Sunday, February 27, 2011

Media Week (V4-N9): Information Concierge, Future of Education Publishing, Blackboard, The $16K/mth Sideline, Blurbs, Marilyn Monroe

We have a digital concierge at the publisher and now we have an information concierge at the library. The Chronicle looks into it:
At the start of each class session, the professor, Gardner Campbell, asked the 11 students to open their laptops, fire up Twitter, and say hello to their librarian, who was following the discussion from her office. During the hourlong class, the librarian, Ellen Hampton Filgo, would do what she refers to as “library jazz,” looking at the questions and comments posed by students, responding with suggestions of links or books, and anticipating what else might be helpful that students might not have known to ask.

“I could see the sort of germination of an idea, and what they wanted to talk about,” she said, noting that it let her in on the process of students’ research far sooner than usual. “That was cool for me,” she added.

“When I work with students at the reference desk, usually they’re already at a certain midpoint of their research.” When the class was discussing the work of the science-fiction author Clifford D. Simak, for instance, she tweeted a link to his archives at the University of Minnesota.

“One of the students said, ‘Hey, is there anything like that for Rilke?’,” Ms. Filgo said. “He was all excited. I don’t even think he knew of the idea that a library might collect an author’s papers.”
Again from The Chronicle: Podcast: The Future of the Textbook, as Seen by Publishers

“An e-book is not an engaging experience, merely replicating a textbook,” say William D. Rieders, executive vice president for new media at the publishing company Cengage Learning. At the 2011 Higher Ed Tech Summit, he said this major publisher sees little future in e-books, despite the proliferation of Kindles and other e-book readers, and tablets like the iPad. The biggest areas for Cengage, he says, are software programs like homework solutions and assessment tools. Print textbooks are still healthy, but they function now as a reference for professors and students, while these other materials are taking center stage in the learning experience.
Thinking about Blackboard's next business phase from Inside Higher Ed:
For those who have been watching closely, this development should not come as a surprise. Blackboard has been laying the groundwork for this second phase over the last few years, slowly absorbing e-learning companies that are not involved in learning management and rebranding them as Blackboard imprints. Blackboard Analytics, formed earlier this month after Blackboard acquired the analytics firm iStrategy, is the latest addition to Blackboard’s inventory of acquisitions. It joined Collaborate, which Blackboard created last year after buying live-communications companies Wimba and Elluminate; Mobile, which Blackboard disaggregated from the Learn platform in 2009; and Connect, which Blackboard inaugurated after buying the notification company Connect-ED in 2008.

As far as the U.S. higher education market goes, several business analysts who monitor Blackboard described this shift as a natural phase in the evolution of a company that has reached the edge of the earth and can only continue to grow by building on existing territory (the K-12 and international higher ed markets are still rife with unclaimed lands, officials point out). When you can no longer sell your core product to additional customers, the analysts said, you have to sell additional products to your core customers — that is, if you want to keep expanding. And Blackboard, a publicly traded company, does. (Desire2Learn, a private company that also sells license-based platforms, is taking a similar tack for the same reasons, according to Kenneth Chapman, its director of product strategy.)
Priced at .71p watching these download is thrilling - sorry. (Observer):
To maximise sales, he priced his books at Amazon's minimum for independent writers – about 70p (the equivalent of 99 cents). At this level, authors receive a cut of only 35% of the price; under Amazon's pricing structure, this rises to 70% if they price their books above the equivalent of $2.99. He then went on various forums to drum up awareness. Within a couple of weeks, all three titles were in the top 20 and "by November I'd knocked Stieg Larsson off the top spot".

"I knew the wave was going to break on Christmas Day. I got myself in position to take advantage, I got on and I've been riding it ever since.

"Yet while he is making significant sums just through ebook sales – "up to £11,000 a month" – he still only sees it as a sideline to his main writing career. "I never went into this to make money. I went into it as a way of widening my readership. My hope was that readers would read my book on Kindle, say, 'I really enjoyed that', then when my new thriller came out with Hodder, they'd remember it and buy that too."
Suggesting that's a sideline is a bit rich.

Getting that copy blurb can be troublesome and it's sometimes best to be forthright (Salon):
Like yourself (no doubt) I find blurbing to be absolutely repulsive. It is crass, pathetic and couldn't be less artistic. Just so you know, I am only doing this because the more I think about it, the more I would like to make a lot of money. Full disclosure: I named my conjoined Siamese cats Tommy and Pinchie. Tommy just died, which has made movement difficult for Pinchie. But she pushes on like a feline boat against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past (F. Scott Fitzgerald). Like blurbs, an author's choice of title is very important for sales. Take "Gravity's Rainbow." That is a terrific title. Why? Because it tells you exactly what the book is about. I would like to think that my book's title does the same: Cream of America Soup.
Jefferson's lost books found in Missouri (JacketCopy):
It turns out they've been there since 1880, when Jefferson's granddaughter, Ellen Wayles Randolph Coolidge, and her husband donated them to the university. They were part of a collection sold two years after Jefferson's death, and acquired by Ellen's husband through a friend; the family was particularly interested in books in which Jefferson had made notes. Although a pair of scholars turned up the 69 new books, more researchers than that have been on the case.

Like many historical and well-known readers, Jefferson's library has been reconstructed online by volunteers at LibraryThing. There you can find the details of Jefferson's own cataloging of his books, as well as more information about his collections, sales and distributions.
And it's always good to remember the British like a good bonfire.

Speaking of liking it hot here's a look at a new book that brings to light some of Marilyn Monroe's lost files (Telegraph):
What is certain is that sometime on the night of 4 August the cabinet in the guest cottage was broken into, and that crucial files were removed – perhaps pertaining to Monroe's relationship with the Kennedys and their links with the Mafia boss Sam Giancana, perhaps to her contractual arrangements with Twentieth Century-Fox.

How did these immensely valuable cabinets manage to vanish for so long only to resurface in a quiet corner of suburban California? The key to the mystery is Inez Melson, Monroe's business manager in the mid-1950s, guardian of Monroe's schizophrenic mother, and, following Monroe's death, administrator of her Los Angeles holdings.

In the days and weeks after Monroe died Melson, who received nothing in Monroe's will (the bulk of the estate and her personal effects were left to Lee and Paula Strasberg, her acting coaches), made sure the filing cabinets ended up in her possession.
From the twitter this week:

Publishing: Why Warren Buffett should be more like Liza Minnelli

BBCWW Seeking An Online Partner For Lonely Planet

Who's Killing The Dewey Decimal System?

And in sports - England played to a thrilling draw against India on Sunday: BBC

Friday, February 25, 2011

Yahoo (and Now Google) and The Semantic Web

News from Google about their use of Micro formats reminded me of something Yahoo announced over two years ago. First here is a snip from the Google announcement:

That’s a tough problem with the current web, according to Google’s Jack Menzel, the company’s product management director for search, despite the apparent ease that Watson had besting human Jeopardy opponents.

“We are still grasping for the Holy Grail of natural language search,” Menzel said. “We take the approach that the internet exists, and it is so big and Wild West-like that you have to take it for what it is. It is this giant immutable thing that will do its own thing, despite what you want it to do.”

The dream of a structured web has proven nearly impossible to create in practice as it requires coordination on building specs and then that web page builders take the time to mark their pages up in complicated XML. A more grassroots effort, known as Microformats, has had more success by focusing on just a few kinds of data and making innovative use of HTML, the lingua franca of the web, to simplify publishing meta-data. Google introduced its own suggestions of how websites could start publishing Google-friendly meta-data in 2009 (such as how many stars a rating is), with its so-called Rich Snippets.

And now for the first time, a mainstream search engine is built entirely around webpages that use microformats and other structured data.

So for instance, Google is able to show a searcher only Pho recipes that use tofu that take less than a half an hour to make, not by searching for pages that include the word “Pho” and “Tofu” and “Recipe”, but by actually knowing that a recipe for something called “Pho” has an ingredient “Tofu” and a listed cooking time of 1 hour (for example, the is done after publisher’s wrapping the word “1 Hour” in a defined HTML tag ()and then interpreting that in the search results ).

Here is the repost from March 14, 2008 (and some of what I comment on still applies):

In their continued strategic realignment and adoption of open standards, Yahoo has announced they are supporting a number of semantic web standards that will enable third parties (publishers) to augment and enhance native Yahoo search results. From Techcrunch:
A few details are being disclosed now, and Yahoo promises more in a few weeks. They are saying that they will support a number of microformats at the start: hCard, hCalendar, hReview, hAtom and XFN. They will support vocabulary components from Dublin Core, Creative Commons, FOAF, GeoRSS, MediaRSS, and others. They will support RDFa and eRDF markup to embed these into existing HTML pages. Finally, Yahoo will support the Amazon A9 OpenSearch specification with extensions for structured queries to deep web data.
There is a lot to get excited about in the Yahoo announcement(s) - and in reading the comments associated with the Techcrunch post others are interested as well - but perhaps the best thing to consider is that the weight of Yahoo will press faster adoption of some of these standards. In particular, microformats if adopted by publishers could/would change the rules of content syndication and lead to far wider distribution of publisher content. This in turn would lead to higher pass through traffic generating product or advertising sales for publishers.

I only became aware of microformats in the past six months or so but the concept derives from a practical problem. How often - like me - have you been frustrated by the need to copy down an address, or details of a book review, resume details, or even a cooking recipe. Well, microformats can standardize the manner in which these items are published to the web enabling users like me to access and use this content as uniform packages of information or data independent of the publisher. For example, if I wanted to create a list of recipes from ten different cookbooks, I could assemble these and they would all appear together in consistent form. That would be a huge practical improvement on copy and paste.

Image then how this could impact publishers which publish information that could be disaggregated. This could include every topic from travel to technology to cooking to sewing and knitting. A single dress pattern (Mrs PND believes no one sews anymore but no matter), which typically existed with many others in a book (or magazine) can now be extracted, indexed and monetized. Just think how many discrete elements could exist at a typical publishing house if they were disaggregated from their 'mother' products.

While the benefits of the Yahoo initiatives can be debated, at their core is a potential transformation in the manner in which information is produced and disseminated. The technology is not new, but the weight of Yahoo could propel the adoption and that would be a good thing. While publishers will be slow and cautious (some would say cumbersome), they should become the biggest beneficiaries of this initiative: They own massive quantities of content that has traditionally been packaged to discourage narrow use of content. Microformats and resulting syndication models will open up those content repositories and fundamentally change publishing.

Perhaps I could also add that these changes may enable publishers to reestablish stronger influence over the distribution of their content which has been lost in the physical world to Amazon and B&N. Maybe and perhaps...

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Hong Kong: Piggee at the Market

A weekly image from my archive. Click on the image to make it larger.

From a street market in Hong Kong in 1997. Someone's dinner is being delivered. Interestingly, I have a similar image taken on a prior visit to Hong Kong in 1974.

Hong Kong: Piggee at the Market, 1997
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Monday, February 21, 2011

Media Week (V4-N8): Demise of Research Libraries, Online Education, Sir John Soane, Cuban Bookfair

From The Chronicle of Higher Education on the demise of higher ed as we know it (Chronicle):

There are more than 150 former normal schools like Winona, educating hundreds of thousands of students nationwide. Nearly all followed an identical progression: They became teachers colleges, then dropped the "teachers," then dropped the "college." Usually, they are medium-size, relatively obscure, and located away from central metropolitan areas. That's why directions on how to get there are often embedded in their name—Northern Iowa, Eastern Michigan, University of Maine at Presque Isle, University of Wisconsin at Oshkosh. Most of the rest, like Winona, are stamped with the reassuring label of "State." Why did almost every institution do exactly the same thing in exactly the same way? Because we have only one way of thinking about higher-education excellence in this country. We are all entranced by visions of the academic city-state, the palace of learning on the hill. That's where the administrators and faculty who populated the former normal schools came from, and where they wanted to return. If their alma mater wouldn't have them, a copy would do.
The day of reckoning has been delayed in higher education because many of the most obvious disrupter candidates, for-profit colleges, have spent the past decade feeding on the federal student-loan system rather than delivering high-quality courses to students at a low price. But as the raging debate over for-profits shows, the era of easy money and lax regulation is ending. If federal officials do their job right, future for-profits will have to reorient toward high-quality classes and competitive prices. It will be very hard for traditional institutions to respond.

And in a similar vein from Inside Higher Ed:

As a result, every state has its own rules and requirements for the chartering, authorization and oversight of institutions of higher education. And that oversight has been notable for its inconsistency across jurisdictions: states such as New York have long exercised very close control over every aspect of institutional operations for both public and independent colleges and universities, while other states have had a history of minimal regulation. This regulatory patchwork has always been a matter of some concern, particularly as institutions expanded through the establishment of branch campuses located in different states. But it has been the advent of the Internet, and the explosive growth of online learning in the U.S., that has dramatically brought to the fore the importance -- and arguably the perverse impact -- of 50-plus different regulatory schemes for the supervision of higher education.

If you are in London with a spare afternoon go visit Sir John Soane's house. (I've mentioned this before). The Independent offers a hint at the museum's restoration:

And so, Soane's home and museum, built between 1792 and 1824, remains his most potent memorial. Yet, for the best part of two centuries, what lay behind the entrance door at number 13 (and numbers 12 and 14 to either side) remained something of a secret, except to architects and cultured individuals. Until about ten years ago, you could walk straight through into the eerily top-lit museum and find no more than a handful of visitors there. Today, you're more likely to have to queue to get in. The museum and other rooms are laden with hundreds of works of art and historical objects, including the sarcophagus of Seti I, Roman marbles, prints by Hogarth, and paintings by Canaletto and Turner.

The museum is the most famous segment of the architecture, but the seductions continue, room after room: the Picture Gallery, with walls composed of folding panels; the domed and mirrored ceiling of the primrose-yellow Breakfast Room; the library, gothic in manner and a rich red; the Monument Court and Monk's Yard, replete with architectural fragments, including chunks of medieval stonework from the Palace of Westminster.

The new scheme, Opening up the Soane, will lead to the full-access restoration of Soane's private rooms, crypt and catacomb, ante-room, Tivoli Recess – currently a lavatory – and a model room; for the first time since 1837, visitors will be able to pore over Soane's 80 historical architectural models, the largest collection of its kind in Britain.

ABC News covers Cuba's bookfair and for those who think BookExpo should be opened to the public here's a snip for you (ABC):

The high walls of El Morro and La Cabana, which offer a spectacular view of Havana's bay, house a giant celebration that mingles literary chitchat with an exuberant popular fair where some 6 million visitors socialize, browse for sandwiches of sizzling pork and scramble for novels, essays and scientific tomes.

With an illiteracy rate near zero, Cuba boasts that its International Book Fair — which turns 20 this year — has little in common with what it calls more elitist events in the Americas and Europe.

"This fair is oriented toward the reader ... as a chance to acquire books and have a dialogue with the authors, both Cubans and foreigners," organizer Edel Morales told The Associated Press.

"It is a notable difference to others in the world where people rarely attend," he said. "Here it is the people who make the fair."

I'm having trouble believing that 6 million number myself....

From the twitter this week:

Book Lovers Fear Dim Future for Notes in the Margins -

Exclusive: Kno Student Tablet Start-Up in Talks to Sell Off Tablet Part of Its Business

BBCWW To Buy Out Rest Of Lonely Planet

And in sport the London 2012 Olympics schedule is published: BBC Sport - London 2012 Olympic Games schedule released Something to look forward to.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Girl in the Klong: Thailand 1969

Girl in the Klong: Thailand 1969
A weekly image from my archive. Click on the image to make it larger.

In Bangkok, the river is the plumbing and the highway. This young woman has been sent out to do the laundry and will probably catch up on some personal hygiene. She's clearly less than impressed by the tourist boat and the ogling tourists but likely resigned to the frequent interruptions.

On the best of days the Chao Phraya, as it flows through Bangkok, is a brown mess of dirt, flotsam and boat traffic. Here, down one of the tributaries or Klong's the water is less brown than a deathly gray, and with houses built tight-knit and literally on top of the water there's no need of imagination to discern what's in all that grayness.

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Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Borders Trilogy: I'll tell you how it ends.

So Borders capitulates, and thus begins the inevitable transition we have all long anticipated to become smaller, leaner and possibly profitable. The company is now embarking on the third phase of its' existence which has seen it pass through the innovative, entrepreneurial, mercurial phase represented by the founders Tom and Louis Borders to the second kicked off by their IPO and subsequent purchase by K-Mart to this third phase from which they are unlikely to emerge.

The middle or second phase is what got this business in trouble and anyone working with Borders over the past 10-15yrs (as I have) must have seen this was a dead bookseller walking over that time. Make no mistake: This was inevitable. Serial management teams with no real experience intent on "disruption" and "reinvention" which were all "strategies" that hid their inability to understand and address their market effectively. So poor were these teams that even with 'retail' experience they continued a retail expansion plan that's proven so expensive it can't sustain the core business. If that wasn't enough they proved unable to manage inventory and to understand demand in any effective manner. They believed implementing new technology was the key but implemented a set of software tools that not only contributed to their problems it caused even bigger ones.

Long since abandoned, that experience pales in comparison to their biggest mistake (and in the context of Borders this is saying something) which was to 'invest' in the internet via a deal with Amazon. It would be like American investing in air travel by sending all their customers to Jet Blue. A legion of baffling decisions yet this one has a bizarre coda: At a time when the internet book selling market is essentially lost and their physical retail presence under significant threat the company decided to start a book selling web site and in the process wasted cash and management time and expertise in the process.

Will Borders exit bankruptcy? That's an open question. Certainly the economy is staggering into a recovery which could give investors some encouragement but the book market is migrating rapidly away from physical books and therefore the horizon is very short for any investment to return capital - like three years short in my view. So gone is the 'comfort' that an investor might have that in the worst of circumstances they could sit on the investment for five or so years. That's off the table. Alternatively, Borders could rebuild around digital content; however, we know that's closed off to them to because of (non)decisions made long ago. I expect liquidation is a distinct possibility and then the question becomes what happens to all that stock?

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

NetGalley Add Penguin

From their press release:

Penguin Group (USA) is teaming up with NetGalley to deliver galleys and promotional materials digitally. Starting this winter, Penguin will use NetGalley to share secure digital galleys--including in full-color--to reviewers, media contacts, booksellers, librarians, educators and other professional readers. Readers will be able to view select Penguin titles on computers and a variety of eReader devices. “I’m very excited about our partnership with NetGalley,” Matthew Boyd, Publishing Coordinator at Penguin Group (USA) said. “Providing books to readers in as many formats as possible has always been important to us, and NetGalley now allows us to accomplish this at the galley stage.

The partnership also furthers Penguin’s commitment to the environment, as we strive to find eco-friendly solutions at every phase of our publishing process.” Over 19,000 professional readers and 85 pu. blishers already use NetGalley.

Readers can register for free at Readers can request titles from the catalog, or they can be invited to view titles directly by publishers

And I mentioned NetGalley before.

Beyond the Book Interview with Me: eBooks and ISBNs

Beyond the book interviewed me last week about the eBook ISBN study that I conducted for BISG:
Not so long ago, a book was an unmistakable object. Then someone came along and started digitizing content, and very soon, books were something else, something much more than ink on dead trees. That transformation, indeed the redefinition of books, matters enormously to readers and publishers, as well as retailers and librarians. Without a way to identify “books” as they are published, information and creativity could be orphaned.

To discuss this challenge, CCC’s Chris Kenneally recently spoke with publishing consultant Michael Cairns who had just completed a report for the Book Industry Study Group examining practices in the identification of e-books in all their vast variety. The research turned up several surprising findings, as well as revealed a tension between US publishers and their counterparts around the world.

“We’re in this transition between the sale of a physical book to one that’s a digital book, and in that transition, some aspects of the ISBN number are not being upheld as they were in the physical world,” notes Cairns, who is a highly-regarded blogger at PersonaNonData. “And when there’s a breakdown, that starts to increase the likelihood that the supply chain does not operate as efficiently as perhaps it should or could. And so that’s a real issue.”

For E-Books an ISBN Dilemma [21:36m]: Hide Player | Play in Popup | Download

Monday, February 14, 2011

Makinson's Passage to India

Pearson's John Makinson gives an interview to Livemint (India) on the company's business strategy in that country where he also comments on Pearson's recent purchase of Indian education company TutorVista (LiveMint):

Pearson Plc, which recently bought a controlling stake of Indian education company TutorVista, wants to shed public perception of a publishing firm and establish itself more as an education service provider. Pearson India chairman John Makinson, who recently visited New Delhi, said in an interview that school education is now one of its key focus in the country, which can be replicated in other nations such as South Africa. He also said the Indian government’s decision to open up the education market is a welcome move for global education firms. Edited excerpts:

How much is acquiring TutorVista going to help Pearson?

Priority focus: Makinson says two key areas for the company in India are vocational education and schools. Pradeep Gaur/Mint

Priority focus: Makinson says two key areas for the company in India are vocational education and schools.

Pradeep Gaur/Mint

For the last three years, we have been focusing in the Indian education space. The two key areas are vocational education and school education space. Two years back, we had two partnerships, one with TutorVista, which was largely an online tutoring firm, and the other with Educomp Solutions Ltd, on vocational education.

We had really not thought about the school education space. After talking to the TutorVista management, we realized they have a vision for school education. It sounded sensible to us and we thought of honing that in India. The challenge for a company like Pearson is it’s a large opportunity, which is scalable. It has to be delivered at a relatively low price. We have software, platform, we had other resources but we did not have the dedicated culture of growing schools. By combining the entrepreneurial skill of TutorVista with our global experience as a global education company, we thought we can achieve more success here.


Sunday, February 13, 2011

Media Week (V4-N7): Underused eBook features, UK Tuition, Mills&Boone, Coin Art

Professors are not rushing to adopt the newest eBooks features (Chronicle):

Publishers studying the effectiveness of their latest interactive e-textbooks are finding that the biggest challenge is getting professors to use the new features of the digital texts.

“On the instructor side, that’s where the inertia is,” says Jay Chakrapani, McGraw-Hill’s digital general manager for higher education. “That’s the biggest challenge that we’re all facing.”

Another publisher, John Wiley and Sons, commissioned a study in 2009 of the use of its WileyPLUS online learning tools by the University of Tennessee’s Institute for Assessment and Evaluation of nearly 500 students at 11 two-year and four-year colleges.

Instructors selected for participation all had at least two years of experience with the program, says Petra Steriti, Wiley’s manager for market research, but instructor use varied widely. “Not all instructors make students fully aware of what’s available,” she says.

Wiley plans to offer more tutorials to give professors a better understanding of the capabilities of the system, which can be used to quiz students on reading material and provide instant feedback.

Tuition rises in the UK have resulted in riots but will tuition waivers ease the pain (Inside HigherEd):
The British government ministers hope that the large tuition-fee waiver for poor students proposed by the University of Cambridge will pile pressure on the rest of the higher education sector as institutions approach D-Day for deciding charges for 2012-3.

Under the plans -- revealed first by Times Higher Education -- the university would charge the maximum £9,000 fee (more than $14,400) but offer a £3,000-a-year “waiver” (more than $4,800) for students from households earning less than £25,000 a year (just over $40,000).

But Cambridge has been accused of playing into the government’s hands with the proposals, which also recommend cutting aid packages by more than half – a move that would leave students with less money in their pockets and the Treasury with more.

Other university vice-chancellors may carp that Cambridge has an ­unfair advantage, given that it has a relatively low intake of poor students compared with other institutions. David Willetts, the universities and science minister, is known to be watching developments at the universities of Cambridge and Oxford closely because of the ramifications that decisions at the ancient institutions with their democratic governance structures could have for fees set elsewhere.
A documentary explores writing for Mills & Boone (Telegraph):

Actually, this is why I’ve never been hooked on M&Bs myself – even at that age when teenage girls discover them and develop what is usually a temporary addiction. I’ve always found the characters unrealistic in their stereotypical attractiveness and conduct. However, lots of women – 1.3 million a month – never tire of the tanned hunks and usually sappy females (however “sassy-mouthed’’ they might be). And this is why Roger Sanderson, who has written almost 50 M&B novels under the pen-name Gill Sanderson, says he would never try to introduce a less than perfect Alpha male as the hero. “He’s got to have a good body, and there’s no way he can be fat or badly dressed,” he says in a new documentary, Guilty Pleasures, which explores the enduring phenomenon of M&B. “And I never have – and never will have – a red-headed hero.”

This seems to me a bit rich coming from a balding man in his seventies. But Roger knows his audience’s predilections.

This is made abundantly clear in Guilty Pleasures, which focuses on three women for whom M&Bs are an obsession; Hiroko Honmo, a demure housewife in Tokyo, Shirley Davies, a single mother from Warrington, and Shumita Didi Singh who lives in India. “Women want to read about their ideal man and for most of them, he doesn’t have red hair,” confirms Julie Moggan, the director of the documentary. In fact, their dream man is someone who looks exactly like Stephen Muzzonigro, a male model from New York, who features on countless Mills & Boon covers in passionate embraces and saucy clinches, depending on the imprint.

Simon Heffer in the Independent mourns the loss of coin art:

In the mid-1960s, it was still common to find Victorian pennies and ha’pennies in one’s change. Most were worn almost smooth, but some were not, suggesting that they had, at some point in their century-long existence, been hoarded for years or even decades before being put back into circulation. Silver coins of that age had disappeared for the simple reason that they were entirely silver: as were all threepences, sixpences, shillings, florins and half-crowns minted before 1920.

The coinage mirrored the decline of the country. Impoverished after the Great War, we made our silver coins only half silver. After 1947, and the blow dealt to our prosperity by the Second World War, these coins were entirely cupro-nickel, and the silver threepenny piece was replaced by the dodecagonal brass threepenny bit.

The half-silver coins lingered for decades: my father, in about 1967, had a huge sweet jar full of pre-1947 half-crowns on his desk at home. And it was one such coin that prompted my blinding revelation about the beauty of our coinage. Others may disagree, but I do not believe we ever minted a more ravishing coin than the half-crown of Edward VII, the design for which, with only the slightest modification, was used on the half-crowns of his son until 1927.

Heffernan thinks there's problems in the coffee shop (NYT):

Many indie New York City cafes now heavily restrict, or ban outright, the use of Kindles, Nooks and iPads. Evidently, too many coffee shops in town have had their ambience wrecked when itinerant word processors with laptops turn the tables into office space. Sure, that phenomenon can be depressing — whether you’re a scornful lady who lunches or the nomadic freelancer who fields glares. And full-dress computers are perhaps too much personal furniture for cafes to accommodate. But banning devices the size of books, like Kindles and iPads, is going too far, and it’s anathema to the character and history of cafes.

Unwholesome things have always happened wherever people drink coffee together. They gossip and complain about powerful jerks; they read, write and scheme about their own comebacks. On the sidelines of those conversations — muttering, silently judging, chiming in — have always been loners who loiter with books and newspapers all day, ready to be recruited into conversation. This might come as hard news to would-be restaurateurs looking only to taste that sweet margin of coffee markup, but loiterers and readers must be part of the cafe equation. People who sit at bars are going to make out and brawl; people who sit in cafes are going to read and talk.

From the twitter this week:

Martin Amis claims only a 'serious brain injury' could make him write children's lit Always one for a quote

Bertelsmann: Could Repay All Liabilities By 2014 - Document - Does this mean acquisitions are on the way?

And in sports: Rooney's goal

Friday, February 11, 2011

Repost: Death of the Big Box

With the imminent crash of Borders into bankruptcy I was reminded of this post from December 3rd, 2008.

Travel up Route 17 in northern New Jersey and you traverse the spectrum of retailing. These stores - from Ikea to K-mart - represent the shop windows on late 20th century retailing but, in contrast to their apparent ubiquity, the days of the stand-alone big box may be numbered. A number of years ago, I saw some old photos of Route 17 and was shocked to learn it used to be a four lane (two each side) parkway with a wide grass median strip bisecting its length. Today, it is a clogged eight-lane shopping aisle and is just one of similar examples across the US from Rockville Pike in MD to Beach Boulevard in Orange County, CA.

Barnes and Noble, on their call a week ago, noted that many of their leases are coming due and these will be renegotiated at lower rates. While this sounds like good news to shareholders, the current dire economic situation coupled with the Border's situation will result in a significant reduction in superstore locations. Projecting current physical retailing trends will make many current locations simply unprofitable even at significantly lower rents. We may be witnessing the demise of the suburban book superstore and suburban consumers may be indifferent. Online retailing is going to be the huge winner across all retail segments, but particularly in book retailing.

We have a perfect storm: An excess of media options reducing the time traditionally spent reading books, the economic slow down reducing all spending, the increasing acceptance and comfort of online retailing to virtually all consumers and the advent of the online superstore which encourages a cost-conscious basket approach to consumption. Increasingly all of us - not just those of us who have been checking our bank account and buying airline tickets online for years - will be buying everything online, at the best combination of pricing and free delivery, and all without dealing with the expense and hassle of traveling.

Multi-store malls will continue to live on for many years. In contrast, we will see many large, empty retailing boxes punctuating the sides of our traditional highway shopping aisles. Already this year, the big-box retailing environment is dire with a range of store liquidations and bankruptcies from Linen & Things to Circuit City. In years past, other retailers would fill these spaces with their new formats or new concepts, but those days are gone never to return. Retailing innovation - to the extent that it exists - is emerging on the web but not in physical retailing. The big losers will be the real estate owners who won't be able to find tenants (there are only so many ice rinks or roller rinks you can have in any one community).

Superstore physical book retailing, particularly its suburban version, may be a casualty. For a strong retailer like Barnes & Noble there will be plenty of time to adapt but others will fail. The current recession is going to change many things and some business segments just won't recover as consumers transfer all their shopping online. The economic crisis will push retailing over an imaginary Rubicon: More physical stores are unprofitable so they close, which reduces consumer access and pushes the consumer online. The cycle repeats itself and big-box book retailing will be no different. Ironically, big-box retailing made shopping convenient for suburbanites and retailers chased the consumer diaspora with vigor. The convenience that suburbanites sought is now the demise of the same retailers that promoted convenience. Physical can't compete with virtual. Tant pis.

But perhaps it's not all bad news. Mitigation may be driven by a population migration back into city centers which is most apparent in big cities like NYC, Washington and even Los Angeles. Couple this urban population growth with the daily office crowd and we have the re-genesis of an old phenomena: Main street shopping, which doesn't attempt to compete with the webstores abundance but serves deeper consumer needs. Retailing on a small scale operating with smaller inventories that turn rapidly, defined as 'scarcity' merchandising. The notion that if you don't buy it now it will be gone - which is the philosophy of The Gap, The Limited and some others.

Books are sold exceptionally well online but their merchandising could adapt to smaller format retailing. Urban book retailing will continue to be dominated by chains; costs will simply be prohibitive for independents to support sophisticated merchandising and supply chains that will be needed in the type of retail environment foreseen. Regardless, store size will shrink as the inventory mix skews to movie style 'openings' and 'events' designed to bring in a volume of buyers in a short time frame. A publisher once told me that if he owned a store he would only stock 40 best sellers. That concept (or a variation) will become the next phase in physical book retailing. Will it be the last hurrah?

Thursday, February 10, 2011

The Orpheum Los Angeles in Neon

The Orpheum Los Angeles in Neon
A weekly image from my archive. Click on the image to make it larger.

A few years ago when BookExpo was in Los Angeles, I had some time to walk around the downtown area and put together this collection of neon theater facades.
I like neon and in walking along Broadway in Los Angeles there is a feast of it adorning the front of the many old theatres that formed the core of LA's theater district from approximately 1910 - 1940.

LA city government has announced a $30mm restoration project for this area. It would be great if they could recreate the glamor and excitement that pervaded this area in the 20s and 30s.

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Tuesday, February 08, 2011

Welcome to the migration (and other lessons)

The day before we went live with our first web product at Bowker, customer service were fielding the typical customer complaints. One customer in Cleveland was missing volume two of a three-volume set and another in Jacksonville was questioning their standing order discount. These queries and many more like them were synonymous with moving physical units to customers but all that changed the day we went live.

The changes we were forced to make didn’t happen instantaneously and, while progressive, only became apparent when we reflected periodically on our progress. Over time, ‘customer service’ morphed into ‘technical support’ and became concerned with logins, sluggish search times and IP ranges. Customer service was only one example of a line function forced to reevaluate how it operated and interacted with customers. I wish I could admit that our transition was managed and handled methodically and perfectly but, like many businesses in our situation, we oscillated at times between confused and frantic.

We did reach a point where we took the unanticipated in stride and became expert at dealing with unforeseen developments. Ironically, the supposed ‘impersonal’ nature of the internet created an environment for us where we were far closer to the customer than we ever were in the print world.

Expediency can define the future

When I joined Bowker in 1999, the future of our business was seriously challenged. No need was more imperative than that for a web version of our primary database product Books In Print. Deluged with cancelled print orders, we couldn’t even engage our customers in a discussion about migration because we had no online option. Expediency ruled our web development: We had little or no time to do extensive user testing and involve our customers in any UI development; and, with limited options available to us, we chose to replicate the functionality of our CDROM product. That strategy proved highly effective (though perhaps not optimal) and we launched the product in 2000. That’s when the fun really began.

Getting a field sales force in place became a strategic imperative if we wanted to effectively sell our online products. Selling static print products is completely different from selling an online product, which can be sold effectively via telesales; however, we had an appallingly bad approach to the sales function prior to 2001. As we implemented the field sales effort, the company became a more effective sales organization, and we gained deeper insight into our market. (I’m glossing over how difficult the task of putting a new team in place was – maybe for a later post). Feedback from the sales force, coupled with a directive from me that product managers and senior staff make frequent ‘visits’ into the market with the sales force meant we became far more aware of and attuned to what our customers were looking for. Had this sales organization been in place prior to our web transition, it would have fed our initial web development effort.

Who's your buyer?

Making the assumption your buyers are the same in changing circumstances should be challenged before you waste a lot of time. In the move to field sales we also found that the buyers of online products at our institutional customers (mainly libraries) were frequently different from the typical buyers of the print titles. The money for electronic products often came out of a different budget and, increasingly, consortia (group buying at various levels) sales became a regular component of our selling process. Historically, our sales approach hadn’t been sophisticated enough to address these changing market dynamics but we addressed that issue by hiring more effective sales management, which brought a different philosophy to sales that we hadn’t had in the past.

More staff attuned to the market did lead to more insight. An important missing input to our initial development effort was the deep knowledge about how our customers were using our products. This sounds startling (and is) but what became clear to us was that many customers of the print version were using BIP as a simple look-up tool. This print ‘look up’ tool was pulled off the shelf to find an ISBN or confirm a title name and then the volume was returned to its place. When Amazon came along (and that data was never licensed to them by Bowker) retailers and librarians saw a far simpler and effective mechanism for finding this information. Suddenly we were competing with free, made worse by the fact we didn’t have an online version. (So, I guess ‘competing’ overstates our position). Had we understood their behavior at a deeper level during our development effort, it might have impacted how we designed the search and UI. That said, we were lucky enough to do very well with the initial development and the team pulled off a triumph in the launch and subsequent roll-out. While it sounds obvious, understanding how your customers use your products and what issues they face in their daily business should be considered vital to your initial planning process. Don’t take it for granted you understand this; prove it via primary research.

Renewals are about usage

In the first year of launch, our renewal rate for was in the 70% range. Feeble, and, in a market that doesn’t grow, finding new customers to take the place of the 30% subscribers we were losing became an impossibility. Admittedly, our first-year subscriber base was low; however, this was the future of the company and, unless we raised the renewal rate, the future success of would have been in jeopardy. As any sales manager knows, selling to a current customer is a lot easier than selling to a new one. A focus on the customer experience - particularly user stats - and strong sales management enabled us to get the renewal rate up to the low-to-mid 90% range, which is an incredible improvement and a testament to the strength of the sales team we had in place at the time.

As I look back on our transition, I see three distinct stages - two of which I have described above. Firstly, the product development and market assessment phase, where we conceived the product. Secondly, the management of the implications of this transition (particularly on customer service and sales). Which leads me to the third phase of our migration process - maintenance.

Significant in our sales improvement was the sales administration support we gave sales reps in two areas: user statistics and training. When we started to analyze our renewal statistics in the early post-launch years, we saw we could predict which customers were likely to renew based on how and how much they were using the product. Sounds obvious, but we were learning as we went.

We used this data to intervene throughout the subscription term via sales and sales admin outreach and training. On-site customer training in our market wasn’t a new thing and our parent company had embarked on a similar effort several years before. Our customer training program was designed to ensure that customers understood how to use our product and what features of the product were available to them. We hired specific trainers to travel around the country giving these sessions (often in a group setting) at client sites.

Our trainers were able to generate significant customer engagement and the program proved instrumental in pushing the renewal numbers higher each year. The payback was measurable but having trainer staff face-to-face with customers also created a feedback loop for product development as we considered new enhancements to the product. Since we sold multiple products to the same institution, the trainers often delivered multiple product training sessions during each institutional visit.

Maturity shouldn't mean complacency

I often reflect on how distinct these migration phases were from development and launch through to maintenance, and how our activities changed over time to reflect those changes. For example, in the early launch days, our sales staff was focused on making sales and finding customers yet, as the cycle reached maturity and our renewals exceeded 90%, the sales activity became focused on making sure the customers were truly engaged with our product(s). New business was still important since any percentage point below 100% renewal means the organization needs to keep finding new customers to fill the gap (but the sales person’s time spent becomes weighted differently).

Migrating from a print focus to online delivery changes every part of a business and, in the discussion above, I’ve barely scratched the surface of how one organization made this tremendous turnaround over 36mths or so. In different circumstances we might have done this faster – the company was sold in the middle of this transition – but I do think the company managed exceedingly well to reestablish a future for itself that, in 1999, didn’t look so rosy. One note of caution: The maintenance phase can be dangerous because it has an ugly sister named complacency.

Sunday, February 06, 2011

Media Week (V4-N5): Eadweard Muybridge, Open Courseware, Education Aps, Lexis, Mother Russia, Taschen

A fascinating review of Eadweard Muybridge in a Time of Change at the San Francisco Museum of Art (The Smart Set):
This thought struck me while walking through the recent exhibit of Muybride’s work at London’s Tate Britain. The retrospective opened amidst new austerity programs in the U.K. The right-leaning coalition government announced drastic cuts in public spending, slashing budgets for cultural institutions and universities, cutting back on social services, setting up plans to sell off forest lands that have been protected since the Magna Carta. Last spring in Washington, D.C., Muybridge’s sepia landscapes and innovative motion studies captivated patrons at the Corcoran Gallery not far from where Congress debated bank regulations and cuts in social programs. But those are political questions, and the Muybridge exhibit was about art, and the particular passions and inventions of a man who pioneered the science of photography. As the exhibition showed so well, Muybridge motion studies were about the experience of stopping time, and turning motion into mechanical reproduction. The show didn’t mention the 19th-century economic collapse. Maybe it didn’t want to remind us that industrialization and the annihilation of time and space had it collateral damage.
Across the room from these publicity photographs, you learn that Muybridge was a murderer. The show displayed sensational news accounts and front page headlines that recount the night in October 1874 when the 44-year-old Muybridge tracked down Harry Larkyns, the alleged lover of his wife, Flora. Greeting Larkyns with the words “My name is Muybridge and I have a message for you from my wife,” Muybridge shot Larkyns in the chest. He died minutes later.

What sparked Muybridge rage? Coincidentally, it was a photograph. He found one of his infant son inscribed on the back by his wife with the words “Little Harry.” This, for Muybridge, confirmed what he had suspected for some time: that Larkyns, a tall and attractive dilettante and scam artist who had become close friends with his wife, was in fact the father of his child. While a jury acquitted Muybridge, believing his defense of temporary insanity due to domestic trauma, this aspect of Muybridge’s life haunts the work throughout the show. Here was a man who embodied the very metaphors that link the camera with the gun. It is difficult not to shake the reality that all those intricate, stop-motion photographs were taken by a murderer. And then I began to notice all the destruction that surrounded me. Most acutely true in the motion studies, there was throughout the show a deep sense that what you are looking at was in the process of becoming marginal, or insignificant, or destroyed. The horse. The vast landscapes of California, Oregon, and the Alaskan coast. The way of life for the Modocs. The economic collapse.
Inside Higher Ed takes a look at free on line course ware via a new book on the subject by Taylor Walsh (IHE)

In Unlocking the Gates, Walsh profiles current online courseware projects at MIT, Yale, Carnegie Mellon, the University of California at Berkeley, and India’s National Programme on Technology Enhanced Learning. She also reviews the cautionary tales of Fathom and AllLearn, the profit-seeking harbingers of the Open Educational Resources (OER) movement, and thus lays out the conundrum facing their nominally successful offspring: As pressure mounts on online courseware projects to demonstrate their value and/or become self-supporting, will the world's premier universities be able to stay above the fray of online degree programs and pay-to-play course materials? Can they afford to stay pure, righteous, and unaccountable?

Inside Higher Ed recently caught up with Walsh to explore these questions and others. The interview was conducted asynchronously and online; Walsh received no money, and Inside Higher Ed received no academic credit.

From the Boston Globe a short piece on experiments by education publishers in launching apps into middle and high schools (Boston):

Although both publishers have been aggressively moving from paper textbooks to digital and networked products for years, the two iPad pilot programs indicate that they’re eager to explore whether such devices are the next phase for textbooks.

For the publishers, these iPad explorations are crucial initiatives. As school districts demand more technologically sophisticated teaching materials, platforms like the iPad serve as high-profile initiatives for publishers seeking valuable educational contracts. Programs that incorporate devices like the iPad can also open the door to public and private grants that are designed to encourage innovation.

Many states, like California and Virginia, are also now encouraging school districts to experiment with digital textbooks as a way to save money.

Why start on the iPad, as opposed to competing tablets and electronic reading devices?“Because this is a sexy device,’’ said Bethlam Forsa, executive vice president for content development and publishing operations at Houghton Mifflin. “Students are no different than consumers. They are excited to work with something like this.’’

LexisNexis has launched a Litigation Profile Suite (PR):
As the first product in a series of releases that will be part of the LexisNexis Litigation Profile Suite, LexisNexis Expert Witness Profilesis a Web-based solution that addresses this issue by harnessing the largest and most comprehensive collection of information about expert witnesses in North America, which was developed for direct use by litigators. Built on the New Lexis® technology platform, this rich set of content combined with easy to use analytical tools, enables users to more effectively evaluate and report on experts retained by opposing counsel or ones they may want to retain themselves. Resources within LexisNexis Expert Witness Profiles include an authoritative, exclusive database of more than 1,000,000 records on 220,000-plus experts from IDEX®, acquired by LexisNexis in 2008. The collection of information available to evaluate these experts includes transcripts from previous depositions and trials, resumes and CVs, verdicts and settlements in past cases, testimony challenges, news, publications, and Lexis® Web searching.

Expert Witness Profiles also provides customers with the ability to manage the information they collect about experts by helping them aggregate volumes of data into single, easy to read reports. Interactive charts and graphs allow users to identify trends and meaningful information to assist them in shaping their case strategy. Users can also quickly illustrate the how often an expert has been hired by plaintiff or defense counsel, the percentage of cases in which the expert has testified for the prevailing party, losing party or in cases where there was a settlement, and the percentage breakdown of cases by area of law in which the expert was retained.

Why do authors love Mother Russia, you ask? The Observer wondered as well:

The country's appeal to Olga Grushin, Gary Shteyngart and David Bezmozgis is easy to understand. They were all born in the Soviet Union, emigrating to North America as children. They inherited a folk memory of suffering, plus the minutely descriptive Russian language. The dying Soviet Union, in which shortages could sometimes be overcome by ruses and yarns, was a natural breeding ground for fabulists. Finally, a system that had seemed adamantine crumbled; the world broke open (Grushin's The Dream Life of Sukhanov wonderfully captures the disorientation caused by this rupture). Add the galvanising effects of immigration to that legacy and you have a propitious background for novelists.

Writers born elsewhere tend to be captivated first by the grandeur and reckless honesty of the great Russian authors; some might always view the country though the prism of Tolstoy, Dostoevsky, Chekhov and Vasily Grossman. But modern novelists are also drawn in by the same historical electricity and convulsions that fed those giants' work. Think of James Meek's magnificent civil-war saga The People's Act of Love, which features castrates, cannibalism and stranded foreign armies: all-too-real elements of the Russian 20th century, with its camps, famines and mass murder, the whole doomed, rotten Soviet experiment.

Relatively calm though the country's recent past has been, and volatile as other parts of the post-9/11 world have become, Russia's sheer eventfulness is still a pull. It is still more an empire than a state, with an empire's patchwork variety and quirks. As an old joke has it, Russia is again in a period of transition between two periods of transition. It remains a place where anything can happen, and does: shamanism in Buryatia, sectarianism in the Caucasus, and capitalism, or at least a warped Russian version of it, more or less everywhere. A great slab of unprocessed pain sits toxically at and on the country's heart.

Off the top shelf: A new finding may explain why some works of canonical poetry were so successful in the 18th century (Telegraph):

This particular collection, ‘The Works of the Earls of Rochester and Roscommon’, was so popular that it was reprinted over 20 times in the 18th century.

It is the first time the connection between the popularity of this bestselling poetic miscellany and the erotic verses in ‘The Cabinet of Love’ has been made, indicating that high art - canonical poetry - and low art were packaged together.

Speaking of which, the WSJ visits with Benedikt Taschen (WSJ):
Just like the scavengers in these Hollywood hills, Mr. Taschen is well aware of those circling and waiting for the right moment to pounce. Not many publishers can be heralded and begrudged at the same time as vigorously as he has over the past 30 years. He doesn't adhere to rules; he makes his own. Mr. Taschen, who turns 50 this month, has cornered the book market in a way that most sellers only dream of: Cult status, with massive sales. "He has built his empire solely on personal vision and taste; this is niche publishing to the extreme," says Matt Tyrnauer, a writer for Vanity Fair and the filmmaker behind "Valentino: The Last Emperor" (2008) whose interviews were included in a book on the fashion designer published by Taschen. "Benedikt makes these remarkable documents with incredible attention to quality; he is only interested in getting the most complete and extremely interesting subjects, if only for their eccentricity."
From the twitter this week:

New Dashiell Hammett stories discovered in the Harry Ransom Center.

Publishing and politics: The shame of 'O': S&S and the shameful deception of 'O'

McGraw-Hill Education Posts Big Earnings Gain on Small Sales Increase

Google CEO Eric Schmidt searches for book deal -

Thursday, February 03, 2011

Istanbul 1972: From the air

Istanbul 1972: From the air
A weekly image from my archive. Click on the image to make it larger.
In the PND family archive there are many, many 'from the air' photos and most of the locations are virtually impossible to identify. That is not the case with this image however as it looks to me to be Istanbul from about 15,000 feet. Taken in August 1972 it is a stunning photo and for those most familiar with the city (and I am not) I am sure it provides a window on the past documenting how the expansive city has changed over the past forty years.

We would have been on one of the magnificent Pan Am 747s which circled the globe. One flight traveled clockwise (PA002) and the other counterclockwise (PA001). This flight was probably London, Frankfurt, Istanbul, Tehran, Karachi, Bangkok, HongKong. We got off in HK and traveled south to Sydney and Auckland which was home at the time.

(Little known fact: Flight numbers are odd east to west and even west to east.)
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Tuesday, February 01, 2011

Philip Pullman Speaks for the Library

From the False Economy blog which has produced Pullman's speech about why libraries shouldn't be victims of the wider economic difficulties the UK economy is facing (Blog):


The greedy ghost understands profit all right. But that’s all he understands. What he doesn’t understand is enterprises that don’t make a profit, because they’re not set up to do that but to do something different. He doesn’t understand libraries at all, for instance. That branch – how much money did it make last year? Why aren’t you charging higher fines? Why don’t you charge for library cards? Why don’t you charge for every catalogue search? Reserving books – you should charge a lot more for that. Those bookshelves over there – what’s on them? Philosophy? And how many people looked at them last week? Three? Empty those shelves and fill them up with celebrity memoirs.

That’s all the greedy ghost thinks libraries are for.

Now of course I’m not blaming Oxfordshire County Council for the entire collapse of social decency throughout the western world. Its powers are large, its authority is awe-inspiring, but not that awe-inspiring. The blame for our current situation goes further back and higher up even than the majestic office currently held by Mr Keith Mitchell. It even goes higher up and further back than the substantial, not to say monumental, figure of Eric Pickles. To find the true origin you’d have to go on a long journey back in time, and you might do worse than to make your first stop in Chicago, the home of the famous Chicago School of Economics, which argued for the unfettered freedom of the market and as little government as possible.

France's eBook Moment - CCC's Beyond the Book

From Beyond the Book, Chris Kenneally takes a look at what's happening to digital books in France (Interview):
At Editis, one of France’s leading publishers, Virginia Clayssen oversees digital development. In an interview with CCC’s Chris Kenneally, she accounts for why France has not yet had its ebook moment, but is about to this year. “We didn’t have in France the Kindle effect, because connected e-readers are just arriving in France. We have one now, but it’s very new.”

Sweeping broadly across the digital landscape, Clayssen also comments on why controlling e-book prices matters to French publishers; on the importance of copyright and reasons for French rejection of the pending Google Book Settlement; and on sustaining French literary life in the digital age.

Also on the Google Book Settlement:
Q. Well that raises inevitably the Google book settlement with which the French government and French publishers became actively involved. And of course it’s all still up in the air right now, sitting on the desk of Judge Chin here in New York City, and we’ll have to wait for him to tell us what he thinks.
But tell us, in summary, what the French publishing community’s reaction was to the proposed settlement.

A: French publishers rejected this settlement for several reasons. One reason is they were not happy with Google digitizing content without permission of right owners. A second reason is to think it’s maybe it’s not a very good thing to have a global library completely controlled by a private company, even if we love this company and we have nothing against Google, but in the principle. Maybe this big, big project to make out-of-print books available for the public has to be managed by public institutions and not by a private company.

There is a real risk of monopoly on orphan works, though we are very sensitive about these questions and we have now a project with French government to build a solution for to make available out-of-print French works, and it’s a big project, and we are hard working on it to do this in the next years.