Sunday, October 31, 2010

Media Week (Vol 3) No 44: Library demands, 30 Day Novels, D.H. Lawrence, Education, Internet Archiving

The demand on libraries grows and grows (The Economist):
The weak economy is forcing libraries to redefine their role. Close to 70% of America’s public libraries now say their staff help patrons complete job applications online, and the same number offer help with résumés. “Workforce Solutions”—as the state of New Mexico calls the dole—requires a weekly check-in. For many people, long queues or long journeys means it is only practical to do this online. Lynne Fothergill, a head librarian at Erna Fergusson, says she noticed an increasing number of online check-ins in early 2009; they are now a primary function of the library’s two 15-minute computer terminals.

Nationally, the number of libraries reporting that they help patrons with e-government services has risen by almost half. As with private employers, when state and local governments save money by moving services online, they actually shift some of those costs to the point of access: for many of those most likely to need jobs and benefits, this is the local library.

Perversely, computers are often more expensive for public libraries than for individuals, and harder to buy. In Albuquerque, any city purchase over $500 requires approval by a technical review committee. A single library desktop, with all of the officially necessary licences and security and session-management programmes, costs the city a whopping $1,800.

Write a novel in a month? (Independent):

And although there are plenty of tales of great novelists spending years crafting their masterpieces – Joseph Heller took eight years to write Catch-22 – many of the literary world's most popular works were knocked out in a few weeks, such as Muriel Spark's The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie and Charles Dickens's A Christmas Carol. Lindsey Grant, who helps run NaNoWriMo, said that 55 novels written under the scheme have gone on to publication. These include Sara Gruen's Water for Elephants, which spent 12 weeks in The New York Times best-sellers list in 2006. "The idea is to get the rough drafts of the novels down," Ms Grant said. "But so many people then go on to rewrite."Two years ago, Birdsong author Sebastian Faulks wrote a James Bond thriller, Devil May Care, in only six weeks – following the work pattern of Bond's creator, Ian Fleming."I enjoyed the rush," he said. "There was a way in which my own race to the finish line mirrored the chase of the plot. Novels that have been written quickly can retain a slightly torn-off, uneven quality – like life. This is certainly one of the miraculous things about Jean Brodie, where the story zooms back and forth through time. There is a careering, out-of-control feeling, which is exhilarating. The main danger is that the writer hasn't worked out his/her theme. They don't really know what the novel's about."

Behind The trail of Lady Chatterley's Lover (Independent):
Some were eager, and duly stepped into the witness box. E M Forster, for instance, wrote to Mr Rubenstein, calling the book "a literary work of importance", adding, "the law tells me that obscenity may deprave and corrupt, but as far as I know it offers no definition of depravity or corruption." With some willing to testify, there were complications. Aldous Huxley, for instance, wrote: "Lady Chatterley's Lover is an essentially wholesome book." But the long journey from his American home, and his request for $1,000 expenses meant he was kept in reserve, as were Iris Murdoch and T S Eliot. Eliot had, in the early Thirties, dismissed book and author, but now thought better of both and was prepared to appear. During the trial, he was on the defence team's substitutes' bench, and legend has it that, for several days, he sat outside the court in a taxi, the meter ticking all the while.Among prominent refuseniks were Evelyn Waugh and Robert Graves. Waugh's letter to Mr Rubenstein described the book as dull and pretentious, one whose publication would serve no private or public good. He ended with the verdict: "Lawrence had very meagre literary gifts." Graves's letter said of Lawrence: "I won't have a book of his on my shelves."

Even Field and Stream got into it:

The review read in part: "This fictional account of the day-to-day life of an English gamekeeper is still of interest to outdoor-minded readers, as it contains many passages on pheasant-raising, the apprehending of poachers, ways to control vermin, and other chores and duties of the occasional gamekeeper. "Unfortunately, one is obliged to wade through many pages of extraneous material in order to discover and savour these sidelights on the management of a Midlands shooting estate, and in this reviewer's opinion the book cannot take the place of J R Miller's Practical Gamekeeper."

How to Fix our Schools a Manifesto (WaPo):

Just as we must give teachers and schools the capability and flexibility to meet the needs of students, we must give parents a better portfolio of school choices. That starts with having the courage to replace or substantially restructure persistently low-performing schools that continuously fail our students. Closing a neighborhood school -- whether it's in Southeast D.C., Harlem, Denver or Chicago -- is a difficult decision that can be very emotional for a community. But no one ever said leadership is easy. We also must make charter schools a truly viable option. If all of our neighborhood schools were great, we wouldn't be facing this crisis. But our children need great schools now -- whether district-run public schools or public charter schools serving all students -- and we shouldn't limit the numbers of one form at the expense of the other. Excellence must be our only criteria for evaluating our schools. For the wealthiest among us, the crisis in public education may still seem like someone else's problem, because those families can afford to choose something better for their kids. But it's a problem for all of us -- until we fix our schools, we will never fix the nation's broader economic problems. Until we fix our schools, the gap between the haves and the have-nots will only grow wider and the United States will fall further behind the rest of the industrialized world in education, rendering the American dream a distant, elusive memory.

Two e-Learning companies to begin selling online remedial courses to community colleges (Inside HE):

K12 has made only a few inroads in higher education; last summer one of its subsidiaries was rebuffed by an accrediting agency when it tried to take over operations at Rochester College, a four-year liberal arts college in Michigan. (K12’s collaboration with Middlebury College to deliver language instruction as part of a summer program has been more successful.) Davis said he will be pleased this time to have, in Blackboard, a co-pilot with a huge network of existing higher-ed clients.For Blackboard — which has sold online learning platforms and other services for years, but never courses — the deal also represents a new sort of business. Both sides say K12 will do most of the heavy lifting on course design and provide the labor from its stable of 2,700 instructors, while Blackboard will focus mainly on the technology. But the two companies say they will work together on all aspects of the product. Small, the chief business officer, said Blackboard does not currently sell courses past the remedial level. “Outside of this very targeted effort, we have no plans to move into the general areas of curriculum and instruction,” he said.

The Economist looks at efforts to archive the web (The Economist):

The biggest problem, for now, is money. The British Library estimates that it costs half as much to store a digital document as it does a physical one. But there are a lot more digital ones. America’s Library of Congress enjoys a specific mandate, and budget, to save the web. The British Library is still seeking one.

So national libraries have decided to split the task. Each has taken responsibility for the digital works in its national top-level domain (web-address suffixes such as “.uk” or “.fr”). In countries with larger domains, such as Britain and America, curators cannot hope to save everything. They are concentrating on material of national interest, such as elections, news sites and citizen journalism or innovative uses of the web.

The daily death of countless websites has brought a new sense of urgency—and forced libraries to adapt culturally as well. Past practice was to tag every new document as it arrived. Now precision must be sacrificed to scale and speed. The task started before standards, goals or budgets are set. And they may yet change. Just like many websites, libraries will be stuck in what is known as “permanent beta”.

From The Twitter this week - follow me @Personanondata:

Conrad Black fails in attempt to clear his name

DOI To Become Backbone of New Entertainment Content Registry

Amazing Kindle book sales stats from

Cornwell: "The tyranny of the Epos [computerized book tracking] can make it very difficult for the beginner."

Friday, October 29, 2010

Repost: Just Trying to Keep My Customers Satisfied

Originally published Jan 18, 2007:

I feel like a total monkey when I walk into Starbucks; that is, since I read Breaking the Trade-Off Between Efficiency and Service by Francis X. Frei in the November 2006 edition of The Harvard Business Review. The article is about how service businesses struggle with the impact customers have on their daily operations: the fact that customers interfere with the smooth running of their operations. Who hasn’t heard someone in the service business lament "…if it wasn’t for the customers this business would work perfectly."

Service business by definition rely on customer interaction. The problem is that this interaction is often unmanaged and unmanageable by the service provider. The impact of this is often seen in inconsistent service and the not insignificant task of service providers is to be able to deliver a consistent level of service despite the level of interruption by the customer.

Frei goes on to discuss five types of customer variability;

  • Arrival - you can’t always anticipate when customers will show up
  • Request - sometimes they want it their way
  • Capability - perhaps the customer knows a lot and sometimes they are clueless which is especially relevant if they play an active role in the process
  • Effort – the customer may be more or less willing to participate in the process
  • Subjective Preference – Is the customer happy with hand-holding or embarrassed by it?

In managing the variability, the manager faces a choice of accommodating the variability or attempting to reduce it. This is a trade off that could bankrupt the organization if it goes to extremes in either direction. Offer no flexibility and customers leave; offer too much and it costs too much. The actual solution is more nuanced and Frei discusses a number of options and companies which have been able to maintain expected service levels without going broke.

Which is where the Starbucks reference is relevant.

I sometimes get a ‘bar’ drink at Starbucks rather than a regular coffee. As I stand in line I find myself reciting the proper syntax so that when I get to the counter I don’t embarrass myself by getting the order wrong. (The Economist recently recited a Starbucks bar drink order in an article, got it wrong and it was corrected in a letter to the editor – which they dutifully printed). Mine is a Grande, 2% Extra Hot, Whip, Hot Chocolate. Starbucks do this by design. If you notice the Starbucks employees call out the drinks each time, and this is to teach you the customer to remember it so you can get it right next time and reduce the variability, speed up the line and not embarrass yourself.

This article was given to me in relation to some consulting work I was doing, but it is interesting reading for anyone involved in the service business who needs to ensure a consistent cost effective customer experience.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Bali 1971: Parade

Bali 1971: Parade
A weekly image from my archive. Click on the image to make it larger.

This image looks like it was a staged tourist shot but I can't tell since other frames in the set seem to indicate that my parents came upon this group by accident. Either way it's a fun photo. All the women in their extremely colorful sarongs they look great and in the other images from the set even the 'locals' are caught watching the parade

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

DOI To Become Backbone of New Entertainment Content Registry

I have long believed that entertainment media is begging for a uniform identifier system and collaborative database approach and a recently announced coalition may be bringing us closer to this eventuality. Led by MovieLabs, CableLabs(R), Comcast and Rovi Corporation a non-profit group has been formed that will provide a uniform approach to cataloging movies, television shows, and other commercial audio/video assets with unique identifiers (IDs).

The system is being developed as an open, standards-based effort built on the established Digital Object Identifier (DOI) system, created by the International DOI(R) Foundation and based on the widely used Handle System persistent identifier technology. In addition, it uses the open-source registry software from the Corporation for National Research Initiatives (CNRI). The DOI framework will not be unfamiliar to publishing professionals especially those in the journal business and the related (non-profit) entity CrossRef. It appears this coalition in the entertainment business will attempt to mimic the successful CrossRef application of DOI technology.

The press release was long (and I've summarized some above) but here is more:
Backed by a broad group of industry players, including Deluxe, Universal Pictures, Neustar, Paramount Pictures, Sonic Solutions, Sony Pictures Entertainment, Walt Disney Pictures, Warner Bros. Entertainment, Motion Picture Association of America, Inc., Civolution, Vobile, INA (L'institut national de l'audiovisuel), and others, the registry is set up as an industry resource to help streamline digital commerce and simplify consumer transactions. The consortium is actively looking to expand with new partners and participants internationally.

Each year, millions of new entertainment assets from many sources and distribution channels are being added to the massive amount of content available in the marketplace. With the growth of digital and other alternative distribution channels, keeping track of all of these content products, especially videos, is becoming an increasingly complex task for many businesses in the entertainment supply chain. EIDR has been developed to address a critical need for a universal ID system for all types of audio/video assets in the entertainment industry, making it easier for businesses to search, track rights and report revenue based on an assets' unique ID. The expected results are increased accuracy of information flowing to consumers, and lower cost and more efficient back-office processes.

"Most companies today are either using proprietary or disparate organic systems to catalog their entertainment assets, making the process of tracking content across multiple systems very difficult," said Steve Weinstein, president and CEO, MovieLabs. "EIDR can provide the missing communication link between businesses. We look forward to expanding EIDR membership to companies throughout the global content ecosystem, which we think is critical to the success of the effort."

Members of EIDR will have open access to the registry and/ or be able to supply their content to the registry for identification. For content distributors, access to unique IDs will help eliminate confusion between assets with same name or different cuts of the same video, helping to ensure that the right products are being distributed to the consumer. For content producers, the ability to register all of their assets will help simplify their post-production process and potentially lead to greater distribution of their products. Other companies in the supply chain can benefit from a streamlined communication process between their suppliers and distributors.

Hat tip @MJHealy

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

CCC Podcast: Putting the ‘Social’ in Media

Web 2.0 brought a more interactive relationship between creating and consuming content than ever seen before. That interaction is shaping our lives and changing our media in sometimes fascinating, and sometimes threatening ways.

Alexandra Samuel joins Chris Kenneally to talk about the economics and the ecology of social media. She’s the Director of the Social + Interactive Media Centre at Emily Carr University of Art + Design in Vancouver, and a blogger for and the Harvard Business Review. She shares research on the future form of the e-book, as well as her thoughts on culture as a community rather than a personal asset.

Listen here.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Media Week (Vol 3) No 43: Islamic Superheros, Shakespeare and Co, Terrorist David Hicks, eMagazines,

Now we're in for it. Islamic superheros (Guardian):

She, along with her fellow crime-fighters, a vast team of characters from around the world, including Jabbar the Powerful from Saudi Arabia and Hadya the Guide from London, collectively known as "The 99", are the world's first Islam-inspired superheroes. And this week, in what is perhaps the ultimate comic-book accolade, they will join forces with Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman. DC Comics, the US publishing giant, will publish the first of six special crossover issues in which The 99 will be fighting crime alongside the Justice League of America, the fictional superhero team that includes Superman and Batman.

What's even more remarkable is that The 99 only came into being in 2007 with some remarkable firsts: the first comic book superheroes to have Muslim names and be directed at an international audience and the first to come out of the Middle East. Crossovers don't happen often and even less often with characters that are just three years old. Even The 99's creator and mastermind, a Kuwaiti-born, American-educated psychologist and entrepreneur called Naif al-Mutawa, seems to be having some trouble believing the Superman link-up.

Profile of bookstore Shakespeare and Company (Independent):
At Shakespeare & Co, there's not enough space for a stockroom, so it's a constant merry-go-round of books bought and books sold; tourists flock here to take photographs of the higgledy-piggledy interior, with books stacked from floor to ceiling. This is the place, after all, where in the Fifties the Beat poets hung out, and, more recently, where Ethan Hawke is filmed in the opening scenes of cult movie Before Sunset (and, indeed, where Meryl Streep in last year's Julia & Julia was seen to wander, in search of a cookbook). There's a wishing well in the floor that holds a plenteous supply of coins; in times gone by, it had a gas pipe which owner George Whitman was inclined to light on occasion (once, the story goes, when he was feeling particularly rakish, he accidentally set a hair-model's long tresses on fire). Upstairs, at the top of the winding staircase, there are all sorts of places for readers to loll. One room is a library, with literary donations to Whitman from Simone de Beauvoir's personal collection, and an eclectic selection of his own books – what remained, anyway, after a horrendous fire a number of years ago destroyed thousands of words. That's the room with a piano (and a fire extinguisher). When I visit, most customers aren't shy about playing it; although one man, too bashful to perform, is unable to resist sitting at the stool – he mimes playing for 10 minutes, fingers never touching the keys.
From AdAge, mixed results reported for eMagazines (Poynter):
Nat Ives writes that six months into the magazines-on-iPad experiment, sales have ranged from mixed to disappointing. Perhaps not surprisingly, tech-focused titles seem to be faring better than fashion magazines:
  • Popular Science: average monthly sales of 14,034 from April through JulyWired: 105,000 sales in June; 31,000 in July; 28,000 in August; 32,000 in SeptemberMen's Health: average sales of 3,174 for April, May, June and July/August issues
  • People: 10,800 downloads per weekly issue (includes print subscriber downloads)Glamour: 4,099 sales for its September issueGQ: average sales of 13,310 from April through August (includes iPhone and iPad editions)
  • Vanity Fair: average monthly sales of 8,925 from June through September (includes iPhone and iPad editions)
Full AdAge Article

Controversy in Australia where the government is being advised not to challenge the ability of convicted terrorist David Hicks to keep the profits from the sale of his memoir Growing Up Taliban (not the title). Random House Australia is the publisher and the title is available on the Kindle store but not in the US. (The Australian)

In 2001, Hicks was with the Taliban in Afghanistan when he was captured by US forces.

He spent 5 1/2 years in Guantanamo Bay before serving the final seven months of his sentence in Adelaide.The federal government has received advice that the guilty plea made by Hicks before the military commission meant he had been convicted under a foreign law -- which triggers the proceeds-of-crime legislation.

But Professor Williams said an Australian court would still need to order that Hicks be stripped of his profits, and this was likely to mean that a judge could question the legitimacy of the military commission process.

The original military commissions were struck down by the US Supreme Court and were reconstituted before the plea agreement with Hicks.But Professor Williams questioned their legitimacy. "Whether or not he did it, he pled guilty to a kangaroo court and it is inescapable that the process was flawed in many ways," he said.

Even if a judge accepts the legitimacy of the military commission process, the Proceeds of Crime Act means Hicks could retain his profits if the judge considers that his book has "social, cultural or education value" or is in the public interest.The doubts about the effectiveness of the Proceeds of Crime Act coincide with intense criticism of the Hicks book in the US.

And in Music: Apple - The short, strange blossoming of The Beatles' dream (Independent)

To the music business at large, an industry not best known for altruism, this was the hippie ideal gone truly mad. If Dick James, the head of Northern Songs, the company that published the Lennon and McCartney catalogue of music, had needed any encouragement in his plan to sever his links with The Beatles following the death of manager Brian Epstein a year earlier, this had to be it. Within months the songs had been sold to Lew Grade at ATV.

As it turned out the cynics were quickly proved at least partly right. Staffed by many of the group's old friends from Liverpool, few of whom had any real business acumen, Apple quickly became a financial whirlpool as money was sucked away to places unknown. Perhaps the group's first venture outside music, a fashion boutique in nearby Baker Street, should have been a warning, quickly turning into a Beatle-takeaway as, in the absence of much in the way of security, customers simply helped themselves to the designs and walked out without paying.

If it was an omen it wasn't spotted. As a character known as Magic Alex was given funding to build a new recording studio, which didn't work, and grotesque bills for drinks, food, taxis and flowers began to rain in, accountants were soon trying to trace an Apple-owned Mercedes that had simply vanished off the face of the earth.

Within a year, with John Lennon joking he was "down to his last 10,000 [pounds]" and they'd "all be broke within six months if this carried on", American Allen Klein was introduced to sort out the mess. Another big mistake: Klein quickly dropped James Taylor's contract and lost them millions. Meanwhile the sackings began: the dream was over, as Lennon used to sing.
From the twitter (@personanondata):

This will be cool: “Amazon: 14-Day Lending Coming to Kindle ‘Later This Year’”

Cengage's Dunn Says Learning Enhanced by Digital Media: Video

Michael Wolf (not that one) at GigaOm thinks Starbucks will be a big eBook retailer. I don't. Prize though for the most ironic title in a long while.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Repost: Publishing and Global Data Synchronization

Originally published on March 19, 2007

Over the past several months, I have commented on issues related to the publishing supply chain and the need to revamp the relationships between supply chain partners to create a more efficient business environment. Closer integration across the publishing supply chain will result in better efficiency and effectiveness leading to higher revenue and profitability. While sharing information between partners is growing in frequency, there has been only limited movement towards a more holistic approach to addressing supply chain issues.

The potential evolution of metadata requirements for the industry is also a theme I have addressed and I have suggested that base level bibliographic information has become a commodity. In recent years BISG has proactively reviewed the potential for a single “(Global) data synchronization (Network)” application for the publishing business. This GDSN application would sit as a central hub of base-level bibliographic information that would be accessible to all industry participants. Fees would be assessed to participants but would be fairly modest given the experience with similar applications in other industries. (In fact, some large publishers are already subscribers to GDSN data pools due to their business operations in non-retail markets such as big box retailing).

The management of a GDSN data pool is not an insignificant task and were BISG to sponsor the development of a publishing data pool it is logical to believe that a manager of this data-pool would be required. It is unlikely that BISG would want to manage this themselves and would be more likely to create an RFP for the application. A fully implemented GDSN solution for the publishing industry could significantly improve data flow and data accuracy across the supply chain not least because there would be one central location for read and write product details.

Having said that, there is an assumption that the internal data provided externally to the GDSN data pool would be accurate. Unfortunately I know this is not generally the case based on my experience at Bowker. Since the launch of Amazon and the subsequent adoption of ONIX, publisher data is significantly better than it was in the past but once you move away from all but the top 200-300 publishers data quality is a real problem. Businesses must continue to focus on product information and it is likely that service providers such as Netread will continue to play a large role in data supply.

The implementation of GDSN will lead to other integrated applications that will support further improvements in the supply chain. These include RFID, collaborative planning, forecasting and replenishment, vendor managed inventory and scan based trading. All of which have been implemented in other industries and in publishing would begin to mimic my suggested Intelligent Publishing Supply Network (IPSN). Among the benefits that other industries have proven is possible are,
  • Increased order accuracy
  • Ability to identify and correct internal data discrepancies
  • Decrease retailer out-of-stocks
  • Realize more timely replenishment orders
  • Reduce the likelihood of retailer returns
  • Establish the foundation for adopting RFID
RFID tagging could create the opportunity for significant gains in operational efficiency within the book world. The RFID tag carries only minimal data – the Electronic Product Code (EPC) - (sometimes referred to as the electronic barcode) and the tag can either be read only or read/write. Even in isolated (non-networked) applications within a book store or a distribution center the results in efficiency would be profound. Within a full RFID implementation across a supply chain, product level data is accessible from a central location (database) at any point in the supply chain providing details on what the product is and where it came from. In tandem, the location of that item is made available centrally so that tracking details can be analyzed and acted upon. Wide spread implementations will be limited until tag costs decrease and some operational issues, such as pallet level accuracy (some tags can’t be read if they are buried on a pallet), are addressed.

The future for an efficient book supply chain is playing out in other industries such as consumer products, hardware and the grocery chain. As Publisher revenues become more bifurcated across multiple distribution networks, making physical distribution more cost effective becomes critical, because less revenue will be generated from physical distribution reducing scale effects and squeezing profit margins. It remains for the industry via BISG to lead in the direction of a more efficient and effective supply chain.

Qualified Metadata
Supply Chain 1/2

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Kabul International Airport 1973

Kabul International Airport, 1973
A weekly image from my archive. Click on the image to make it larger.  

We spent three days in Kabul between our stops in Karachi, Peshawar and Tehran. An amazing trip but one only vaguely remembered. More images on flickr.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Keeping Yiddish alive and a rare bookshop open

From the BBC - pity you can't embed the viewer - a look at the last secular bookshop in New York which is facing closure by the end of this year.

In this first person account owner Hy Wolfe talks about his mission to keep both the bookshop and his language (Yiddish) alive.

Video is five minutes long. (And I love Moishe the baker).

PND Technology: Hashable

My weekly (kind of) recap of some of the interesting technology I've heard about at the tech meet-ups I've been going to (NYTech)

Making introductions can often be difficult even when the compatibility or mutual interest is so obvious. Along comes Hashable which is making connecting and establishing introductions easier and less painful.

The Hashable tool can be used to make introductions via Twitter or email and you can track the introductions you have initiated and those that your social group is building. You see who they are connecting with and potentially follow their lead in providing introductions. Hashable has an integrated address book so searching for people to connect with each other is simple and there is a gaming aspect to the site that enables you to see who 'ranks' highest (via a leaderboard) in introducing the most connections.

Here is the video from the recent NYTech Meetup and here are some more details from their website:
What do I use it for?
For starters, you can use it to track introductions you make and people you meet with. And you can discover new people by following your friends and seeing who they're connecting with. Your profile page shows your latest activity. You can also check out our leaderboard to see who the top movers and shakers are in our community at large.

How do I use Hashable via

There is a simple tool on your homepage that helps you make introductions. You can use the tool to make an introduction through twitter or email. Using our integrated address book, you'll be able to easily search your twitter or email contacts and find people you'd like to connect.

How do I use Hashable via Twitter?

With the #intro hashtag, Hashable makes Twitter intros not only socially acceptable but socially awesome. Send a tweet that includes the names of the people you'd like to introduce, the '#intro' hashtag, and our Twitter name @hashable. Then, we'll immediately send a follow-up tweet to the people you're introducing with a link to an icebreaker page. This page gets your friends started by showing them each others' information (photo, job title etc.) as well as their mutual connections on Twitter. We also give your friends an easy way to respond with the 'connect through twitter' button at the top of the page.

How do I use Hashable via Email?
If you want to keep making introductions through your email client, you can still get many of the benefits of using Hashable. From your email client, just cc '' to make your introduction public or cc '' to make your introduction private. Private intros will not be posted to the public stream, but they still get archived and you still get points.
As Mike Yavonditte, CEO of the company notes in the demo that networking isn't always fun but it is a necessary thing. Hashable is making introductions easy and fun. Check it out in beta.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Not so benighted music business: There's money to be made.

The economist reviews how musicians are making money in a media segment that has been derided as an internet loser. Here are several clips:

Yet the music business is surprisingly healthy, and becoming more so. Will Page of PRS for Music, which collects royalties on behalf of writers and publishers, has added up the entire British music business. He reckons it turned over £3.9 billion ($6.1 billion) in 2009, 5% more than in 2008. It was the second consecutive year of growth. Much of the money bypassed the record companies. But even they managed to pull in £1.1 billion last year, up 2% from 2008. A surprising number of things are making money for artists and music firms, and others show great promise. The music business is not dying. But it is changing profoundly.

The longest, loudest boom is in live music. Between 1999 and 2009 concert-ticket sales in America tripled in value, from $1.5 billion to $4.6 billion (see chart 1). Ticket sales wobbled in America during the summer of 2010, but that was partly because some big-selling acts took a break. One of the most reliable earners, Bono, U2’s singer, was put out of action when he injured his back in May. Next year many of the big acts will be on the road again, and a bumper year is expected.
On television, music is either supported by advertising or bundled invisibly into the cost of pay-TV subscriptions. That model is spreading from the box to the web. Free music-streaming services like We7 and Spotify have proliferated in Europe: the latter claims 10m users. America has Vevo, a music-video website linked to YouTube and owned in part by Universal Music Group and Sony Music Entertainment. Because Vevo’s content is consistently professional, it draws advertisers. Rio Caraeff, who runs the outfit, says companies pay $25-30 to reach 1,000 viewers. That is more than television networks tend to get, although Vevo reaches fewer people and runs many fewer ads (just 15 seconds every six-and-a-half minutes).
Some music executives fret that the stadium-filling acts will not be replaced. It is true that the starmaking machines run by the record companies are creaking. But this does not mean there will be no more popular acts. Musicians will build fan bases in other ways—through social networks, by recording music for TV or simply by trekking from gig to gig (which is how bands became famous for much of the 20th century). Some will rise with a speed that would have shocked their predecessors—witness Lady Gaga or Justin Bieber, a 16-year-old singer who was almost unknown a year ago. Those who doubt their staying power may wish to consider that adults have long believed the music their teenage children listen to will not endure as long as the tunes they grew up with.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Media Week (Vol 3) 43: Larsson, Type & Fonts, Taylor Bradford

Just when you thought you had read all the Stieg Larsson stories comes word he was a revolutionary(Telegraph):
In it, Mr Holmberg describes how Larsson trained a group of women who were part of a Marxist liberation group fighting for Eritrea’s independence from Ethiopia. He writes: “1977 was a dramatic year. Stieg spent part of it in Eritrea, where he had contacts in the Marxist EPLF liberation movement and helped to train a company of women guerrillas in the use of grenade launchers. “But he also contracted a kidney inflammation and was forced to leave the country.”

Curiously no one seems to explain who trained the trainer which could be far more interesting.

The Observer has a very long excerpt from True to Type, How we fell in love with our letters (Observer):
The etiquette of type informs our daily lives. Say you are designing a jacket for a new edition of Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice. The book is out of copyright and so has cost you nothing, the beautiful jacket illustration of a secret garden has been done by a friend, and now all you have to do is find a suitable typeface for the title and author, and then the text inside. For the jacket type, conventional wisdom would be to choose something like Didot, which first appeared at around the time Austen was writing and looks very classy with its extreme range of fine and stronger lines, especially in italics. This font will fit right in, and will sell books to people who like classic editions. But if you wanted to reach a different market, the sort who might read Kate Atkinson or Sebastian Faulks, you may opt for something less fusty, perhaps Ambroise Light, which, like Didot, has a stylish French pedigree.

For the text of the book, you might consider a digital update of Bembo – perhaps Bembo Book? Originally cut from metal in the 1490s, this classic roman typeface retains a consistent readability. And it fits the overriding principle that typefaces should mostly pass unrecognised in daily life; that they should inform but not alarm. A font on a book jacket should merely pull you in; once it has created the desired atmosphere it does well to slink away, like the host at a party.

There are exceptions, of course, and a brilliant one is John Gray's bestseller, Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus, in which the designer Andrew Newman chose Arquitectura for the male lines and Centaur for the female ones. Arquitectura looks manly because it is tall, solid, slightly space-age, rooted and implacable. Centaur, despite its bullish name, looks like it has been written by hand, has thin and thick strokes, and is charming and elegant (obviously this is gross sexua l stereotyping, but Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus is pop-psychology).

Novelist Taylor Bradford is named Yorkshire person of the year (BBC - Link to video plays immediately)

And from the twitter this week:

: Streetscapes - Rare Books About New York - Rare Books About New York -

See Frankfurt presentation - Carla Stoffle: almost no new print book acquisitions in one year from now at U Arizona

Sheila Bounford's (of NBN) presentation from TOC Frankfurt: Technology, Change & Customers

Tony Blair In Line For Bad Sex Award (Telegraph - with suitable grim photo)

Edward Nawotka Discusses Digital Publishing: The Book Futurists -

And in sport, it seems we have some serious issues with our star player (Guardian)

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Parallel Universe: Will Libraries and Publishers Learn to Share?

Following is my presentation (10/5/10) at the 32nd Supply Chain Interests meeting at the Frankfurt Book fair. Below is the full text of my speech but on slideshare you can view each slide with the corresponding text.

(1) Good Afternoon, today I want to talk libraries which is a segment somewhat ignored here at this meeting in recent years. Important nevertheless since there is a lot going on in the library world.
Any businesses connected to the publishing industry is experiencing change and increasing complexity: Libraries are no different.
We naturally associate books with libraries but monographs have not supported the library mission for decades. (2) Data even hints that books are not a success story in the current library environment. I expect my statement will strike you as odd but research data from a range of studies suggests that books are expensive to manage, under-utilized, hard to navigate and of declining importance to scholarship. Additionally, books suffer from opportunity cost: Decisions to purchase specific books are rarely optimized with demand and thus, books that may have supported a need are not purchased and books that were purchased sit on shelves rarely used.
Many agree that the publisher/library model must change as content migrates but a deeper analysis of these data implies we need to re-examine in a fundamental way the definition of the monograph.
Libraries face many practical challenges. (3) Despite remaining critically important to their respective communities, public and academic libraries are under tremendous strain. This is particularly true of the public library. If not from actual dwindling revenue sources which cause layoffs, closings and reduced services, then from the passive aggressive stance of publishers who threaten to withhold their electronic titles from library patrons. In tandem, academic libraries face different but no less challenging issues about their position in education generally and on campus specifically.
(4) This bleak outlook obscures the fact that big important questions are being asked about the future of books in the library. At all levels, libraries are embarked on a radical redesign and reevaluation of their activities which will redefine the library for monographs. These changes are almost completely hidden to publishers and, at a critical juncture in the transformation of the relationship between publishing and libraries neither side seems to know or appreciate enough about the circumstances of other.
(5) The sharp disagreement over the provision of eContent may permanently fracture the uneasy alliance between book publishers and libraries as more content migrates to electronic form and consumers make electronic delivery their format of choice. This should be troubling to anyone who believes – as I do – that libraries and publishers share a desire to expand knowledge and community around books.
(6) My comments today take the library perspective and I have organized my comments around three themes.
(7) Firstly, how important are libraries to publishers in monetary terms? Secondly, a look at some of the most important strategic library initiatives under way and, thirdly what is the future for libraries and publishers?
(8) First, at approximately $2.0billion, all library segments represent approximately 5% of industry revenues. This makes the entire segment approximately the size of a large chain retailer. If you heard me speak the last time I spoke to this group, you may recall I don’t place too much reliance on industry stats so in that light, treat these numbers as order of magnitude estimates of library sales. There are over 13,000 public and academic libraries in the US and these figures would suggest an average annual book spend of approximately $150,000. That may be a reasonable average.
The primary focus of this presentation will be on the academic library environment; however, let me make some brief comments about the situation with public libraries in the US.
(9) To the general public, the value of libraries is unquestioned and here in the next sequence of slides are data from OCLC and a report I’ll note in a moment. Americans believe public libraries improve their quality of life and view the library as a resource to help them navigate an uncertain future. (And I’m often there myself).
The library patron of 2010 seeks help, (10) reference material, education and community yet as economic circumstances deteriorate library budgets are slashed and services limited or eliminated. (11) Thus, while visits and circulation are up (12) so are closings and service reductions.
(13) Academic libraries are not immune to macro economic changes either; although they seem to have more flexibility to devise new methods of dealing with some of the economic challenges they face. As you may know, the library collection is viewed as a point of comparison (14) and remains important to the institutions accreditation. These factors present particular challenges for more effective and efficient services nevertheless even in this environment revolutionary approaches to collection management are being tested and implemented.
For example, (15) can you envision an academic library with no physical books? That sounds absurd – even crazy - yet during a recent renovation, a large state university library removed all their books from the library and placed them in off site storage. Service for students and faculty during this renovation was impacted only minimally and once the library space was remodeled not all the books returned. Not only do the remaining books at this library look more like decorative display items than accessible resources but the space has been reconfigured to match a changed teaching environment. NYU removed 30% of their collection during a similar renovation. At the University of Texas recently, a new library received national attention as a library without any “books” There are more and more examples of this changed approach to collection development.
As libraries rethink their physical collections, we shouldn’t lose sight of some more fundamental problems that book publishers should be aware of. The Association of Research Libraries publishes annual statistics and these reflect some troubling data points with respect to monographic purchasing trends over the last 20 years.
(16) Serials publishers with their revenues up an average of 7.3% per year will be excited. Over the same period, the monograph publisher has seen prices grow a measly 2.9% per year with most of that increase occurring in the early years. Even more troubling, the number of titles purchased each year has straight lined since 1986. With an explosion in books published over just the past ten years, academic libraries are buying the same number of books as they were in 1988. Virtually all other categories have outstripped spending on books (including the consumer price index). Student and faculty populations have grown but this growth has not translated into more books sold. And as an aside since I don’t present data here, circulation is also going in the wrong direction.
Importantly, these statistics are definitive: They are not isolated. When we contemplate how to approach the library market it is important that we recognize that current experience is very much a reflection of prior performance. In other words, I don’t believe we can expect this to get any “better”. It appears, monographs have been losing the knowledge race in university libraries for a long time and, if publishers value this segment then they need to recognize and then understand this.
Not all the data is so black and white and perhaps there is some good news for publishers. For example, (17) viewing supply and demand in ARL libraries via the prism of inter library loans we see significant increases year over year for books loaned and borrowed. ILL isn’t studied in detail but I recently learned from OCLC that they are contemplating more analysis of this area and their initial research shows some interesting findings. For example, they have been astonished to learn of the number of times a single title (18) has been loaned more than fifty times in one year. It appears libraries are relying more and more on ILL to support spikes in their local demand.
According to OCLC, these “hot titles” are often widely held titles suggesting that the data begs for more analysis. Certainly as a monograph publisher you would be troubled by some of these stats and would want more analysis.
In summary, we face significant challenges in the academic and public segments concerning financial and economic issues however we can’t ignore the tenuous relevance of the monograph itself. Can it be business as usual for the monograph?
Which brings me to the second part of my talk where I discuss some of the change programs already underway.
(19) The academic library has been forced to re-evaluate its activities for a variety of reasons. If we reference the changes made generally over the past 20 years to accommodate a migration from paper to electronic materials then the current impact on monographs must really be anticipated progression of their change programs. In other words it was foreseen.
For example, one important change initiative could be characterized as one of “efficiency”. As the thinking goes; “are we as librarians delivering the appropriate services in the most efficient manner?” Whereas detailed cost analysis has always been possible, economic realities now enable solutions that previously may have been unrealistic for practical or political reasons. The life time cost of maintaining a monograph collection were always known to be expensive but limited alternatives to the open stack paradigm made real analysis irrelevant. With the rapid escalation in digitization programs and a collective approach to resource sharing, libraries now have viable options with respect to down sizing their monograph collections. This now defined expense coupled with the very real costs of real estate and development projects for new buildings has many university administrators salivating over all that “under-utilized” space.
(20) Research conducted by Paul Courant and Mathew Nielsen (The Idea of Order) explicitly documents the costs of maintaining a print monograph collection. The opportunity for publishers may rely on turning this analysis of the ‘life time cost’ of holding book into a sales opportunity for eBooks. The authors also calculate (21) that a typical academic library could be spending about $1mm just to maintain their legacy print collection. And in an environment where monograph usage is declining this large annual expense begins to look like an onerous and miss-guided use of funds. And for publishers, what response will you get if you ask them to – in effect – add to this annual expense by buying more print?
As I noted earlier, the case for a wholesale reevaluation of the idea of books in the library has gained credibility. As strange as it is to say, the physical book collection may not be needed. It may be both economical and efficient to remove them. Constance Malpas from OCLC goes a bit further when she comments (22) that “books have already left the building” – with over 70mm volumes having been removed from local collections and placed in off-site storage. Some important universities have determined that they can operate with little or no diminution of service while reducing their on-site collections.
Simply moving books off site however, doesn’t represent a total solution. As the authors Courant and Nielsen note, electronic storage in addition to or combination with physical collections is most optimal because access to an electronic version of a book aids in selection of the title. If a user is able to look at the TOC or index or search the electronic version in advance of requesting the title then they are more likely to request from off site storage books they really need. Large (23) digitization programs such as Hathi Trust and others are beginning to support this type of “mixed platform” hybrid.
The Hathi Trust is one of several digital repositories. At Hathi, their mass-digitized collection is sufficient to replace at least 30% of most academic print book collections. The potential savings are very real (24). Hathi grows daily and other repositories add titles at a similar rate. All have a different collection profile and different partnerships but at some point these repositories themselves will collaborate and weave together their collections so that the overlap or replacement potential across academic library collections will near 100%. Publics will also see some benefit here as well.
So what are we seeing here? Initially, I spoke about the cost savings from more efficient use of physical space and transitioned into discussion about shared repositories of content. These activities are closely related and will be progressively augmented and expanded with further network level services. In short, more sophistication will ensue concerning access, applications and services focused on monograph content that historically was disbursed in the extreme volume by volume and library by library.
Strategically, what might these initiatives mean for publishers? Libraries are not saying emphatically they don’t want print but their policies and practices are changing. In some cases new books go immediately to off site storage. In accessing these assets, the library also wants a digital copy that they can place in the catalog for search and discovery. The shared approach to collection management while reflective primarily of their retrospective print collections will become the paradigm for future purchases – both print and eBooks. Going forward publishers will be expected to accommodate this. While representing a challenge for both libraries and publishers there may be opportunities in working toward a new business model. Recall, that the combination of the ILL statistics and the Hathi stats on title overlap suggests – strongly – that supply and demand is significantly out of balance. Addressing this is an opportunity.
(25) This discussion would not be complete without also bringing in the migration to eBooks and eContent. It may be in the transition to an eBook environment where publishers and libraries will clash. Beware however that it would be a significant mistake for book publishers to assume libraries are ignorant of the issues and complexities of eBook and eContent business models.
In fact, libraries may have a more experienced view of the eContent business models than do many book publishers. Libraries participated in the migration of print serials and journals to online databases and most importantly facilitated the radical improvements in the provision of serials content to this segment. Some see similar and maybe greater opportunity as the monograph makes this transition.
But publishers see eBooks in libraries as problematic. There may be more acceptance of eBooks in the academic setting but thus far much less so in the public library segment. (26) A recent report published by Chief Officers of State Library Agencies (COSLA) suggested that libraries seek to organize a national buying pool to source and negotiate eBook deals. We’ll see how far they get with that.
Which brings me to the last part of this presentation.
“How is that a good model for us?” (27) is how Macmillan CEO John Sargent put it when discussing the role of libraries in the future. He was referring to the ability of a patron to loan an eBook from their living room without having to stand up. “In the old world” he said, “there was a certain amount of friction in the chain that precluded this type of ease of use.” To take this model to its obvious conclusion, wouldn’t every reader get a library card and an eBook reader and download books free from their local library? Perhaps, and it would be hard to recognize the value of this model to publishers.
Libraries see it differently though: EBooks represent an opportunity to engage people who can’t or won’t come to the local library. The practical benefits of eBooks mitigate the reduction in opening hours, staffing and geographic/location issues that preclude use of the libraries. Academic libraries also see huge opportunities to improve the utility of the eBook titles they buy.
On the other hand, the COSLA report also pointed out access to eBooks is currently nowhere close to the environment envisioned by Sargent. The study confirmed that getting eBooks isn’t convenient or easy to do. Typically, the user interface is described as unfriendly and the fact that eBook sites are often not integrated with a library’s web site makes the eBook catalog hard to find.
(28) Looking forward to a new model publishers naturally and quite rightly require a model that represents “true-value” for their sales into the segment but, in my opinion wondering whether eBooks can be managed, controlled or rationed in the library marketplace misses the larger picture: Monographs are on the downswing. The bigger question we should be asking is “Why don’t monographs work in the library anymore?”
There should be mutual interest here: Publishers want to continue to make their monographs available to libraries and libraries want to most effectively match their collections to the demands of their patrons. What might these areas of cooperation encompass and does the migration of formats – print to eBook – represent an opportunity to reinvigorate the book?
Here are four suggested programs libraries and publishers might consider adopting in concert to their mutual interest. (29)
Firstly, there is too little market intelligence about the behavior of a library patron from their use of the library material to their book buying behavior. For example, is the heavy library user also a buyer of books and, how does their behavior change when eBooks are made available? Understanding the inter-play between library lending and purchasing should be critical to defining a new or optimal model that allows a full catalog of eBooks to be made available via the public and academic library. Libraries routinely make the point that library patrons contribute significantly to the marketing of all books. Defining this would represent an important improvement in the relationship and understanding between publishers and libraries.
Secondly concerning metadata, as serials publishers transitioned to eContent it became clear quickly that many (most) of them had significantly incomplete metadata about their historic catalog. Libraries helped fill some of those important gaps and thus enabled the publishers to create better, complete and more expensive databases. Book publishers almost certainly have a similar issue and while many of them may not know it yet, monograph collections are likely to look more like database products in five years than a collection of individual pdfs. In that database environment the publishers are going to want better metadata. In the effort to create better data publishers and librarians could collaborate.
(30)Thirdly the manner and method that characterizes the migration serials publishers made from print to database products should be instructive for monograph publishers. Earlier, I suggested - or predicted - monograph databases and here is where the lessons of the serials business could be most important and instructive.
Libraries want to buy books that are read and used, they want books that are cited and referenced and they want books that support the departments that they serve. As serials publishers recognized, better content and increased functionality drives usage and usage drives renewals and is likely to enable rising annual subscription prices. Publishers of monographs think in terms of one time sales but in a database world they need to be thinking of an integrated database of content that draws usage and is licensed annually.
The ISI citation index that measures the ‘importance’ of a serials title is one of the most important metrics in serials acquisition and it is likely that something similar will develop for monographs and/or monograph publishers. Monographs will be graded on their utility to researchers, academics and patrons and gone is the day that a book will sit unobtrusively on a shelf for years; moreover, gone is the day a book “sits” independently of all the other books.
Serials publishers/aggregators provide substantial value-add for the e-titles they provide in comparison with those delivered in the print world and product development hasn’t stopped. Recently Elsevier announced a ‘developer platform’ that allows third parties to build applications and services around the Elsevier journal content extending the value proposition to all Elsevier customers. These features represent some of the ideas monograph publishers should be considering as they make the transition to eBooks in the library segment.
‘Just-in-case’ purchasing has failed. To assume this model will transfer to eBooks is to ignore fundamentals. While the old monograph purchase model has collapsed there remain indications from ILL data that demand for certain monographs remains high. Even now, ILL data can and should be used by both libraries and publishers to better match demand with supply for print. As print demand spirals downward libraries and publishers should be sharing information to anticipate increases in demand and thus optimize the demand for these titles. Perhaps this effort could form the basis of greater cooperation in the larger question of the future of the monograph.
Fourth and last, smart publishers are going to think hard about some of the data about the lifetime cost of books presented in the report by Paul Courant. Publishers will need to copy serials publishers to significantly increase the value proposition of the content. To achieve this goal, publishers may determine that databases provide greater utility supporting deeper linking, citations and enabling annotations than selling titles one by one. A publisher in a position to collect and collate the reader experience - to collect the social ‘exhaust’ in the references, notes, citations, commentary. etc - will be able to build a stronger franchise with the library buyer. Enabling an ability to document the scholars’ interaction with books will serve to reinvent what the monograph represents to library patrons.
(31) Publishers have their work cut out for them assuming they view the library market as one they wish to invest in for the future. Given the long experience of monographs in the library segment their effort is long over due. John Sargent is right to ask “Is this a good model for us?” but libraries could also ask a similar question. (32) Publishers and libraries have an opportunity to build a new model and a better product and libraries are already moving toward their version. Will publishers join them?
(33) Thank you and I’ll take questions.
My thanks to Constance Malpas at OCLC who provided the initial inspiration for this presentation in her presentation to the RLG symposium which I attended in Chicago and later in email discussions between the two of us as I was putting my presentation together. Her influence is especially represented in the last section of this presentation.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Media Week (Vol 3) No 42b: Midnight's Children, Harold McGraw on Technology, 50 Best Bookstores

The Independent is reporting that after years of working on a script Salman Rushdie's Midnight's Children is to become a movie (Independent):
The novelist has been working for two years with the director Deepa Mehta on a script of a film version of the book that originally made his reputation. This week, the Harold Greenberg Fund, set up by the Canadian media firm Astral in honour of one of Canada's leading film directors, announced it was giving an award for "polishing and packaging" the script.

Deepa Mehta, an Indian-born Canadian who has known Rushdie for many years, is best known for her trilogy Fire, Earth and Water, which she directed between 1996 and 2005. She and her husband, David Hamilton, run up the film company Hamilton Mehta, in Toronto. He will produce the film, which she will direct.

The book's protagonist, Saleem, is born in Bombay at midnight on 15 August 1947, the moment when India became independent, who discovers that all Indian children born in that first hour have magical powers. The novel won the Booker Prize in 1981, then 12 years later was named the "Booker of Bookers". In 2008, in a contest to mark Booker's 40th anniversary of the prize, was again singled out as the best novel ever to win the prize.

Harold McGraw III and Philip Ruppel of McGraw Hill opine about the impact of technology on reading in (the) USA Today:
Today, it is not uncommon to hear predictions that the names of the great publishing houses will soon fall from the covers of books to the footnotes of self-published history tomes. Casual observers could be forgiven for thinking this way based on headlines on the e-reading revolution.

First, Amazon announced that its e-book sales topped its hardcover sales for the first time. Then, in August, the Washington Post Co. sold iconic Newsweek amid questions about the future of weekly magazines. And just recently, this newspaper launched a " major organizational restructuring" as part of a continued shift from newsprint toward more digital platforms.

While this tide of headlines speaks to the sea change sweeping the publishing world, the industry itself is anything but washed out. In fact, many parts of the industry are thriving in the digital age.

Nowhere is this clearer than in the success of the e-book. The Association of American Publishers recently reported that e-book sales for the first half of the year were up more than 200%. Far from being the end of the publishing industry, this number is a sign of a new beginning.

Why is there such a gap between the perception of a dying industry and the reality of a rapidly adapting one? It begins with five common myths about publishing:
Traveling England? What better guide than the 50 best bookshops Independent

A deep write up and review of the conference eBooks: Libraries at the Tipping Point from Librarian in Black (Link)

From the twitter: @Personanondata

The Independent: What do you do with 8 million books? Build a shelf 153 miles long Bodleian's offsite storage

Elsevier Introduces Article-Based Publishing to Increase Publication Speed

MediaPost: Wave of New Data On E-Reader Owners

Frankfurt Book Fair - Digital heads discuss the e-book market and the challenges that face us all

Picture Books Languish as Parents Push ‘Big-Kid Books’ - See comment number 1.

Friday, October 08, 2010

Media Week (Vol 3) 42a: Frankfurt 2010 from the Show Dailies

There were dueling show dailies at the FBF this year and between the three of them they may have been able to pull together a decent single issue each day.

Both The Bookseller and Publishing Perspectives had pdf versions of their show dailies and their content isn't yet (or maybe never) separately available on their sites. Publishers Weekly/ BookBrunch also had a show daily but I had no luck finding the show daily content I was looking for on their websites. If it was there it was buried.

(As an aside, I was bemused that PW had a lead story on day two about the $100mm HMH fund for learning that I mentioned a month ago).

(And I do realize the images look like they were taken out a prison window).

Day One

The Bookseller Daily- Day 1
Tour de Force (Pg 21)

Events have helped the music industry cope with digitization. But, Anna Coatman asks, can author tours ever become a viable revenue stream for books?

Going Native (Pg 23)

The generation that has grown up with digital represents a challenge for academic publishers.

E(uro) Files (Pg 8)

Price maintainance, some EU laws and high VAT rates mean digital still hasn't caught fire in some European markets.

Publishing Perspectives:

Money For Nothing, And Your Pics For Free - Gwyn Headley on how Ebooks are finally embracing color images, but how much should you pay for them? (Pg 11)

Day Two:

The Bookseller Day 2

New Model Army (Pg 13)

Perhaps today's biggest publishing challenge is how to repurpose and monetise digital content.

Publishing Perspectives Day 2:

Hunting for E-books Around the Globe: American bookseller Barnes & Noble’s Patricia Arancibia is in search of the best the world has to offer. (Pg 15)

Day Three:

The Bookseller Day 3

Up to 3mm searches per day for pirated eBooks. (Pg 4)

Publishing Perspectives Day 3:

Why Publishers Need Agile Content (Pg 10)

Clearing the Air about Copyright: Users need education, rights-holders need to get paid. (Pg 11)

The American Gentleman: At first publisher Roger Straus was reticent to come to Germany for a book fair, but once he did, the legendary publisher made friends, struck deals, and left a lasting legacy. (Pg 12)

Scheherazade in the App Store: Can Digital Free Arabic Publishers. (Pg 15)

The Future of Rights: Digital publishing raises countless rights issues, but work towards
a universal international framework for clearances is beginning. (Pg 16)

Moscow at Night: Is there such a thing as Russian noir and could it be the next big thing? (Pg 19)

All in all Publishing Perspectives seemed to have a more expansive and interesting selection of stories than either The Bookseller or Publisher's Weekly. (IMHO of course). Here are all PW's Frankfurt posts.

Wednesday, October 06, 2010

Monday, October 04, 2010

Media Week (Vol 3) No 41: Springer, Reading, Personal Librarians

Book business magazine profiles Springer's success in migrating to e-Journals (BBM):

Journals were early adopters in transitioning to digital, and since have become almost ubiquitously available in electronic formats. By 2009, there were about 25,400 active scholarly peer-reviewed journals, and more than 96 percent were available electronically.

When Springer began offering e-books, the decision was made to follow the journal model. Libraries and patrons had become accustomed to this model, and a chapter in a scientific, technical or medical (STM) book often is viewed much like a journal article. Also, search engines have fundamentally changed the way that research is conducted and made print books largely obsolete for this purpose. Researchers now expect to be able to quickly sift through vast quantities of information at their fingertips. Because of this, Springer e-books and e-journals are searchable on a common platform, providing access to much more high-relevance information than was previously available.

Where e-books are readily available, researchers are increasingly accepting and utilizing them. While Springer saw overall digital downloads increase 33 percent in 2008, e-book chapter downloads rose 70 percent and e-book usage more than doubled between 2007 and 2009.
You are what you read is the suggestion from Boston Globe reporter Natalie Southwick (BG):

Of course, the definition of “interesting’’ is hardly universal. The folks who might want to discuss the “merits’’ of “Atlas Shrugged’’ could be fascinating from a sociological standpoint, but that’s not something I want with my morning coffee. Or ever. But people attracted by the crustacean waving from the cover of “Consider the Lobster,’’ by the late, great David Foster Wallace? That’s the kind of interesting that interests me.

But, as Stein points out, navigating the subtleties of commuter-lit culture is as much about context as familiar names: “The trick is to choose books that have cult followings, and so create a sense of secret fellowship — but that large numbers of your fellow-riders have actually read,’’ he advises. He recommends various authors and books for individual New York subway lines — according to his picks (Roberto Bolaño’s amazing “2666,’’ and my current T tome, Thomas Pynchon’s “Gravity’s Rainbow’’ ), I’m a G train girl.While Boston has fewer subway lines, Stein’s point still applies here.

Would Jonathan Franzen’s new novel, “Freedom,’’ appeal as much to the college-age crowd on the Green Line as it might to the professional riders of the Red, or would you have more success opening Charlaine Harris’s latest Sookie Stackhouse novel as you head down Comm. Ave.? Perhaps Michael Pollan’s “Food Rules’’ would be appropriate for the South End-bound foodies of the Silver Line, Jon Krakauer’s “Where Men Win Glory’’ for Orange Line commuters, or a Dennis Lehane novel for the Revere Beach-goers of the Blue. As for the Commuter Rail — shouldn’t you be checking your BlackBerry?

A look at university libraries that are taking the personal approach to students (IHE):

The obligations are not nearly the same as those between academic advisers and advisees; in fact, students are not required to meet with their personal librarian, or even acknowledge them. The important thing for the library is that students know the library has not just books but also familiar-looking people who know their names and want to help them. The idea is that getting that name might make students more likely to schedule a sit-down meeting to learn how to use the library's various interfaces, collections, and specialists. Sit-downs, or even e-mail correspondence, are much more effective than group orientations, says Patricia Tully, the university librarian at Wesleyan.

If personal librarian programs are a trend, the trend is a recent one. Barbara Rockenbach, director of undergraduate and library research at Yale, frames the movement toward “personalization” as a foil to technological forces that have made the library seem more impersonal. With many libraries canceling subscriptions to printed journals, shuttling underused books off to remote storage, and making more of their resources available on the Web, students might increasingly view the library as a database they can use from a solitary dorm room rather than an actual place populated by helpful humans.

The pulping of Franzen's book got a huge amount of press this weekend in the UK. Even my mother asked me if I had heard about it. (Independent)

Review of all many touched by Twilight (Independent):

In an effort to strike a blow for anonymous catalogue models everywhere, Hickey told the New York Post that she is now hoping to audition for a walk-on role in the forthcoming fourth instalment in the Twilight film series. "If I could get a little background part, it would be fantastic... even if they only wanted my hands in it."Her success at exploiting such a tenuous connection with Meyer's first novel goes at least some way towards illustrating the huge commercial power of the Twilight franchise. The first three films in the series were made on budgets of $37, $50 and $68 million respectively, but generated a combined $800m at the box office for the previously-small Los Angeles firm behind them, Summit Entertainment.The vampire-themed romance novels have meanwhile overcome their sniffy critical reception to be translated into 37 languages, selling over 100 million copies, and turning Meyer, a 36-year-old Mormon who lives in a remote corner of Arizona, into a global publishing phenomenon with an annual income which has been estimated by Forbes magazine at over $50m.

From the twitter:

Stephen J. Cannell, Prolific TV Writer, Dies at 69 -

Publishing Houses of Today, Yesterday and Tomorrow: Gene Schwartz' latest blog

Kara Swisher BoomTown AllThingsDExclusive: Chegg Raises $75 Million in Additional Funding from Asian Firm

Friday, October 01, 2010

Repost: Frankfurt Presentation: Publishing in a Digital Age

Repost Friday and this post originally appeared on October 20th, 2008. Since I am addressing this same meeting on Tuesday I thought I would re-visit the last presentation.

This week I presented at the 30th International Supply Chain Specialists Meeting at the Frankfurt Bookfair. The presentation is available on Slideshare If you click on the notes tab below the slideviewer you will be able to read my verbal comments attributed to each page. Without these comments the presentation is likely to be next to meaningless. (For some reason, you will need to click back from page two to page one to see the notes for page one - looks like a small bug to me).

Also, the presentation was videotaped (here). My video is the second one. The A/V guy starts in on page three for some reason.

It is about a 24 minute presentation. Some seemed to enjoy it and a number of people came up to me at the end although, I wondered why no one asked me who 'Kenneth' was. The other presentations that day were interesting and I will note the link to the editeur site when they are all up.