Saturday, July 31, 2010

Media Week (Vol 3) 31: Swedish Reality Policing, Mockingbird, Twain, OCLC, Follet, Watches and Copyright

The Observer suggests that Candace Bushnell started it all - chick lit that is (Observer):
Before Candace Bushnell, books like Gould's that sought to capture the dilemmas and dichotomies of modern womanhood with a wry, humorous honesty, were almost unheard of. For decades, the experiences of ordinary women had been largely overlooked by the literary world: either it was recounted in fictional terms (as in Mary McCarthy's The Group) or it was relayed anonymously by feminist polemicists and social historians (Betty Friedan's The Feminine Mystique). Bushnell changed all that. When she started writing her first-person columns for the New York Observer in 1994, she won a considerable following for her acerbically witty portrayal of the Manhattan singles scene, with its Martini bars, non-committal men and cruel, almost Whartonesque mating rituals. The newspaper columns based on the sexual experiences and romantic intrigues of Bushnell and her three friends became a bestselling book, which in turn became a hit television show and then spawned a film franchise that has evolved into a multi-media juggernaut of product placement and tie-in beauty products.
Truth is stranger than fiction in Sweden (Observer):

What had originally alerted the police to Lindberg's predilections was an incident in July last year in which a multimillionaire 60-year-old man was found dead beneath a balcony in a salubrious Stockholm suburb. According to police, the man had been running an illicit sex network delivering women to groups of men. Apparently on the day of his death he had been expecting the arrival at his home of an 18-year-old girl. Instead a gang of men turned up and issued a vicious beating. Shortly afterwards the man either jumped, fell or was pushed from the balcony. On the dead man's desk, investigating police found the phone number of the police chief, Lindberg.

It all reads like a plotline from Stieg Larsson's Millennium trilogy or a Wallander novel, with the striking exception that in this case it was a Wallander-style policeman who was the architect and not the detective of the crime. "The villains in Mankell's stories are all of a piece," says Lars Linder, chief cultural critic on the daily paper Dagens Nyheter. "They are scoundrels and usually connected to very wealthy or fascist networks. Whereas the thing about Lindberg is that he's so absolutely politically correct on the outside and kinky on the inside."
Newsweek has a book issue and among the articles are the following (Newsweek):

Harper Lee and writing To Kill a Mockingbird:
The story behind To Kill a Mockingbird is more common—and richer—than it is sensational. We like to think of writers, like heroes, as isolated beings. To an extent, it’s true; writing is often lonely and painful, a confrontation between the self and the blankness of the page. But a book is also shaped by the system of editors, agents, publishers, teachers, and readers. Harper Lee did have help in writing To Kill a Mockingbird. It takes nothing away from her accomplishment to realize that the dynamic interplay between individual effort and structural support is particularly pertinent to Lee’s story. Writing is like most important things: individual greatness matters, but it’s not enough by itself. It’s a lesson, in fact, that echoes an overlooked theme of her book.
Mark Twain's Memoir:
Twain is remarkable several times over. He was a self-invented prose stylist, a fantastically failed businessman, and one of the few writers of his time willing to directly address the evils of slavery and racism. But surely the most remarkable thing about him is that he is still funny. How many of us can name another comic writer or a humorist who’s been dead for a century? Even readers who know Hawthorne and Dickinson couldn’t pick their comic contemporaries Petroleum V. Nasby or Josh Billings out of a lineup. Most comics’ material dies before they do, but Twain’s humor stays surreally fresh. For his debut on what was then known as the lecture circuit, in San Francisco in 1866, he had the handbills printed to read “Doors open at 7 1/2. The trouble will begin at 8.” Call it a threat or a promise, but he made good on that claim all his life. He’s still making good on it.
Obligatory Selfpublishing article:
Until recently, reviewers and booksellers looked down on self-published authors the way Anna Wintour scorns Dress Barn. Now new writers and established authors alike are increasingly taking publishing into their own hands, and the publishing establishment is paying attention.
OCLC were sued by small database company Skyriver for monopolistic practices under the Sherman and Clayton anti-trust statues (Complaint):
This case is about defendent OCLC's exclusionary agreements, punative pricing, unlawful tying arrangements, and its refusal to deal with for-profit firms in violation of the anti-trust laws in order to maintain its monopolies and to destroy a new entrant into the market for library cataloging services in competition with OCLC.
Additional information is also found (and presumably updated) here:
On July 29, 2010 SkyRiver Technology Solutions filed an antitrust lawsuit against OCLC. This page provides resources related to the lawsuit. This page aims to gather resources relevant to this event.
Innovative Interfaces (III) is joining in the complaint (coincidentally they share a corporate owner) and the III business is also potentially challenged by OCLC (Lib Tech)
In a move that has stirred some controversy in the library automation industry, OCLChas announced that it will extend World Cat Local, initially positioned primarily as a discovery tool, to provide a complete suite of services for the automation of libraries. Work is now underway to create services associated with WorldCat Local that perform circulation, resource fulfillment, acquisitions, and license management. Taken together, these services will obviate the need for a library to operate its own integrated library system.
(The above was also taken without attribution in the complaint).

Follett Teams with Blackboard to Offer CafeScribe Digital Texts (PW):
Gary Shapiro, senior v-p, intellectual properties for Follett, told PW that CafeScribe works much the same for professors, allowing them to insert original class materials, library citations, video or other multimedia sources material, or individual class notes, directly into textbook content. This material can then be distributed digitally across study groups while keeping it connected to the orginal text. Indeed professors can add all kinds of material without changing the original textbook content.

Isabella Hinds, Follett director of digital content, said Follett offers about 10,000 texts in the CafeScribe technology and the partnership with Blackboard will allow students to eaily click through to the Follett online store. Students can also use the campus bookstore to purchase an access code and download the CafeScribe texts. CafeScribe Texts are discounted from 25% to 50% off the hardcover list price.In addition to CafeScribe, Follett's product line includes digital or hardcover titles as well as rental textbooks for as much as 50% less than buying. “Students can rent, by new or buy digital,” Hind said. Follett titles are available through about 870 campus bookstores.
Amazon and Facebook combine in creepy integration (Media Raw):
Amazon just tapped Facebook to offer site visitors a personalized page where they can see product recommendations influenced by friends, as well as their own tastes. Participating users will also get notifications regarding friends’ birthdays, along with targeted suggestions about what to buy them. Social Beat describes the deal as “one of the social network’s most important integrations yet.
There's an important case regarding copyright that has reached the Supreme Court. From the WSJ: Watch Out For the Omega Copyright Windup:

Stewart's hard-scrabble scribbler would be pleased to learn that a Supreme Court case scheduled to be argued in the coming term could put the kibosh on library lending, at least of those books published or printed outside the U.S. In a friend-of-the-court brief, the American Library Association and other library groups argue that a recent Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals decision "threatens the ability of libraries to continue to lend materials in their collections."

The librarians fear they are going to suffer collateral damage from a curious copyright case that has nothing to do with books. It's Costco Wholesale Corporation v. Omega, S.A.—a battle over whether the storied Swiss watch brand can control where and at what price its chronometers are sold in the U.S.

Omega, you see, sells its watches for far less money in some countries than in others, a common enough practice known to economists as "geographical price discrimination." The U.S. market will generally bear more than the market in a Latin American republic, and so Omega offers its goods to distributors in places such as Paraguay for less than it does to American distributors.

On the twitter from this week (@personanondata):

The odd first: Penguin chief executive John Makinson: direct to consumer model does not work. The Bookseller

Knooks for Nooks: Barnes & Noble Plans Big Push for Nook E-Reader - NYT

Tough business: Whitcoulls, Borders owner expects to breach loan covenants. NZPA

Pearson acquires another language school: Pearson To Acquire Wall Street Institute For $92M Cash WSJ

The Real Cost of College Textbooks - Online debate at NYT

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