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.

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