen for books.
This does not mean that there will not be book aggregations. There already are. What it means is that aggregations are simply another distribution channel for content and have to be analyzed like any other. If an aggregation is comprehensive, it will cannibalize sales from other channels. Hence no aggregation can be comprehensive. If the aggregation releases titles too quickly, even if the aggregation is less than comprehensive, it could interfere with other channels, which interferes with the media strategy known as “windowing,” which releases properties along a planned-out timeline the better to maximize returns. An aggregation, in other words, is a limited collection of books placed on the market precisely when the value of those titles is not greater in other channels.
From the twitter this week:

Kevin Trudeau Sentenced to 10 Years Over Claims in Diet Book
Mike Oldfield: 'We wouldn't have had Tubular Bells without drugs'  
David Beckham Stars In Only Fools And Horses Sport Relief Special - 1080p:  
British Library Says It's Copyright Infringement To Take Photos Inside The Library; Demands Person Delete Tweet:  
How Harry Potter Bankrolled A Textbook Business | CFO  

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

MediaWeek (V8, N11): Patent Law, Cable News, Book Reviews, Amazon Prime +More

The Economist suggests there may be judicial improvements coming to US patent law:
As the Supreme Court now intends to review Alice v CLS Bank, it will finally confront the most fundamental of issues in patent law today: whether or not software patents are impermissibly abstract. A ruling is expected by July 2014.
Would it matter if software patents were judged too abstract to warrant patent protection? Despite Judge Moore’s misgivings, patent issuance is a poor measure of innovation. Patenting is strictly a metric of invention. Innovation is such a vastly different endeavour—in terms of investment, time and the human resources required—as to be virtually unrelated to invention.
Indeed, many innovators have argued that the electronics and software industries would flourish if companies trying to bring new technology (software innovations included) to market did not have to worry about being sued for infringing thousands of absurd patents at every turn. A perfectly adequate means of protecting and rewarding software developers for their ingenuity has existed for over 300 years. It is called copyright.

Forced changes at CNN may reflect fundamental changes in cable news and information (Economist):
Cable-news channels are also experiencing what print newspapers started to see over a decade ago: people are abandoning them for the web, where advertising rates are much lower. In 2008 Mr Zucker, known for speaking his mind, worried about “trading analogue dollars for digital pennies”. Since then online-advertising rates have improved. But internet economics are still less attractive, even for CNN.com, one of the most popular news websites in the world. As newspapers and online portals are making video content that they can sell advertising against, CNN also faces new competitors from the web.
Bad review? (New Statesman):
Anne Rice is not the only writer to have gone after a bad reviewer. In 2011, a self-published author in Milton Keynes launched libel proceedings against the guy who wrote a series of bad Amazon reviews of his book, The Attempted Murder of God: Hidden Science You Really Need to Know. Also summoned to the courtroom were Richard Dawkins and his foundation (for discussion threads relating to the review on the foundation’s website) and Amazon (for allowing this to happen in the first place). Earlier this year there was a story about another self-published author in America threatening to sue a reviewer because their single bad review allegedly lost the writer $23,000. Whether it’s back-of-the-envelope maths or real maths we’ve only got his word, but at this point it’s irrelevant. Stay with me.

Steve Brill wonders if Amazon's decision to raise Prime membership was lightly reported (WSJ):
But maybe I’m wrong. Which suggests an idea for a more enlightening story than the one the Times did: Someone ought to do a rigorous market survey of Prime customers to see not only whether they like the price increase (who likes price increases?), but whether they will continue to subscribe.
It’s an important question. Whether Amazon can succeed in realizing more of this dependable, recurring subscription revenue from its trailblazing service will say a lot about whether the company will continue to revolutionize retailing.
From the Twitter
Popcorn Time Is Hollywood’s Worst Nightmare, And It Can’t Be Stopped
FIRST Act Severely Undermines U.S. Public Access Policies  
Breaking Out of the Library Mold, in Boston and Beyond
Feds to drop most of fraud charges against writer who linked to data stolen by Anonymous

Monday, March 17, 2014

Agile Content for Publishing: CCC's Beyond the Book Interview

Here is the audio of the panel discussion on Agile Content from Digital Book World (CCC)
As digital technology shortens the publishing cycle, new ways have emerged to monetize content. Publishers are able now to deliver and license their content for websites and apps, partners; readers are able to mix and match content in new ways; and traditional book publishers and publishers in other media are suddenly able to repurpose that content in a range of forms and formats into books in response to news events and other timely triggers.
In January at the Digital Book World Conference, leading publishers described how they are finding opportunities outside their historical commercial activity to generate new revenue from existing content. Sharing lessons from success in implementing the “create once, publish everywhere model” were Michael Cairns, Chief Operating Officer – Online Division at Publishing TechnologyAmanda D’Acierno, Penguin Random House, Senior Vice President, Publisher, Random House Audio, Fodor’s Living Language; and Pip Tannenbaum, Parragon Books, director, digital product development.
“I come from audio books where we make one great file, then we publish it however it needs to be published,” D’Acierno told CCC’s Chris Kenneally.  When she arrived at Fodor’s, D’Acierno recalled, “I kept saying, why can’t we just do that with travel?  Why can’t I write about the restaurants in my neighborhood in Brooklyn and just have them immediately uploaded?”
AUDIO HERE

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

MediaWeek (V8, N10) Information Literacy, John LeCarre, Data Visulization Exhibit + More

Teaching information literacy matters most to academic librarians(Chronicle)
Whether they work at a big research university, a small four-year college, or something in between, academic-library directors share a “resounding dedication” to teaching information literacy to undergraduates. Beyond that, the priorities they set for their libraries depend on the size and nature of their institutions and how many (or few) resources they have to work with.
Those findings come out of a 2013 survey of American library directors, released on Tuesday by Ithaka S+R US. That’s the consulting and research arm of the nonprofit Ithaka group, which works on “transformative uses of new technologies in higher education.”
The survey went out to heads of academic libraries at all four-year colleges and universities in the United States; 499, or 33 percent, responded, according to the survey report’s authors, Matthew P. Long and Roger C. Schonfeld.

There's a bio of John LeCarre coming and here is a preview from The Observer:
With Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, (1974), originally titled "The Eternal Autumn of George Smiley", le Carré became the storyteller of the national myth and the master of moral complexity in the looking-glass world of secret conflict. Smiley, who is partly based on Bingham but also on the Sherborne chaplain and le Carré's Oxford tutor Vivian HH Green, joined the immortals of English fiction such as Sherlock Holmes and Bertie Wooster. Le Carré, who cherishes the work of PG Wodehouse, takes an almost Victorian satisfaction from watching his characters become braided into the imagination of the ordinary British reader.
Smiley and "the Circus" of MI6 have a threefold appeal. First, by an extraordinary sleight of hand, le Carré contrived to make a fictive world seem tangible and real, what he has called "a spook world better suited to my needs". So potent was his art that former colleagues in MI5 and MI6 began to adopt his invented lingo of "lamplighters", "moles", "ferrets", "pavement artists", and the rest. Unconsciously, no doubt, his devoted readers became complicit with his fabrications. In his 2008 essay The Madness of Spies, he wrote of doing "a sort of Tolkien job" on his experience. Thus, he said, it was his fantasy to dream "the Great Spy's Dream" [of being] "at the Spies' Big table, playing the world's game". Needless to add, he has occasionally asserted the exact opposite.
British Library exhibit on the power of data visulization (NS):
A new exhibition at the British Library – its first ever science-based display – showcases some of the most striking visualisations of scientific data. One of the highlights is Florence Nightingale’s rose diagram, the graphic showing how dirty hospitals were killing more soldiers than the Crimean battles that had put them there.
Visualisation has always been vital to scientific progress. We are far better at spotting patterns or anomalies in pictures than in tables of numbers. The economists Arthur Briggs Farquhar and Henry Farquhar summed this up in 1891. “A heavy bank of figures is grievously wearisome to the eye,” they wrote, “and the popular mind is as incapable of drawing any useful lessons from it as of extracting sunbeams from cucumbers.”
When Crick and Watson were struggling to work out the structure of DNA, it wasn’t a table with a list of atomic co-ordinates that gave them the insight they needed; it was Rosalind Franklin’s X-ray crystallography. Her images provided a pictorial interpretation of the way DNA’s molecules are arranged in a double helix, and garnered Crick and Watson (though not Franklin) a Nobel prize.
 From Twitter
Breaking Out of the Library Mold, in Boston and Beyond
Publishing Lives - A New Series begins March 10th

Thursday, March 06, 2014

CCC Launches content provision program for MOOCs

One of the missing elements in CCC's value chain was content but they seem to be in the process of addressing that limitation via this deal with SPiX, Study.net and XanEdu.

From their press release,

Copyright Clearance Center, Inc. (CCC), a global licensing and content solutions organization, has launched a MOOC Content Licensing Solution in partnership with course material providers SIPX, Study.net, and XanEdu.
Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) are large virtual classrooms that are accessed online by students worldwide and that are often sponsored by leading institutions of higher education.


The MOOC Content Licensing Solution uses the current per-page or per-article academic-based pricing rightsholders have established through CCC’s Electronic Course Content pay-per-use service. CCC offers digital rights from over 5,000 rightsholders around the world to public, private not-for-profit, and private for-profit U.S.-based institutions of higher education that conduct academic MOOCs.


One of the biggest challenges in reusing published content in MOOCs is obtaining copyright permissions and then disseminating the licensed content to enrolled students. Through its partnership with leading course materials providers, CCC’s solution provides copyright-cleared course content to students enrolled in a MOOC, relieving the instructor of the burden of securing permissions and distributing content.


“This solution makes it easy for instructors at academic institutions to secure permission to reuse copyrighted content in their MOOCs,” said Tim Bowen, CCC’s Director, Academic Products & Services. “It also makes it simpler for students to secure the licensed content at academic-based pricing from rightsholders.”


“We see a growing interest from educators in using portions of copyrighted works – such as book excerpts, journal content and magazine articles – to enhance their online courses, many of which SIPX has supported in the past 18 months,” said Heather Ruland Staines, Vice President, Publishers Development, SIPX, Inc. “This new capability on the CCC platform will help us support online education even more efficiently in the future.”

Wednesday, March 05, 2014

Ingram acquires CourseSmart

In a deal announced yesterday Ingram Content Group has acquired the CourseSmart educational content partnership that was formed almost ten years ago by Pearson Cengage Wiley and O'Reilly.  Here is their press release:
Vital Source Technologies, Inc., Ingram Content Group’s global leader in building, enhancing and delivering e-learning content, today announced that it has acquired the assets of CourseSmart, a leading provider of digital textbooks in the higher education market.
 
“We are pleased to make another investment in higher education and technology with the acquisition of CourseSmart,” said John Ingram, Chairman and CEO, Ingram Content Group. “By integrating the strengths of CourseSmart with Vital Source, we are creating an extensive global sales channel for publishers and bringing the best in digital learning technology and accessibility to the higher education community. We are strengthening our services in the higher education market and reinforcing our commitment to helping publishers, institutions, educators and students navigate the evolving landscape of digital learning and succeed by providing them with content in any format.”
 
CourseSmart’s strengths in inventory, instructor sampling and analytics will be integrated with Vital Source’s reader platform and global, scalable distribution network. By combining the two organizations, Vital Source will offer the world’s largest digital content catalog and provide better digital content solutions for the higher education community. 
 
"CourseSmart was founded by member publishers to improve the distribution of digital learning materials in higher education,” said Will Ethridge, Chairman of CourseSmart. “Since its founding, CourseSmart's innovative services have led the company to become a leading higher education platform for institutions, professors and students to discover, adopt and purchase course materials. By becoming one company, CourseSmart and Vital Source will be able to further accelerate the adoption of digital learning materials to these audiences, while providing more effective distribution and customer relationships for authors and publishers as well."
 
CourseSmart was founded in 2007 by Macmillan, Cengage Learning, John Wiley & Sons, McGraw-Hill Education and Pearson with a simple goal of providing instructors a better textbook evaluation service. The company has since expanded to become a leader in providing digital learning content to the higher education community. CourseSmart has millions of users around the world and offers access to over 90 percent of core higher education titles as e-textbooks along with the largest catalog of e-resources and digital course materials.
 
“We have worked with Vital Source and CourseSmart, and both companies have added value to our digital learning environment, supporting our unique, competency-based learning model,” said Dr. Robert Mendenhall, President, Western Governors University. “We are encouraged by Ingram’s increased investment in higher education, and we expect the combination of CourseSmart and Vital Source to expand the availability and distribution of digital course materials and curriculums to institutions.”
 
The company will offer a best-in-class digital content platform and will be committed to pioneering new technologies in areas like accessibility and analytics. It will provide more options for institutions, more inventory for faculty and course designers, and greater scalability for content creators and resellers.

Monday, March 03, 2014

MediaWeek (V8, N9): New newsroom practices. Artificial intelligence, Amazon bad for Books?

A look at the (new) local newsroom from CJR:
One reason the record can devote itself entirely to local news is because its parent company operates something called Thunderdome. In 2012, Digital First opened a newsroom on the 25th floor of a Wall Street office building where about 50 journalists produce most of the non-local content for each of its newspapers. They create national and foreign reports; package videos that populate each paper’s site; write food, health, and tech features; and jump on big breaking stories.

Unlike a traditional chain’s national bureau, Thunderdome doesn’t have beat reporters out covering major news events. Thunderdome is an artifact of the digital definition of journalism. It mainly aggregates and repackages material from wires, other content partners, and local papers. “If we get a story from The Washington Post, we’re not reediting it,” says Mike Topel, the news editor. “We’re looking for what digital enhancements we can do.” Thunderdome producers also jump on breaking stories and memes so all of Digital First’s sites around the country can reflect what’s happening in the moment.

Digital First’s editor in chief, Jim Brady, says he built Thunderdome in part to help his newsrooms remake themselves as places where the face-off between print and digital could become irrelevant. The room is populated largely with veterans of print newsrooms and Brady’s plan is for them to marry print traditions of completeness, verification, and authority with the digital imperatives for speed and connection with the audience’s interests. “The battles are still there,” he says, “but they’ve receded, as digital people have moved into leadership roles, and as everyone learned that aggregation can only take you so far, and as people from both backgrounds learn that it’s better to be second than wrong.”
....
On the Friday I spent at Thunderdome, I had a story back at my own paper that was being edited for that Sunday’s Washington Post. After I spoke to Prieto, I checked my messages to find that five levels of editors had questions or thoughts about my story—my assignment editor, a copy editor, the section editor, another section editor, and the Sunday editor. That multi-layered approach—unusually dense because this piece was going A1 on Sunday—comforts the writer, but is no guarantee of perfection. Within four hours after the story appeared on the Web, one of the main characters complained that I had endangered his family by providing too much detail about where he lived—a decision that had generated zero discussion among the six of us who read the piece closely before publication.

The dawn of artificial intelligence (Atlantic)
In addition to powerful and useful AI, the other recent development that promises to further accelerate the second machine age is the digital interconnection of the planet’s people. There is no better resource for improving the world and bettering the state of humanity than the world’s humans—all 7.1 billion of us. Our good ideas and innovations will address the challenges that arise, improve the quality of our lives, allow us to live more lightly on the planet, and help us take better care of one another. It is a remarkable and unmistakable fact that, with the exception of climate change, virtually all environmental, social, and individual indicators of health have improved over time, even as human population has increased.
This improvement is not a lucky coincidence; it is cause and effect. Things have gotten better because there are more people, who in total have more good ideas that improve our overall lot. The economist Julian Simon was one of the first to make this optimistic argument, and he advanced it repeatedly and forcefully throughout his career. He wrote, “It is your mind that matters economically, as much or more than your mouth or hands. In the long run, the most important economic effect of population size and growth is the contribution of additional people to our stock of useful knowledge. And this contribution is large enough in the long run to overcome all the costs of population growth.”

Is Amazon bad for books (NewYorker?
Publishers weren’t troubled that Amazon sold their books at dramatic discounts. They all wanted to collaborate with the Seattle upstart, and they used Amazon as an information resource; it was a vast improvement over the old green-bound copies of “Books in Print.” A New York marketing executive told me, “When Amazon came into the picture, metadata”—code numbers, Library of Congress categories, search keywords—“became an integral part of books.” A few farsighted publishers wondered if Amazon would eventually control so much of the market that it would stop selling books at cost and raise prices to become more profitable.
By 1997, when the company went public, Amazon’s book inventory could have filled six football fields. But someone who read Bezos’s year-end letter to shareholders might well have thought that Amazon’s eight-hundred-and-thirty-eight-per-cent sales growth had been in shoes, since he barely mentioned books. In the letter, Bezos noted tersely, “We are planning to add music to our product offering.” (Unlike Jobs, Bezos wasn’t a passionate listener: he once agreed to be interviewed for a program about the Beatles, and when employees, prepping the boss, asked him to name a favorite Beatles tune, Bezos chose “America,” by Simon & Garfunkel.) Soon after music came DVDs and consumer electronics. A New York literary agent told me that books were Amazon’s version of “a gateway drug.”
From Twitter;
Lossius to step down at Publishing Technology | The Bookseller  
University of Central Lancashire to offer 'self-publishing' MA (From Lancashire Telegraph)
Publishers withdraw more than 120 gibberish papers
Pearson Plunges as Earnings Drop on Education in North America  

Sunday, February 23, 2014

MediaWeek (V8, N8): Amazon Work Practices, Medical Information, London Romance, Lending eBooks, Newspaper Paywall +More

Over at Salon Simon Head suggests Amazon is worse than WalMart.
As at Walmart, Amazon achieves this with a regime of workplace pressure, in which targets for the unpacking, movement, and repackaging of goods are relentlessly increased to levels where employees have to struggle to meet their targets and where older and less dextrous employees will begin to fail. As at Walmart, there is a pervasive “three strikes and you’re out” culture, and when these marginal employees acquire too many demerits (“points”), they are fired.
Amazon’s system of employee monitoring is the most oppressive I have ever come across and combines state-of-the-art surveillance technology with the system of “functional foreman,” introduced by Taylor in the workshops of the Pennsylvania machine-tool industry in the 1890s. In a fine piece of investigative reporting for the London Financial Times, economics correspondent Sarah O’Connor describes how, at Amazon’s center at Rugeley, England, Amazon tags its employees with personal sat-nav (satellite navigation) computers that tell them the route they must travel to shelve consignments of goods, but also set target times for their warehouse journeys and then measure whether targets are met.
All this information is available to management in real time, and if an employee is behind schedule she will receive a text message pointing this out and telling her to reach her targets or suffer the consequences. At Amazon’s depot in Allentown, Pennsylvania (of which more later), Kate Salasky worked shifts of up to eleven hours a day, mostly spent walking the length and breadth of the warehouse. In March 2011 she received a warning message from her manager, saying that she had been found unproductive during several minutes of her shift, and she was eventually fired. This employee tagging is now in operation at Amazon centers worldwide.

Author Robin Cook penned an item in the WSJ about digital medical information will save us:
The brave new world of digital medicine is coming about by the convergence of three rapidly evolving technologies: IT, or informational technology, involving wireless signaling, cloud computing and, most particularly, the spread of ever more sophisticated smartphones; medical applications of nanotechnology; and the progressively lower cost and availability of genome sequencing.
Today, all the physiological data monitored in a hospital intensive-care unit—including ECG, blood pressure, pulse, oxygenation, sugar level, breathing rate and body temperature—can be recorded and analyzed continuously in real time on a smartphone. A small piece of hardware, either the size of a cellphone, or one integrated with a cellphone, held against your body, functions as an ultrasound device. It can deliver information instantly to you or anyone you designate, and the information rivals that collected in a physician's office or hospital setting. It can do so when you are experiencing specific symptoms—no appointment necessary—and at virtually no additional cost.
Thanks to more than 20 Silicon Valley startups and advances in microfluidic technology, smartphones will soon be able to function as a mobile, real-time resource for rapidly obtaining all the studies done currently in a medical laboratory, including chemistries, blood values and microbiological studies. A device worn on the wrist, called Visi, has been approved by the FDA for hospital use that can measure your heart's electrical activity, respiratory rate, blood oxygen and blood pressure (without a cuff), and transmit the data wirelessly. Many other such devices are coming out that could be used by patients in their own homes.
Mind the Gap in London: Where's the romance? (More Intelligent):
Romance, generally, is not something London does well. Paris, Rome and New York, yes: the boulevards, the ruins, the fountains, the cafés, the autumn leaves: even, for heaven's sake, rude waiters and the steam from the manhole covers. But, London: the river's too wide, the parks uninspired, the weather too grey: where is there in London to weep and linger over, memory pricked? Oh, it has a certain grandeur, and, even sometimes, a rough charm, a brusque wink in the bustle; but where is the love?
Or so it seemed until the recent revelations about one of the announcements at Embankment underground station. In the unfathomable ways of transport authorities, the northbound Northern Line platform at Embankment had become the last place on the entire system where the spoken version of the famous warning—"Mind the Gap"—could be heard. And so it was that the widow of the man who made the recording began to make special journeys to listen to it, and remember; until, inevitably, it was replaced by a digitised announcement, leaving the widow to write and ask for a recording.
Etymology of swearing.  Where do the words come from? (NewRepublic)

"The Girl who" titles (NewYork)

Consortia begins experiment to inter-library lend e-Books (Chronicle)
The Greater Western Library Alliance, a consortium of 33 academic libraries, came up with the idea. Developers at Texas Tech University and the University of Hawaii-Manoa, both members of the alliance, created the software, and the publisher Springer agreed to let its e-books be guinea pigs in the experiment.
Scheduled to begin in March, the pilot will run for a year. If it works well enough, the library alliance hopes to make Occam’s Reader available to other academic libraries and perhaps to persuade other publishers to join in.
Joni M. Blake, the alliance’s executive director, says the idea for Occam’s Reader dates to a meeting a few years ago. "People got to talking and saying, What are we doing? We’re buying all these e-books with licenses that say we can’t lend them to our consortial friends and neighbors."
Everyone agreed that had to change. But nobody had built a good-enough software platform for lending e-books. Other groups, including the Triangle Research Libraries Network, had tried, only to be tripped up by problems like how to respect copyright while giving designated borrowers access to only the specific books they wanted.
CJR takes a look at the London Times paywall and suggest it may be working:
One problem with the “newspapers have more readers than ever” notion, is that most of those readers click on a link, leave after 20 seconds, and don’t come back. They’re worth virtually nothing unless you can ramp up the scale, which tends to happen by going for the lowest common denominator. Indeed, in saying about the Sidebar of Shame, “Don’t confuse Mail Online with a business based on professional journalism,” Darcey sounds like Audit Chief Dean Starkman, who’s argued that paywalls necessarily bring a quality imperative while the free model tends to push the other way.
Subscribers, on the other hand, are loyal readers who spend lots of time and attention with one paper. Total time spent with a newspaper’s website is far, far below the time spent with its print editions.
But core readers are different online. The Times says its digital subscribers spend 40 minutes with it online, just shy of the 44 minutes print readers spend (though Sunday digital usage is still well below Sunday paper dwell time). That’s a big deal for advertisers and means The Times can charge exponentially more for each digital reader than it could with a clicks model.
The unanswered question, though, is how much digital ad revenue The Times is foregoing with its hard paywall and how a meter model would fare instead.
From twitter this week:
Here’s An Actual 3D Indoor Map Of A Room Captured With Google’s Project Tango Phone
Finally! How to walk across Dublin without passing a pub.

Friday, February 21, 2014

Photo: Arizona Desert 1992


Saguaro cactus from the desert around Scottsdale Arizona.  The channels in their trunk help to push the wind up and over the plant so that they don't topple over.  Learn something every day here at PND.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

My Slideshare presentations: Value Chain, Predictions, Speaking

I have 16 presentations on Slideshare.net and they send me a weekly (excessive) update on their activity. 


I would like to know who these people are.  
This presentation below always amazes me.  It was done in 1996 to help my fellow PriceWaterhouse (before the Coopers) consultants understand the publishing industry.  It is very out of date and I have actually been contemplating a revision but the downloads continue.  A number of years ago I walked into a client's office and one of the staffers had it up on their screen and they were busy making notes.
 
Here is the complete list of presentations with their stats.