Sunday, February 08, 2009

Media Week 5: Banned Books, AA Travel Guides, Newspapers

The Times reports on the most stolen books from bookstores. Now they know which books to place up front with the condoms and razor blades (never figured that combo out myself).

The “pocketing potential” of a book seems to relate to its resale value. Many of the booksellers who took part in the survey are convinced that a thriving black market for books exists - according to them, illicit sales are made mainly in pubs, where disorientated consumers are happy to buy maps, travel guides and the latest Harry Potter for their children from a network of book thieves selling at bargain prices.

Paranoia or conspiracy? In 2004 a man was jailed after it was revealed that he ran a gang of thieves who stole Lonely Planet travel guides to order. He had sold an estimated 35,000 stolen books a year.

Some think the AA travel guides are consorting with the enemy and have become less objective since a private equity buy-out. Typically, blame the Americans. (Telegraph)
“This is typical of American-style private equity action,” said Paul Maloney, national secretary of the GMB (AA section), the union recognised by the AA until the private equity takeover. “[Their view seems to be] 'We’ve got a company, we’re going to strip it of what we like in order to turn a profit.’”
11th Circuit Court upholds Cuban book ban in Miami Dade elementary schools (AP). Luckily, according to Worldcat.org there are at least 300 other copies available for inter-library loan.

The 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals said the Miami-Dade County School District wouldn't be infringing freedom of speech rights by removing 49 copies of "Vamos a Cuba" and its English-language version, "A Visit to Cuba," from its libraries. The board has argued that the books, for children ages 5 to 8, present an inaccurate view of life in Cuba.

The board voted to remove the book in 2006 after a parent who was a former political prisoner in Cuba complained. A federal judge in Miami later ruled that the board should add books of different perspectives instead of removing offending titles.

Walter Isaacson on saving the nations newspapers. (Time). Almost since 'last Tuesday' there seems to have been a rising tide of stories about how newspapers need to charge for their content. I think that is a good thing. Isaacson sees an iTunes and micropayments type solution.

What Internet payment options are there today? PayPal is the most famous, but it has transaction costs too high for impulse buys of less than a dollar. The denizens of Facebook are embracing systems like Spare Change, which allows them to charge their PayPal accounts or credit cards to get digital currency they can spend in small amounts. Similar services include Bee-Tokens and Tipjoy. Twitter users have Twitpay, which is a micropayment service for the micromessaging set. Gamers have their own digital currencies that can be used for impulse buys during online role-playing games. And real-world commuters are used to gizmos like E-ZPass, which deducts automatically from their prepaid account as they glide through a highway tollbooth.

Under a micropayment system, a newspaper might decide to charge a nickel for an article or a dime for that day's full edition or $2 for a month's worth of Web access. Some surfers would balk, but I suspect most would merrily click through if it were cheap and easy enough.

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