Monday, July 18, 2011

MediaWeek (V4, N29): Library of Congress, Bertelsmann, Michelin Guides, Bookstores, P.G. Wodehouse, Education Funding Report + More

There's a documentary on the Library of Congress on CSPAN this evening (7/18):
This program looks behind-the-scenes at the Library of Congress, allowing viewers to learn the history of the institution as they tour the Library’s iconic Jefferson Building and see some of the treasures found in its collections of rare books, photos, and maps. It will also feature a look at some of the presidential papers housed there, ranging from George Washington through Calvin Coolidge. Viewers will learn how the library uses technology to preserve its holdings and expand public access to them. It will also show how technology is helping to uncover new information about some of the items in its collections.
From the FT a short interview with Bertelsmann's Hartmut Ostrowski (FT):

While BMG blossomed from an apparently inauspicious rump of Bertelsmann’s first music publishing unit, which was sold to Universal in 2006, education has proved no more than a mantra for several years.

“We’re patient enough for the right opportunity to come along,” says Mr Ostrowski, although he will not say whether this might be soon or “in two or three” years’ time. “We also know we’ll need patience until the business grows to any appreciable size,” he adds, suggesting that any first step could be small.

And again from the FT, a look at the prospects for The Michelin Guides (FT):

Michelin stresses though that when taken together, the maps, guides and digital businesses are profitable. But the losses incurred by the red books have become such a concern that Michelin has turned to outside consultants. Accenture looked last year at three different scenarios for the red books, including outright closure.

The nuclear option was quickly rejected, partly in recognition of the undoubted brand value of the guide but also because of the political impossibility in France of such drastic action. However, Accenture warned that to carry on with things as they are today would mean yearly losses at the guide hitting €19m by 2015, representing a cumulative loss of €70m over the next four years.

As a result, the consultants proposed a new business plan that would allow Michelin to make money by offering online “services” to the hotels and restaurants included in the guides.

The thinking seems to be that Michelin would do well to seek a share of the good fortune that its awards bestow on restaurants, possibly by creating a “red book” website that provides paid-for links for those establishments with Michelin stars and allows users to make online reservations.

From Intelligent Life: Goodbye to Bricks and Mortar booksellers (IL):
Like Barnes & Noble, Borders has a reputation for being a brutish corporate behemoth that has been edging out more humane book-selling competition for decades. Isn’t this just a story of comeuppance? But as we noted in March, these colossal book empires have also played an important role as often lone bookstores in small American towns and suburbs. where readers may otherwise be limited to what can be found at Wal-Mart. A friend and former colleague who grew up in Texas often bristled when New Yorkers kvetched about stores like Borders. When one of these multi-storey bookstores moved into his home-town, he couldn’t believe his luck. Urban centres can be counted on to provide affable places to buy tomes, flirt with bookworms and listen to visiting authors. Elsewhere it is stores like Borders that have provided a rare, atmospheric and pressure-free space for bibliophiles, often in strip malls next to a Home Depot.
A lost letter from P.G. Wodehouse may shed light on the genesis of Jeeves (Telegraph):

The letter appeared in the celebrated Conning Tower column written by Franklin Adams, a friend of several members of the Algonquin Round Table coterie. The section regularly featured the contribution of famous names such as Noel Coward, Dorothy Parker and Groucho and Harpo Marx.

The newspaper added a title — “Grantland, Priceless Old Bean, Is Off in Florida, But He Shall Ever So Well Be Spoken To, We Mean To Say” - that could also have come straight from the pen of Wodehouse.

The author was living in America at the time the letter appeared in Jan 1920, by when had published just five short stories in the Jeeves cannon. Although all the protagonists are long dead, meaning a definitive verdict on the letter’s provenance is probably impossible, there are compelling indications that it was written by Wodehouse.

From The Foundation Center (via FullText Reports): Moving Education Reform Forward: Grantmakers Reflect on a Convening with State and Local Government Education Leaders

This issue brief provides critical insights into how education grantmakers (and foundations in general) may be able to work more effectively with state and local education leaders. Based on interviews with participants at a national gathering convened by the Council of Chief State School Officers in January 2011, it offers a nuanced assessment of this type of convening, including the challenges that face grantmakers and education leaders in their work to coordinate future efforts effectively.

From The Twitter this week:

Why Content Isn't King -

Harry Potter, Inc: How the Boy Wizard Created a $21 Billion Business -

FT: Follett is being shopped - Retained Credit Suisse

BBC Worldwide reports record underlying profits

Collins buys A&R WA bookstores -

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