Monday, November 30, 2009

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Media Week 48: Robert Ludlum and Jason Bourne, OCLC, BBC

Robert Ludlum seems to be more popular in death rather than life - at least his character Jason Bourne however that's not entirely good according to David Samuels writing in The National (Abu Dhabi). It is a long article but worth it if a Ludlum fan; here is a sample (LINK)
The rise of the serial drama in the age of terror has given new cultural value to Ludlum’s greatest strength as a writer, his mastery of the 19th century theatrical apparatus. Where the postmodern novelists of the 1960s and 1970s enjoyed lampooning the shaggy dog mechanics of plot, Ludlum’s delight in orchestrating over-the-top scenarios is less an attempt to poke fun at the form of the novel than the overflow of an imagination that can’t stop making stuff up. Ludlum’s natural inclination as a writer is to keep adding more, and his books are stuffed with dramatic incident to a degree that would drive any professional screenwriter nuts. The only sensible way to turn Ludlum’s novels into movies is to do what the screenwriters and directors of the three Bourne movies did for Matt Damon – throw out the plots of the books while retaining the titles and the character of Jason Bourne.

What is more difficult to fathom about Van Lustbader’s updated version of Jason Bourne is his decision to do away with the character’s paranoia, a choice that seems about as clever as casting Marilyn Monroe in a movie about nuns. That paranoia is not only the hero’s sole distinguishing psychological trait, it is also the way that Ludlum links Bourne’s inner life with the outside world. By toggling back and forth between the seemingly deranged nature of his hero’s perceptions and a reality in which people are in fact trying to kill him, Ludlum was able to manufacture a degree of real tension despite the overt silliness of his plots. The decision to undo the paranoid web in which Ludlum’s hero was stuck only reveals that Van Lustbader lacks a convincing account of how and why his characters act the way that they do. Faced with these questions, which are just as significant for authors of airport thrillers as they are for the writers of literary novels and horror stories, Van Lustbader draws a blank.
Library in a Phone Box makes the BBC news.

The OCLC Library has begun a collection of studies on how libraries fit into people’s information-seeking behavior. Right now they are concentrating on published books, reports or dissertations, rather than articles, and are generally looking for items that cover more than a single library, though we’ve made some exceptions if the study is of significant interest. (LINK)

Borders bookshops in the UK go into administration (Link)

Google puts Iraq museum collection online (Link)

BBC Worldwide can keep Lonely Planet, says Trust. BUT DON'T DO IT AGAIN! (Link)

"Our commercial operations are not exempt from the BBC's public mission. They must keep the public purposes at their heart, engaging carefully with markets globally to help 'bring the UK to the world and the world to the UK', whilst protecting and promoting the BBC's brand and reputation.

"We're satisfied that these changes will provide much-needed clarity and a greater alignment with the BBC's public purposes, without stifling Worldwide's ability to perform as a thriving and profitable entity."

Commenting on the BBC Trust's report into the BBC's commercial activities, the shadow culture secretary, Jeremy Hunt said: "This is a belated recognition of what everyone has been saying, namely that acquisitions like Lonely Planet are totally inappropriate. What is lacking, however, is any strategic vision as to what BBC Worldwide is actually there to do. Until this is resolved, putting new safeguards in place will have very limited impact."

Thursday, November 26, 2009

The Character of Books

OCLC recently published (LINK) some analysis on the characteristics of book titles published since 1923 and the results were quite interesting. The analysis follows some work OCLC did immediately after Google announced its library scanning project (referenced here) and the second analysis was undertaken both out of curiosity and in answer to many 'private queries':
Discussions of Google Books and other digitization efforts tend to treat in-copyright print books as an amorphous collection, with little elaboration or detail on what this important collection of materials actually looks like. How many titles are involved? What is the distribution of their publication dates? What general observations can be made about their content? This article examines these and other questions in regard to the collection of US-published print books represented in WorldCat. Many of these questions were posed to the authors in private inquiries; these inquiries, along with the keen interest in digitization that continues to spark debate on blogs and listservs, suggested that a general publication addressing the characteristics of in-copyright print books could provide helpful context for ongoing discussions.
No doubt some of these private inquiries revolved around estimating the number and character of Orphan works but since those queries would be problematic this analysis focuses on in-copyright and potentially in-copyright works.

Here is a small sample of the report and a section of particular interest to me:

The percentages reported in Table 2 indicate that about 14 percent of the US-published aggregate print book collection was published before 1923, and therefore is, with reasonable certainty, in the public domain according to US copyright law. A further 17 percent were published between 1923 and 1963; for these, copyright status cannot be ascertained without investigating each individual title. Some portion of these materials will be in the public domain – in particular, those whose copyright was not renewed. The rest will still be under copyright. Recent statistics from the HathiTrust indicate that about 60 percent of candidate materials for digitization published between 1923 and 1963 reverted to the public domain, either because copyright was not renewed, the book was published without a copyright notice, or for other reasons.7 Applying this fraction to the US-published aggregate print book collection in WorldCat suggests that approximately 1.6 million manifestations are public domain, while the remaining 1 million are still in copyright.

The HathiTrust result is based on academic library holdings, while the aggregate print book collection in WorldCat represents the holdings of a variety of institution types (although as Table 1 indicates, academic libraries hold the largest portion). A more general, but much earlier study by the US Copyright Office in 1960 found that only 7 percent of books registered for copyright in 1931-32 had had their copyright renewed within the prescribed 28 year period after initial registration. The remainder of the books would have reverted to the public domain.8 Both the HathiTrust and Copyright Office results suggest that of the print books published between 1923 and 1963, a majority – and perhaps a substantial majority – are likely to be in the public domain.

More from the report.

Also, if you didn't see it here is a link to my analysis on estimating the number of orphan titles.

Monday, November 23, 2009

CCC Podcast on Google Book Settlement Revision

Copyright law expert Lois Wasoff discusses the most important changes and revisions to the Google Book Settlement in a PodCast (here). Some of her main points include:
  • the underlying structure of the agreement and many of the economic terms of the agreement have not changed
  • the revised proposal makes it more difficult for Google to simply decide a work is not commercially available and start to use it for display uses
  • procedurally, the parties really have taken a step back by asking the court for preliminary approval of the settlement and of the class, which is something that they had gotten for the prior version a year ago. However, coupled with that request is a proposal for a fairly aggressive timeline moving forward, keeping this agreement review and approval process moving
A complete transcript can also be seen here.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Media Week 47: SharedBook, Virtual Classrooms, Google Legal

Sunday Papers:
  • Observer: The Martin Beck crime series and the queen of crime http://bit.ly/8dkNBn
  • TimesOnline: The conversation: James Ellroy http://bit.ly/7T7P1B - Author reads from his book and tells of his breakdown, divorce and drugs
  • London Times Review: THE JUNIOR OFFICERS’ READING CLUB http://bit.ly/6L0M4b And what fighting in Afghanistan is all about - pretty grim.
  • The Age on The Cornwell factor http://bit.ly/5xIr7T That's Patricia Cornwell.
SharedBook (via SharedDoc) has launched their document commenting platform in beta and is looking for testers (Techcrunch):

SharedDoc is an online document platform that lets anyone upload a document online and then share the file to a community, so they can add comments. We have 500 free invites for TechCrunch readers here.

Once you upload a Word or Google Docs document to SharedDoc’s platform, you can send email invites to a friends or colleagues to comment on the document. In order to comment, a user needs to set up an ID. Users can then highlight portions of the the document where they’d like to leave a comment and post their input.

Comments can be seen by by everyone invited on the document and commenters can respond to others comments. Each comment carries the ID of the user, and the date of posting. SharedDoc also creates a permanent record of the comments by saving or printing the document with the comments as footnotes.

Virtual classrooms get some attention from the New York Times:

Teacherless or virtual-teacher learning is described by enthusiasts as a revolution in the making. Until now, they say, education has been a seller’s market. You beg to get in to college. Deans decide what you must know. They prevent you from taking better courses elsewhere.

They set prices high to subsidize unprofitable activities. Above all, they exclude most humans from their knowledge — the poor, the old, people born in the wrong place, people with time-consuming children and jobs.

Champions of digital learning want to turn teaching into yet another form of content. Allow anyone anywhere to take whatever course they want, whenever, over any medium, they say. Make universities compete on quality, price and convenience. Let students combine credits from various courses into a degree by taking an exit exam. Let them live in Paris, take classes from M.I.T. and transfer them to a German university for a diploma.

“This is putting the consumer in charge as opposed to putting the supplier in charge,” said Scott McNealy, the chairman of Sun Microsystems, the technology giant, and an influential proponent of this approach. He founded Curriki, an online tool for sharing lesson plans and other materials, and was an early investor in the Western Governors University, which delivers degrees online.

Google launches legal search tool within Google Scholar and a shot across the bows of West and Lexis. (Blog):
Starting today, we're enabling people everywhere to find and read full text legal opinions from U.S. federal and state district, appellate and supreme courts using Google Scholar. You can find these opinions by searching for cases (like Planned Parenthood v. Casey), or by topics (like desegregation) or other queries that you are interested in. For example, go to Google Scholar, click on the "Legal opinions and journals" radio button, and try the query separate but equal. Your search results will include links to cases familiar to many of us in the U.S. such as Plessy v. Ferguson and Brown v. Board of Education, which explore the acceptablity of "separate but equal" facilities for citizens at two different points in the history of the U.S. But your results will also include opinions from cases that you might be less familiar with, but which have played an important role.

We think this addition to Google Scholar will empower the average citizen by helping everyone learn more about the laws that govern us all. To understand how an opinion has influenced other decisions, you can explore citing and related cases using the Cited by and Related articles links on search result pages. As you read an opinion, you can follow citations to the opinions to which it refers. You can also see how individual cases have been quoted or discussed in other opinions and in articles from law journals. Browse these by clicking on the "How Cited" link next to the case title. See, for example, the frequent citations for Roe v. Wade, for Miranda v. Arizona (the source of the famous Miranda warning) or for Terry v. Ohio (a case which helped to establish acceptable grounds for an investigative stop by a police officer).
Resource Shelf has a complete discussion of the new database.

Dan Brown helps Random House to $23m e-book sales (Bookseller)

Gartner sees 2010 and the real year of the eBook (Softpedia):
Gartner Technology Business Research Insight reached the conclusion that even all the heavy promotion of e-book readers during 2009 wouldn't be able to match what 2010 would bring. According to Gartner, e-books and their e-readers haven't become as popular as they can be because of multiple factors.

One factor is the limited features of e-readers. Namely, most such gadgets are exclusively built for allowing the reading of books in the electronic format. Although this is their intended purpose and they have perfectly carried out this task, Mr. Weiner believes that e-reader applications are and should be a focus of the manufacturers.

“Book applications for smartphones have the potential to become a bridge to other devices such as tablet readers and netbooks. Apple, for example, could migrate the more than 500 book applications in the iTunes store to a tablet device and Google, which recently announced a browser-based e-reader, could offer applications for Android-based devices of various form factors,” Mr. Weiner shared.

What this implies is that fixed devices, namely those built solely for reading, such as Amazon’s Kindle and Sony’s family of devices, should not be considered even close to being the final stage of evolution of these gadgets.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Identifying My Package (Repost)

Every Friday I will reach into my archive and re-post an article. The following was originally posted on October 18, 2007.

Identifying My Package

As publishers we remain committed to defining for our readers and users the ‘package’. At the Frankfurt supply chain meeting last week as I listened to another “history of the ISBN” and other bedtime stories I was stuck by our insistence as publishers to define for our customers just how they should consume our content. This was manifested in our approach to identifiers for segments of content. I include myself in this criticism as a proponent of ISBN, DOI, ISTC and other alphabet defying groupings over the past 10 years. Three or more years ago, I think we were on the right track but in today’s user defined world the consumer is telling us what parts they want to consume and we will need to come up with easy to use flexible solutions that can identify the content and use.

On the Exact Editions site a user can select, by highlighting, a piece of text they want to use from any number of the journals and magazines hosted by EE. (The tool is named The Clipper). It is a fun and useful tool but in its implementation it doesn’t restrict the user in any way (other than a limitation on the amount of content). If a similar solution were implemented in a research context (within Refworks for example) I would like to see a persistent identifier created on the spot who’s syntax could be partially defined by the user. This is a perfect implementation for a DOI (one of the few perhaps) that enables the user to select a segment of the content they want, makes it persistent, creates a record for the publisher and enables any necessary reporting to take place.

It would seem to me that formatting a programmatic standard syntax to represent paragraphs, chapters, images etc. is a backwards approach simply because we will never fully anticipate how our users will use the content. We also continue to use the printed page as a construct which is fast diminishing in the online context and further undercuts the current standards approach. Attempts to build out a standard by unilaterally assigning executable identifiers to works (books) will be a waste of time and I simply don’t see the benefit of this approach; moreover, I don’t see anyone paying for it. It is not even clear publishers would welcome this approach.

Several implementations of technology that places at the point of need an easy to use script has proven that users want and are willing to purchase or gain approval for the use of content. CCC and O’Reilly are two differing examples of this concept. In the same manner, enabling an easy to use [citation] solution that provides a user with a simple pop-up window tied to the content they are interested in is a far more flexible and appropriate solution to identifying content. Avoid proscriptions: Let the user decide. (More)

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Media Week 46: Elsevier, Hathi, Virtual Education, Downloading

Elsevier continues their 'article of the future' experiment with some new functionality (link):

The Cell-Reflect pilot is the next step in Elsevier’s ongoing Content Innovation effort with the scientific community to determine how a scientific article is best presented online. This follows Elsevier’s recent launch of an initial ’Article of the Future’ prototype with Cell, where the traditional linear journal article is displayed in a much more useful format for life scientists.

IJsbrand Jan Aalbersberg, Vice President of Content Innovation for Elsevier Science & Technology Journal Publishing, commented, “Whereas the ‘Article of the Future’ prototype focused on the internal presentation of an article, the Cell-Reflect pilot connects the scientific article to its external scientific context. Tools like these have the potential to revolutionize the use of scientific research.”

Inside an article, ‘Reflect’ tags and colors gene, protein, or small molecule names on any web page, usually within seconds, without affecting the article itself or its web page layout. Clicking on a tagged or colored item opens a popup, showing a concise summary of contextually important features, such as sequence (for proteins) or 2D structure (for small molecules).

PND Journal of the Future Post

Hathi trust published an update report and noted among a number of items ongoing discussions with Google and Open Archive about injesting scanned works and with OCLC about the Hathi trust catalog. (Pdf)

A summary of sessions at the World Association of Newspapers meeting with summaries of presentations from a wide variety of international newspaper companies (Link). A comment from an Indian newspaper publisher:

"Thanks to watching the US and Europe, we had the benefit of hindsight and we didn't let go of classifieds. We didn't want a Craigslist or a Monster taking away our strength, and so we created sites like M4Marry - a matrimonial site capitalising on a niche audience, but one that today has more than 300,000 profiles, and it's subscription-based so profitable in its own right, as well as bolstering our print classifieds. The way it works in India is that the paper edition builds credibility, but the transactions are enabled through the website." M4Marry is only one of a number of niche products playing to the hyperlocal market in Kerala (another surprise success turned out to be the obituaries section), all of which are beefed up with blogs and UGC.

"The next big thing in India is mobile," explained Mathew, pointing out that SMS shortcodes and downloadable apps for online content have already proved highly profitable, a situation capitalised on by Manorama's use of both media-specific sales team and Junction K - its cross media integrated sales team that spreads campaigns across all platforms and enables the paper's claim that 'you talk to us and you talk to Kerala.'

The Heyward library in California is to experiment with a NetFlix like model (LJ):

“In my nine years talking to library customers on the front lines and in management I’ve learned that the vast majority of library users who get fined are basically responsible people who wanted to return their library books on time, but for whatever reason, didn’t,” Reinhart told LJ. "I know so many people who have given up on libraries either because they have too many fines, or because they want to avoid getting fined in the first place. The system doesn’t fit their schedule, so they don’t use the resource. So I asked myself, why can’t the library let people have a limited number of items for an unlimited length of time in exchange for a monthly fee, just like Netflix?”
The New York Times suggests that virtual classrooms will create a marketplace for knowledge (NYT):

Teacherless or virtual-teacher learning is described by enthusiasts as a revolution in the making. Until now, they say, education has been a seller’s market. You beg to get in to college. Deans decide what you must know. They prevent you from taking better courses elsewhere.

They set prices high to subsidize unprofitable activities. Above all, they exclude most humans from their knowledge — the poor, the old, people born in the wrong place, people with time-consuming children and jobs.

Champions of digital learning want to turn teaching into yet another form of content. Allow anyone anywhere to take whatever course they want, whenever, over any medium, they say. Make universities compete on quality, price and convenience. Let students combine credits from various courses into a degree by taking an exit exam. Let them live in Paris, take classes from M.I.T. and transfer them to a German university for a diploma.

From Inside Higher Ed, there may be bookless libraries but there will always be librarians (IHEd):

“Now, in the fourth generation, we’re really seeing the library as a place to connect, collaborate, learn, and really synthesize all four of those roles together,” said Luce. “How do you do that without bricks and mortar?”

One audience member commented that libraries are defined more by what they do than what they look like. While new technologies might be replacing print collections, she said, they are not replacing librarians — whose roles as research guides have become more even important as available resources have multiplied.

“I think it’s important to look at the type of reference question that’s asked,” she said. “If you look at the READ Scale, which is a tool used to assess the complexity of a question that is asked, the number of directional and simple … questions has dropped, because we’ve provided the tools to make answering those questions easy.

“If you look at the number of more difficult, research-oriented questions,” she continued, “we find it has grown as the complexity of the tools to provide answers to those questions has become more intense.”

A UK report suggests those who illegally download music spend the most on music (Independent):

People who illegally download music from the internet also spend more money on music than anyone else, according to a new study. The survey, published today, found that those who admit illegally downloading music spent an average of £77 a year on music – £33 more than those who claim that they never download dishonestly.

The findings suggest that plans by the Secretary of State for Business, Peter Mandelson, to crack down on illegal downloaders by threatening to cut their internet connections with a "three strikes and you're out" rule could harm the music industry by punishing its core customers.

Anonymous blogger responsible for a book and television show about high class prostitution has revealed herself to be a science researcher - with a Phd - (Times):

Magnanti is a respected specialist in developmental neurotoxicology and cancer epidemiology in a hospital research group in Bristol. Six years ago, in the final stages of her PhD thesis, she ran out of money and turned to prostitution through a London escort agency, charging £300 an hour. Already an experienced science blogger, she began writing about her experiences in a web diary that was adapted into books and a television drama starring Billie Piper.

There has been huge speculation about Belle’s real identity, including a theory that she was a well-known author because of the quality of her writing. The blog and books were also criticised for suggesting prostitution could be glamorous. Last week Magnanti contacted one of Belle’s sternest critics, India Knight, the Sunday Times columnist, saying she wanted to reveal her identity.

Pearson maybe looking to acquire Santillana, the $1.4 billion (£838m) Latin American textbook publisher (Times)

Friday, November 13, 2009

My Education Space: 'Ed-Space' (Repost)

Each Friday I am going to reach into 'my archive' and re-post articles. Here is one from October 17, 2006. Conceptually related is an initiative at JISC on e-Portfolios which I just read about.

My Education Space: 'Ed-Space'

Did you ever wonder what it would be like to re-visit some of the projects and papers you wrote in college or recall some of the essays you either wrote or read for books you are now re-reading? If you are like me, you probably don't care about everything you were studying in school but for some of the material it could be fun to experience again the material that is still meaningful to your interests. When we experience life we generally do not take time to gather the detrius that reminds us years later of the experience or enables some recent connection to the earlier experience. As time goes on we often regret not being more careful about some of this stuff. At least I do.

The social networks that My Space, Friendster and others create have not yet reached their potential in terms of the functionality and services that these sites could deliver. One area in particular that I believe we will see more application of the My Space experience is education. In the not too distant future I believe students at universities will have thier own 'Ed-spaces' that will be hosted by their institution and will provide access to all university services, course content, testing and comprehension applications, lecture notes, text material and other ancillary services such as administration modules. Additionally, this 'Ed-space' will also host all the content the student produced - test papers, essays, writing assigments, presentations, etc - during their education. The textbook material will be maintained as an electronic bookshelf which the student can access for as long as they retain the relationship with institution.

The establishment of this university 'Ed-space' will create a long term conpact with the student that will tie the student to the insitution. In effect, the educational institution will become an accessible repository for the student which will in turn support a long term mutually beneficial relationship between the student and the insititution. Perhaps the student maintains some limited functionality or access immediately after graduation but as they age they are able to participate at different levels that enable greater functionality and access to more content and services.

Once the student graduates, this 'Ed-space' will become the basis for all allumni relations, social networks with classmates, job and message boards and the like. For the institution this would become a powerful tool for life-time learning, alumni relations and fund raising. As the student's interests develop and grow over the ensuing years the 'Ed-space' would allow access to educational content, library materials and academic experts provided by the insitution. The student would also benefit from the relationships with other ex-students who were interested in similar subjects. The community would also enable new services that the university could sponsor such as conferences, field trips and webinars particular to alumni interests. All of which would strengthen the relationship with alumni and also generate additional revenues for the institution.

This model would also mean that educational institutions could wrest control of the student away from publishers who are also trying to establish long term relationships with students. Publishers would be able to market their life-long learning materials and perhaps engage in specific community development but it would all be in the confines of the instituional 'Ed-Space' paradigm. Naturally, students would be suspicious of aspects of this model but encouraging a degree of freedom while also serving as their access point for their personal content repository and enabling access to content and a social network would be material benefits to them.

My occasional other posts on educational publishing: Ads in Textbooks, Is the College Store Doomed? and Changes in Educational Publishing .

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

PND - The Interview

David Wilk at Writerscast (and numerous other things) has started an interview/pod cast program and I was the first candidate. Here is the introduction and the link:
In this new series of interviews, I have set out to talk to book industry professionals who have varying perspectives and thoughts about the future of publishing, books, and culture. This is a period of tremendous disruption and change. Publishing has been a crucial part of human culture for as long as people have been writing and reading. How will publishing evolve as our culture is affected by technology, climate change, population density, and the ebb and flow of civilization and its economics? Many people are thinking deeply - and some acting on - the nature of change and the challenges and opportunities that face us all. Publishing Talks tries, in a small way, to get at and illustrate some of what is going on today, and perhaps to help us understand, even if only generally, the outlines of what is happening, and how we might ourselves interact with and influence the future as it unfolds.

Publishing Talks gives people in the book business a chance to talk about ideas and concerns in a public forum that are often only talked about “around the water cooler,” at industry conventions and events, and in emails between friends. I hope this series of talks will give people inside and outside the book industry a chance to hear about some of the thoughts, ideas and concepts that are currently being discussed by engaged individuals within the industry.

My first interview in this series is with Michael Cairns, who has been active in publishing for many years and is currently working with Louis Borders’ start up content venture, MyWire.com.

To get the interview you need to go to the site.

Saturday, November 07, 2009

Media Week: V1 No 45: Money Issue

Several publishers reported earnings this week.

Simon & Schuster (CBS)
Publishing revenues for the third quarter of 2009 increased 2% to $230.4 million from $225.0 million for the same prior-year period reflecting the timing of the release of titles. Best-selling titles in the third quarter of 2009 included Arguing with Idiots by Glenn Beck and Her Fearful Symmetry by Audrey Niffenegger. In constant dollars, Publishing revenues increased 4% over the same prior-year period.

OIBDA for the third quarter of 2009 increased 10% to $28.4 million from $25.8 million for the same quarter last year and operating income increased 14% to $26.6 million from $23.4 million for the same prior-year period primarily due to revenue growth, partially offset by higher write-offs of advances for author royalties.
Hachette (Reuters) and The Bookseller:
Publishing revenues for the nine months to end September 2009 were €1,694m, up 8.3% on a reported basis and 8.8% on a like-for-like basis. Sales grew again in the third quarter of 2009, rising by 5.1% on a like-for-like basis. Other "main growth drivers" in the US included True Compass by Edward Kennedy, Say You're One of Them by Uwem Akpan, Lies My Mother Never Told Me by Kaylie Jones and Malcolm Gladwell's Outliers.

There was further sales growth in the United Kingdom but Spain reported a slight dip, mainly due to lower sales in education, Lagardère said. Lagardère said its publishing business faced "a particularly challenging fourth-quarter comparative", as the success of the Stephenie Meyer saga drove like-for-like sales growth to 6% in the fourth quarter of 2008.
ThomsonReuters (Press Release):
Glocer commented that 'the worse may be over'
Revenues from ongoing businesses were $3.2 billion, a decrease of 2% before currency and 4% after currency. IFRS revenues were down 4% after currency against the prior year period.

Underlying operating profit was up 3% to $711 million, with the related margin up 140 basis points, driven by the benefit of currency, integration-related savings and a continued commitment to strong cost management.

Adjusted earnings per share were $0.43 compared with $0.47 in the third quarter of 2008. The decline was due to higher integration-related spending, which is included in adjusted earnings but not underlying operating profit.
Borders announced that they would close the remaining mall stores by early 2010 (PR):
As part of Borders Group's ongoing strategy to right-size its Waldenbooks Specialty Retail segment and emerge with a smaller, more profitable mall chain in fiscal 2010, the retailer will close approximately 200 mall stores in January, leaving approximately 130 mall-based locations open. The list {of closures} is not final and is subject to change pending finalization of agreements over the coming weeks. Importantly, today's announcement regarding the mall business does not include Borders superstores or the company's seasonal mall kiosk business, which includes over 500 Day by Day Calendar Co. units, among other mall-based retail concepts.
Newscorp reported their results including improved results at Harpercollins (PR):
HarperCollins operating income of $20 million increased $17 million versus the same period a year ago due to higher sales at the Children's and General Books divisions, as well as reduced operating expenses from restructuring efforts in the prior year. First quarter results included strong sales of Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak, The Vampire Diaries by L.J. Smith and the paperback edition of The Story of Edgar Sawtelle by David Wroblewski. During the quarter, HarperCollins had 47 books on The New York Times bestseller list, including four books that reached the number 1 spot.
Torstar the parent of Harlequin reported (PR):
Book Publishing operating profit was $22.9 million in the third quarter of 2009, up $4.2 million from $18.7 million in the third quarter of 2008, including $2.0 million from the impact of foreign exchange. Year to date, Book Publishing operating profit was $63.1 million, up $9.9 million from $53.2 million in the first nine months of 2008, including $5.1 million from the favourable impact of foreign exchange. Underlying results were up in North America Direct-To-Consumer and down in North America Retail for both the third quarter and year to date. Overseas was down in the quarter but up year to date.

Thursday, November 05, 2009

K-12 Online Learning to exceed 10.5mm students by 2014

A report recently conducted by is bullish on the growth of online learning suggesting that the number of K-12 students taking online courses will jump from 2mm currently to over 10.5mm by 2014. The results we discussed in a webinar and the full report is available for $4K (LINK):
The information was presented in a Webinar that coincided with a new report from Ambient Insight focusing on the growth of the electronic learning market (in terms of dollars spent on products and services) from 2009 to 2014. Titled "US Self-paced eLearning Market," the new report highlighted some of the dominant segments in online learning. Of the individual segments spotlighted in the research, healthcare was projected to see the most growth over the next five years. But K-12 and higher education growth followed in second and third position, respectively, for a combined academic projected growth percentage greater than that of healthcare. K-12 was projected to grow about 18 percent by 2014; higher education was projected to grow more than 8 percent. Healthcare was projected to grow a little less than 20 percent over the next five years.
In addition, I found these comments from M. Gozaydin from Turkey (in the comments section) to be quite interesting:
Wed, Nov 4, 2009 Muvaffak GOZAYDIN Turkey Dear Laura Believe me nobody in the world can afford brick and mortar school anymore. Even USA and even Switzerland. Brick and mortar requires building, land, heating, cooling, maintenance, administraters, water, electricity, cleaning, desks, chairs, papers, pencils , and TEACHERS ( usually they are not well trained and well paid )etc etc. ONLINE : you spend only once $ 1.000.000 per 100 session per year course. If it is accessed by 100.000 students per year, cost is only $ 10 per student. If you amortise it in 5 years cost is only $ 2 / student / year. And quality is perfect. Prepared and develeoped by the BEST teachers of the world in Washington DC. Cost of cheapest face to face education is $ 20.000 / year/ student in USA and almost anywhere in the world. If it is less than that, we do not call it school. It is a schack. How can you compete. Coming to socilising. You can have and even today you have, many clubs for sporting, musics, photography, sailing, fun clubs etc etc. They much cheaper than brick and mortar school. Plus you choose with whom you want to be. I try convince my American friends that GOOD ONLINE is 10 times better than face to face. Not commercial online. First thing USA should do 1.-Prepare a National curriculum in DC 2.- Have a contest for ONLINE COURSES Development 3. Choose 1 or 2 content to be used all schools in USA If we we in Turkey had done it so USA can do it. Best regards. By the way USA namely Caltech and Stanford educated me for 8 years. mgozaydin@hotmail.com

Wed, Nov 4, 2009 Muvaffak GOZAYDIN Turkey Dear Dave Nagel : Thanks for such a nice report. I think there is some small mistake in the Nacol anouncement. It says Preschool ONLINE will reach to 10 million or so. I am from Turkey. I work for online for the last 15 years even before many schools in the USA. Now we have in TURKEY, in Turkish and in English a National Curriculum ONLINE courses for 15.000.000 K12 students FREE FREE FREE. First in the world. I was the initiator of that project in 1995. All Turkey is covered by ADSL. Only shortage is now netbook for everybody. We have 1.500.000 somehow computers at schools + about 1.000.000 at homes of better of families. We are ready to export about ONLINE courses in English to USA. It is proven project. Only obstucle now is training of teacher for online. Students, believe me , even learn faster than their teachers. Our online program train the teachers in their subject as well. In the USA there are 55-56 million K12 students and only less than 1.000.000 students can take ONLINE Courses. Too bad. MAIN PROBLEM IN USA IS SCHOOL DISTRICTS MODEL. USA MUST HAVE A NATIONAL CURRICULUM MADE BY THE BEST EDUCATORS OF THE WORLD IN Washington DC Now we need ONLINE PRESCHOOL Content and KNOWHOW from you. Can you help me mgozaydin@hotmail.com of Turkey +90 - 532 - 291 96 76

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Maggwire.com: The iTunes of Magazines?

I've been going to monthly meetups for the NY Tech group for the past year and they are a lot of fun (I've mentioned one of two presentations shown there in the past year - Snooth is one). At these meetings start-up companies are given five minutes to present their company and answer questions from the audience. The response from the audience is generally positive; however, the audience are not afraid to challenge the presenters over some aspect of their offering and worse not ask any questions if the company has failed to inspire. Each monthly meeting has about 700 attendees.

Last night one of the presenting companies was Maggwire.com which was started earlier this year by a group of ex-bankers. The company is attempting to aggregate magazine content into one experience so that a user can subscribe via one service to multiple content sources. The user then pays a low monthly payment to access the content. Currently, the product is in beta but the founders said the monthly fee could be as low as $1.99 for a base package with an extra fee per additional content source. If this reminds you of cable television then you're on the right track. At Mywire.com where I have been spending a lot of my time in the past two years we have a similar model however our monthly fee is $4.99 and we plan to offer a wider variety of content and only content that is unavailable free.

Maggwire is currently hosting aggregated content the is 'in the public domain' which is a troubling way of putting it but the company is in discussions with all the media companies about forming what amounts to distribution deals for their content. Unless the publishers restrict availability to their content - raise pay walls for example - Maggwire and other companies like this are unlikely to gain traction with subscribers. There is just too much free content and consumers will be unhappy if they find content they think they are paying for on the open web. The convenience of one location for content is a benefit that will only go so far.

Digital Book World Conference in January

There is an upcoming conference that seeks to break the mold of your traditional digital media conference and I hope you can join us in January at Digital Book World. Below is an update on our progress and a discount code you can use based on my role as an adviser to the conference.
We're gaining some tangible momentum as we close in on our early registration deadline. In the next 2+ months leading up to the January conference, we will continue to offer insightful content and resources that are relevant to both the specific topics covered in our conference sessions, as well as in areas not being specifically addressed in the program. Over the next two months, look to the conference web site for additional webinar topics and/or contributions of white papers, case studies, best practice tips, and op/eds that will help the publishing community navigate the tricky path of transforming our business models to profitably move into the digital era.

Our early registration deadline is November 20th and to thank you for your early support of Digital Book World 2010, you can register with the promo code DBWadvisor, and receive the lowest registration price available: $999/person. (Standard registration rate is $1295). This discount code is good until the November 20th deadline.

We also have some exciting news to share with you:

* Shiv Singh, Ad Age Media Maven and Global Social Media Lead for Razorfish has been confirmed as our keynote speaker.

* The Book Industry Study Group has signed on to be a Supporting Association, and we look forward to them debuting the results of their latest consumer research at the January event.

* New York University has just signed on as a supporting sponsor of Digital Book World, and we are working them to involve the next generation of publishing leaders in this event.

* Our first webinar, The Truth About eBooks: Devices, Formats and Pirates (Oh My!), drew nearly 900 registrants and 500 attendees. The slides from this insightful session may be found at the Digital Book World blog and on SlideShare.

Our second free webinar, Marketing in the Digital Age: Batteries Not Included, will take place on November 11 at 1:00p.m EST.

Monday, November 02, 2009

Christopher Walken Reads Lady Gaga



And if you haven't seen Chicken with Pears it is worth a look:

Link PND

USS New York on The Hudson


Revisiting Scan this Book

I was clearing out my file draw this weekend - 'back in the day' I actually used to save print articles of interest - and I came across the Kevin Kelly article about the Google Book Scanning project which he wrote in May, 2006. Still an interesting read as he concludes (NYT):

Search opens up creations. It promotes the civic nature of publishing. Having searchable works is good for culture. It is so good, in fact, that we can now state a new covenant: Copyrights must be counterbalanced by copyduties. In exchange for public protection of a work's copies (what we call copyright), a creator has an obligation to allow that work to be searched. No search, no copyright. As a song, movie, novel or poem is searched, the potential connections it radiates seep into society in a much deeper way than the simple publication of a duplicated copy ever could.

We see this effect most clearly in science. Science is on a long-term campaign to bring all knowledge in the world into one vast, interconnected, footnoted, peer-reviewed web of facts. Independent facts, even those that make sense in their own world, are of little value to science. (The pseudo- and parasciences are nothing less, in fact, than small pools of knowledge that are not connected to the large network of science.) In this way, every new observation or bit of data brought into the web of science enhances the value of all other data points. In science, there is a natural duty to make what is known searchable. No one argues that scientists should be paid when someone finds or duplicates their results. Instead, we have devised other ways to compensate them for their vital work. They are rewarded for the degree that their work is cited, shared, linked and connected in their publications, which they do not own. They are financed with extremely short-term (20-year) patent monopolies for their ideas, short enough to truly inspire them to invent more, sooner. To a large degree, they make their living by giving away copies of their intellectual property in one fashion or another.