Sunday, April 05, 2009

Media Week 13: OCLC, Amazon, Dawson, Curation, Bookfairs

Things are really bad in newspaper land when you can't get a copy at your local library any more. On top of this they will be charging for internet access. (BBC)

"Savings of around £10,000 will be made by ending the provision of national newspapers in a handful of libraries," a spokesman said. "National newspaper websites already publish full editorial content." The council also plans to charge people £1.30 to use computers with internet access after the first 30 minutes.

Newsagent distributor Dawson has suffered another deflection (Telegraph):

Dawson Holdings, which distributes magazine and newspaper titles to newsagents, retailers and airlines, said in a trading update today that it expected Telegraph Media Group to "terminate" its deal in the autumn.

Last month Associated Newspapers, publisher of the Daily Mail, and Comag, the joint venture between Condé Naste and the National Magazine Company, announced they would not be renewing contracts with Dawson when they expire in 2010. The two deals accounted for £139m in revenue for Dawson last year.

Dawson also has a library supply business in the UK.

WorldCat (OCLC) has partnered with book/reading social networking site WeRead (Info2Day)

It is the latest organization to join the list of more than 25 OCLC World partners. With one of the largest and most popular social book discovery applications on Facebook, MySpace, bebo, Hi5, and Orkut, weRead is a natural fit to partner with OCLC to enhance the social networking and user-discovery aspects of WorldCat.

Cindy Cunningham, director of partner programs for OCLC says, "The mission of weRead-the social discovery of books-extends and further enhances the WorldCat.org goal to connect users with their local libraries. With weRead being a Lulu company and the corresponding support for self-publishing, OCLC can offer its users access to an entirely new reading experience."

Can Curation save the media industry? (SiliconAlley)

So, what are both Maheu and Schrier in agreement about? Curation. It's a word that gained a lot of traction in the past 12 months as the overarching trends of ubiquitous distribution and mass content creation have emerged as the two headed dragon that may slay media as we know it.

The old model was "one to many" (NBC -> viewers). The new model is "one to a few" (YOU -> your friends and followers). That means there is an overwhelming explosion of content being created (Twitter feeds, blog posts, Flickr photos, Facebook updates) and most of it is interesting to a very small number of people. But, mixed in with this cacophony of consumer content, there is contextually relevant material that needs to be discovered, sorted, and made "brand safe" for advertisers. Curation is the new role of media professionals.

Separating the wheat from the chaff, assigning editorial weight, and -- most importantly - giving folks who don't want to spend their lives looking for an editorial needle in a haystack a high-quality collection of content that is contextual and coherent. It's what we always expected from our media, and now they've got the tools to do it better.

Flat World Knowledge gets $8mm for open source textbook venture. (Reuters)

Flat World offers students online books for free and the option of paying for a printed copy, which typically costs less than a comparable textbook from a college store. The textbook "Principles of Microeconomics," for example, costs $30 for a black-and-white copy and $60 for one in color.

"The idea here is the cost of textbooks has gone up dramatically over the last 10 years," says Hooks Johnston, general partner at venture firm Valhalla Partners, the largest investor in the startup. Other VC investors include Greenhill SAVP and High Peaks Venture Partners.

Amazon changes their payment terms to small publishers in the UK (Times)

The online retailer is asking for an extra 2% off the list price of books from suppliers that use its Amazon Advantage system in order for them to be paid by May 15 for sales made in April.

Those that remain on standard terms, which already involve giving Amazon a 40% discount, will not have invoices from sales made in April settled until the end of June.

The new terms, which Advantage customers were informed of last week and take effect from Wednesday, have stirred industry anger.

“How dare they try this on when we are feeling the pinch more than ever?” said one small publisher. “It’s nothing more than an attempt to rip off the small fry.”

Publishers estimate that up to 20% of books sold by Amazon go through its Advantage system.

BookFairs seem to be holding their own: "No child has too many books" (AP)

Book fairs have been around for decades, although the field now is largely controlled by Scholastic. The publisher says its business has grown from around 8,000 annual fairs in the early 1980s, with sales of around $5.5 million, to around 120,000 fairs expected this year.

The field is enticing enough that Barnes & Noble, Inc., has steadily increased its own fairs by double digits over the past few years, to over 10,000 in 2008, according to the superstore chain's vice president of speciality marketing, Kim Brown.

"As the school budgets are tightened up, the parents - the PTA - are looking for different ways to fund-raise," Brown says. "Luckily, people save their discretionary income for their children."

Educators and parents welcome the money, with 25 per cent or more of the take going back to the schools, but, as with the Scholastic book clubs, they worry about what's being sold. Scholastic fairs, like the clubs, often feature books that are tied to TV shows such as "Hannah Montana" or non-book products such as pencils, markers, toy banks and electronic games.


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