Sunday, December 06, 2009

Media Week 49: E-Books, Australia, Brit Library, Amazon Warehouse, German Digital, Pearson Outlook

Again most of these have been noted on the twitter (@personanondata). This is almost an "International Edition" this week.

Jeffrey Archer lands record £18m deal for a modern Forsyte saga TimesOnline. Last we heard he was rewriting his old books. (Telegraph)

A JISC report on the uses of E-Books in education has been finalized (Link)

Observatory project final report published. The results of the two year project exploring the behaviours of e-book users and the impact of course text e-books on print sales are now available. The final report summarises the key findings of the project and the recommendations for future action.

The Sydney Morning Herald reflection on the Australian retail market and the proposed share listing of book retail holding company REDgroup and "its curious collection of bookshops and newsagents" (SMH)

With the fragile economics of the book trade clear for all to see and the looming presence of ebooks such as the Kindle you might have thought it's an odd time to even think of putting a $500 million diversified book business on to the sharemarket.

A cynic might suggest if you were a private equity group - in this case Pacific Equity Partners, controlling two book chains along with a chain of stationery and newsagency shops - it might be just the time to bring ''mum and dad'' into the loop and get your money out. After all, those Texan tearaways TPG managed to do just that at Myer.

Also my mate Richard Siergersma is quoted:
Richard Siegersma, chief of wholesale book operator Central Book Services, suggests, the protection debate was a sideshow. It is the arrival of a new supply chain in the form of online publishing that will mark the winners in the industry.

Siegersma says that where his business provides an electronic book option, up to half the sales are already electronic. The implication is that once devices such as Kindles offer Australians the same content as their local bookshop, online sales will soar.

FT reports that a consortium/JV of magazine publishers will be joined by NewsCorp in building a consumer platform for content: (FT):

News Corp, a frequent critic of how Amazon shares revenue and information on its Kindle e-reader, will throw its weight behind the consortium of magazine publishers, including Time Inc, Condé Nast, Hearst and Meredith, in the hope of luring newspapers publishers further down the line.

The new partnership aims to meet four objectives necessary to develop the next generation of magazines for mobile and digital devices and to ensure they become more profitable than publishers' current online efforts.

The group is working on creating a reading application, a "robust" publishing platform, a digital storefront for consumers and a new line-up of "immersive advertising opportunities", according to people familiar with the plan.

Berlin Plans Response to Google Books Project. (They could call it www.libreka.de - oh wait, that name's already taken). (DW)

The project, called the German Digital Library (DDB), would go online in 2011 and play a major role in the preservation of Germany's cultural identity, Neumann added. Initial funding of 5 million euros ($7.6 million) as well as annual costs of 2.6 million euros will come from a German economic bail-out program and be split by the federal and state governments. The German project is a response to the Google Book Search program, which the German government opposed, saying it lacked sufficient protections for copyright holders.

The DDB will contribute its work to the Europe-wide Europeana database "The German Digital Library is a reasonable response to Google," Neumann said, adding that the German project would first seek copyright holders' approval before digitizing a work, rather than following Google's strategy of allowing copyright holders to have their works removed from the database after being digitized.

Robert Darnton: a long commentary on the New York Review of Books on the Google Book Settlement and he concludes (NYRB)

The most ambitious solution would transform Google's digital database into a truly public library. That, of course, would require an act of Congress, one that would make a decisive break with the American habit of determining public issues by private lawsuit. The legislation would have to settle ancillary problems—how to adjust copyright, deal with orphan books, and compensate Google for its investment in digitizing—but it would have the advantage of clearing up a messy legal landscape and of giving the American people what they deserve: a national digital library equal to the needs of the twenty-first century. But it is not clear how Google would react to such a buyout.

If state intervention is deemed to go too far against the American grain, a minimal solution could be devised for the private sector. Congress would have to intervene with legislation to protect the digitization of orphan works from lawsuits, but it would not need to appropriate funds. Instead, funding could come from a coalition of foundations. The digitizing, open-access distribution, and preservation of orphan works could be done by a nonprofit organization such as the Internet Archive, a nonprofit group that was built as a digital library of texts, images, and archived Web pages. In order to avoid conflict with interests in the current commercial market, the database would include only books in the public domain and orphan works. Its time span would increase as copyrights expired, and it could include an opt-in provision for rightsholders of books that are in copyright but out of print.

Tiger Woods apparently interested in Physics: drives sales of physics book sky-high. Maybe the titles should have been "Get a grip on the steering wheel" (Link). Just proves that book marketing is all about placement.

Interesting video showing the new deep storage facility that is being brought on line by The British Library. (BBC)

And if that's not enough, inside the Amazon UK warehouse as they prep for mega Monday. (Telegraph):

"Customers shopping habits have really changed in the past few years. They now do their research in store, and go home to find a cheaper price on the internet. Or they buy online and collect in store. And we are seeing an amazing number buying from their iPhones," he said.

It's a version of Christmas that will baffle many people – buying your family's presents by tapping a few buttons on a mobile phone – but it is a trend that has much further to go, even if it means that some of the romance is taken out of giving and receiving.

Recent studies suggest that prices are significantly cheaper on the internet than they are on the high street, and that includes the cost of postage and packaging.
Interesting blog post from Publishing Perspectives on the Spanish book market: Spain’s E-book Business Stuck in Beta (link)
Trikar pointed out that, fortunately, upstart companies have risen to fill this void: “Grammata is hoping to sell a lot of their reader Papyre this holiday season—they’re the only ones who offer free e-books,” he said. “Others hope to digitize books and then sell them through big retailers like El Corte Inglés or Casa de Libro, which have very little in the way of e-books to offer at the moment.” But, he added, “A lot of these companies are new projects and I can’t tell whether they’ll succeed.” Despite the promise of numerous new e-reading devices hitting the market in the next few months, there remains a dearth of legitimate sources of Spanish e-books. “And if there are no new releases for sale [through legitimate channels] readers will go elsewhere,” noted Trikar.

Digital piracy dominated much of the discussion at the fair, in fact, as it has in all the public debate surrounding e-books in Spain. Like much of Europe, Spain has supported arguments in favor of copyright protection over those seeking universal access. The country has a particularly complex relationship to piracy—one widely cited statistic says the country has the second highest rate of digital piracy in the world—and fear of piracy has, say some observers, paralyzed the industry.
The ISBN agency want your feedback on ISBN use for ebooks. (Link)

Pearson CFO sees U.S. schools very tough in 2010 (Reuters)

Freestone said Pearson, which also owns Penguin Books and the Financial Times, saw the U.S. schools market remaining hard next year, despite a bigger market for new book adoptions.

"It's going to be a very, very tough place to be next year. State budgets are still contracting, and state budgets account for about 93 percent of all education spend in the States," he said, adding that 2010 might be no better than this year.

Pearson has been gaining market share in North America at the expense of rivals such McGraw-Hill, mainly thanks to its wide range of testing and digital learning tools that provide feedback to students and help to raise standards.

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