Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Google Book Settlement Video and Discussion

Harvard's Beckman Center for Internet and Society hosted a presentation and discussion about the proposed Google Book Settlement which included Alex Macgillivray and Dan Clancy from Google (both are introduced at the start of this video):

The video is over an hour long but in listening to it I took the following notes. If something is not clear, best watch the video. (Also, don't take my notes as gospel watch the video).

Google's Alexander Macgillivray on the Google Book Search Settlement

AM: Google Book Search: Why did we do it? “To make books easier to find”
First lesson learned about book search: full text search is really powerful and harnessing this is really powerful.

Three places to go to build a full text database:
1. Born digital books
2. Books less new but owned by publishers: can find them
3. Not currently held by publishers or rights unclear and public domain books. Where rights were unknown recognized these are still useful and wanted to include them as full text searchable and also enable someone looking for them to know where to go to get them

AM Referred this as following as “Books 1.0”

Deals with libraries to scan books and index them.

10+ million books scanned
1.5mm in public domain
1.5mm in the Partner Program from 25K partner program and 40 libraries across number of countries

Continued to scan ‘at pace’ and didn’t stop in the face of the lawsuits came in 2005:
2 US Lawsuits:
Broad Class action: Authors Guild
Narrower: Publishers
1 French
1 German – subsequently withdrawn when looked like they would loose

Conversation in settlement: Only time happened to me at Google where the other side was thinking bigger than we were. Started thinking about doing things with the class that would provide enormous benefit. “actually increasing access to the information” saw an opportunity that “once you found the book you could actually read it”. Wasn’t a lot of disagreement around the room. Also, how do we preserve the place of the library in this environment?

Opens up access in various ways:

1. Consumer Access:
Ability get free full text search results, find it for sale or in library. Also if it is out of print (essentially all out of print books) you can get 20% of the content to sample and determine if this is the book you are looking for. Which books are useful to you and expands options to access: amazon, alibris, etc. Buy online access to the book: Lasts forever and no ‘1984 Amazon’ problem and sits forever sits on your bookshelf. Priced by the publisher or rightsholder. If none exists the price is set by an algorithm. (Simulates a market which prices the book at a price it would be if there was a market).

DC On pricing for Books: An algorithm has been built to determine the best/appropriate price for books where price not set by a rightsholder. Initial distribution is as follows but real experience will change these prices.

80% of prices are $15 or less
50% of prices are $5.99 or less

“Really think the prices will go down”

2. Institutional Access: Subscription based and pricing governed by the agreement which states pricing should offer a “fair return and broad access”

Comment: to users of an institutional license this may be akin to ‘free like water’ for all the users (or those who have access) to the institutional license.

Another comment on the institutional license:
For the entirety of the subscription not book can be removed from the collection. No 1984 problem. Once have subscribed to a set of books these can’t be removed for the entirety of the subscription. Next year there could be a different set of books which changes the composition of the license.

3. Public access model: Can go to a public library will have access to the entire ‘subscription for free’. All out of print books available at any library that wants it. Google would like it so that you “never have to worry that the amount of money you have will determine access – either in Academic or Public setting. So don’t have the money to go to Harvard but would be able to gain access to this material and the content of all the other libraries.

One terminal in every library (hope over time to be able to provide more access points for public libraries)

Obviously in addition all public domain titles will be available via the internet

AM Also notes the ability of the agreement to expand access to those with disability – especially those with print disabilities (the blind).

Professors can now select from a much wider universe/set of books: moving from a relatively small set of titles to a much more inclusive set

Orphan Works: - Notes blog posts.

Google has been fighting for Orphan works legislation for years that would allow for mass digitization projects (including but not exclusive to books)

Still think this effort is important for a number of reasons:
Settlement includes Orphans and non-Orphans
No clear cut definition as to what an Orphan is
Constant problem in Washington and disagreement: ever competing definitions within groups even within cohesive groups

“Works where the rightsholder is very very hard to find.”

May be copyright holder out there but the connection between (me) and the holder is hard or can’t be made

Clancy: Books have some advantage over other intellectual works because authors name, publishers name (other info), is printed in the book. Many of these books have publication information.

Not just books: images, physical objects, other things but even harder to find copyright holder.

More scholarly books from libraries: Professors at the university at the time of publication.

“Can find them – little hard but could if you tried. These are not really Orphans”
For many casual uses finding them for class use (or for permissions) is not too difficult. Noted the Author’s Guild research asking their authors whether finding copyright holders for permissions: ‘Success 90% of the time. (PND Note: I think % is higher than actual but not by much). These books aren’t really Orphans is just a little hard to find the rightsholder.

Challenges: Books less of an issue but still an issue for some percentage of the titles:
1. Lots of books that aren’t Orphans but still a bit of a pain to go ahead and find who the rightsholder.
2. Because of statutory risks in copyright titles may be ‘practically dead in the marketplace’ because the economic value is small versus the costs of getting hold of the rightsholder and getting the title authorized. Has to do with rightsholder indemnifying the seeker of the rights against a future claim. Money rightsholder receives in this transaction is much smaller than his/her economic risk of error if they don’t in fact retain the rights to the work.

AM: Addressing the twin problems of Orphan works
1. making it easier to find rightsholder
2. makes these things (cultural items) themselves accessible

AM: Make really clear (w/r/t Orphan works legislation) inserted clause that Orphan works legislation will trump the settlement.

DC: Important point that all information is freely and publicly available as to the disposition of the copyright:
Who claims what book is public information
Can also ask “Tell me which books have not been claimed”

AM “Fact that this information is public is really an important part of the agreement” J – compares this openness with other rights distribution agencies which are closed. Keep as private which content is part of their collection.

“BRR is unable to be obscure about rightsholder information”

Question of ‘fair use doctrine’: isn’t this the end of fair use?

AM Currently have more fair use cases than anyone else.
Continue to be subject to lawsuits with respect to photos and foreign works. Google is never on the plaintive side in Fair use cases. Always on the defendant side. “Understand it may be convenient to say we are abandoning fair use but its bull shit”

DC: Going in to the agreement we felt we would win the lawsuit: “felt pretty good”. In the agreement it was important that we did not erode fair use. We don’t believe the agreement erodes fair use and continue to conduct ourselves (scanning images, unregistered works, opted out works). All still believe in fair use. “if we felt the agreement was undermining our belief in fair use we would be adjusting our actions with respect to some of the things we are doing” (images etc.)

AM: Just to be clear: “Google built its whole business on fair use and we are not backing down from this at all” We are not backing down from this at all.

Question about where the money goes (specifically what happens to uncollected funds): “Not clear why anyone would have a claim on the collected but unclaimed money”.

AM: Two streams:
For consumer purchases the money is held for 5yrs. If unclaimed the BRR can use the (5th year) money to operate the BRR, if money left over then can use the remaining money to ‘top up’ the payments to rightsholders from the 63% to 70%, if there is any money remaining after that it is disbursed to charities.

for institutional: after 5yrs registry operating costs, any remaining left over is divided across the rightsholders in the institutional license

Heard people say the money shouldn’t be divided this way because BRR etc have no right however; there is no consistency on where the money should go. Different groups have different ideas as to where/how the dollars are divided. The way the settlement distributes it is similar to other rights organizations; however, the settlement also says that if there is Orphan works legislation this will trump the settlement. “You can easily get a resolution to the extent you can get all the other constituents to agree” on where the money could go.

Question about the research corpus: Largest collection of ‘parellel corpa’ with respect to translation. Who’s got access to it?

DC: Right now in the current world Google has access to the entire database. Because of the current copyright we can’t open it up to everyone to come in and do what they want. Secondly, each library only has access to their collection. Each partner has a subset. Google has the whole thing.

Creation of a research corpus for non-consumptive research allowing for computational research on the entire corpus. Word usage, Machine translation, OCR, New search technologies over large texts like books

Participating and fully cooperating libraries get to create up to 2 of these research corpus’. Google is putting up $5mm to set up these research corpus’

Up to the libraries to use these research projects: has to be non-consumptive research. Libraries have the responsibility but can sponsor anyone they want. They have responsibility to secure the corpus. Can sponsor any university or person they want.

31 partners and most are expected to come on: could be another 50 or 100. Any of the libraries can sponsor others.

Michigan is the only one doing anything: Something with Hathi Trust
Looking to build one corpus on public domain stuff and working with them on this. Google want them to get going because once get it going ‘they will discover things’ which will make the research opportunities more tangible.

AM Absent the settlement this doesn’t happen. Once settlement approved we get to provide all the content

Question about Competition: Specifically most favored nation clause. A suggestion this removes any incentive for a competitor to enter this market because they can never ‘beat’ Google:

AM Stated the clause without the limitations:
Only for first 10 yrs. Deal is long and the first mover is taking on a lot of up front risk. First mover deal for the length of copyright of the last book in the database by definition is a long time. Scanning and the $125mm in the settlement addition points.

Second limitation: Only to the extent that a deal with a third party impacts a significant number of unclaimed (other than registered rights holders) works (slightly bigger than Orphans) will the clause be relevant.

AM: This clause is regarded by anti-trust as a ‘good thing’: Very easy for a second entrant with the blue print (via BRR) of a deal already done. Wanted to ensure that for the first 10 yrs that Google could complete with any entrant be they Amazon, MS, or other. Anti-trust views this as a good thing because it encourages the type of innovation we have with this settlement.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Boston University Discuss Open Access

In the University's alumni magazine this quarter, Boston University discuss their recently launched open access research repository under a title "Research Wants to be Free":
While most published scholarly work is copyrighted and distributed by subscription-based journals, an open-access system allows an article or data to be shared as widely and easily as possible with both the public and potential collaborators who might build on one another’s work. The movement began a few years ago among university librarians unsettled by ever-rising subscription costs and emboldened by the promise of the Internet. It quickly spread to university faculty and has since spawned a bur­geoning library of open-access journals and institutional repositories. In Feb­ruary, Boston University moved to the forefront of the movement when the faculty unanimously voted to establish the nation’s first university-wide open-access archive.

The archive will be a free, search­able Web catalogue of BU scholarship ranging from neuroscience research to folk dance videos. Faculty who opt to use the archive can submit a journal article, a dissertation, or any other piece of scholarship, and material that is submitted will be made available to anyone for noncommercial use.

Pearson Reports Interim Results: Better than Anticipated

Pearson reported their interim financial results this morning. From the press release:
* Strong profit growth: Adjusted operating profit up 25%* and adjusted EPS up 41% in headline terms.
* Good competitive performances: FT Group and Penguin performing well in challenging markets and trading in line with expectations; Education trading ahead and gaining share.
* Healthy outlook: Strong positions in growth markets combined with accelerating digital and services businesses underpin confidence for 2009 and beyond.
* Dividend growth sustained: Interim dividend raised 3.4% to 12.2p.
* Trading ahead of expectations: Stronger business performance offsets negative currency impact, providing an effective upgrade of 3p to adjusted EPS guidance for 2009. So, full-year adjusted EPS still expected to be at or above the 2008 level of 57.7p per share.

Marjorie Scardino, chief executive, said: "The transformation we've been pursuing for a decade - from 'publishing' company to content, technology and services company - is paying off. Over the past six years, Pearson has delivered substantial growth; this year is about proving our resilience and competitive edge. So far, we've passed the test. Market conditions are tough and may stay that way; but we are confident that we will perform well this year and next."
Some other points from the release:

Education appears to be outpacing the company's expectations with underlying performance in the period better than expected and a traditionally better second half of the year yet to come. (To some degree this performance could be expected given the 'promises' made to investors with respect to the integration of their recent acquisitions and the performance gains from cost efficiencies and selling).

Penguin who's performance the company described as 'in-line with expectations' lost significant margin during the period versus last year. The company expects the second half to be stronger but have also put in place some 'organizational changes'. From the release some other information about Penguin's Digital Innovation:
  • Significant expansion of eBook publishing and sales. In the US and UK, Penguin has almost 10,000 eBooks available to date and expects to have almost 14,000 by year end including eSpecials and Enriched eBook Classics.
  • In the US, Penguin launched an online network with three channels featuring nine series of book-related programming for adults, young adults and children. Titled "From the Publishers Office", the site aims to build on Penguin's 2.0 initiatives to engage new audiences and to enhance the dialogue between authors and readers.
  • In the UK, Penguin and Puffin launch We Make Stories, a unique set of digital tools for children to create, print and share a variety of innovative story forms including pop-up books, customised audio books, comics and interactive treasure maps. The site is designed to encourage literacy, creativity and storytelling skills and is Penguin's first move into providing services. We launched iPhone applications for the Top 10 DK Eyewitness travel guides retailing at £4.99.
  • Penguin China is the first major international publisher to sell English books directly under its own brand on Taobao the leading direct-to-consumer online auction site in China.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Media Week 29: Education, DVDs, Ebook Sales, OCLC, CourseSmart, Target.

Some of these will have been noted on the twitter during the past week.

Raising Alabama - From the economist two weeks ago on efforts to provide online access to students in Alabama which is starting to provide much broader access to education across the state and happily improving opportunity (Economist):
There were sceptics. The pilot programme cost $10m, not pocket change in a poor state. Teachers worried about how they would connect to their virtual students. But ACCESS quickly became a hit. In 2006 students took more than 4,000 courses at 24 schools. In 2008, with ACCESS now in more schools, the number exceeded 22,000. Administrators are finding new ways to liven up the experience. Last year a dozen schools went on a “virtual field trip” to Antarctica, with scientists beamed in by satellite, and a school in Birmingham has been liaising with a counterpart in Wales.
Also a week earlier the Economist discussed DVD sales which among a few topics was notable for the recent debate regarding when publishers release eBooks relative to the release dates for their pBook relatives (Economist):

Studios would prefer people to get their films in almost any way other than renting them from a kiosk. It is much more profitable to stream a film digitally or sell it through a cable operator as a video-on-demand (VOD). Recognising this, Warner Bros now releases many films simultaneously on DVD and VOD. The big studios have overcome their initial reluctance to sell digital copies of films through Apple’s iTunes store. Although it is a long way off, there is much talk of creating a premium VOD “window”, charging perhaps $40 for a film soon after it appears in cinemas. “We need to give people as many options as possible without confusing them,” says Kevin Tsujihara, head of home entertainment at Warner Bros.

Meanwhile strenuous efforts are under way to stimulate disc sales. Disney is selling some films in three formats in a single box—DVD, Blu-ray and digital file. Studios are adding puzzles, interviews and other special features to discs intended for sale, but not to discs intended for rental. Mike Dunn, head of home entertainment at Fox, sums up the strategy: “If you buy a Blu-ray disc you get a BMW. If you rent one you get a Chevrolet.”

Corgi in the UK gets it totally wrong 'leveraging' Dan Brown's name to promote a somewhat new author (MW):

These are not the reviews for a man whose style is so indistinct that he deserves to get his name printed three times smaller than someone who didn’t even write the book. It might not be the type of writing that appeals too much to me, but clearly Kernick has a healthy fanbase waiting to rave about his work.

I think Kernick’s publisher, Corgi, has missed a trick. Rather than piggybacking Kernick’s work on Brown’s brand, it should have tried to develop the author’s own distinctive style and reputation more carefully. I appreciate it’s trying to shift copies in a difficult climate but there is more than enough room for another star brand on the bookshelves. So come on, Corgi; there is never a deadline for innovative marketing.

OCLC announces the launch of 'Content Gateway' that makes it easier for libraries to upload the content from their special collections (OCLC):

"Libraries, museums and archives should do whatever they can to get their materials available online and expose their collections to users—wherever they are—on the Web,” said Roy Tennant, Senior Program Officer, OCLC Research. "The WorldCat Digital Collection Gateway is an easy and effective way to do this."

The Gateway has been piloted in 12 institutions. Since May, the pilot participants used the Gateway self-service tools to upload thousands of records from their CONTENTdm collections into WorldCat. Because they have used the Gateway to set up profiles for their collections, the pilot users' metadata will be regularly uploaded to WorldCat as they add to their digital collections over time.

Notes on a female action hero from the Guardian. Ripley still reigns (and she still looks good):
And then? Ripley beat them all. And so she should, being the best female action hero ever despite it being 30 years since Alien was released. Sigourney Weaver got a standing ovation for simply walking on stage - and from that point until the end of the panel, the air was crackling with bright little flashbulb hiccups and the little electric cla-chuk of 4,000 digital cameras taking 400,000 pictures of a stage that felt as if it was 40 miles away.

Weaver was passionate in her belief that female action stars - and powerful female roles in general – should be action stars and roles first, and female depending on whoever was best for the role.

"Science fiction is an investigation into what it is to be human," she said at one point. "A lot of the roles I have played, they're not trying to create a female action figure - they're trying to create a fully-functioning human being; a character comes first."

In the UK The Bookseller reports on differing approaches to revenue splits on eBook sales:
Industry sources said that a figure of 25% was becoming standard, though some admitted that it could be "variable". One agent said: "Random House is the only publisher not offering 25% as its best standard rate but not all agents are getting 25% from all publishers." Penguin m.d. Helen Fraser said: "Our standard e-book royalty is 25% of net receipts. My sense is that the industry is probably settling between 20% and 25%. Some publishers are offering the same to everybody and some are having a gradated scale."
CourseSmart has added a bunch of new publishers to its content base (PR):

Each of CourseSmart's new publishers will supplement its digital library of eTextbooks in the following specialty areas:

  • Elsevier Science and Technology: Life and Physical Sciences, Mathematics and Statistics, Engineering, Computer Science, Media Technology, Finance, Business and Hospitality
  • F.A. Davis: Nursing and Health Professions
  • Jones & Bartlett: Biology; Health, Fitness and Wellness; Criminology, Nursing and Computer Science
  • SAGE: Education, Psychology, Statistics, Sociology and Criminology
  • Sinauer Associates: Biology, Psychology and Neuroscience
  • Taylor & Francis: Humanities & Social Sciences, Life Science, Business, Psychology, Mental Health and Computer Science
  • Wolters Kluwer Health (Lippincott Williams & Wilkins): Medicine, Nursing and Health Professions
The NYTimes ran an article on Target's Bookselling ops which reminded me of a similar article last year on book buying at Costco. From the Times article:

Compared with a large chain bookstore like Barnes & Noble, which averages about 200,000 titles per location, Target carries only about 2,500 titles in each of its 1,700 stores. Offerings include diet books, children’s picture books, young-adult novels and series romances. Paperbacks far outnumber hardcovers, and over the last decade Target has focused on the larger trade format as opposed to the smaller mass-market paperbacks. (The other big-box retailers rely mostly on the biggest commercial books of the moment, though Costco does on occasion offer its own special picks of little-known authors.)

Virtually every book at Target is shelved face out. Books in the book club and Breakout program are set apart on so-called endcaps — narrower shelves that stand at the front or end of aisles — with specially designed signs.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Google and Privacy

The Electronic Frontier Foundation has some concerns regarding Google's privacy stance especially with respect to the Book Settlement agreement. EFF suggests that Google's ability to track everything a consumer looks at and reads combined with all the other services that Google provider could lead to Google collating a 'digital dossier' on every user. Perhaps hyperbolic but nevertheless they have listed a number of specific remedies (Link):
  • Protect your reading records from government and third party fishing expeditions by responding only to properly-issued warrants and court orders, and by letting you know if someone has demanded access to information Google has collected about you.
  • Make sure that you can still browse and read anonymously by not forcing you to register or give personal information and by deleting any logging information for all services after a maximum of 30 days.
  • Separate data related to Google Book Search from any other information the company collects about you, unless you give it express permission.
  • Give you the ability to edit and delete any information collected about you, transfer books from one account to another without tracking, and hide your "bookshelves" or other reading lists from others with access to your computer.
  • Keep Google Book Search information private from third parties like credit card processors, book publishers, and advertisers.
EFF also suggest concerned readers email Google's CEO Eric Schmidt directly to voice their concerns.

Google has also reacted to privacy concerns - whether directly to EFF or coincidental is unclear - with the following blog post from Dan Clancy on their public policy blog:
Recently, we've heard questions about our agreement and what it will mean for user privacy. Privacy is important to us, and we know it's important to our users, too. We have a strong privacy policy in place now for Google Books and for all Google products. But our settlement agreement hasn't yet been approved by the court, and the services authorized by the agreement haven't been built or even designed yet. That means it's very difficult (if not impossible) to draft a detailed privacy policy. While we know that our eventual product will build in privacy protections -- like always giving users clear information about privacy, and choices about what if any data they share when they use our services -- we don't yet know exactly how this all will work. We do know that whatever we ultimately build will protect readers' privacy rights, upholding the standards set long ago by booksellers and by the libraries whose collections are being opened to the public through this settlement.
On the Google Books blog they are slightly more expansive with a series of question and answers regarding the Books program and their privacy policies (Link):
Important principles from our Google Privacy Policy would apply to this service, as with every Google service. For example, we will never sell personal information about our users. In fact, we will never share individual users' information at all unless the user tells us to, or in some very unusual circumstances like life-threatening emergencies. The Book Rights Registry created under the settlement won't have access to users' personal information, either.

Users will also have choices about the kinds of information that Google receives when they use the service. Most of the new ways of reading books online that the settlement makes possible will not require any kind of registration or account with Google. For example, people who use institutional subscriptions, such as students at subscribing schools, will not have to register with Google to read the millions of books available through the subscription. They only need to confirm their identity to the school’s system – not ours. And of course, regular users of Google Books do not need to set up an account to get the benefits of the settlement. They will be able to see much larger portions of books – often 20% of the book, instead of the current three short snippets – without having an account or giving personal information to Google.
As fellow traveler Adam Hodgkin suggests, "if Google becomes the predominant reading platform for digital editions these will be crucial issues". Reading a book is a personal intellectual exercise and disconnected, in fact and in the mind of the reader, from all externalities; because of this perception, translating the reading experience to an online environment probably does not immediately conjure up concerns over privacy in the minds of the average reader. In other words, most people because all their prior reading experience has been "private' do not immediately understand that it may now be 'public'. Reading may have to carry a public warning. Maybe I'm in agreement with EFF's hyperbole.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Guide to Finding an Orphan

(via P. Brantley) The Society of American Archivists have produced a best practice guide for researching rightsholders titled Orphan Works: Statement of Best Practices. Here is a sample from the LibraryLaw Blog:

Then, the heart of the beast - what constitutes a diligent effort? I love the way the document clarifies that you first need to try to identify the creator, but that you also need to try to identify the rights holder, which is often different, especially for older works that may have dead authors.

How far do you go in identifying and locating creators and rights holders? This is the $30,000 question, and the guide really helps you here. It's as if you have the collective wisdom of the archivist community at your beck and call. True, this isn't legal guidance based on statutes/court cases, but we don't have those yet. This will likely influence those arenas, should the time ever come.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Elsevier's Journal of The Future

Journal publisher Elsevier has announced a beta project to re-think the journal article. In collaboration with their journal Cell, the company's innovation team has set up two beta sites that solicit feedback on how technology can improve the experience of both the journal contributor and the consumer.

is the world's largest publisher of scientific and medical content and its results from what they describe as the 'journal of the future' will be watched closely by subscribers and competitors.

The concept attempts to make impressive use of current technology to aid the navigation of the journal article content, to provide more graphical and multimedia content and enable better and more effective linking to related content.

In summary, there are some of the features the publisher notes on the Cell beta site:
  • A hierarchical presentation of text and figures so that readers can elect to drill down through the layers of content based on their level of expertise and interest. This organizational structure is a significant departure from the linear-based organization of a traditional print-based article in incorporating the core text and supplemental material within a single unified structure.
  • A graphical abstract allows readers to quickly gain an understanding of the main take-home message of the paper. The graphical abstract is intended to encourage browsing, promote interdisciplinary scholarship and help readers identify more quickly which papers are most relevant to their research interests.
  • Research highlights provide a bulleted list of the key results of the article.
  • Author-Affiliation highlighting makes it easy to see an author’s affiliations and all authors from the same affiliation.
  • A figure that contains clickable areas so that it can be used as a navigation mechanism to directly access specific sub-sections of the results and figures.
  • Integrated audio and video let authors present the context of their article via an interview or video presentation and allow animations to be displayed more effectively.
  • The Experimental Procedures section contains alternate views allowing readers to see a summary or the full details necessary to replicate the experiment.
  • A new approach to displaying figures allows the reader to identify quickly which figures they are interested in and then drill down through related supplemental figures. All supplemental figures are displayed individually and directly linked to the main figure to which they are related.
  • Real-time reference analyses provide a rich environment to explore the content of the article via the list of citations.
Here is the link to the beta version of the journal itself. (Cell Beta).

Monday, July 20, 2009

Moon Memory

I always remembered the moon walk occurring during the daytime, and it wasn't until recently that Mrs. PND happened to recall 'staying up' to watch a couple of guys walk on the moon. My memory was captured in brilliant white sunshine and air conditioning because in their early twenties in mid 1968, my parents had packed up the family and moved to Thailand where my father took his first management role at Intercontinental. Out of England, Thailand was a magical place but also often fetid, smelly and unbearably hot; however, living at one of Bangkok's few luxury hotels - one also that had created a sort of garden oasis out of the surrounding slums - eased the transition considerably. I had the run of the place since both my brothers were much too young to get out by themselves and while I didn't get up to too much mischief I did have my moments.

My mode of transportation was my peddle car US Army issue Jimmy's Jeep (all green) in which I tooled around the open air corridors of the hotel. This was especially fun during the rainy season when the corridors became particularly conducive to skidding. As three blond haired kids, we were a somewhat unusual commodity to the Thai especially the women and whenever my youngest brother went out they always wanted to touch his blond hair. From my perspective this attention was often unwanted and one particular room service waiter teased me mercilessly, and I had just had enough when on one occasion he snuck up behind me and took my hat. When he refused in the face of my demand to give it back, I took a run at him in my Jeep and rammed him. Catastrophically, he was also carrying a lunch tray which went flying in a cascade of crockery, food and glass. I remember him looking at me half laughing while I was immediately mortified that my father would find out. Needless to say he never bothered me again and I got my hat back. No one ever mentioned it. I always wonder what he told HQ when he had to return with a tray full of debris to replace the order.

There were no televisions in the hotel rooms at that time mainly because there was only one state television station in Thailand which broadcast in Thai. On the morning of July 21st, 1969 (evening of July 2oth on the east coast), my mother took me to the hotel lobby vowing to me this is something you will always remember. I suspect if we were still living in England that I would not have seen the moon walk live because of the time difference. As I recall, there were only a few people gathered around the TV which was sitting unceremoniously low to the floor on a chair. In contrast to the crowds gathered in public places in the US, I was left to recognize the importance of what I was witnessing without the collective endorsement of the crowd, but I am sure our little group clapped and sighed with relief just like everyone else. We also didn't have the benefit of Walter Cronkite's commentary and in the last several days having watched some of the CBS broadcast, he did indeed sum up the penultimate moment brilliantly when he takes off his glasses and just says 'Wow'.

In the forty years since the landing, I am indifferent to the manned space program and I don't see the value of spending billions just to prove we can do something that has no recurring benefit. The Apollo program was important but everything we do in space can be replicated down here and down here we have more than enough problems to contend with.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Media Week 28: Napstered, Amazon, Chegg.com, ALA,

WaPo reports on the romance writers of American conference (Link):

There is no prototypical romance writer. Here at the Marriott Wardman Park hotel, some 2,000 women of all races and ages wear everything from chunky Goth boots to strappy stilettos. (There are also men. Maybe five of them.) But if you squint and look for a general appearance trend, this is it: They look like your mom. They look kind, comforting, domestic, as if they are wearing perfume made from Fleischmann's yeast.

The real pros are fluent in every genre. Paranormal romance -- ghosts, vampires -- is big, though the market might be reaching saturation. Jane Austen-era stuff always does well, though one industry expert confidently says, "I think Victorian is the next Regency," which makes everyone in earshot go "Ooh." The array of titles at a massive book signing reveals the wide gamut of what turns people on: "Lord of Bondage," "My Sexy Greek Summer," "Alien Overnight," "Diving in Deep." That last one is a gay, swimming-themed romance written by one straight woman for other straight women.

Slate magazine suggests publishing risks being 'Napstered' (Link):

While publishers, authors, and agents are well within their rights to attempt to maximize profits by forcing e-book prices up, their efforts may backfire. Put off by higher prices, readers who have grown accustomed to $9.99 Kindle editions may choose to flout copyright law and turn to the lush "pirate" markets for books on the Internet. It's a simple matter of querying a search engine to find thousands of e-books—best-sellers included—that can be imported without charge into a Kindle, a Sony Reader, personal computer, or smart phone.

What has kept illegal e-books from taking off? First, all the electronic reading gadgets on the market are subpar, if you ask me, making the reading of books, newspapers, magazines, and even cereal boxes painful. The resolution is poor. The fonts are crap. The navigation is chunky.
Ironically Amazon.com removes purchased copies of 1984 and Animal Farm from the Kindle - and they don't even replace the 'illegitimate' copies with new ones (Link):
People who bought the rescinded editions of the books reacted with indignation, while acknowledging the literary ironies involved. “Of all the books to recall,” said Charles Slater, an executive with a sheet-music retailer in Philadelphia, who bought the digital edition of “1984” for 99 cents last month. “I never imagined that Amazon actually had the right, the authority or even the ability to delete something that I had already purchased.”

Antoine Bruguier, an engineer in Silicon Valley, said he had noticed that his digital copy of “1984” appeared to be a scan of a paper edition of the book. “If this Kindle breaks, I won’t buy a new one, that’s for sure,” he said.

Amazon appears to have deleted other purchased e-books from Kindles recently. Customers commenting on Web forums reported the disappearance of digital editions of the Harry Potter books and the novels of Ayn Rand over similar issues.
FT Editor says most news organizations will be charging for content within a year and he also speaks about the balance between News Bloggers and journalists (Link):

"I do not wish to sound precious. British journalism has always put a premium on the scoop and it has long blurred the distinction between news and comment," said Barber.

"The rise of bloggers may simply signal the last gasp of the age of deference, not just in politics but also in general social mores in Britain, America and elsewhere. Nor does it follow that the worldwide web has dumbed down journalism.

"On the contrary: it has created opportunities to "smarten up". News organisations with specialist skills and knowledge have the opportunity to thrive. The mediocre middle is much more at risk."

Profile of textbook rental company Chegg.com (Link)

There is plenty of secret sauce to Chegg’s business, including logistics and software to determine the pricing and sourcing of books, as well as how many times a given book can be rented. The savings can vary from book to book. A macroeconomics textbook that retails for $122 was available on Chegg for $65 for one semester; an organic chemistry title retailing for $123 was offered for $33. (Round-trip shipping can add $4 to a book.)

Those kinds of savings are turning students into fans, Mr. Safka said. “Word of mouth,” he said, “has put wind in the company’s sails.”
A set of presentations on digital standards from the ALA conderence (Link):
The market for e-books has expanded rapidly in the past year and the release of new readers, along with the ever increasing amount of new content, makes it likely this growth will continue. On July 10, 2009, BISG and the National Information Standards Organization (NISO) co-hosted their third annual standards forum, providing a big-picture look at the development and impact of common e-book standards, and a discussion of the pain points that persist
Coverage of the ALA meeting in Chicago from Library Journal:
Library Journal and School Library Journal's up-to-the-minute coverage of the American Library Association's (ALA) annual conference, to be held in Chicago July 9–July 15, 2009. Breaking news, views, developments, and live reports from the show floor. Check back often for updates via bookmark or RSS.
In Spain their 'big three' have joined together to create a digital content distributor (Link):
Planeta, Random House Mondadori, and Santillana, which together make up some 70% of the market, are joining forces to set up a digital distribution company for ebooks. This initiative will go hand in hand with a major marketing effort starting with a splashy launch of e-books and e-readers this holiday season through at least one major retailer. They have set a goal of having every frontlist title able to be published simultaneously in both print and ebook form by mid 2011.

Friday, July 17, 2009

McCartney on Letterman

Asked why he hadn't ever been on the show before, Macca said he didn't like it.

Letter also asked him if he had played on a marquee - "it's reasonably safe" he said - to which Paul said he had 'done a roof once'.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

WSJ goes to School on eBooks

In the WSJ this morning they have a round-up of some of the trails and debates about placing eBook readers in schools as a replacement for paper texts. Clearly, ebook readers are not a replacement since many basic functions that paper texts allow are not available with eBooks. At this point it appears the only 'benefit' to eBooks in schools are the low weight compared to a back pack of books. As such, the Kindle and Sony reader efforts to enter this market risk deterring other more adventurous manufactures who will face student and administrator scepticsm because these early efforts are so inadequate. That's my view but here is more from the journal:

Some California school districts say they have had positive results with e-texts so far. At the Las Virgenes Unified School District in southern California, digital books have been used on PCs and in printouts in elementary-school science classes since 2007. “The greatest immediate observable result is how quickly the kids get engaged,” says Las Virgenes schools superintendent Donald Zimring. He adds, however, that there is no evidence e-texts improved reading or test scores.At colleges, trials of e-textbooks and readers have been mixed. When Northwest Missouri State ran its trial with the Sony Reader last fall, dozens of the 200 participants bailed out after about two weeks. “The students more often than not either suffered through it or went and got physical books,” says Paul Klute, the assistant to the university’s president, who oversees the e-book program. Students didn’t like that they couldn’t flip through random pages, take notes in the margins or highlight text, he says.

Penn State ran a pilot program last fall with 100 of the Sony Reader devices in honors English classes, and found similar results as Northwest Missouri State. The devices are good if you’re using them “on a beach or on an airplane,” said Mike Furlough, assistant dean for scholarly communications at Penn State University Libraries. “But not fully functional for a learning environment.”

(If you can't see this article search the title: Book Smarts? E-Texts Receive Mixed Reviews From Students and that should bring up a link that works).

Post: Big Kindle Goes to School (Shug)

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Media Week 27: OCLC, Journals, Book Apps, Book Data, AARP

Most of these were posted to twitter this week. (@personanondata)

Springer launched an image back containing over 1.5 million scientific images, tables, charts and graphs, spanning all scientific subject areas. (GEN - Press Release):

SpringerImages allows users to search fast, broadly and accurately through captions and keywords (both author-provided and user-generated). A feature unique to SpringerImages, users can also search the sentences from the full text which refer to the image. The platform provides bibliographic information for the sources, as well as one-click access to the full text, allowing users to delve deeper into the context of the image and research surrounding it.

Images obtained from SpringerImages can be used for almost all non-commercial purposes, including integration into presentations and PDF documents. The platform enables the user to store image sets and saved searches. Image sets can be exported to PDF or PowerPoint (including their bibliographic data) with one click. Copyright and license information for images for commercial use is also available.

Eoin Purcell notes his approval (Blog)

Giles Slade on HuffPo offers some thoughts on the Kindle:

Feature creep harms the quality of any tool, but, most important, it obscures a manufacturer's ability to market it. The Kindle, on the other hand, is what you keep at home or take with you on vacation to relax into. It is for the book-lover who might occasionally buy a first, a signed or a special edition. It is lingerie. It is a box of chocolates or a bottle of double-malt. Especially well-timed for the recession as a luxury item that keeps on giving by allowing you to 'save' on cheaper electronic editions, it's now here to stay. Competition will drive it to adapt and compete, of course. That's only natural. Stanza, for example, has many attractive features that Kindle now needs to copy. It will.

According to the current growth curve, electronic books will dominate world-wide book sales by 2018. (This is the book industry's own prediction, and is extremely 'safe.' It does not anticipate a watershed or 'tipping point'). In any case, Kindle-Amazon and Google will continue to make good money. Traditional print media will continue to lose money as long as they stumble around wondering how to accommodate themselves to what happened yesterday.

Does corporatisation of Journals result in 'preemptive' and 'non-consultative' staffing issues? (HigherEd):

Needless to say, having respected editors removed from their positions at journals without any consultation with editorial boards is exactly the kind of move scholars fear when they consider corporate management of their journals. While some have speculated that Sage was taking sides in some kind of philosophical battleground, many have said that the problem here isn't one of philosophy or of one editor or another, but of academics not making the decisions.

In the discussion on Crooked Timber, a popular social science blog, one political scientist wrote: "Given the nature of journal publishing anymore, where firms like Sage and Elsevier think of their journals as profit engines first and charge enormous amounts for subscriptions, I’m amazed -- though perhaps I shouldn’t be -- that people immediately leaped to the conclusion that this must be a Berkeley against the world thing, or a Habermas vs. Foucault thing, or a history-of political-thought-vs.-critical-theory thing, or an administration-vs.-faculty thing, or what have you, and ignored the possibility that it’s all about the Benjamins (Franklin, not Barber)."

For those you like bibliographic data (and I know you're out there) here is yet another report on book metadata. Of the two recently published recently neither push the envelope; however, this one by Judy Luther is the better one. (Link): These are her conclusions which as you will notice are library centric:

  • Use crosswalks between ONIX and MARC to facilitate the creation of CIP and to provide publishers with an XML feed of MARC data.
  • Work to enhance the CIP record post publication could be shared with OCLC member libraries if database authorizations were expanded.
  • Expand training on MARC records with more international vendors to ensure broad conformance to standards and to eliminate duplication of effort by libraries.
  • Reviewing of OCLC records could be automated if attributes were exposed so that a manual review could be skipped if it was determined that the contributor is a trusted source.
  • Explore the value to publishers of incorporating in their systems the unique data elements added by catalogers (authorized names, subjects, series, and classification numbers).
  • For large data files received via FTP as part of an electronic feed, a “manifest” is needed to identify the contents to save staff the time of having to open the file to learn what is in it.
  • Descriptive metadata such as the series or table of contents could be synthesized and used to support more refined search results that would also allow better navigation from the collection level, to title level, to the article or image level.
  • Science publishers that are exploring tagging content at the chapter level need guidelines and expertise in-house to create and maintain good quality metadata below the product level.
  • The long tail of publishers would benefit from Best Practices and simple guidance for options on how to present their data in a consistent manner.
  • Economic conditions necessitate the need to simplify ingest mechanisms. A best practice could define quality control expectations.
  • There is a need for Collection Identifiers that represent the packages of individual titles that libraries acquire from both publishers and vendors.
  • The NISO Thought Leader Meeting on Digital Libraries & Digital Collections recommended the development of a tool that would enable publishers to self test the quality of their metadata.
  • Establish best practices for exchange, frequency of updating, feedback mechanisms, and reuse— making the supply chain more multi-directional (not just from publishers to community or from vendor to library).
  • Explore methods for integrating the recently published International Standard Text Code (ISTC) and the forthcoming International Standard Name Identifier (ISNI) standards into the existing workflow and promoting their adoption. The ISTC can be used to create associations among works and ISNI could provide authority control for authors.
Publisher's Weekly looks at Apple's platform support for book related applications (link):

With such a robust emerging market for smartphones, publishers are actively reimagining the very notion of the e-book, creating book-based apps that both enable mobile reading and enhance their books. Simon & Schuster, for example, has had great success with game and utility apps, made in-house and with the help of outside developers. One, called 365 Crossword, mines the company's huge back catalogue of crossword puzzle books to offer readers a puzzle for each day of the year. “We launched that in February, and it's done really nicely,” Ellie Hirshhorn, chief digital officer and executive v-p for Simon & Schuster, told PW. “Even the first day or two as we were watching closely, it wasn't just being downloaded in the United States—it was all over the world.”

Hirshhorn is quick to point out that mobile technology has enabled S&S to “marry the platform to the content.” The company also did well with a Klingon dictionary app pegged to the release of Star Trek. And, while Hirshhorn says S&S launched these apps because they hoped to learn about the market, “we are making money,” she adds.

AARP has sold to Ebsco their unique AgeLine database of bibliographic data related to medical and aging information for the 50+ market (PR):
"AgeLine is the largest database on aging, and is widely used both domestically and internationally. When AARP decided to sell AgeLine, it was essential to find a home that would continue to provide access to the geriatric community, and who would make the investment necessary to take it to the next level.

Our discussions with EBSCO disclosed that they would invest further in the database and make use of the company's larger infrastructure to support it. Confirmation of these positive attributes led to the final decision."

Friday, July 10, 2009

CompletelyNovel reach the finals of ThePitch

CompletelyNovel a small start-up social book site 'out of' Nawfth Lahdn (North London) has reached the London final of a new business launch competition named ThePitch. The company founders want CompletelyNovel to become the MySpace for books and authors where authors can join a community, showcase their work, interact with readers and hopefully build a market for their work. Readers and publishers can discover new authors and print works they are interested in as well as build relationships with authors and other readers.

In addition to providing a place for authors to mingle, CompletelyNovel is also a retailer and show cases and sells books using Amazon services (I assume) which means they are also making a small percentage on each book sale.

The services for self-publishers look interesting as they offer free display of an authors work online:

It is free to publish your book into the CompletelyNovel BookStreamer and through print on demand printers. This allows you to promote and sell paperback copies of your book throughout the internet. You can easily direct buyers to your CompletelyNovel web address so they can read, review and buy copies of your work.

We will soon be offering a premium account which for a monthly fee gives you advanced printing options such as hardback and also inserts your book into the ISBN database and book catalogues around the globe such as in amazon.

CompletelyNovel's revenue model is based on offering 'premium services' to author, publishers and printers:

We provide a very valuable service to our printers, agents and publishers on our site. Just like our writer premium account, if they want to get more out of the service they can subscribe.

We also receive a small payment when adverts are clicked or when someone clicks through from our site to buy a book from a bookshop.

The company launched last year and they say they are planning to expand into the US in the next few months.

Here is a little more from their press release regarding The Pitch. It is great a publishing business got this far in an innovation competition but admittedly this would be more news worthy if they actually won it. So fingers crossed.
CompletelyNovel.com, book publishing and web start-up, has reached the London final of The Pitch 2009, a competition to identify the most promising UK small business. The company hopes to highlight the great potential for innovation within the publishing industry and also win the prize of £50,000 worth of business related goods and services, including mentoring from former Dragon’s Den panellist, Doug Richards. Their pitch will take place on Tuesday 16th July.

Oliver Brooks, founder of CompletelyNovel.com hopes that his vision to create a MySpace for the book publishing world, enabling future hit authors to be discovered by the power of the social web, will prove a winner:

“The new technology available through the web holds so much potential for the publishing industry – we want to help authors and publishers take advantage of this.”

Oliver will be pitching in a Dragon’s Den style against five other finalists from the South East region to demonstrate that CompletelyNovel offers the best in innovation, market knowledge, customer engagement and financial viability. A number of business experts and experienced entrepreneurs will select one company for a place in the national final, judged by ex-Dragon himself, Doug Richards, and due to take place in November.

CompletelyNovel’s pitch follows hot on the heels of some very satisfying news for their website. Aspiring author Gary Hurlstone, who published his book through CompletelyNovel, was signed to a publisher last week thanks to his ability to use the reviews, ratings and sales he got on CompletelyNovel to prove his book’s market.

"CompletelyNovel was a great help in helping us decide to publish Gary Hurlstone's book. It provided us with the rare chance to gauge a real audience's reaction prior to release, giving us a headstart in the processes of marketing and preparing the book for publication."

Derek Sandhaus, Earnshaw Books

With plans to expand into the US in the next couple of months, CompletelyNovel are hoping that there will be many similar stories to come.

For more information please contact:

Anna Lewis, CompletelyNovel.com

E: anna@completelynovel.com, T: 0207 249 1850 M: 07900 811075

Thursday, July 09, 2009

Shared Book Teams with Encyclopaedia Britannica and On-Demand Books

SharedBook is making the following announcement at ALA today:
Visitors to the American Library Association conference in Chicago this week will find a unique, customized book, printed on demand by an on-site Espresso Book Machine®, created to showcase the custom publishing platform of SharedBook Inc.

The new title, A Brief Look at Chicago, is published by Encyclopaedia Britannica, using content its editors selected from Encyclopaedia Britannica Online, and SharedBook’s SMART BUTTON™ technology. Output from this one-click process has been delivered for print on demand to the Espresso Book Machine® from On Demand Books. From content selection through finished book, the entire publishing process was completed in less than 30 minutes. Conference attendees can have their personal copy of this new title printed by the Espresso Book Machine® at booth #2446.

“We’re excited to have an opportunity to share this project with our friends and colleagues at ALA,” said Caroline Vanderlip, CEO of SharedBook. “While this book represents only a small portion of the potential of our platform, it is still a powerful, tangible example of the bright future for the publishing industry as it harnesses technology to create new products and open new markets. We’re delighted that our partners at EB and On Demand Books have joined us in this effort.”

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

Riding the Subway

Savvy sub-way riders memorize which carriage to ride in and which door to exit that will guarantee them a quick exit up the stairs or a fast transfer to another line. I was never a public transport commuter until I spent a semester abroad in London in the early 1980s. During that time, I quickly realized there was a useful trick to optimizing your journey so that you never had to trudge behind a column of people up the stairs to get out or you missed your connection because you went down the wrong passage. It seemed obvious to me that with a little bit of observation, and by anticipating the placement of the exits and passages at my next station, that I could save considerable time. In a short while, I had it down to a science and to this day when riding the Underground, Path or Subway I still move about the departing station platform in order to make sure I get in the right car and so I can leave by the right door.

When Mrs PND and I first visited London together she couldn't grasp that whenever we traveled on the Underground I was always saying 'we can't stand here we need to go to the end of the platform' or 'I have to count the carriages to make sure we get on the right one' or words similar. Invariably, there are many stations in any system that are new to me (excepting the PATH) and thus if I end up at one of these unfamiliar stations I become a commuting victim just like everyone else.

Unlike me however; Jonathan Wegener and his sister Ashley thought that maybe "there should be an app for that" and have built an iPhone application that optimizes every NYC subway ride. They have created an easy and intuitive interface that enables you, for any combination of NYC stations, to find the proximity of carriages and doors to exit stairs and transfer points. It is a pretty neat app and represents yet another reason why the monthly NYTech Meetups can be so fun.

The Wegeners actually created this information by brute force . It didn't exist until the two of them spent 10 weeks riding the subway with clip boards in hand to document each subway stop. As far as I know, they weren't stopped by NYPD in the process. The application was introduced as the 'quintessential New York app' but I can see others copying the idea pretty rapidly.

Monday, July 06, 2009

Media Week 26: Scientific Publishing, Elsevier, Open Library

New blog found. Three Guys One Book. In this post they discuss Bookexpo (link):
JE: In the wake of a grim BEA, as the death toll continues to mount in all ranks of the book industry, from writer to editor to indie bookseller, I thought it was high time for all four Three Guys to convene and converse over virtual beers about the state of publishing and the state of books in 2009, as writers, readers, professionals, and consumers. It's fashionable (and not unreasonable) to saddle fiscally irresponsible corporate publishers with the burden of responsibility for the current conditions of book culture. But who else might share the responsibility? I might argue that writers are just as much to blame, that the sentence is killing the novel, that the literati needs to quit cowering in dusty academic circles and engage a larger culture. What do you three guys see as the biggest threat to book culture?
A wide ranging set of presentations entitled: Going Digital, Evolutionary and Revolutionary Aspects of Digitization. From the Nobel symposium at Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences.

Article about the Open Library initiative (Guardian):

Not everybody thinks that way, however, including the Open Library – a project with an audacious goal that it hopes can bring the web and books closer together.

The scheme is to create a single page on the web for every book that has ever been published; an enormous, searchable catalogue of information about millions of books. It is still in beta, but already more than 23m books are in its system, drawing information from 19 major libraries and linking to the text of more than 1m out-of-copyright titles.

That is admirable work for just a handful of staff at the library, an arm of the non-profit Internet Archive (which itself has the vast objective of trying to keep a historical record of the web for future generations). But with information about books already being processed by hugely popular websites such as Google and Amazon, the question remains – why bother?

Excellent blog post on the impending changes in scientific publishing. Also look around his site for some other interesting material (Blog):
What I will do instead is draw your attention to a striking difference between today’s scientific publishing landscape, and the landscape of ten years ago. What’s new today is the flourishing of an ecosystem of startups that are experimenting with new ways of communicating research, some radically different to conventional journals. Consider Chemspider, the excellent online database of more than 20 million molecules, recently acquired by the Royal Society of Chemistry. Consider Mendeley, a platform for managing, filtering and searching scientific papers, with backing from some of the people involved in Last.fm and Skype. Or consider startups like SciVee (YouTube for scientists), the Public Library of Science, the Journal of Visualized Experiments, vibrant community sites like OpenWetWare and the Alzheimer Research Forum, and dozens more. And then there are companies like Wordpress, Friendfeed, and Wikimedia, that weren’t started with science in mind, but which are increasingly helping scientists communicate their research. This flourishing ecosystem is not too dissimilar from the sudden flourishing of online news services we saw over the period 2000 to 2005.
Elsevier is on the loosing end of a bid to keep their pricing confidential (LJ):
The episode has served as an opportunity for ARL to reiterate its position. "This case is a telling example of why we should not be signing these non-disclosure agreements," said Tom Leonard, ARL president and university librarian at the University of California, Berkeley. Elsevier, however, disagrees. Speaking about ARL's statement, Ruth said: "We think it’s in everyone’s interest to be able to keep some elements of these agreements confidential, so we have more flexibility to customize an agreement to the unique circumstances of the customer. That’s why we might ask for confidentiality or request that some information be redacted if agreements are released to the public."

Wednesday, July 01, 2009

DA Australia Acquire Languages Direct

From their press release:

DA Information Services (DA) today announced it has completed the acquisition of Languages Direct, the leading supplier of LOTE (Languages Other Than English) books and AV material to Libraries in Australasia. This acquisition will mean public, state and University libraries in Australia, New Zealand and South East Asia can now consolidate English Language and LOTE purchasing easily.

As both companies are conveniently headquartered in Melbourne, integration has already commenced to incorporate Languages Direct as a division of DA Information Services. Languages Direct will continue to have its own identity within DA.

Richard Siegersma, Executive Chairman of DA Information Services said, “DA is the most innovative library supplier in Australia for English language titles. Our innovative solutions will be applied to the LOTE product range as well. Initiatives like local Print on Demand and access to foreign language electronic books, means a broader and more comprehensive range of books will be available faster. DA’s sophisticated technology platform and scale will deliver economies of scale for libraries, through merging the purchasing and delivery of LOTE and English
language titles.”

Jacob Miceli, Managing Director of Languages Direct commented: “We are delighted to have concluded our agreement with DA Information Services. DA have impressed us with their commitment to advancing LOTE and their capacity to expand the services associated with the supply of LOTE material. This is a positive development for our customers as it will provide continuity and improved services for our customers, which we know DA can
clearly provide.” Languages Direct operations will be relocated to DA’s Mitcham premises by early July 2009. The Foreign Language Bookshop in Collins Street, Melbourne will be retained by the Miceli family

FiledBy Announces Pre-Pub Website Features

FiledBy announced some new enhancements this morning:

FiledBy (www.filedby.com) has added a new pre-publication website feature to its growing list of online marketing tools for authors. Writers publishing a new book now have a low cost, effective tool to pre-launch their book online.

The new feature allows both first time and published authors to quickly and inexpensively build a pre-publication web presence on FiledBy. “Bookselling experts agree that authors should start promoting a new book well before it arrives in bookselling channels to build interest, community and sales,” said Peter Clifton, FiledBy CEO and president. “FiledBy’s new website feature makes it easy for authors to get ahead of the marketing curve by setting up a comprehensive online marketing presence in advance of their book’s publication date.”