Saturday, July 28, 2012

MediaWeek (V5, N31) Financial Results: Informa, WoltersKluwer, Pearson, Reed Elsevier, Cengage, McGraw-Hill

Informa post half year results (Press Release)

  • Resilient profit performance – adjusted operating profit growth of 0.6% to £160.1m; 0.3% on an organic basis
  • Improved margin – adjusted operating margin 25.8% (H1 2011: 25.1%)
  • Strong cash flow – cash conversion rate increased to 76% (H1 2011: 56%)
  • Revenue decline of 2.4% (organic decline of 1.2%) – proactive reduction in marginal product.
  • Statutory loss before tax of £27.4m (H1 2011: £66.5m profit) – reflecting impairment charge of £80.0m and losses on disposal of £24.4m relating to European Conference businesses. 
  • Earnings increased – adjusted diluted earnings per share growth of 3.4% to 18.3p (H1 2011: 17.7p)
  • Dividend increased – interim dividend increased to 6.0p (H1 2011: 5.0p)
  • Net debt/EBITDA ratio of 2.3 times (H1 2011: 2.5 times)
Operational
  • Academic division continues to trade well – organic revenue growth of 3.7%
  • Total cost savings delivered at PCI of £12m
  • 9 new large events run in H1
  • Forward bookings on leading events remains strong
  • Restructure of conference portfolio to reflect prevailing market conditions in Europe
  • 20% of revenue from emerging markets (H1 2011: 19%)
  • Acquisition of market leading exhibition and conference business in Canada

Wolters Kluwer reports half year results (Press Release)

  • Full-year 2012 guidance confirmed. 
  • Revenues up 3% in constant currencies and up 1% organically.
    • Deterioration in Europe offset by improved organic growth in North America.
    • Recurring revenues up 2% organically (76% of total revenues).
    • Online, software and services revenues up 4% organically (75% of total revenues).
    • Health and Financial & Compliance Services grew organically 5% and 6%, respectively.
  • Ordinary EBITA €346 million; Ordinary EBITA margin of 19.9%. 
  • Leverage ratio net-debt-to-EBITDA improves to 2.9x (2011 year-end: 3.1x).
    • Expect to approach target of 2.5x by year-end.
  • Healthcare Analytics disposal completed in May as part of pharma divestiture program.
  • €100 million share buy-back completed on July 9; program will be expanded by up to €35 million under new policy to offset dilution from stock dividend and performance shares.

Pearson report half year results (Press Release):

Sales up 6% to £2.6bn*

  • Strong growth in Education (up 9%) and the FT Group (up 7%).
  • Penguin sales 4% lower on phasing of publishing schedule and continued industry change.

First-half operating profit lower, as expected, at £188m (2011: £208m)

  • Education profits up 6% on growth in North America (up 30%) and International (up 17%).
  • Professional profits £17m lower. New funding criteria for 16-18 year old apprenticeships result in sharp decline in volumes; UK training business reshaped.
  • Sale of FTSE International reduces first-half operating profit by £10m; excluding FTSE, FT Group profits level in spite of increased restructuring charge.
  • Penguin profits lower at £22m (H1 2011: £42m) on drop-through from lower first-half sales; stronger publishing schedule in H2.

Rapid growth in digital and services businesses and developing markets

  • Sales up approximately 20% in developing markets (headline growth)
  • Education digital platform registrations up 30%; FT digital subscriptions up 31% and now exceed print circulation; Penguin ebook revenues up 33% and now almost 20% of Penguin’s revenues.
  • Revenues from digital and services to exceed traditional publishing businesses in 2012.

Full year outlook reiterated

  • At this early stage, Pearson sees good trading momentum in North America, International and the FT Group offsetting weakness in Professional Education and Penguin.
  • Pearson reiterates full year outlook of growth in sales and operating profits at constant exchange rates, with margins reflecting acquisition integration costs and the FTSE sale. 

Reed Elsevier report half year results (Press Release):

Financial highlights
  • Underlying revenue growth +5% (+3% excluding biennial exhibition cycling)
  • Underlying adjusted operating profit growth +7%; overall growth +8% at constant currencies
  • Adjusted EPS +11% to 24.7p for Reed Elsevier PLC; +18% to €0.47 for Reed Elsevier NV
  • Reported EPS growth +52% to 24.0p for Reed Elsevier PLC; +57% to €0.47 for Reed Elsevier NV
  • Interim dividend growth +6% to 6.00p for Reed Elsevier PLC; +18% to €0.130 for Reed Elsevier NV
  • Net debt of £3.3bn; 2.3 times adjusted 12 month trailing EBITDA (pensions and lease adjusted)
Operational highlights
  • Underlying revenue and operating profit growth in all five business areas
  • Growth driven by usage volume, new product development and expansion in high growth markets
  • Further improvement in format mix; good growth in online and face to face
  • Profitability gains driven by on-going process efficiencies
  • Continued portfolio development improving revenue growth and profitability profile 
Selective divestitures
  • Process accelerated in H1. Disposals of Totaljobs, MarketCast, and other small publishing and services assets completed. Planned disposals of Variety and RBI Australia announced. We expect completed and planned disposals to be mildly dilutive to EPS in the short term. However, we intend to use gross divestment proceeds to buy back shares this year, mitigating this impact. In H1 gross cash proceeds from disposals were £158m/€193m.

Cengage presents full year estimates (Press Release):

  • Revenue for the fourth quarter of fiscal 2012 is estimated to be between $499 million and $505 million as compared to $473 million for the same period in the prior year. Excluding National Geographic School Publishing (“NGSP”), acquired on August 1, 2011, revenue for the fourth quarter of fiscal 2012 is estimated to be between $482 million and $488 million, driven primarily by growth in Domestic Learning.
  • Adjusted EBITDA for the fourth quarter of fiscal 2012 is estimated to be between $187 million and $193million. NGSP’s contribution to Adjusted EBITDA during the fourth quarter is estimated to be between $2million and $3 million. The prior year fourth quarter Adjusted EBITDA of $202 million included a minimal expense for domestic incentive compensation. On a comparable basis to include this year’s fourth quarter domestic incentive expense, Adjusted EBITDA for the fourth quarter of the prior year would have been approximately $185 million.
  • Revenue for the full year ended June 30, 2012 is estimated to be between $1,985 million and $1,991 million as compared to $1,876 million in the prior year. Excluding NGSP, revenue for the full year ended June 30, 2012 is estimated to be between $1,910 million and $1,915 million.
  • Adjusted EBITDA for the full year ended June 30, 2012 is estimated to be between $781 million and $787million. NGSP’s contribution to Adjusted EBITDA during the fiscal year is estimated to be between $12million and $15 million. Similar to the fourth quarter, the prior year Adjusted EBITDA of $780 million included a minimal expense for domestic incentive compensation. On a comparable basis to include this fiscal year’s domestic incentive expense, Adjusted EBITDA for fiscal 2011 would have been approximately $737 million.
  • For the last twelve months ended June 30, 2012, Bank EBITDA is estimated to be between $817 million and $823 million.
  • Full year investor call August 8th (Link)

McGraw-Hill reports second quarter results (Press Release):

  • Key management for McGraw-Hill Education is now in place, including Lloyd G. "Buzz" Waterhouse as president and chief executive officer and Patrick Milano as chief financial officer and chief administrative officer.
  • The Form 10 SEC registration statement was filed on July 11, 2012.
  • Cost reductions are accelerating towards the goal to achieve at least $100 million in cost savings, on a run-rate basis, by year-end.
  • Key workstreams are well underway to drive the separation of numerous finance & accounting, human resource, information technology, and other support services.
  • The S&P Dow Jones Indices, the world's largest provider of financial market indices, was launched on June 29, 2012.
Education
  • Revenue for the segment declined 12% to $474 million while operating profit improved by 36% to $57 million in the second quarter, compared to the same period last year. The improvement in operating income was primarily the result of restructuring actions and ongoing tight expense management.
  • Higher Education, Professional and International Group (HPI): Revenue decreased 2% to $241 million in the second quarter compared to the same period last year. Higher Education revenue growth was offset by declines in International revenue, predominately related to the strong U.S. dollar. Higher Education's digital and customized products are being well received in the marketplace. In particular, sales of homework management product Connect, which is sold with LearnSmart, an adaptive learning system, grew by 65%. LearnSmart, designed to help college students learn faster, study more efficiently, and retain more knowledge, is available for approximately 150 different college course titles. 
  • School Education Group (SEG): McGraw-Hill Professional continues to lead the transition to digital materials with 34% of revenue in the quarter derived from digital products and services. Of particular note was the 33% growth of digital subscription platforms, which include AccessMedicine, a product suite of subscription-based Websites that feature regularly updated medical content and access to more than 65 medical titles.Revenue decreased 20% to $233 million for the quarter. The elementary-high school market continues to be impacted by the economic issues facing the states and local school districts. In addition, the state new adoption schedule for 2012 offers the lowest revenue potential for publishers in many years. As a result, the School Education Group anticipates an overall reduction of 10% in the K–12 market this year, which represents the lowest spending level in over a decade. Despite the difficult environment, SEG continues to provide innovative products including new testing materials and programs in reading and mathematics that meet the new Common Core standards. All of its major new programs include digital components, and increasingly many products are wholly digital.

Friday, July 27, 2012

The Flamingo Las Vegas 1971

The Flamingo Las Vegas 1971
I was in Las Vegas last month and purposely went over several images from my fathers trip their around 1971.  There's another I've posted here which I named Caesar and the Pinto and was taken across the street from Caesars Palace.  My thought was that I could revisit these spots and take an updated new image.  Well, as anyone who has been to Vegas recently there's been a lot of building and the old locations were barely recognizable.  This neon sign is no-where to be found (unless it's in the Neon museum) probably subsumed under one of several new tower blocks that is the new Flamingo.

I wonder what that show would have been like; Sergio Franchi and Lonnie Shorr.  This image was from a batch that had no date stamp so initially I was guessing at the date but thanks to the interwebs I searched the show team and found some ads from 1971.

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

In addition to the images I've posted on Flickr and those I've periodically posted on PND, I have now produced a Big Blurb Book: From the Archive 1960 -1980 of some of the images I really thought were special.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

New Model Army of Self-Publishers

News that Pearson has purchased the self-publishing roll-up Author House reminded me of this post from September 19, 2007 which I wrote just after Author House acquired iUniverse.com.  My thought this week was what took so long for a large established publisher to make this acquisition.

The news that Author House and iUniverse.com were merging was not entirely unexpected, but it is interesting to me that the publishing community basically ignored the event. While it was reported in Publisher’s Lunch and Publisher’s Weekly, the report in PW focused on the question of job cuts which may reflect a limited interest in the strategic ramifications this segment poses to mainstream publishers. Led by Lulu.com, this publishing segment is exploding and the last thing being considered will be job cuts. Just look at the capabilities on offer at Lulu. Author House and iUniverse complement each other: A number of years ago, iUniverse.com made the strategic choice to add an extensive selection of professional editorial services to their suite of services, which surpass the service offered by Author House (and others in the market). Tactically, I think the two companies will slot together like jigsaw pieces.

Random House has a relationship with Xlibris and is alone among the major publishing houses in building formal relationships with the self-publishing marketplace. I would expect other major publishers to jump into this space, in the short-term, through acquisition. The leverage these companies achieve over their technology, employees and fixed expenses, the processes they have established and the market they have built make these companies appealing. Ironically, there is a ‘democratization of access’ underway in publishing, which to date, most “publishers” have not participated in; but, this will change as traditional publishers look to the self-publisher market as a natural product extension.

In the case of Author House and iUniverse.com, they each produce over 5,000 titles per year with total staff of approximately 100. In terms of titles per month and titles per employee, they shame a traditional large publisher. Everyone will argue that the quality of the content produced by self-publishers is poor, but this is no more true than the statement that all content produced by traditional publishers is exemplary. How often has a traditional publisher invested significantly in a title’s success only to watch it sell 300 copies? For the self-publisher—with an author pays model, no inventory and no promotion expense—there is only upside if a title takes off unexpectedly (and sells 300 copies).

I am not suggesting that the self-publishing business model will be adopted anytime soon by a major publishing house, but there are lessons to be learned from the success that the self-publishing industry has built in the last 10 years. Enabling technology has produced this ‘democratization of access’ and, while it is hard to imagine that there is that much content to produce, the numbers prove the case. Lulu is producing 4,000 new titles per week for a total of 300,000 newly released titles, Author House has over 30,000 authors and 40,000 titles, and iUniverse says they have sold over 5mm books.

Amazon has invested in this area (B&N is getting out via iUniverse.com) and I see some convergence between the traditional publishing model and self-publishing. The content quality issue is irrelevant: Firstly because good content will always find its market and Secondly, because quality in the self-publishing segment depends not on the content but the service the author received. Get ready to see traditional publishers adopt some of the practices of the self-publishing industry.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Fair Dealing for Copyright in Canada

Copyright issues in Canada may not be top of most people's list of interesting news items but Canada may be on the cusp of legislating new copyright reforms and the reason may be a recent set of rulings from their supreme court.  The courts ruling covered several media formats and distribution methods and could generally be construed as a win for consumers.  That would be 'free-loaders' if you were of a certain group that saw the rulings as representing a way from consumers to make broader use of content without paying for it.  The details of the rulings make this conclusion less clear and the result maybe that the Canadian legislature may enact a new set of copyright rules by the end of the year.

The rulings covered music and educational materials (content) and centered on the issue of 'fair dealing' which equates to the US fair use doctrine and similarly requires a review of specific criteria to determine whether a use can be considered 'fair dealing' and thus is permitted.  From the ruling Judge Abella sets out this criteria:  (Corrected from Rothstein)
… the concept of fair dealing allows users to engage in some activities that might otherwise amount to copyright infringement.  The test for fair dealing was articulated in CCH as involving two steps.  The first is to determine whether the dealing is for the allowable purpose of “research or private study” under s. 29, “criticism or review” under s. 29.1, or “news reporting” under s. 29.2 of the Copyright Act.  The second step of CCH assesses whether the dealing is “fair”. The onus is on the person invoking “fair dealing” to satisfy all aspects of the test.  To assist in determining whether the dealing is “fair”, this Court set out a number of fairness factors: the purpose, character, and amount of the dealing; the existence of any alternatives to the dealing; the nature of the work; and the effect of the dealing on the work. 
In reviewing each of these fairness hurdles Abella offered several zingers and reading between the lines it doesn't seem there was much sympathy for the argument education publishers presented.  For example, in reviewing the 'purpose' factor he dismissed the reasoning that “private study” should not be understood as requiring users to view copyrighted works in splendid isolation (my italics) and that focusing on the 'geography' of teaching artificially separated the teacher from the studying students.  At issue is whether teachers can be separated from the students with respect to the use of the content and Judge Abella politely shoots this down saying that,
with respect, was a flawed approach.  First, unlike the single patron in CCH, teachers do not make multiple copies of the class set for their own use, they make them for the use of the students.   Moreover, as discussed in the companion case SOCAN v. Bell, the “amount” factor is not a quantitative assessment based on aggregate use, it is an examination of the proportion between the excerpted copy and the entire work, not the overall quantity of what is disseminated. 
Interesting that the Judge is suggesting it doesn't really matter how big the class is but rather the amount of material taken from the entire work which equates to the US concept of fair use.

In the press, the reaction to the set of decisions oscillated between 'free content' and 'the end of publishing'.  A point counter point ran in the Canadian Financial Post.  De Beer suggests that the ruling is not an assault on copyright (as his fellow FP columnist Corcoran comments) but rather an opportunity for innovation in education:
The education case that Financial Post editor Terence Corcoran calls an assault on copyright will drive innovation in classrooms across the country by providing necessary breathing room for teachers and students to deal fairly with copyright-protected materials. Schools will probably continue a trend that predates this decision by shifting away from collective blanket licences. But, where copying goes beyond validated fair dealings, institutions will instead choose market-oriented solutions like custom database subscriptions and direct licences on various terms from authors or publishers.
In my (biased) view, I thought the Judge's comments with respect to the 'alternatives to the dealing' argument presented by the publishers to be most interesting.
I also have difficulty with how the Board approached the “alternatives to the dealing” factor.  A dealing may be found to be less fair if there is a non-copyrighted equivalent of the work that could have been used, or if the dealing was not reasonably necessary to achieve the ultimate purpose (CCH, at para. 57).  The Board found that, while students were not expected to use only works in the public domain, the educational institutions had an alternative to photocopying textbooks: they could simply buy the original texts to distribute to each student or to place in the library for consultation
He goes on to suggest that buying books for the entire class when only a portion is needed is is not realistic,
Under the Board’s approach, schools would be required to buy sufficient copies for every student of every text, magazine and newspaper in Access Copyright’s repertoire that is relied on by a teacher.  This is a demonstrably unrealistic outcome. 
Here there may be some similarity to the recent Georgia case in the US where Judge Evans plainly stated that if a publisher's chapter is readily and easily available and the permission is set at a "reasonable price" then the law comes down on the publisher's side. Abella does not go this far; however, there's some logic in taking his argument down that path.  This may be consoling to Canadian rights holders if they are able to easily deliver the 'except' in question rather than the entire book.  On other words, if the precise excerpt was available and reasonably priced to the student could Abella's argument be as strong?

Lastly, Abella thought publishers argument regarding financial harm caused by teachers' photocopying spurious and pointed to many other macro issues impacting publishers fortunes such as, "the adoption of semester teaching, a decrease in registrations, the longer lifespan of textbooks, increased use of the Internet and other electronic tools, and more resource-based learning."

In his concluding comments, de Beer suggests that this ruling may undercut copyright agency's (such as Access Copyright) desire to license use on a universal basis. Similar arguments have been made by others to the extent that blanket agreements will be less viable options for most institutions and many education institutions will establish direct agreements with select publishers and for others will seek permission on an needed basis.  This point coincides with a substantial increase in the per head rate that Access Copyright rolled out to education institutions for universal access late last year the size of which was 'heavily debated' and will come as welcome news to many Provosts.

All interesting developments, but the most interesting outcome may concern the government's effort to reform Canadian copyright.  Given these rulings (not all covered here), content owners may be motivated to pressure the legislature to set rules more in their favor but that remains to be seen.

Monday, July 23, 2012

MediaWeek (V5, N30); MOOCs, Online Higher Ed Courses, Library Ideas, Research Needs,

Massive Open Online Courses or MOOCs are really getting some people excited and the sheer numbers are amazing - although is this a fad and or a function of supply?  From the NYTimes an interview with Anant Agarwal of MIT who's first class enrolled 150,000 students (NYTimes)
Did you expect so much demand?
With no marketing dollars, I thought we might get 200 students. When we posted on the Web site that we were taking registration and the course would start in March, my colleague Piotr Mitros called and said, “We’re getting 10,000 registrations a day.” I fell off my seat and said, “Piotr, are you sure you’ve got the decimal point right?” My most fearful moment was when we launched the course. I worried that the system couldn’t handle it, and would keel over and die. 
...
Most students who register for MOOCs don’t complete the course. Of the 154,763 who registered for “Circuits and Electronics,” fewer than half even got as far as looking at the first problem set, and only 7,157 passed the course. What do you make of that?
A large number of the students who sign up for MOOCs are browsing, to see what it’s like. They might not have the right background for the course. They might just do a little bit of the coursework. Our course was M.I.T.-hard and needed a very, very solid background. Other students just don’t have time to do the weekly assignments. One thing we’re thinking of is to offer multiple versions of the course, one that would last a semester and one that could stretch over a year. That would help some people complete.
And from The Atlantic a profile of Coursera which they suggest is the "Single Most Important Experiment in Education" (Altantic):
But the deals Coursera announced Tuesday may well prove to be an inflection point for online education, a sector that has traditionally been dominated by for-profit colleges known mostly for their noxious recruitment practices and poor results. That's because the new partnerships represent an embrace of web-based learning from across the top tier of U.S. universities. And where the elite colleges go, so goes the rest of academia.
Coursera has previously teamed with Stanford, Princeton, University of Pennsylvania, and University of Michigan to offer 43 courses, which according to the New York Times enrolled 680,000 students. It now adds to its roster Duke, Caltech, University of Virginia, Georgia Tech, University of Washington, Rice, Johns Hopkins, University of California San Francisco, University of Illinois Urbana-Champagne, University of Toronto, University of Edinburgh, and Switzerland's École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne.
Only one school, the University of Washington, said it will give credit for its Coursera classes. But two others, University of Pennsylvania and Caltech, said they would invest $3.7 million into the enterprise, bringing the company's venture funding to more than $22 million. Literally, colleges are buying in.
Suggestions that independent bookstore protectionism works in other countries - should it be implemented in the US? (Atlantic)
Here in the U.S., most bookstores survive in tales of grassroots preservation or community campaigns. Price-fixing is undoubtedly the least likely American solution, though as Jason Boog has pointed out at NPR, booksellers and publishers actually did persuade FDR to enforce a price floor to prevent Macy’s from undercutting small book retailers with loss-leader pricing on Gone with the Wind during the Great Depression. (That policy was later declared unconstitutional, but it did throw a wrench in the Macy’s strategy.) This April, though, the U.S. Department of Justice filed a lawsuit accusing Apple and several publishers of colluding to raise the price of e-books to compete with Amazon’s price-discounting. Don’t expect to see federal protection of local bookstores via price-setting anytime soon.
Possibly the worlds most bizarre library carrel but some interesting ideas for the future of libraries (Harvard):
In the seminar’s freewheeling atmosphere, ideas flew like cream pies at a food fight. What if behind-the-scenes work could take place in the open instead, suggested Matthew Battles, a fellow at the Berkman Center. “What if you set up somebody processing medieval manuscripts in Widener or Lamont—a processing station in a public space?” Battles had just come from a used-furniture depository, where he’d been scavenging for shelves that could be repurposed for use as curator stations, places where faculty members or librarians could be asked to curate small collections of books. “What about a mobile, inflatable library?” suggested Goldenson. “What would that do?” Or how about an “Artist in Reference,” he continued. “We could bring in experts in a particular subject to serve as guest reference librarians in their area of expertise.” Schnapp, running with the idea, noted that “Widener contains collections in fields that haven’t been taught at Harvard in a hundred years, where we have the best collections of materials.”
Is wikipedea looking to set up their own travel information and guide site (Skift):
Imagine a free TripAdvisor focused on travel destinations, where masses of travelers could update information during or after their hotel stay, tour or private meanderings around town, and share it with the world under the supervision of seasoned administrators.
The foundation’s board of trustees on July 11 approved a proposal [see Update below] to launch an advertisement-free travel guide [see Update below] and community members noted that 31 of the 48 administrators of the Internet Brands-owned Wikitravel have expressed interest in joining forces with the Wikimedia Foundation’s travel guide website.
Wikitravel is considered the current leader in travel wikis, but its advertisements and monetization efforts may turn off travelers and would-be contributors.
In addition, the introduction to a community discussion about the travel guide proposal argues that Internet Brands has failed to keep pace with the times and that Wikitravel suffers from a “lack of technical support/feature development.”
The Guardian Higher Ed team reports on a JISC study on student research needs 
The report's findings indicate that the greatest challenge to researchers is the difficulty of access to e-journals. It is easy to see why: doctoral students across all subjects told us that they predominantly look for secondary published resources to inform their research, and for over 80% of researchers, this means accessing full text journal articles.
These same materials are often subject to licensing restrictions and other limitations imposed by e-journals publishers and other information service providers. This appears to be an area of sharpening tension in the doctoral and broader research community, with the majority of students surveyed describing it as a 'significant constraint' in the research process, and one of the biggest frustrations affecting their work.
Despite the ongoing debate around open access in the media, the report's findings have told us that there is a significant level of confusion among researchers around what open access means, or even how reliable open access materials are.
Another finding from the report shows that as many as 35% of those researchers surveyed in 2011 did not receive any face-to-face training in research and information-seeking skills in the previous academic year, even though 65% of researchers ranked it as their most important training need. These outcomes are concerning, but fortunately they are also an area where significant improvements can be made, through increasing face-to-face training and support for researchers when they start their PhD programmes, but also much earlier as they enter higher education.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Ulua Beach, Wailea 1978

Ulua Beach, Wailea Maui Hawaii 1978
The PND family was very lucky to move to Maui in 1977.  This was the view from our apartment where we lived in the hotel PND Senior managed.  The beach on the left is Ulua and it is one of a series of crescent beaches that stretch all the way up the coast.  This is roughly a view looking north.  The tower building on the water is about 1.5 miles away and the there and back was a great beach run.  The following year, the on-going condo development at Wailea spread right through the middle of this image but that's progress and without the development we wouldn't have been there in the first place.



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

In addition to the images I've posted on Flickr and those I've periodically posted on PND, I have now produced a Big Blurb Book: From the Archive 1960 -1980 of some of the images I really thought were special.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

BISG: Adult Fiction Now 30% of Sales

The BISG will release their updated annual survey of the publishing industry next week but their press release today offers some tidbits of information of interest to many who track the industry.

The overall US publishing market contracted 2.5% to $27.2Billion down from $27.9 in 2011 however the results suggest changes in the product mix or general deflationary pricing since volume was up 3.4% year on year.

Naturally a highlight of the study remains the growth of eBooks in trade and the study points to the general acceptance of buyers of Trade Adult Fiction to the eBook format.  According to the report fully 30% of revenues are now in eBook format and this is now the dominant format for buyers.  Overall the report compiles data from over 1900 publishers in for sectors:  Trade (fiction and non-fiction for adults and children), School/K-12, Higher Education and Professional/Scholarly Publishing.

More from the press release:
  • In the overall Trade sector (encompassing Fiction and Non-Fiction for Children, Young Adults and Adults), e-books’ net sales revenue more than doubled in 2011 vs. 2010. This significant growth was particularly fueled by e-books’ performance in the Adult Fiction segment where, for the first time, they ranked #1 in net revenue among all individual print and electronic formats. 
  • Among categories, both Religion and Children’s/Young Adults showed strong growth while Children’s/YA ranked as the fastest-growing category in publishing in 2011.
  • Despite the negative impact of Borders’ bankruptcy and closures, particularly on print book sales, through three quarters of 2011, the Trade market held up equal with 2010 revenue figures, even showing a slight increase. 
  • Brick-and-mortar retail remained the #1 sales distribution channel for publishers in 2011, as it did in 2010. Publishers’ revenue from direct-to-consumer sales nearly doubled, topping $1 billion for the first time.
The growth of E-Book
The e-book phenomenon continued through 2011, attributable to the ongoing popularity of e-readers, tablets, and other devices as well as publishers’ strategic production, distribution and marketing of content in all e-formats. 
In the overall Trade sector, publishers’ net sales revenue from e-books more than doubled: from $869 million, or 6% of Trade net revenues, in 2010 to $2.074 billion, or 15% of net revenues, in 2011. Units more than doubled as well: 125 million e-books sold in 2010, representing 5% of the Trade sector, grew to 388 million e-books, representing 15.5%, in 2011. While e-books showed increasing strength, the combined print formats (including Hardcover, Trade Paperback and Mass-Market Paperback) still represented the majority of publishers’ net revenue in the Trade sector at $11.1 billion for 2011. 
Within the Trade sector’s Adult Fiction category, records were broken as e-books became the dominant single format there in terms of net revenue for calendar year 2011 with 30% of total net publisher dollar sales. In 2010, e-books had ranked fourth among the individual print and electronic categories with 13% share. Adult Fiction e-book revenue for 2011 was $1.27 billion, growing by 117% from $585 million in 2010. This translated to 203 million units, up 238% from 85 million in 2010. Similar to the broader overall Trade sector, the combined print formats also represented the majority of publishers’ revenue in the Adult Fiction category, at $2.84 billion.

Overall industry numbers
Despite the prolonged impact of the Borders bankruptcy (particularly on orders of print format books) but buoyed by continuing popularity of e-books, publishers net sales revenue for the Trade sector was $13.97 billion for 2011 as compared to $13.90 for 2010. This was an increase of 0.5%.
The overall total U.S. book market (representing all commercial, entertainment, educational, professional, and scholarly sectors) declined just 2.5%, from $27.9 billion in 2010 to $27.2 billion in 2011. While overall net revenue was down, overall units were up 3.4%, from 2.68 billion in 2010 to 2.77 billion in 2011.
The Children’s/Young Adult category saw the highest year-over-year, increasing 12% from $2.48 billion to $2.78 billion. One factor was the enormous popularity of several blockbuster releases from publishers, particularly in YA Fiction. Religious books rebounded in 2011 after a decline in 2009 with its growth reflecting the category’s digital transition as well as success of several major titles.

Sales distribution channels
Despite the Borders bankruptcy resulting in the closure of more than 500 stores in 2011, brick-and-mortar retail again ranked as the #1 sales channel for publishers in 2011: net revenue was $8.59 billion, representing 31.5% of total net dollar sales. This was, however, a decline of 12.6% from 2010
This year, it was followed by:
  • Institutional sales (including sales to libraries, businesses, government, schools, and other organizations): $5.39 billion or 20%.
  • Online retail: Reflecting broader national trends in consumer purchasing, revenue from sales through online retail grew 35% from 2010 ($3.72 billion) to $5.04 billion in 2011. This channel, which represented 13% of total publisher net dollars in 2010, grew to 18.5% of the total in 2011.
  • Wholesalers/jobbers: Publishers’ revenues were $5.04 billion (18% of total) from this channel, which serves independent booksellers and mass merchants among other retailers.
A notable highlight in BookStats 2012: direct-to-consumer sales by publishers nearly doubled in revenue and topped $1 billion for the first time. In 2011, publishers saw $1.11 billion in direct-to-consumer dollars, growing from $702 million in 2010 – an increase of 58%.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Report on Library Publishing Services

An interesting report on the development of library publishing services was published in March (LINK)

Here is a description of the survey and report:
Over the past five years, libraries have begun to expand their role in the scholarly publishing value chain by offering a greater range of pre-publication and editorial support services. Given the rapid evolution of these services, there is a clear community need for practical guidance concerning the challenges and opportunities facing library-based publishing programs.

Recognizing that library publishing services represent one part of a complex ecology of scholarly communication, Purdue University Libraries, in collaboration with the Libraries of Georgia Institute of Technology and the University of Utah, secured an IMLS National Leadership Grant under the title “Library Publishing Services: Strategies for Success.” The project, conducted between October 2010 and September 2011, seeks to advance the professionalism of library-based publishing by identifying successful library publishing strategies and services, highlighting best practices, and recommending priorities for building capacity.

The project has four components: 1) a survey of librarians designed to provide an overview of current practice for library publishing programs (led by consultant October Ivins); 2) a report presenting best practice case studies of the publishing programs at the partner institutions (written by consultant Raym Crow); 3) a series of workshops held at each participating institution to present and discuss the findings of the survey and case studies; and 4) a review of the existing literature on library publishing services. The results of these research threads are pulled together in this project white paper.
There are several sets of recommendations and here is one set on developing best practices for library publishing:
  • Develop meaningful impact metrics for library publishing services to demonstrate the effectiveness and value of library-based publishing programs and inform resource allocations.
  • Establish editorial quality and performance criteria to increase the value and longevity of the publications that library programs support.
  • Promote sustainability best practices to improve the long-term strength and stability of library publishing programs.
  • Develop return-on-investment justifications for funding library publishing programs to support increased library budget allocations in support of such programs.
Several years ago (2007) I wrote a post asking why more libraries didn't have their own publishing programs and here is the link to that post.

Monday, July 16, 2012

MediaWeek (V5, N29): UK Frees Journal Articles, Amazon in Japan, Revising HigherEd, Blackboard Myths, Translations + More

UK is about to open up academic publishing.  (Guardian):
Though many academics will welcome the announcement, some scientists contacted by the Guardian were dismayed that the cost of the transition, which could reach £50m a year, must be covered by the existing science budget and that no new money would be found to fund the process. That could lead to less research and fewer valuable papers being published.
British universities now pay around £200m a year in subscription fees to journal publishers, but under the new scheme, authors will pay "article processing charges" (APCs) to have their papers peer reviewed, edited and made freely available online. The typical APC is around £2,000 per article.
Tensions between academics and the larger publishing companies have risen steeply in recent months as researchers have baulked at journal subscription charges their libraries were asked to pay.
More than 12,000 academics have boycotted the Dutch publisher Elsevier, in part of a broader campaign against the industry that has been called the "academic spring".
Why Amazon will have a hard time in Japan.  I guess we'll see if they're right.  (JapanTimes):
The problem they’re having in Japan is trying to negotiate that same kind of deal with domestic publishers. Like any long-established industry in Japan (or almost anything for that matter, from the nation’s government to even its foster care system), they are resistant to change. They don’t want to rock the boat, or experiment with new things. They don’t like the idea of cutting back on their wholesale prices, and thus reducing their profits. Especially to a big, foreign company from the U.S. Not after they’ve been doing things their own way for so long.
While Amazon is struggling to get publishers signed on for e-book distribution, Rakuten already has deals with a majority of them. A big part of that could be that Rakuten is a domestic Japanese company. They know what the publishing companies of their own country want and how far they’ll be willing to bend. Another factor could be that they’re not after drastically reduced wholesale pricing like Amazon is. Rakuten knows Japanese customers are used to paying high prices for media like books, music, and movies, and they’re not trying to change that. Besides, they’re already the equivalent of Japan’s own Amazon.com. They don’t need to revolutionize the book selling market to make their name, they’re just trying to break into the e-book market.
Interesting piece from Fast Company about revising the HEd curriculum (FastCo):
The opposition of “liberal arts” and “vocational education” carries with it a lot of residual 19th-century class snobbery as well as 20th-century quantitative bias. In the real world of the 21st century, there aren’t “two cultures.” We need both. As a cartoon circulating on Facebook would have it, “Science can tell you how to clone a Tyrannosaurus Rex. Humanities can tell you why this might be a bad idea.”
To get us thinking about the possibilities of real educational reform, I propose a Start-Up Core Curriculum for Entrepreneurship, Service, and Society (hokey, yes: SUCCESS). Neither a Great Books common core (which, however profound, rarely connects to a student’s specialized major) nor the duck, duck, goose model of distribution requirements (where students are left to make coherence from a welter of rhetoric, statistics, art appreciation, natural science, foreign language or other course offerings), the Start-Up Core Curriculum isn’t just about content mastery, but about putting deep knowledge along with basic skills into practice to address intractable real-world global problems.
Stop complaining: Five Myths about Blackboard (Inside HigherEd):
Myth #4 - Blackboard's Challenges Are Around Technology: It is easy to look at Blackboard's core Learn product, compare the platform against modern LMS's designed solely for cloud delivery (such as Instructure's Canvas), and conclude the Blackboard has a technology problem. The reality is that Blackboard has a large number of skilled developers and the capabilities to quickly design next generation cloud based learning services. Learning platforms that would benefit from all the Blackboard has learned about scalability, usability, and reliability. Blackboard's challenge is an installed user base of educational institutions that are reluctant to make big changes (for good reasons).   Everyone at Blackboard knows that mobile learning, interconnected platforms, and software as a service e-learning is the future. The key is figuring out how to help higher ed clients build that bridge between a legacy and modern e-learning infrastructure.  This is where the Services division will be so important, as change management is the most important and difficult component of increasing productivity (supported by technology) in higher ed.
From the Economist a look at book translations in Stories from Elsewhere (Econ):
The Illinois-based Dalkey Archive Press, which has been publishing international literature in English for 25 years, says the lack of literature in translation is a cultural crisis that is growing worse. Faced with such a homogeneous reading culture in her adopted Britain, Meike Ziervogel, a German native, started Peirene Press in 2008 in her north London home. She joins a handful of publishing pioneers such as New York’s Europa Editions and Rochester University’s Open Letter, which are working to chip away at the navel-gazing literary culture of Anglo-American letters. She publishes three novellas (each shorter than 200 pages) a year in English by celebrated European authors who are barely known outside their home countries.
From my twitter feed this week (slow week);

Hands-on: nearly instant photofinishing direct from your smartphone ArsTechnica


Library Groups, EFF Hit Back in HathiTrust Case

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

AAUP Panel Meeting: Content Chunking and New Revenue

Several weeks ago I was invited to speak at the annual Association of American University Presses (AAUP) meeting on a panel discussing the ‘chunking’ of educational content.  My inclusion was appropriate given my current involvement with educational and academic publishing companies that are looking at ways to monetize the selection and packaging of ‘chunked’ content.  Increasingly, faculty and university administrators want more creative control over the material they assign their students with the added benefit of being better able to manage costs.  I would expect that publishers should want and also be able to take advantage of this.  The practice of ‘chunking’ content in education is not new and, in my own experience, I’ve seen large educational publishing companies create entirely new workflows around providing custom versions of their own materials to educators

In my discussion at AAUP, I focused less on my current work and and more on the trends I see in the marketplace overall.  I began my discussion by observing that ‘chunking’ in educational content is inevitable and inexorable.  As most publishers will admit, the process has been growing rapidly (often illegally) over the past 20 years but maybe largely uncounted in terms of value.  A comparison to the music world before iTunes is always referenced but ‘chunking’ has also been used in newspapers, journals and magazines, television and other media segments for many years.  Education is just late to the party.

Naturally, during any changing market sometimes the incumbent market participants can be disadvantaged; in education, because the market is so heavily concentrated on four large players, they have the most to lose when faculty and administrators’ decisions about content and pricing attain a broader scope.  Rather than choose one textbook and a package of assorted articles and textbook content, a faculty member may now effectively combine the two into a package that specifically matches their class objectives.  Now, rather than being the primary suppliers of content assigned, once-dominant textbook publishers may suddenly find themselves one source of many.

In other media segments, we have seen some price erosion as content has been disaggregated (from album to track, for example) and that is likely to occur in education as well.  It’s too early to tell whether this is good or bad but pricing is already a key factor to students, faculty and administrators; it’s easy to see how a faculty member would opt for affordability especially when coupled with greater latitude to choose content.  Currently, evidence suggests that 'chunked' prices are consistent with current ‘full book’ content but remains to be seen whether these prices will be pushed downwards in the future.

COPE is a concept many in the media industry (and consultants) have been touting for a long time: Create your Content Once but have the ability to Publish it Everywhere.  This is compatible with the practice of creating new xml based workflows so you can repurpose your content to fit differing circumstances, without having to rework it or reinvent new production processes.  Currently, most of the publishers we work with only have the ability to provide pdf files to us but, as more customers demand disaggregated or ‘chunked’ content, publishers will need to rebuild their workflows.  As a consequence, the market will also demand better meta-data to support the sale and distribution of this content and we are seeing publishers start to address both of these challenges.
(Note – at this point in my presentation, I referenced the size of the education market and the revenue associated with certain segments and titles using charts from PubTrack).

As I suggested above, we see the following as drivers to a more ‘chunked’ publishing environment:
  • The need to more affordably manage the cost of education and materials
  • The desire to provide more choice to faculty and educators in the selection of course content
  • Provision of intuitive and flexible content creation processes
  • Delivering sharing and collaboration across ‘networks’
  • Migration to electronic delivery of content
  • Growth of open-access and ‘free’ content
  • Growing expectation for highly customizable solutions for publishers and institutions

Currently, text-based content is the focus of the custom model in education; however, multi-media (digital) content is often requested, used and produced.  At many universities, for example, faculty lectures are recorded and distributed, YouTube is considered an important resource and webchat, web demos and other interactive technologies are used extensively.  Importantly, we will begin to see our publishers provide digital elements like these for use by faculty in increasing numbers, and our platform has been built to accommodate the delivery of content in various formats.  We will soon be expanding our library accordingly.  These content additions will raise the complexity in delivering a solution to faculty that remains easy to use.  Given this increased complexity, our challenge will be search and discovery – delivering the precise content requested – for which we will rely on metadata supplied by publishers.  We hope publishers appreciate these shared challenges.

All-campus (or all-systems) approaches to addressing some of the drivers I note above are becoming more common.  At Indiana University (IU), they have established a campus-content platform through which faculty can choose and assign content while providing a consistent experience for students.  A key aspect of this implementation is that Indiana has entered into direct agreements with several publishers to host their content (with preferential pricing) on this platform.  In theory, the IU students benefit from the university’s negotiating power over the publishers, and many other universities view IU as a leader in this arena because of the way they have approached relations with publishers.

There are numerous other examples offering similar approaches to the management of content on campus including programs at MIT, the California State University (CSU) system, an initiative in Minnesota and several others.  CSU partnered with Cengage earlier this year and is seeking other similar publisher relationships.


In closing my comments at AAUP, I noted some market dynamics that indicate ‘chunking’ is already relevant.  In particular, permissions revenues (which have long been considered ‘found-money’) are growing at a far greater rate than overall revenues for many publishers.  I heard this repeatedly at AAUP indicating that my prediction that ‘permissions’ revenues will become a primary source of publisher revenues is already taking place.   Additionally, the four large education publishers have all beefed up their own custom publishing solutions – which, for the most part, operate as ‘closed-gardens’ – and have seen significant revenue growth because of their investments.  (Much of this may be substitution revenue).  In the future, I expect all publishers to either have their own custom platform and/or to participate in solutions provided by platform providers such as CoreSource, CourseSmart and VitalSource.

We believe the recent Georgia eReserves case gave impetus to digital solutions that can render content easily accessible and reasonably priced and I have seen an uptick in publishers seeking advice on this point.  The Georgia case made clear that publisher content is being used in disaggregated form by many educators across universities but, because there has not been a ‘marketplace’ (similar to iTunes), much of this content has been appropriated without due payment to the publisher.  Improvements to the clearance and permissions process have helped but the effort to “do-the-right-thing” still remains cumbersome.  As a result of this, it seems inevitable that there will be much more competition in providers offering platforms and solutions to publishers that can delivery content that maximizes this opportunity.

In conclusion, I hope we can first agree on a different term than ‘chunking’ since this implies that the material doesn’t have uniformity and/or pedagogical veracity of itself.  Perhaps because we are currently ‘chunking’ content that has been created as a component (not a stand-alone) and a component then ‘chunking’ may be appropriate now but not for the future.  In the future, faculty will want to find and assign (buy) individual items and thus your editorial processes (as a publisher) will need to be re-thought.  Often, it is not possible to anticipate how customers will use our products and in a disaggregated world these uses will explode.  We must provide them some basic building blocks and tools which, on a very basic level include, re-flowable content, descriptive details and information, metadata and keywords.   Some publishers are starting to develop this so don’t be left behind.

Here are the slides from this presentation:


Monday, July 09, 2012

MediaWeek (V5, N28): Amazon & Search, British Comic Books, Henning Mankell + More

From The Nation a look at the evolution of search in the Amazon.com bookstore (The Nation):
The glory soon faded, because the high print orders shrank when the returns came in. Only a few of the remaining superstores—alas for the Borders that once graced Philadelphia’s Rittenhouse Square, a monument of civilization—still offer recondite books, as opposed to their 100,000 usual suspects. But Amazon survived, and evolved, and so did our ways of working with it. From the start, it transformed one ancient and tedious task: finding and ordering books for college and university courses. For decades, university teachers had compiled their reading lists from the massive, closely printed volumes of Books in Print. These tools of the teacher’s trade were as infuriating as they were indispensable. Publishers exist—or so every university teacher secretly thinks—mostly to take books out of print immediately after you have cast them to play a central role in your next term’s courses. Printed catalogs necessarily came out with far too long a lead time to keep abreast of these decisions, publisher by publisher. You could check your syllabus as often as you liked against the most recent Books in Print and still find yourself hung out to dry when, two weeks before the term started, the university bookstore sent notice that your most important texts were out of print or out of stock. After the 1979 Thor Power decision, which prevented publishers from writing down the value of their inventories for tax purposes, cancellation notices carpeted the floors of faculty mailrooms every August and January like autumn leaves in Vallombrosa. Amazon, by contrast, provided information about a book’s availability as current as the publishers themselves could keep it. A new distribution system couldn’t solve the underlying problems: publishers still took good books out of print when they stopped selling and ratcheted up the price of serious paperbacks until students couldn’t afford them. Still, by the late 1990s, even if you never bought a single book from Amazon, you found yourself relying on the information that this public-spirited firm made freely available.
The above quote is especially interesting to me since as President of Bowker we had to contend with that "public-spirited firm" as our BooksinPrint business became (almost) collateral damage in the expansion of Amazon.  Competing with 'free' is never fun.

The New Statesman suggests there's a missed opportunity for British comic book publishers (NS):
While it's not completely crazy to argue that UK box-offices show a clear appetite for superheroes that domestic properties could capitalise on, it does make a lot of assumptions that aren't correct. Leaving aside the fact that cinematic popularity rarely translates into periodical sales, even in America, then by Abbott's logic there's a market for domestically-produced transforming robot toys going completely untapped over here as well. But what could we do to make British Transformers compete with the real Transformers, except ghettoise them by making them Brit-specific? British superheroes suffer exactly that problem – their Britishness becomes the defining characteristic, crippling their appeal from the start.
 A Henning Mankell interview from The Telegraph:
Mankell has nothing but praise for Branagh, who asked him for permission to play therole when they met at a Swedish film festival. He is pleased about his friend’s knighthood because it acknowledges Branagh’s place in the pantheon of the great British actors he admires. He ranks Branagh with Sir Alec Guinness for ability to convey emotion and thought while “listening into the silence”.
On top of his already prodigious output, Mankell has written a miniseries for Swedish television about his late father-in-law, Ingmar Bergman. The series, which will be filmed later this year, is not a pious memorial. Although Mankell created Wallander before he married Bergman’s daughter Eva, he sees similar flaws in the two men. “They both refuse to compromise over their work and they both let their families pay the price.”
I wonder how his own family views his adventures. He has been held at gunpoint in Africa and in 2010 was briefly reported dead after Israeli forces stormed a Gaza-bound aid boat he was on. “Maybe I wouldn’t have gone if I’d had small children. But my children are grown up. No, I don’t think I have treated my family as badly as Wallander does.”
You are going to have to go a long way to find a literature related story as inane as this one (Departures):
When searching for a summer read—or a smart approach to dressing this season—look no further than the Great American Novel for inspiration.
From my twitter feed this week:

For Journalists mostly from CJR Copywrong, How well do you know fair use.

Fantastic photos of street life in London in 1876:

BISG Metadata Summit July 24th.


From their announcement
Product metadata is the connective tissue of the book industry, binding publishers and authors to data aggregators, retailers, and others. But information about the products we sell is only valuable when it's accurate, timely, complete, and updated – and too often, that's not the case.

BISG’s Metadata Summit presents a unique opportunity for executives representing all points in the book supply chain to discuss the benefits and challenges of maintaining quality metadata.

In this intimate, exclusive setting – limited to 25 attendees, director-level and above – Brian O'Leary (Magellan Media Consulting) will present the results of BISG’s new report on Development, Use, and Modification of Book Product Metadata. Publisher and retailer representatives will then engage in a conversation about how industry partners can work together to ensure quality product metadata. A room-wide discussion will follow.

Presenters:

· Brian O’Leary, Founder and Principal, Magellan Media Consulting

· Phil Madans, Director of Publishing Standards and Practices, Hachette Book Group

· Ashleigh Gardner, Director, Content Management, Kobo

· Matt Supko, Technology Director, American Booksellers Association

Friday, July 06, 2012

Pan Am in Tehran


Yes, if you look closely there is a person in there and it's me.  Sitting in row 2; approximately, and just about to depart the plane which is on the tarmac at Tehran International airport.  Over the northern summer in 1972, I got to travel with my Dad back to the UK (from New Zealand) where he left me and went on to Columbia Business School for the summer.

There are four photos in this sequence which also includes a full length image of the entire plane set against a brilliant blue sky, and seeing that Pan Am 747 brings back a lot of memories.  This jet named Clipper Pacific Trader was with Pan Am from 1971 (when it was delivered) to 1984 but at one point it was loaned (oddly) to Iran Air.  Interesting that we were flying on an almost new aircraft at the time and Jumbo jets were still very new generally.  People used to come to the airport to see them!

Naturally, through the power of the internets you can trace this aircraft's entire history all the way to the bone yard in Arizona where it now sits on blocks.  Everything has been removed including the wings and the fuselage and it just sits there like a beached whale. 

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

In addition to the images I've posted on Flickr and those I've periodically posted on PND, I have now produced a Big Blurb Book: From the Archive 1960 -1980 of some of the images I really thought were special.

Monday, July 02, 2012

MediaWeek (V5, N27): Julian Barnes, eTextbooks Anyone? Inheriting eBooks + More

Julian Barnes writing in the Guardian about his life as a bibliofile:
By now, I was beginning to view books as more than just utilitarian, sources of information, instruction, delight or titillation. First there was the excitement and meaning of possession. To own a certain book – one you had chosen yourself – was to define yourself. And that self-definition had to be protected, physically. So I would cover my favourite books (paperbacks, inevitably, out of financial constraint) with transparent Fablon. First, though, I would write my name – in a recently acquired italic hand, in blue ink, underlined with red – on the edge of the inside cover. The Fablon would then be cut and fitted so that it also protected the ownership signature. Some of these books – for instance, David Magarshack's Penguin translations of the Russian classics – are still on my shelves.
Ten reasons students aren't actually using eTextbooks (Edudemic):
When e-textbooks were first introduced, they were supposed to be the wave of the future, and experts thought we’d see e-reader-toting students littering college campuses, and of course being adopted in droves by online university students.
But they haven’t taken off quite as expected: according to market research firm Student Monitor, only about 11% of college students have bought e-textbooks. So what happened? Here, we’ll explore several reasons why students aren’t yet warming up to the idea of e-textbooks today.
 Amanda Katz on NPR asks whether your grand children will inherit your eBooks (NPR):
In the age of the e-book, the paper book faces two possible and antithetical fates. It may become something to be discarded, as with the books that libraries scan and cannibalize. (In the introduction to another book, Unpacking My Library: Writers and Their Books, Price mentions the severed book spines that hang on the wall at Google, "like taxidermists' trophies.") Alternatively, it may become a special object to be preserved and traded. My grandfather's copy of War of the Worlds obviously falls into the second category — but very few of the millions of books published since the mid-19th century are ones you'd want to own. If Amazon has a "long tail" of obscure but occasionally purchased titles, the tail that goes back 150 years is near endless and thin as thread.
Meanwhile, the kind of "serial" book sharing (as Price describes it) that occurs over time is giving way to simultaneous, "synchronous" sharing. With the Kindle, you can see what thousands of other Kindle readers are highlighting in the book you're reading — a fairly astonishing innovation. But the passage of books from hand to hand, gathering inscriptions along the way, is not part of the e-book economy. Will your grandchild inherit your Kindle books? No one knows, but given password protection and the speed at which data becomes obsolete, that seems highly unlikely.
Real time language translation for in-class lectures is tested in Germany and could expand their pool of foreign students$  Maybe the could work on comprehension next (Chronicle):
The translation system could be an essential tool in making Karlsruhe and other German universities more attractive to international students, perhaps even allowing them to eventually abandon language requirements if it proves reliable enough.
Many students, in Germany and elsewhere, are also interested in translating from English into their own languages, especially Chinese, Mr. Waibel adds. “There’s tremendous potential for this,” both in classrooms and more generally, he says.
Even students who feel comfortable in the language in which a lecture is being delivered have said they find the automatic translator useful. Some have said they find that having a transcript in German helps improve their German and allows them to better follow a lecture, even if they don’t use the translation component.
Here's proof there's always a silver lining.  Sometimes in lace and satin.  And naughty.  (Observer):
"Once women see that sex shops are clean and then they visit again. Once they feel comfortable and realise that they are not the only people in the world trying to do something different they start asking the questions they would have asked years ago if they realised there was someone to ask."
Lesley Lewis, who first worked as a dancer in Soho in 1979 and now runs the famous French House pub, said the new generation of visitors were a welcome addition.
"Soho was always a place where people could be themselves. In the past it was gay men holding hands and if now it's women going to sex shops after reading Fifty Shades of Grey then that can't be a bad thing. Long may it carry on like that," she said.
The Library of Congress curates 88 books that shaped America

Lectures go digital.

The World's 54 Largest Book Publishers, 2012  

OCLC & EBSCO Develop Partnership Offering Interoperability of Services 4 Libraries and Increased Options for Discovery