Friday, May 31, 2013

Lake Taupo, North Island 1973


We used to go here during holiday breaks in the early 70s when the PND family lived there.  Lake Taupo is almost in the center of the north island of New Zealand and the area is still volcanic.  A little north of here is Rotorua which I remember as smelling like bad eggs.  The white peak in the back ground of this photo is Mt Ruapehu which is over 9,000 feet.  Geologists think that Lake Taupo may be a crater of a massive volcano that exploded eons ago.  We had fun there.

Thursday, May 30, 2013

MediaWeek (V7, N22) BookExpo Week

What a story - a surprise at every page!  You'll laugh and cry - sometimes at the same time!
A panel on ethics in book reviewing.  Was it ever thus?  (Time Magazine)
It was a topic that, because of one obvious reason, provoked lots of spirited debate, As of now, book reviewers have no set of guiding principles. Sure, publications and individual writers have vague ideas about what’s okay, but the National Book Critics Circle (NBCC) has not adopted a set of ethical guidelines. Yet. After conducting a survey of members of the industry—the data from which will be available in the fall—and holding events like the BEA panel, the NBCC will issue its ethical best practices.
In the mean time, there’s lots to debate.
“It’s kind of the wild west these days,” said moderator Marcela Valdes, who serves on the NBCC board of directors. As print book reviews are trimmed and amateur, online review sites prosper, the lack of clarity about what’s acceptable for a legit book review has become clearer than ever.
Boris Kachka on Sad Literary Women (Vulture)
“You didn’t think that All Joy and No Fun was going to be the comic relief of this panel, did you?” asked the panel’s final presenter, Ecco Press editorial director Lee Boudreaux, introducing the relatively upbeat survey of American parenthood by New York’s own contributing editor Jennifer Senior (based on her 2010 cover story). Boudreaux noted that, title notwithstanding, there's lots of complex discussion about the nature of happiness, and two chapters on the ineffable joy of parenting. “So I’m saying what everybody else is saying,” Boudreaux beamed. “My book is not depressing.”
An article Jeff could have written five years ago - (may be he did). Excepting the Facebook reference (WSJ)
BookExpo is also a crucial social venue for people in the book industry, and a focal point for discussion of industry issues. This year there will be panel sessions on such topics as "Facebook FB +5.27% 2.0: Advanced Strategies for Book Sales," plus author events, including one Saturday called "Creating the Ultimate Book Club Experience" that will feature Elizabeth Gilbert and Wally Lamb.
Some have reason for optimism. Publisher net revenue for fiction and nonfiction titles grew 7% to $15 billion in 2012 compared with 2011, according to BookStats, a recent study by two book-industry groups.
However, publisher net revenue from bricks-and-mortar bookstores declined 7% to $7.5 billion in 2012, according to the same study. E-book sales are growing, and in 2012 represented 20% of publisher revenue
3M continues to shake up the library market for eBooks and announced their new Publisher Portal at BookExpo (Businesswire):
3M Cloud Library will debut its new online publisher portal at Book Expo America 2013 (BEA) to be held May 30 - June 1 at the Javits Center in New York City. BEA attendees will be among the first to experience the portal, which allows publishers to receive daily data updates on their eBook content sales.

The project is an outcome of a variety of successful pilot programs 3M Cloud Library has coordinated with several key publishers and libraries that have expressed the need for a more immediate picture into the library eBook market. Publishers will now be granted immediate access to the online portal when they work with 3M Cloud Library. Publishers will only be able to view data on their eBook content - no private or personal data will be shared.
"We know publishers can find great value in the metrics generated through libraries," said Matt Tempelis, global business manager, 3M Cloud Library. "Sharing data with publishing partners not only strengthens relationships, but it also shows the importance of selling eBooks to the library market."
Attendees are encouraged to visit 3M Cloud Library at booth DZ2163 for a demonstration of the online publisher portal. For more information about the 3M Cloud Library eLending system, visit 3M.com/Cloud.
Malcolm Galdwell was mean to the New York Public library.  Surely with funding obliterated for libraries across the country there are better targets. (NY Observer)
Every time I turn around, there’s some new extravagant renovation going on in the main building. Why? In my mind, the New York Public Library should be focused on keeping small libraries open, on its branches all over the city,” Mr. Gladwell reportedly said at a BookExpo America in New York forum. He then let lose the ultimate dis, adding that “luxury condos would look wonderful there. Go back into the business of reaching people who do not have access to books. And that is not on the corner of 42nd and Fifth.”
PW reports on an up beat show:
Megan Sullivan, from Boston’s Harvard Bookstore, said she thought many publishers “have a bigger presence than last year” and that the booths were, overall, bigger. Though some still miss the old weekend schedule—Dave Mallman of Wisconsin’s Books & Co. said he misses the ability to meet with publishers during the week and then attend the show on Saturday and Sunday—it was not an overwhelming complaint.
The weekend, this year, brought more questions about Consumer Day, which is entering its second year. Booksellers, as well as those working at the houses, said they were eager to see how many consumers would actually show up on Saturday, and what kind of consumers they would be. Questions about who the mysterious “Power Readers” are persisted; some wondered aloud if more would-be authors would come to the show on Saturday, eager to pitch ideas to publishers as opposed to pick up books to read.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

The Baked Beans Are Off - Ideas on What Scale Means

One of the themes at BookExpo 2013 is about scale in publishing and how this concept has and is changing within our industry.  I was reminded of this post from July 2010 on that topic:


When I joined Macmillan, Inc in 1989 the company was rounding out the decade nicely having gone from losing over $1mm per week and a share price less than $2 in 1980 to one sold to Robert Maxwell for 19x earnings and $92 per share. Application of economies of scale helped build Macmillan to a $2billion publishing conglomerate where each newly acquired publishing company was just ‘more beans for the baked bean company’ which was how senior executives referred to their “factory acquisition” process. In fact, some of the executives, notably CEO Bill Reilly, had come from industrial manufacturing and had a deep understanding of how to effectively apply scale economies to operations.

All the largest publishing companies were following a similar ‘baked bean’ approach as the industry consolidated: Publishing lists were separated from their original companies and progressively (sometimes immediately) overhead expenses were eliminated as the acquired company was absorbed. At one point, I was tasked with following up on the ROI for a slew of companies acquired over a two year period. This proved difficult because their operations had been so effectively integrated into the parent company that constructing a post-acquisition income statement proved virtually impossible.

Fast forward 20 years and the scale economic model is falling apart for trade publishing. So effective at applying scale to accounting, manufacturing, management, production and other overhead, it is ironic that in the internet world everyone now has access to similar scale benefits. Publishing companies now realize they have achieved scale advantages in the wrong functions. Scale advantage in editorial, marketing, promotion, and content management is almost non-existent to the degree that will ensure competitive advantage, yet these are the functions important to future success. (As an isolated example, I would argue that authonomy.com by Harpercollins represents an attempt to build scale into the editorial process).

We all know seismic change – prevalent everywhere - has to come to the cost structures of publishing companies. Squeezed by downward pricing and potential revenue share models that provide more to authors and contributors, publishers will wonder where the money is going to come from. The scale model that built companies like Macmillan, Inc. is irreparably dead to anyone thinking about the future of publishing. The only way out – and it’s not an easy suggestion – is to recognize that those functions that used to provide scale benefits are no longer doing so and need to be carved out. Some of this has happened in manufacturing where companies like Donnelly and Williams Lea have taken over the manufacturing and production function for companies: Those departments no longer exist at the publisher. Decisions to outsource non-value added functions such as accounting, distribution and fulfillment and information technology must be made as the publisher contemplates their future. Once unencumbered, the real test will be whether publishers can re-work their structures so that they build scale economies in those functions that do provide value: Content acquisition, editorial, marketing & promotion and content licensing and brand building.

There is little evidence that this is happening or that the realization has set in. Instead of seeing a publishing company improve their performance over ten years as Macmillan did in the 1980s, we are likely to see many examples of the exact opposite over the next ten. Will companies rise to the challenge or are they so wedded to the old ‘baked bean’ model that they expect it to go on forever? Clearly, it won’t.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Pearson Reorganizes their Business Operations: Will Ethridge to Leave

Pearson announced a significant change in the way their business is organized and perhaps the most interesting aspect of this reorganization is that the FT Group will be subsumed into their new "Professional"
business unit together with English Language learning and their electronic testing business.  The conclusion could be this is a catch-all for units the new executive management no longer has confidence in.  That speculation could be counter minded given the level of acquisitions and investment the company has recently made in language learning and testing.  Time will tell but it is hard to understand the inclusion of the FT in that collection.

As the following press release notes the changes will be implemented in 2014 so much can change between then and now.

From their press release:
Pearson, the world’s leading learning company, is today announcing a new organization structure and the appointment of a new leadership team. The changes are designed to accelerate Pearson’s push into digital learning, education services and emerging markets, which the company views as significant growth opportunities.
Under the new structure, Pearson will organize around three global lines of business – School, Higher Education and Professional – and three geographic market categories – North America, Growth and Core.
The leaders of these businesses will be:
  • School - Doug Kubach
  • Higher Education - Tim Bozik
  • Professional - John Ridding
  • North America - Don Kilburn
  • Growth markets - Tamara Minick-Scokalo
  • Core markets - Rod Bristow
Global lines of business will have primary responsibility for strategy and product development, while geographies have primary responsibility for customer relationships, sales, marketing and product delivery.
In addition, Genevieve Shore, currently Pearson chief information officer, will take on a new role as chief product and marketing officer.
The changes will take effect on 1 January 2014 and, to provide investors with greater insight into business trends and performance, Pearson intends to report its sales and profits by both lines of business and geography from 2014.
As a result of the new organization structure, Will Ethridge (currently chief executive of Pearson North America) will step down from his role and from the Pearson plc Board on 31 December 2013. He will continue to work for Pearson in an advisory capacity.
Glen Moreno, chairman, said: “North American Education has been a powerhouse for Pearson for many years and Will has been at the heart of its success. He has developed a strong team of executives and ensured they are ready to take on these new responsibilities. We thank him for his significant contribution to Pearson as a leader and board director.”

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Ingram VitalSource and Blackboard announce Platform and Content Deal

Last year Blackboard announced several high profile content deals with publishers however this deal with Ingram Vitalsource could be more significant if it encourages faculty to really engage with content creation and aggregation on the Blackboard site.   Question is: Is this an exclusive deal for Ingram?

Ingram and Blackboard announced an integration of the Ingram Vital Source platform onto the Blackboard learning management system. From their press release:
Blackboard Inc. and Vital Source Technologies, Inc., an Ingram Content Group company, have launched pilot programs with a number of colleges and universities to test-drive an integrated offering that makes the VitalSource Bookshelf® platform and its hundreds of thousands of e-Textbooks available directly within Blackboard Learn™, the company's flagship learning management system (LMS).

Indiana University—Fort Wayne, University of Alaska Anchorage, and Fayetteville Technical Community College are among the institutions participating in the field trial. With the integration instructors can preview and select e-textbooks, content and learning objects from the VitalSource Bookshelf platform that students can then access through a single sign-on.

Participants in the field trial will provide ongoing feedback to the companies about their experience to strengthen the offering. Participating instructors have expressed satisfaction with the ability to annotate e-textbooks, link to content from anywhere within a course or assignment and assess how students are progressing through content. Students have been enthusiastic about using e-textbooks on mobile devices through native iOS® and Android™ applications, including deep linking that makes pages and features such as notes, highlights and annotations look the same on e-textbooks as they do in printed textbooks.

"My students read more because with this technology, you can assign the reading, and they'll know that I'm checking closely on whether they've read it or not," said Minnie Wagner, business and healthcare management program chair at Minnesota School of Business-Lakeville. "So it has helped students to be more proactive and make sure that they're prepared for the class."

The integrated solution, expected to be available this summer, would offer two purchase models. Institutions that include textbooks as part of tuition could place e-textbooks directly into Blackboard Learn courses for immediate student access. Alternatively, a student-purchase option would give instructors the opportunity to make e-textbooks available for students to purchase or rent from within their Blackboard Learn course environment.

Monday, May 20, 2013

MediaWeek (V7, N21) Online College?, Society Publishing, Georgia Tech Online, Copyright Revision + More

Nathan Heller in The New Yorker: Is College moving Online?
When people refer to “higher education” in this country, they are talking about two systems. One is élite. It’s made up of selective schools that people can apply to—schools like Harvard, and also like U.C. Santa Cruz, Northeastern, Penn State, and Kenyon. All these institutions turn most applicants away, and all pursue a common, if vague, notion of what universities are meant to strive for. When colleges appear in movies, they are verdant, tree-draped quadrangles set amid Georgian or Gothic (or Georgian-Gothic) buildings. When brochures from these schools arrive in the mail, they often look the same. Chances are, you’ll find a Byronic young man reading “Cartesian Meditations” on a bench beneath an elm tree, or perhaps his romantic cousin, the New England boy of fall, a tousle-haired chap with a knapsack slung back on one shoulder. He is walking with a lovely, earnest young woman who apparently likes scarves, and probably Shelley. They are smiling. Everyone is smiling. The professors, who are wearing friendly, Rick Moranis-style glasses, smile, though they’re hard at work at a large table with an eager student, sharing a splayed book and gesturing as if weighing two big, wholesome orbs of fruit. Universities are special places, we believe: gardens where chosen people escape their normal lives to cultivate the Life of the Mind.

But that is not the kind of higher education most Americans know. The vast majority of people who get education beyond high school do so at community colleges and other regional and nonselective schools. Most who apply are accepted. The teachers there, not all of whom have doctorates or get research support, may seem restless and harried. Students may, too. Some attend school part time, juggling their academic work with family or full-time jobs, and so the dropout rate, and time-to-degree, runs higher than at élite institutions. Many campuses are funded on fumes, or are on thin ice with accreditation boards; there are few quadrangles involved. The coursework often prepares students for specific professions or required skills. If you want to be trained as a medical assistant, there is a track for that. If you want to learn to operate an infrared spectrometer, there is a course to show you how. This is the populist arm of higher education. It accounts for about eighty per cent of colleges in the United States.
In Scholarly Kitchen Joe Esposito identifies the Inexorable Path of the Professional Society Publisher:
What makes this path inexorable has to do with the structure of the marketplace today. For almost all journals publishers, libraries constitute their single largest source of revenue. Therefore, a publisher must get access to the library budget to thrive or even survive. But increasingly the largest commercial publishers have set up as gatekeepers to those library budgets, a situation that has intensified as more and more purchasing power has moved to the library consortia. When a society publisher decides to move up to stage 6 — that is, by making an arrangement with a large commercial publisher — it can be seen as selling out, but a strategic assessment of the marketplace may see that as buying in.
Georgia Tech announce massive Online/distance learning project (Inside HigherEd)
The Georgia Institute of Technology plans to offer a $7,000 online master’s degree to 10,000 new students over the next three years without hiring much more than a handful of new instructors.

Georgia Tech will work with AT&T and Udacity, the 15-month-old Silicon Valley-based company, to offer a new online master’s degree in computer science to students across the world at a sixth of the price of its current degree. The deal, announced Tuesday, is portrayed as a revolutionary attempt by a respected university, an education technology startup and a major corporate employer to drive down costs and expand higher education capacity.

Georgia Tech expects to hire only eight or so new instructors even as it takes its master's program from 300 students to as many as 10,000 within three years, said Zvi Galil, the dean of computing at Georgia Tech.

The university will rely instead on Udacity staffers, known as “mentors,” to field most questions from students who enroll in the new program. But company and university officials said the new degrees would be entirely comparable to the existing master’s degree in computer science from Georgia Tech, which costs about $40,000 a year for non-Georgia residents.
Some bullet points and not particularly cohesive from the Goldman Sachs business book of the year award (FT):
Victoria Barnsley, chief executive of HarperCollins UK, probably speaks for many publishing executives when she highlights “single platform domination” as “the risk”. “I don’t think it was good for the record industry nor will it be good for publishing,” she says. The conundrum for publishers is what to do about it.
The House Judiciary Committee began hearings on changing copyright law. Don't hold your breath (CJR):
This contentiousness stems from the fact that copyright law, itself, is something other, or more than, dull. As it stands now, it’s intricate, confusing, and — most of the experts who testified yesterday more or less agreed — due for an update. But not quite everyone. “I think the notion in many circles that copyright law has become totally dysfunctional and counter productive is not the way the situation is,” said Jon Baumgarten, who once served as the general counsel to the copyright office.

This is what passed for consensus in this debate. The CPP’s final report, for instance, noted that “various members of the group maintain reservations and even objections to some proposals described as recommendations in this Report.” And so, they wrote, “we do not intend affirmative statements or the use of phrases, such as ‘we recommend’ or ‘we believe,’ to suggest that the group as a whole was uniformly in support of each particular view stated.”
From twitter this week:

Fresh questions for Amazon over pittance it pays in tax Guardian

Friday, May 17, 2013

Flagstaff Arizona 1992


At a sales conference in January 1992 I got to see some of the scenery around Sedona and Flagstaff Arizona.  I've always wanted to go back there.  It's some amazing landscapes.


Thursday, May 16, 2013

Skip Prichard Named to Succeed Jay Jordan at OCLC

From their press release:
Mr. Prichard has led multi-national organizations that serve libraries across the full spectrum of library services and content needs. Most recently, he was President and CEO of Ingram Content Group Inc., which provides a broad range of physical and digital services to the book industry. Prior to his service at Ingram, he was President and CEO of ProQuest Information and Learning, a respected global publisher and information provider serving library, education, government and corporate markets with offices around the world.
Mr. Prichard will succeed Jay Jordan, who will retire June 30 after 15 years as OCLC President and CEO. Mr. Prichard will serve as OCLC President-elect, effective June 3, and will officially become President and CEO on July 1.
"Skip Prichard is a proven leader with an outstanding record of accomplishment," said Sandy Yee, Chair, OCLC Board of Trustees, and Dean, Wayne State University Libraries and School of Library and Information Science. "He has guided leading library services organizations through eras of significant change, from print to electronic and from local to global. His experience and commitment to libraries will help us continue our work to move library services and cooperation forward—in the cloud, on mobile devices and through the collaborative work of libraries and partners around the world."
"OCLC has a long tradition of strong leadership and vision, and I consider myself fortunate to have the opportunity to lead the cooperative into what promises to be an exciting and challenging future," said Mr. Prichard. "OCLC and member libraries are using the newest technologies available to move library services to the cloud where they continue to collaboratively build resources and infrastructure to share. I look forward to working with the talented OCLC staff and membership to ensure that we build on that momentum, and provide the resources necessary for libraries and librarians around the world to meet and exceed the increasing expectations of their users."

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

NetGalley's Wellness Project



From their press release and interesting initiative by NetGalley:

NetGalley, a service to promote and publicize forthcoming titles to professional readers of influence, has launched the NetGalley Wellness Challenge. The Challenge is specifically aimed to help members of the site improve their individual influence on book recommendations, by modeling best practices in a variety of fun and easy ways.
Over 120,000 NetGalley members are invited to join the Challenge at the official kick-off on Monday, May 13th, by pledging to be “NetGalley healthy.” The 9-week program will give members many opportunities to improve their professional reader health through social media, webinars and in-person events at BookExpo America and the adjacent BEA Bloggers conference (which NetGalley is sponsoring). The program ends on July 10th, and participants will be eligible to win prizes.
Participants will be awarded a digital badge that they can post to their website or blog, to demonstrate that they’re committed to utilizing NetGalley effectively. The program focuses on improving profile quality, the importance of reviews and feedback, and cleaning up NetGalley “to-be-read” lists. Publishers and key bloggers have already joined the effort to promote the program.
Over 200 publishers worldwide use NetGalley to interact with professional readers. Reviewers, bloggers, media, librarians, booksellers and educators can register for free at NetGalley, and request digital galleys from the catalog, or be invited to view a title by a publisher using the NetGalley widget. Once approved by the publisher, NetGalley members can view secure digital galleys on all major reading devices. 
Read more on the NetGalley Wellness Challenge resource page.

Monday, May 13, 2013

Cengage On the Verge of Chapter 11 Filing?

Third quarter revenues at Cengage improved to 5% better than last year and adjusted EBITDA was up a healthy 30% but YTD numbers remain off due to a bad first quarter and the real story behind Cengage's numbers is when, rather than if, the company will go into a pre-arranged bankruptcy so to re-negotiate their outstanding loan obligations.  Here is CEO Michael Hansen's prepared comments on the issue:
As you know, in March of this year, we retained restructuring, financial and legal advisors to assist the company as we review a range of options to strengthen our balance sheet and position our company for long-term growth and success.We are preparing to engage in discussions with our major financial stakeholders about constructive ways to reduce Cengage Learning’s debt obligations and improve its capital structure. Our goal is to put the Company on a stronger financial footing that allows us to support our strategic plan and invest in our future growth.We will seek to negotiate the terms of a comprehensive restructuring transaction with our key creditor constituents and quickly implement the restructuring plan. We may need to utilize the Chapter 11 process to help us implement such a plan.As numerous companies have demonstrated, the Chapter 11 process can be an effective way of achieving a fast and efficient debt restructuring with minimal disruption to the business, particularly where agreement is reached with key financial stakeholders on a plan, or the outlines of a plan, prior to the filing.No decision has been made yet.We are confident that whatever path we take with respect to our capital structure, it will not impact the quality and reliability of our product offerings and our high level of service.
Investor presentation (pdf)
Prepared executive comments (pdf)
Bloomberg

The company also took a goodwill impairment charge and here is CFO Durbin on that one:
Second, in connection with the development of our strategic plan we performed a comprehensive revision of our short- and long-term operating projections, including, but not limited to, key assumptions associated with forecasted industry trends and Company-specific forecasted revenue growth rates and operating margins. The revised forecast was completed and approved by our Board of Directors on April 18, 2013. The plan indicated a substantial reduction in projected revenues, operating profit and cash flows. Consequently, we determined that this constituted a trigger event for goodwill impairment purposes, and we initiated the test pursuant to generally accepted accounting principles (GAAP). Given the timing of the revised projections and the complexity of the required impairment test, we have not yet finalized our analysis. However,we recorded a preliminary goodwill impairment estimate of $2.8 billion during the third quarter.We expect to finalize the analysis during the fourth quarter of fiscal 2013, and any adjustment to the estimated impairment charge will be recorded during that period.
 

Sunday, May 12, 2013

MediaWeek (V7, N20) Dan Brown's Inferno, a Parody, Coursera, + More

The Telegraph reviews the new Dan Brown book (in a way):
The Inspector reluctantly passed a laptop to Langdon who could now sit up in bed. Dr d’Angelou smiled.

“I will leave you two gentlemen,” she said, because that was the sort of thing people said in novels.

Langdon pressed a few keys and on the laptop screen was a grey filtrated image of himself walking along a street he did not recognise. Across the road was a little old woman dressed as Mother Teresa of Calcutta, that deeply divisive saint of the Catholic Church and presumably head of the deeply sinister Salvation Army.

With a chill that aspirated his spine, Langdon watched as the diminutive saint beckoned to him across the road.

“What is she saying, laddie?” the Inspector asked.

Langdon shook his head.

“I don’t know,” he lied.

“You don’t know?” the Inspector asked. “Robert Langdon PFC etc etc doesn’t know something? No wonder you’ve gone as white as your sateen sheets.”

But it was the next frame in the CCTV footage that genuinely shocked him. Out of nowhere and without warning a yellow school bus appeared. It was going at least 30mph in a 20mph zone and its windows were crowded with faces cheering and waving, but that is not what caught Langdon’s attention. Down its side was written in large letters the word PEN.

Langdon froze the picture.

“What does PEN mean, do you think?”

Langdon wrote the word pen along one of the fine lines that demarked the sheet of foolscap in his firm yet carefree handwriting.
They over do it by trying the above again in a different section of the paper although this one may be better:(Telegraph)
“Thanks, John,” he thanked. Then he put down the telephone and perambulated on foot to the desk behind which he habitually sat on a chair to write his famous books on an Apple iMac MD093B/A computer. New book Inferno, the latest in his celebrated series about fictional Harvard professor Robert Langdon, was inspired by top Italian poet Dante. It wouldn’t be the last in the lucrative sequence, either. He had all the sequels mapped out. The Mozart Acrostic. The Michelangelo Wordsearch. The Newton Sudoku.

The 190lb adult male human being nodded his head to indicate satisfaction and returned to his bedroom by walking there. Still asleep in the luxurious four-poster bed of the expensive $10 million house was beautiful wife Mrs Brown. Renowned author Dan Brown gazed admiringly at the pulchritudinous brunette’s blonde tresses, flowing from her head like a stream but made from hair instead of water and without any fish in. She was as majestic as the finest sculpture by Caravaggio or the most coveted portrait by Rodin. I like the attractive woman, thought the successful man.
As the book hits number one all around the world, literary smugness at its finest.

Is good grammar still important? (Observer):
The inaugural Bad Grammar award has gone to a group of academics for an open letter in which they criticised education secretary Michael Gove. Are we too hung up on the correct use of language?
Coursera adds Textbook content from Sage, Wiley, Oxford University Press and Macmillan Higher Education in partnership with Chegg (Blog):
Now, all classes need some additional learning materials – guides, lecture notes, and of course books. That’s where Chegg steps in. We’re serving as the platform on which Coursera students access their reading materials, all through our eTextbook reader.

“Student needs are evolving so it’s important that they continue to learn in and out of the classroom,” said Dan Rosensweig, President and CEO of Chegg. “It’s vital that we put students first. Digital courses allow the most sought-after classes, taught by the most knowledgeable educators to be accessible, even worldwide, helping students finish college quicker and with less debt. At Chegg, we are thrilled to partner with Coursera to expand and adapt our digital offerings – from textbooks to supplemental content – to enhance the way students are learning today.”
From Twitter this week:
Items from Hemingway's Cuba home go to JFK Library BusinessWeek
Ann Curry reportedly being courted for lucrative tell-all book deal Examiner - Didn't she get $10mm severance? Not enough?

And in Sport, Manchester United boss Sir Alex Ferguson announced his retirement this week and will be leaving the job on a high note: Guardian Supplement

Friday, May 10, 2013

Snake Farming Bangkok


I think this is gruesome personally but it was a stop on the tourist path in 1969 when we were living there.  I believe these farms are still there and, as you can see, the snakes live in a structure that looks like a pool without any water.  When Bangkok had some major flooding a number of years ago the flood waters over- flowed these walls, filled up the snake pits and the snakes swam out.  That's a worry.

Check out my book on Blurb in print and iPad versions.

If you want to make your own here's a link for $20 off your first book.

Wednesday, May 08, 2013

DigEdCon 2013 - Infrastructure and Innovation with Dr. Kenneth C. Green




Also the associated slides are located on the Saylor site here.   Casey blogs on the influential Inside Higher Ed blog Digital Tweed 

via the EdSurge Newsletter.

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.