Sunday, April 25, 2010

Media Week (Vol 3) 17: Professional Publishing, Men Don't Read, Heather Reisman, Digital Texts

In the HuffPo takes some pot shots at professional publishers namely Thomson, Reed Elsevier and Bloomberg and in an 'argument' that's all over the place he concludes (HuffPo):

For this reason, their technology expertise notwithstanding, it is not a given that the professional publishing companies will dominate the media landscape. The organizational foundations of professional publishing companies are expensive to support. Their cost structures require that information also be expensive. However, Thomson Reuters, Reed Elsevier, and Bloomberg have no monopoly on the technology, and the technology to create new information and news delivery platforms is not expensive. In this respect, the professional publishers have returned to being merely ordinary companies. In the future, they will compete with new rivals without the structural advantages that have until now fueled their growth and reinforced their market position. This is good news for the American business community, and for the future development of a vital, healthy, and prosperous news and information industry in the United States.

The Financial Post (Canada) and provides a friendly venue for an interview with Heather Reisman (FP):
Q: Now that Amazon will be allowed to have its own distribution centre here, do you believe Ottawa should ease foreign ownership legislation in a way that would allow you to enter into international partnerships?
A: Amazon had a full-on distribution centre here before, but it was run by Canada Post. The change is they are going to run it themselves. In my opinion, once the government [in 2002] allowed Amazon to operate 100% as a major bookseller in Canada with no Canadian ownership, they were de facto saying that they believe in this day and age that you do not have to be Canadian to own a book-retailing company [in Canada].

Q: Do you intend to take that issue up with Industry Canada? How is it that Kobo can have international partners with a substantial stake?
A: I don't have any reason to take it up because I am not looking at selling the Indigo business. Our Kobo business is a global business. But I think the government realizes that you cannot put legislation on a digital business - what are you going to do? You just can't.

Jason Pinter in the HuffPo (again) discusses his frustration over reports that men don't read (HuffPo):

Why do I bring this up? Because if you've worked in publishing, you've heard the tired old maxim: Men Don't Read. Try to acquire or sell a book aimed predominantly at men, and odds are you'll be told Men Don't Read. This story is not an isolated incident, but merely a microcosm of a huge problem within the industry. If you keep telling yourself something, regardless of its validity, eventually you'll begin to believe it. So because publishers rarely publish for men and don't market towards men, somehow that equates to our entire gender having given up on the reading books. THIS MUST END.

This NPR piece three years ago came to the conclusion that women read more fiction than men by a 4-1 margin. Articles like this madden me because I think they miss the big picture, or perhaps are even ignoring it purposefully. It's like discussing global warming, while completely ignoring the fact that hey, maybe we have something to do with it.

In my opinion, this empty mantra has begotten a vicious cycle. I was hesitant to write this article, mainly because in no way do I want to be perceived as diminishing the talents of many, many brilliant women in publishing. That is not the aim of this piece, nor is it my opinion in any way. This is a critique of the system, not those who work within it.

The comments are quite good as well. (I see a 't-shirt': I'm A Man and I Read! Could even add some swear words in there as well).

Xplana (Missouri Book Service) released a report looking at the potential for digital textbook sales over the next five years:

While digital textbook sales currently represent a small portion of the overall textbook market – approximately 0.5% – year-over-year increases show strong and steady growth.

  • CourseSmart, a joint venture of five large college textbook publishers, reported a 400% increase in sales in 2009 from the year before;1
  • MBS Direct, representing 900 client institutions and 34 academic publishers, showed increases in digital textbooks sales of more than 100% in 2009;2
  • Interviews with representatives from leading textbook publishers reveal year-over-year increases between 80%-100% for the past three years, with sales growth in 2009 topping 100%;
  • According to “On Campus Research Student Watch 2010,” a 16,000-student survey released by the National Association of College Stores in fall of 2009, about 42 percent of students have either purchased or at least seen an e-textbook. That’s an increase of 24 percentage points from 2007.3

These growth numbers for digital textbooks are also consistent with the increase in the general digital trade book market. The International Digital Publishing Forum (IDPF) reported that in 2009, e-books accounted for 3.31% of all trade book sales in the U.S. up from only 1.19% in 2008. Sales of wholesale e-books for February 2010 were $28,900,000 for February, a 339.3% increase over February 2009 ($6,600,000). Calendar Year to Date sales are up + 292.2% from 2009.4

From the twitter:

Alan Sillitoe dies at 82 Guardian Saturday Night and Sunday Morning, Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner

Stones in Exile Documentary: The Stones and the true story of Exile on Main St Observer

OUP Launch the 'anti-Google' database product ArsTechnica

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