Friday, June 30, 2006

Publishing News: Clinton's Activism, Open Access, Audio Books

The News:

Clinton's Activism
Bill Clinton is to write a book on citizen activism and responsibility for Random House UK. The title will be released by Knopf in the US. According to the press release, Clinton will draw heavily on the time he has spent since leaving office where he has championed UN efforts in Africa, East Asia and more broadly through his Clinton Foundation.

Open Access Again..
While journals publishers were united in their disparaging disregard for the open access movement their arguments suggesting that their value add to the editorial and peer review process couldn't be replicated carried a grain of truth. So far, the open access movement has had only limited success and the large journal publishers continue to maintain and build strong revenue streams. The Royal Society in the UK, which has not supported the open access movement has launched a hybrid author pays/reader pays publishing model for journal articles. The RS has been attempting to get industry players to at least try different models for journal publishing and this is their attempt to lead the way. For the most part the rest of the industry appears indifferent to new methods; for them the old way works just fine.

Audio Books at the Library:
Walk into many large metropolitan library these days and the layout can remind one of a cross between Virgin Music and Blockbuster. Audio titles very much in the mix at your local library and are seeing increases in circulation due to the increasing number of titles available, the ramp-up in acceptance of audio books and an aging population that sees audio titles as a legitimate way to entertain themselves. The LA Times recently published an article which focused on the popularity of audio titles as well as pointing out the booming opportunities for web based access to library collections. With the increasing availablity of content downloadable from your local library, I wonder how long the current business model is going to last between publisher and library. It may be that we will see payments per patron check-out and embargoing enter the mainstream. This may not be a bad thing for libraries if a program were developed that reduced the initial purchase price - perhaps to zero - and paid publishers a fixed fee per check out. Libraries continually face budgeting issues and selection is always an issue when funds are limited; a model like this could enable a library to have access to all electronic and audio titles available thereby providing significant increased value for their patrons. "Selection" and to some extent collection development would become user/patron defined. An interesting model, and I think we will see more discussion of the role of libraries in an electronic and download world.

Former LA Times owner Big Second Thoughts:
The Chandler family cashed out a few years ago and threw their all in with the Tribune company, but after a few depressing years they want the whole thing broken up. Tribune on the other hand are content to buy back shares. Unfortunately, the Chandlers don't have enough support or equity to make more than a public fuss. Regretably, for the readers of the LA Times, Tribune, Newsday and others there don't appear to be too many innovative ideas being presented. Given the interest that the Knight Ridder titles eventually generated, it would seem there are many people who have high hopes and interesting ideas for reputable newspaper publishing companies.

Interview with Jane Friedman while on a fact finding trip to OZ.

Summer Reading from The Seattle Times

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