Sunday, February 15, 2009

Media Week 6: Borders, SharedBook, Tools of Change

Ingram Digital Chief Commercial Officer Frank Daniels has done an audio interview with Karen Holt at Teleread.org and among the topics covered are the following:

–Frank’s most recent title. “If it has to do with customers, it has has to do with me.” Earlier he was chief operating officer of Ingram Digital.

–E-newspapers vs. e-books—how they differ. Frank worked for both the editorial and business sides of the Raleigh News & Observer, which his family owned for many decades.

–Ingram Digital’s VitalSource e-reading software, whose interactive capabilities are especially useful in education-related apps, such as dental training. See video for more. Ingram bought VitalSource Technologies, of which Frank was president and CEO, in 2006.

–E-book prices, which he notes range widely. “E-books are going to be priced on convenience more than they’re going to be priced on format.”

–Kindle vs. iPhone. The device “that’s going to prevail has not been invented yet.” In fact, he’s doubts that the industry will standardize on a particular device the way the Apple iPod dominates music.

–DRM. Frank’s unabashedly pro. His DRM comments begin just short of nine minutes into the interview. Listen carefully. and please be civil in our comments section if you’d like to respond. “We’ve not seen DRM to be any kind of barrier to a sale.”

Borders' is able to extend the terms of their agreement with Pershing Square. It costs them $750,000 for expenses. The company now has until April 15th to repay a $42.5mm secured term loan. Coupled with this agreement the companies also agreed to extend the option to sell to Pershing the PaperChase business. Reuters

Two businesses that were attempting to develop music and video "library" services on college campuses have folded. This week Cdigix sited the bad economy for their closure (Chronicle)

Cdigix, a company that focused on selling a service to colleges to place movies and music on reserve online for students, quietly ceased operations at the end of December and is in the process of dissolving. It cited a lack of clients and an inability to raise money to continue. The company initially offered an online music service for colleges, but it ended that service about two years ago to focus on offering reserves of electronic media.

Mark Brodsky, president and chief operating officer of Cdigix, said in an interview today that the company was “a casualty of the economic times.” It had about 25 to 30 colleges either signed up for the service or were testing it, he said, but customers were notified at the end of last year that the service would shut down.

Another service Ruckus also closed this week (Chronicle):
Colleges began signing up for Ruckus five years ago, and in 2005, almost one in five was considering a subscription to a music or movie service, according to a survey by the education-technology group Educause. At first Ruckus charged for campus wide access, but by 2006 it had shifted its focus from site licenses to advertising, still requiring colleges to sign deals, but not to pay.
SharedBook launched Smart Button technology a streamlined implementation of the SharedBook platform that, (SharedBook)
allows partners to apply SharedBook's customized creation capabilities with minimal resource application and maximum flexibility, delivering new revenue sources.

Initially, Encyclopaedia Britannica's editors will use Smart Button to create a new line of books culled from their vast troves of content, arrayed to illuminate specific topics for their customers. Soon, visitors to Britannica.com will also have the ability to use Smart Button to make their own works, by selecting various articles and content, and with one click, add them to a custom, one-of-a-kind volume. "Smart Button turns the historical process of publishing a book on its ear, bringing specialized content to our users faster than ever before", said Joe Miller, Managing Director of Encyclopaedia Britannica's Consumer Division.
In addition to EB, Legacy.com and Sohio

Blackwell was accused of 'dechristianising' their Encyclopedia of Christian Civilization (Guardian):
The Encyclopedia's editor-in-chief, George Kurian, claims that under pressure from an anti-Christian lobby, Blackwell decided that entries in the four-volume book were "too Christian, too orthodox, too anti-secular and too anti-Muslim and not politically correct enough for being used in universities". Kurian also claims that the press wants to delete words including "Antichrist", "Virgin Birth", "Resurrection", "Evangelism" and "Beloved Disciple" from the book, as well as objecting to "historical references to the persecution and massacres of Christians by Muslims".
Proceedings from last weeks Tools of Change Presentations. (TOC)

Eduardo Porter writing in the New York Times on what Newspapers do (NYT):

Companies in countries with a larger daily newspaper circulation are fairer to minority shareholders and have a better record responding to environmental concerns. And a 2000 study by Timothy Besley and Robin Burgess of the London School of Economics proved Sen to be right: governments in India provide more public food and disaster relief in hard times in states where newspaper circulation is higher.

It’s easy to forget the role of an independent press in the development of democratic institutions in the United States. Through much of the 19th century, newspapers were mostly partisan mouthpieces. But as circulation and advertising grew, they shed political allegiances and started competing for customers by investigating shady deals and taking up populist causes.
Thinking about The Satanic Versus (BBC):

For Professor John Sutherland, critic and Booker prize judge, The Satanic Verses should now be seen as Rushdie's best novel, prophetic and the fruit of his obsession with on the one hand the magic of the Arabian Nights and on the other the literal truth claimed for the Koran.

"Rushdie is fascinated in the way that novels are true and the ways in which they become true through multiple untruths," he said.

"People looking for something offensive, heretical or blasphemous won't find it. It's not a diatribe, a calculated insult. It's an extremely good novel."

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