Sunday, November 02, 2008

Media Week 44

The short list for Australia's richest literary prize was announced earlier in the week.

The final five contenders were narrowed down from 12 novels for the inaugural $110,000 Australia-Asia Literary Award.

The shortlisted works are The Lost Dog by Australian author Michelle de Kretser, Blood Kin by Australian and South African citizen Ceridwen Dovey, The Reluctant Fundamentalist by Pakistani and UK citizen Mohsin Hamid, Orpheus Lost by US-based Australian author Janette Turner Hospital and Complete Stories by Australian David Malouf.

Mr Day said the short list demonstrated the literary strength of Australia and Asia.

I've read a few by Janette Turner Hospital and they are pretty powerful novels. The winner is to be announced November 21.

EBSCO has acquired several new database products from NISC which already has EBSCO host their content:
NISC databases include Family & Society Studies Worldwide, Gender Studies Database, Woman's Studies International, and Wildlife & Ecology Studies Worldwide. Many of the databases acquired from NISC are already available on EBSCOhost and several others will soon migrate to the EBSCOhost platform.

Fred Dürr, president of NISC, Inc., says EBSCO and NISC are longtime partners. "NISC content has had a long and rich existence on the EBSCOhost platform. Those NISC users who do not access the databases via EBSCOhost will undoubtedly find the new EBSCOhost 2.0 platform an enjoyable search experience. We expect NISC users to have an easy transition as they continue their NISC relationship directly with EBSCO."
Australian & New Zealand retailer A&R Whitcouls reported results for their year: Link

A&R Whitcoulls says its annual revenue rose 9 percent despite tough trading conditions as the book retailer looks forward to a "strong" Christmas.

However, the company reported a net loss for the year of A$5.2million, hit by a number of one-off items including the acquisition of Borders Asia-Pacific and "considerable" investment in its internet sales platform.

"These initiatives were undertaken to drive sales, lift profits and, in the case of the Borders acquisition, gain significant benefits from synergies as a result of the union of the major brands," A&R Whitcoulls said.

Sydney-based Pacific Equity Partners, Australia and New Zealand's largest private equity fund, which owns A&R Whitcoulls, bought the 30 Borders stores in Australia, New Zealand and Singapore for $137.6 million in June.

The company is rumored to be planning a flotation sometime within the next two years and they also said that pre-Borders operational planning focused on cost reductions is on plan.

ALA looks for a $100mm handout for libraries. Can't say I agree with this one. Link

The American Library Association (ALA) is asking Congress for a one-time infusion of $100 million in stimulus funding to help libraries aid Americans as they deal with the nation’s current fiscal crisis. At a time when Congress is considering another economic stimulus package, ALA points out that public library usage has risen during this tough economic time while their budgets face severe budget cutbacks. While public libraries depend heavily on local property taxes to maintain operations, increased foreclosure rates, lower home values, and fewer sales have sharply reduced available funds, forcing libraries to cut services and hours.

They're not going to get it.

Future VP Joe Biden gets interviewed by fifth grader Damon Weaver. "What is the job of the VP" Cute. LINK

Reed continue to offer incentives for any purchaser of Reed Business Information. There are still three possible buyers involved in the process. Something has to break soon. LINK.

Second-round bids for RBI were made last month, but details of a deadline for the next stage of bidding are unclear. Buyout firms still in the process include Bain Capital, which has taken on Helen Alexander, the former chief executive of The Economist Group to advise on the deal, and a consortium of TPG and DLJ Merchant Banking Partners.

The vendor financing on offer from Reed comes as the credit crisis has made financing of large leveraged buyouts difficult, therefore limiting the ability of private equity firms to invest money. The original price tag for the deal was £1.25bn, but sources have said that next-round offers could come in at below £1bn, particularly as a difficult advertising market is understood to have put pressure on trading at the magazines unit.

Some obvious suggestions from ex-RBI CEO Jim Casella: Lower the price and/or break it up. PAIDContent. He also mentioned Reed may hold some innvestment as they have with the Harcourt disposal which I mentioned when they announced the proposed disposal. He notes below the separation from Reed Exhibitions:
Casella - now CEO of his Case Interactive Media investor - told our moderator and ContentNext publisher Rafat Ali that RBI isn’t a perfect acquisition right now: “It’s logical that you’d (have to) be looking to buy events to go along with the company since exhibitions don’t come with the property.” Could it be broken up? “I think there’s a very good possibility there’s certain assets (buyers) want to focus on and others they want to dispose of. A new owner is going to want to follow a more focused strategy; I think there will be disposals.”

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