Sunday, September 07, 2008

Media Week 36

Someone (Michael Birch, founder of Bebo) thinks they can reinvent the dictionary: Telegraph

The site will feature traditional word definitions, etymologies, quotations and pronunciations, but will also include professional and user-generated video content. Baker is known to have filmed hundreds of videos of people defining their favourite words during this year's Edinburgh Festival. Wordia will launch into a crowded marketplace, with the likes of dictionary.com, owned by US publishing group InterActiveCorp, and Oxford University Press' Oxford English Dictionary already active on the internet.
Informa shares fell 7% as investors reacted negatively to the rejection of a lower than expected bid from a private equity consortia bid led by Blackstone. Timesonline.

Pluck, which is a social media services company has signed a 'wide- ranging' deal with the Chicago Sun Times. MediaPost.

Pluck positions itself both as a provider of white-label social networking tools for enterprise clients like USA Today and now the Sun-Times, while also running BlogBurst, a vast blog syndication network which connects newspapers and other media sites to a network of some 5,500 selected blogs. "We're providing publishers with the tools to bring online conversations into their own networks, where they can best monetize it," said Dave Panos, CEO of Pluck and EVP of Demand Media, which acquired Pluck earlier this year. Pluck SiteLife service helps online properties engage site visitors with a range of social media capabilities including user comments, ratings, recommendations, reviews, photo and video sharing, forums and social networking profiles called Personas. SiteLife includes widgets and a set of platform-level APIs for publishers to tailor a social media experience to their audiences. Pluck's social media services are presently live on some 300 top brand, media and retail sites, including those of Circuit City, Condé Nast, The Guardian and USA Today, serving more than 2.5 billion interactions each month.
Age Banding on Children's books has been a contentious issue in the UK over the past year. The argument pits publishers against publisher and author against publisher. Here Scholastic's Kate Wilson suggests the approach may not have been flawless (Guardian):

"I would suggest – and I am speaking entirely as myself, rather than as the representative of anyone else or anybody here – that there were some regrettable errors in how publishers went about the introduction of age guidance," said Scholastic group managing director Kate Wilson. "I think most of them, if they had their time again, would do it differently and in greater consultation with authors." She was the only representative of the publishing industry who accepted an invitation to a specially-organised debate at the Children's Writers and Illustrators conference at which Philip Pullman condemned the initiative, branding the labels "not true" and questioning the research which motivated their introduction. Wilson, responding as an individual publisher, albeit one which has supported the policy, was conciliatory on the principle of consultation. But she was vigorous in her defence of the research and the need for children's books to find a more competitive edge against other forms of spending on children. "Age guidance isn't perfect but it is another ingredient added to the marketing mix that the majority of book buyers surveyed said they'd welcome."
In the US, some children's and YA titles receive 'lexile' measures that are intended to describe the reading comprehension level of the materal. So a 20 year old with a 'reading comprehension' of an 8 year old can readily find (or be given) a book that is appropriate, and let's face it that's a lot better than recieving a book that has printed ont the spine "for eight year olds." Not only would that be embarrasing but it would deflate any enthusism the individual had for improving their reading. (This is just as true if the reader were 10 not 20).

Robert Giroux has died. Many have noted he picked The Catcher in the Rye but wasn't allowed to publish it. (NYTimes)

More than a year later, Mr. Salinger sent Mr. Giroux the manuscript of “The Catcher in the Rye.” Mr. Giroux was all set to publish it, certain it would be a winner. Then Harcourt’s textbook department intervened, saying “Catcher” wasn’t right for the house. Mr. Giroux retreated, forced to reject what turned out to be one of the great successes of the century. Furious at the interference, Mr. Giroux began looking to move to another house, and in 1955 he joined Farrar, Straus & Company as editor in chief. Almost 20 of his writers at Harcourt eventually followed him, among them Eliot, Lowell, O’Connor and Malamud. It was a display of loyalty returned; Mr. Giroux was known for the care he lavished on his writers, whether visiting Stafford in the Payne Whitney Psychiatric Clinic while she recovered from a breakdown or insisting that Eliot raise his fee for poetry readings.

Bloomsbury announced an academic imprint. The Bookseller.

Bloomsbury is making a bold move into academic publishing with the launch of
an "on demand" imprint that will publish titles online for free. Bloomsbury
Academic will be run by publisher Frances Pinter, making a return to UK
publishing, with Jonathan Glasspool m.d.

No comments: