Monday, May 06, 2013

MediaWeek (V7, N18): Performance Reading; eBook Lending and Retail; eBooks and Libraries; Scholarly Publishing and Truth + more

Interesting experiment reported in the NYTimes about a performance art project undertaken at NYU:
Regular patrons hardly seemed to notice when the readers turned their books upside down, or ran their fingers in unison under passages in the identical piles of novels in front of them (by José Saramago, Kazuo Ishiguro and Agota Kristof), or flipped through a book of depopulated cityscapes by the photographer Gabriele Basilico, or just stared at a blank page in a spiral-bound notebook.

The mental action, however, was far more disorienting and sometimes edged toward violence. Readers turned to passages containing words like “strangulation,” “saboteurs” and “death sentence,” which were subtly altered by a voice reading along, or overwhelmed by a tide of white noise. They were asked to imagine all the books in a huge library cut up into their individual words, then separated into huge drawers reading “knife,” “cloud” or “the.”

At one point, books slammed shut from an uncannily precise location a few feet to the listeners’ left — inside the headphones, or outside in the real-life library? — causing the listener to brace for a librarian’s angry “Shhhhh!”
Is there a relationship between eBook lending and retail book sales? Overdrive and Sourcebooks are embarking on a project to find out (LibraryJournal)
During the 18-day program, data associated with the title, which will also contain a special “Dear Reader” note from Malone (see below), is going to be closely tracked.

Sourcebooks, which has worldwide rights to the book, will chronicle the impact on sales not only for this particular title but also the effect on the other seven books that Malone has published with Sourcebooks. The Amazon rankings will also be monitored (as of today, Four Corners of the Sky had an Amazon Best Sellers Rank of 149,512).

“Steve and I have over the years talked about a lot of different collaborations between Sourcebooks and Overdrive, always focused on expanding the reach of authors,” said Dominique Raccah, the CEO of Sourcebooks. “When Steve called with this idea a few months ago, I was delighted to apply the ‘discovery’ conversation that publishers, authors and retailers are engaged in to libraries.”

“It has always been an assumed ‘given’ that library support helped drive author success, both short- and long-term. Seeing if we can provide data around that assumption is fascinating,” Raccah said.
Anthony Marx (President NY Public Library) in an OpEd in the NYTimes speaks about eBooks and Libraries (NYT)
Libraries remain essential repositories of books, periodicals and research collections, but they are also places to check e-mail and browse the Web — a third of New Yorkers lack home broadband — and to learn computer skills, seek jobs and get information about government benefits. At a time of painful austerity and rising inequality, we are raising money to rapidly expand English-language classes, computer training and after-school programs. Along with our counterparts in Brooklyn and Queens, we are supplementing school libraries by delivering print books directly to schools.

E-books might not seem like a priority given those daunting tasks — but as the nature of reading changes, access to these books is essential for libraries to remain vital. The New York Public Library helped lead talks with the publishers over e-books. Before today’s breakthrough, we had some false starts. While HarperCollins, in 2003, was the first to provide access, after the downturn, it limited the number of times each e-book could be lent, while Hachette decided to no longer sell new e-books to libraries, and Penguin, which had agreed to do so, said it might back out. To their credit, the publishers have now each come around.
Good diagram of the MOOC universe as it currently exists from The Chronicle of Higher Ed.

From the Columbia Journalism Review a look at how scholarly publishing failed and journalism encouraged the reporting of the link between autism and vacines (CJR):
The consequences of this coverage go beyond squandering journalistic resources on a bogus story. There is evidence that fear of a link between vaccines and autism, stoked by press coverage, caused some parents to either delay vaccinations for their children or decline them altogether. To be sure, more than 90 percent of children in both the US and the UK receive the recommended shots according to schedule, but in 2012, measles infections were at an 18-year high in the UK, reflecting low and bypassed immunization in some areas. In the US, vaccine-preventable diseases reached an all-time low in 2011, but the roughly one in 10 children who get their shots over a different timeframe than the one recommended by the medical establishment, and the less than 1 percent who go entirely unvaccinated, are enough to endanger some communities. And American and British authorities have blamed recent outbreaks of measles and whooping cough on decisions to delay or decline vaccination.

Beginning in 2004, Brian Deer, a British investigative journalist, brought a measure of redemption to journalism’s performance on this story, publishing a series of articles about improprieties in Wakefield’s work that culminated with the British General Medical Council stripping Wakefield of his license to practice in 2010, and The Lancet retracting his paper. For most journalists, that should have effectively put an end to the autism story. But those who never bought the vaccine-autism link—in the press and elsewhere—have been waiting for the proverbial nail in the coffin on this story for years, and it never seems to come. In April, for instance, The Independent in London published an op-ed by Wakefield, in which he trotted out his argument about the mmr vaccine in the context of the current measles outbreak in Wales.
From my twitter feed:

Niall Ferguson apologises for anti-gay remarks towards John Maynard Keynes
Harper Lee sues agent over To Kill a Mockingbird copyright

Coursera Brings Online Instruction To Teachers, Taking Its First Steps Into The K-12 Market

Thanks to many, many people for noting this news: Publisher's Weekly
In sport: Manchester United. There is no other.

No comments: