Friday, January 31, 2014

Candid Archive: Family Images 1930 - 1980

Candid Archive 1930 - 1980 by Edited by Michael P. Cairns | Make Your Own Book

Sample pages from one of my recent Blurb books.  A view on PND you may not have seen. The cover image was taken at Bangkok International airport in 1969 the day we left there for New Zealand.  We were in Bangkok for about a year.  They really dressed us up nice. 

Monday, January 27, 2014

MediaWeek (V8, N4): Textbook Prices (Again), Predicting Novel Success, Airport Bookstores, JD Salinger + more

Research indicates that more textbook options haven't changed student behavior appreciably (IHeD)
The survey, which includes about 2,000 students from 150 campuses, indicates that while cheaper alternatives such as rental programs and open-source textbooks have gained traction in recent years, 65 percent of students had still opted against buying a book because it was too costly – and 94 percent of them were concerned that their grade would suffer because of it.
Another 48 percent of students said the cost of textbooks affected how many and which classes they took each semester. At the same time, 82 percent of students said free online access to a textbook (with the option of buying a hard copy) would help them do “significantly better” in a course. The paper therefore argues for widespread use of open textbooks, which are designed in this way and which PIRG estimates save students an average of $100 per course.
“Students should be focused on taking the classes they need, not kept out because they feel they have to choose between their textbooks and rent,” said Senack, the report’s author. “We know that if more campuses and if more states made the commitment ... we would be able to save students millions in dollars per year.”
Similar to the article I posted a few weeks ago about predicting which movies will be successful he's a similar article from Salon looking at whether a novel's success can be predicted.  (Salon)
The truth is that tailoring books to reader preferences has been going on for decades, and the Internet is only making this process more efficient. That doesn’t mean that, in the future, literary novelists like Donna Tartt or James McBride are going to be expected to market-research their books like a Hollywood filmmaker forced to submit his would-be blockbuster to the scrutiny of a test audience. While the editors who work with such writers are not above suggesting a sunnier ending or more intelligible plot points every now and then, for the most part, authors like these are signed on because of the originality of the work they produce. Only Donna Tartt can write a Donna Tartt novel, and it would take a very foolish editor to interfere overmuch with her process.
And here's someone trying to do it with math (InsideScience)
They said it is the first study to correlate between a book's stylistic elements and its popularity and critical acclaim.  In a paper published by the Association of Computational Linguistics, Vikas Ganjigunte Ashok, Song Feng, and Yejin Choi said the writing style of books was correlated with the success of the book.  The researchers used a process called statistical stylometry, a statistical analysis of literary styles in several genres of books and identified characteristic stylistic elements more common in successful tomes than unsuccessful ones.  They began their research with Project Gutenberg, a database of 44,500 books in the public domain. A book was considered successful when it was critically acclaimed and had a high download count. The books chosen for analysis represented all genres of literature, from science fiction to poetry.  Then, they added some books not in the Gutenberg database, including Charles Dickens' "Tale of Two Cities," and Ernest Hemingway's "The Old Man and the Sea." They also added Dan Brown's latest novel, "The Lost Symbol," and books that have won the Pulitzer Prize, the National Book Award, and other awards.  They took the first 1,000 sentences of 4,129 books of poetry and 1,117 short stories and then analyzed them for various factors. They looked at parts of speech, use of grammar rules, the use of phrases, and "distribution of sentiment" – a way of measuring the use of words.
Update on how Airport Bookstores are adapting to a changing industry (DesertNews)
Airport bookstores may be on the front lines of the transition to eBooks. Cheaper prices and new methods of reading are causing concerns among booksellers, experts say.  But the future isn’t all bleak, said Sara Hinckley, spokesperson for the Hudson Group, which owns several airport bookstores throughout the country.  “Bookstores across the country, including Hudson, are doing everything they can to give customers a reason to look beyond price as the only deciding purchase factor: a hand-picked selection, personal service, a pleasant shopping environment, convenience, community support and the most aggressive pricing we can afford,” she said.
In the New Republic a 'repost' of an article written in 1973 reconsidering JD Salinger (New Republic):
I have no idea why Salinger has not in recent years graced us with more stories. It is no one's business, really. He has already given us enough, maybe too much: We so far have not shown ourselves able to absorb and use the wisdom he has offered us. Today the man I have quoted, Jim, finds Salinger "as important as any writer" he has read; in a sense he has come full circle—from Salinger to Salinger. A dedicated if somewhat offbeat school teacher, his mind and spirit are not unlike Zooey's: sarcastic at times, tender and vulnerable at other times; now indignant, now resigned and intensely prayerful. A while back one could read Salinger and feel him to be not only an original and gifted writer, a marvelous entertainer, a man free of the slogans and clich├ęs the rest of us fall prey to, or welcome as salvation itself, but also a terribly lonely man. Perhaps he still feels lonely; but he is, I think, not so alone these days. The worst in American life he anticipated and portrayed to us a generation ago. The best side of us—Holden and the Glasses—still survives, and more can be heard reaching for expression in various ways and places, however serious the present-day assaults from various authorities.
From the twitter:
Why Classic Movies Have Terrible Trailers - Adrienne LaFrance - The Atlantic
BBC News - Pearson shares hit after profit warning  
The Decline of the American Book Lover - Jordan Weissmann - The Atlantic

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Image: Holua Lookout.

View looking south across the base of Haleakala Crater from above Holua Cabin.  To the right are the famous switch-backs that take hikers from the crater floor to the rim.  To the top left, is the part of the crater that looks like a moonscape.  Looking forward to some hiking this summer.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

British Library Goes Comic

A new exhibition at the British Library (Guardian):
The summer show, entitled Comics Unmasked: Art and Anarchy in the UK, is being staged by the British Library which holds the complete output of the British comics industry but said it had not in the past done the genre justice.
Roly Keating, the library's chief executive, said: "It is fair to say, if we are being honest, that we haven't devoted to that sector of our collection the scholarly and curatorial effort we have devoted to some of the higher culture parts of our collection. This year we are addressing that with a vengeance."
The exhibition will have sedition and rebellion at its heart, said Dunning. It will also aim to explode a few myths, not least that the publications are all about superheroes and that reading them is the pastime of boys, he added.
"When we first started to talk to people about this comic book show some people said 'it's only for boys'. It's garbage," said Dunning. "People were saying girls don't like blood and psychologically upsetting things and the girls were saying, 'we love it'."

BISG: Making Information Pay

BISG is co-locating their Making Information Pay conference at BEA this year.  Be sure to check it out.

Making Information Pay: Join Us at BEA in partnership with IDPF
We're co-locating this year's Making Information Pay Conference with IDPF Digital Book 2014 at Book Expo America.
Making Information Pay is an annual half-day conference for senior executives in operations, sales, business development, and marketing, providing information and insights about the best practices driving the success of today's industry leaders. Previous keynote speakers have included Hilary Mason, Chief Scientist at bitly and a Forbes "40 under 40 Ones to Watch" and Charles Duhigg, the prize-winning New York Times journalist and author of The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business.
Making Information Pay will take place in the afternoon on Thursday, May 29th and is included FREE with your IDPF Digital Book 2014 registration badge. Complete access to the BEA Exhibit Hall is also included FREE with your IDPF badge.
IDPF Digital Book 2014 is the flagship digital conference at BEA and the longest-running digital conference in the industry. We're pleased to partner with them. 
Register through BEA to add on an IDPF Digital Book Conference 2014 pass which includes unlimited access to the 2014 BISG's Making Information Pay conference and the BEA Exhibit Hall. Pricing information is available here.
For questions, email For sponsorship opportunities, email Jeanette Zwart at
We thank our 2014 MIP sponsors, Media Services Group and Bowker.
Hashtag #MIP14

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

An Interview with Tim O'Reilly on Open Data

Tim O'Reilly discusses open data with the McKinsey & Company Insight:
A platform for innovation It seems to me that almost every great advance is a platform advance. When we have common standards, so much more happens. And you think about the standardization of railroad gauges, the standardization of communications, protocols. Think about the standardization of roads, how fundamental those are to our society. And that’s actually kind of a bridge for my work on open government, because I’ve been thinking a lot about the notion of government as a platform. So much thinking in government is around, “Well, we’re going to build a program to solve this particular problem.” But the most successful government programs to me seem to be platform kinds of programs. And I’m not talking about, “Oh, well, the government funded the Internet originally.” I’m talking about things like GPS. The fact is that this is a military program that, through a crucial policy decision, was opened up for civilian use. If this was still just for fighter pilots, we wouldn’t have that Google self-driving car. We wouldn’t have maps on our smartphones. And that’s why I think this idea of a platform and the idea of a market go hand in hand so well. Because when you build a really powerful, effective platform, you do enable a market. 

Monday, January 20, 2014

MediaWeek (V8, N3): Canadian Copyright, Peer Review Challenge, Open Access Directive, Visual Storytelling + More

In an inevitable but still significant decision, The University of Toronto has declined to renew a controversial licensing deal with Access Copyright (Varsity):
“This is a significant victory that will save students over $1.5 million annually and is the result of a campaign led by students and faculty,” said Agnes So, vice-president, university affairs of the University of Toronto Students’ Union (UTSU). “I am glad that the University of Toronto has listened to our concerns and ended the collection of a fee that many students saw as a cash grab.”
In a press release, the university stated that it was unable to reach an agreement with Access Copyright at a price that was fair for the services the company provided. It cited changes in copyright regulation — including the alterations to the Copyright Act made in 2012, the Supreme Court’s expansive approach to fair dealing, changing technology, and increased availability of open access material — as reasons for why the price of the license was no longer fair. Other universities have decided to end their license with Access Copyright, including the University of British Columbia (UBC), Queen’s University, and York University. Access Copyright sued York in April 2013; the case is being closely watched across the education sector, as it is widely seen as the first real test of two competing interpretations of recent changes to the law.
Peeling back the peer review process: It just wasn't true.  (Guardian)
Suddenly a plethora of positive psychology books began to appear, written by eminent psychologists. There was Flow: The Psychology of Happiness by Mihaly Csizkszentmihalyi, who with Seligman is seen as the co-founder of the modern positive psychology movement; Authentic Happiness: Using the New Positive Psychology to Realise Your Potential for Lasting Fulfilment by Seligman himself. And of course Fredrickson's Positivity, approved by both Seligman and Csizkszentmihalyi. Each of them appeared to quote and promote one another, creating a virtuous circle of recommendation.
And these books were not only marketed like a previous generation of self-help manuals, they often shared the same style of cod-sagacious prose. "Positivity opens your mind naturally, like the water lily that opens with sunlight," writes Fredrickson in Positivity.
Then there was the lucrative lecture circuit. Both Seligman and Fredrickson are hired speakers. One website lists Seligman's booking fee at between $30,000 and $50,000 an engagement. In this new science of happiness, it seemed that all the leading proponents were happy.
But then Nick Brown started to ask questions.
Appropriations bill codifies Obama Administration Open Access directive (SPARC)
Progress toward making taxpayer-funded scientific research freely accessible in a digital environment was reached today with Congressional passage of the FY 2014 Omnibus Appropriations Bill.  The bill requires federal agencies under the Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education portion of the Omnibus bill with research budgets of $100 million or more to provide the public with online access to articles reporting on federally funded research no later than 12 months after publication in a peer-reviewed journal.
“This is an important step toward making federally funded scientific research available for everyone to use online at no cost,” said Heather Joseph, Executive Director of the Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition (SPARC).  “We are indebted to the members of Congress who champion open access issues and worked tirelessly to ensure that this language was included in the Omnibus.  Without the strong leadership of the White House, Senator Harkin, Senator Cornyn, and others, this would not have been possible.”
The additional agencies covered would ensure that more than $31 billion of the total $60 billion annual U.S. investment in taxpayer-funded research is now openly accessible.
SPARC strongly supports the language in the Omnibus bill, which affirms the strong precedent set by the landmark NIH Public Access Policy, and more recently by the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) Directive on Public Access.  At the same time, SPARC is pressing for additional provisions to strengthen the language – many of which are contained in the Fair Access to Science and Technology Research (FASTR) Act – including requiring that articles are:
  • Available no later than six months after publication;
  • Available through a central repository similar to the National Institutes for Health’s (NIH) highly successful PubMed Central, a 2008 model that opened the gateway to the Human Genome Project and more recently the Brain Mapping Initiative.  These landmark programs demonstrate quite clearly how opening up access to taxpayer funded research can accelerate the pace of scientific discovery, lead to both innovative new treatments and technologies, and generate new jobs in key sectors of the economy; and
  • Provided in formats and under terms that ensure researchers have the ability to freely apply cutting-edge analysis tools and technologies to the full collection of digital articles resulting from public funding.
Scientific America: Open Access 2013

The Golden Age of Visual Story Telling (Psychology Today):
Considering most people today are too busy to read long articles anymore, do you think infographics could be a more efficient way for them to acquire information?
Infographics take advantage of our visual intelligence. So when they are done well they allow us to make sense of a large amount of information quickly. They can have real advantages over text. But writing is powerful in different ways. They are two different ways of conveying information and telling stories. One is not better than the other.

From Twitter
BBC News - Fridge sends spam emails as attack hits smart gadgets

Academic publishing: No peeking…

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Photo Image: Colorful Wedding.

I am not 100% sure where this was taken but it is either Afghanistan or Pakistan.  I lean to Pakistan and it would date to 1973 or so.  It was Mr and Mrs PND's anniversary this week so appropriate.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Miracle on the Hudson + Five Years

Often reminded of the passage of time and today in particular that it is five years since a plane went floating by.

Four days later the Hudson looked like this:

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

MediaWeek (V8, N1): Maps, Predicting Movie Success, Hotels, Future of CCC?

The beauty of maps from the BBC.  This a 28min video from the British Library.

Speaking of maps - Ooops, from Google.  (Der Spiegel)

The New Statesman's culture editor takes a look forward at the books set to dominate the year.

In the movies, no one knows anything (still).  Also true of trade books.  The Economist
Three decades on, following such big-budget turkeys as “The Lone Ranger” (pictured), the situation in Hollywood is much the same. Only more so. These days the studios assume that to get people into the cinemas, films must be splashier, so production budgets can run in excess of $300m and cost an additional $100m-150m to market. When Disney’s “John Carter”, an adventure flick, bombed last year, the entertainment giant suffered a $160m write-off. Its studio boss, Rich Ross, was told: so long, and let’s do lunch some time.

As the studios spend ever more on lavish prequels, sequels and “franchise” films, supposedly as a way to reduce risk by backing proven formulas, there is a growing danger that these movies will be nixed by jaded punters. Steven Spielberg, no introduction necessary, reckons that the studios could face “meltdown” if several big films flop at once. Studios are increasingly putting out just two types of film: mega-budget ones that can move the needle for the conglomerates that own them, and tiddlers for under $25m that can do nicely when they work. “Hollywood is like America,” says Kevin Misher, a producer. “The middle class has been squeezed.”
I've spent half my life in hotels like these (no exaggeration): A short history of hotels.  The Economist.
Traditionally hotels were glorious illusions. In the 1930s George Orwell worked as a plongeur, or kitchen dogsbody, at Hotel X in Paris. In “Down and Out in Paris and London” he described how French grandeur existed a double-door away from kitchens in which filth ran “like the intestines through a man’s body”. Prolonged exposure to hotels’ artifice could induce madness. The billionaire Howard Hughes lived for years in suites, growing claw-like nails and peeing in jars. But for short-term guests, the theatre was fun.
The uniformity and ubiquity of today’s hotel chains may owe more to “1984”. Employees speak from memorised scripts. Rooms are identical, their windows sealed. The poor are excluded unless they work there. Little wonder that hotels attract rage. There have been 18 big terrorist attacks against them since 2002; from Kabul to Jakarta angry young men have bombed five-star establishments and machine-gunned their guests.
So next time you fix your wake-up call and slip beneath sheets that are folded according to a manual, ask yourself what you are getting into. Are you are a robot in a corporate dystopia? The pampered exploiter of a global underclass? Or, these days, you might be participating in a bold, worldwide social experiment.
Interesting post from Scholarly Kitchen on the role of CCC (SK)
The future for CCC takes them a step further with this philosophy. In a digital age, we see more technology, more ways to atomize content, and more content that may be licensed. The role of an intermediary such as CCC is further cemented in this more complex environment that ironically leads all stakeholders to crave more simplicity in handling licenses. In addition to this, as Roy says, “People will comply with copyright if it is easy to do so, and they are less likely to comply if it is hard.” So, CCC sees its role as enabling the use of copyright. Another view of CCC’s role here is to look at its evolution into developing workflow tools. Dow Jones kicked this off, requesting a product that allowed for external customers to re-use its information content. Essentially this is a workflow tool, which extended into the development of RightsLink as a tool for managing color charges, page charges, and now article processing charges (APCs).

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Digital Book World Conference & Agile Content

DBW is this week in New York and I will be on discussing 'agile content' on a panel on Wednesday. If you are going please stop by and/or say hello in the aisles.  I will be there for the duration.

Here is the panel description:

Agile Content: Developing Responsive Publishing Models
Wednesday, January 15 | 1:45 pm - 2:35 pm (breakout)
Moderated by  Christopher Kenneally, Director Business Development, CCC
Michael Cairns, Chief Operating Officer - Online Division, Publishing Technology
Venetia Davie, VP New Business Development, Parragon Publishing
Amanda D'Acierno, SVP, Publisher, Penguin Random House Audio, Fodor's and Living Language

As digital technology shortens the publishing cycle and offers a number of new ways to monetize content, publishers are finding opportunities outside their historical commercial activity to generate new revenue from existing content. Publishers are able to deliver and license their content for websites and apps; partners and readers are able to mix and match content in new ways; and both traditional book publishers and publishers in other media are suddenly able to repurpose what they have into books in response to news events and other timely triggers.

This panel of new and traditional publishers will be moderated by industry veteran Michael Cairns, currently the COO of the Online Division for the systems provider Publishing Technology. They will explore both the tech and business challenges of using old content to develop new businesses, and they will discuss how they are looking outside the traditional publishing model to improve speed-to-market and reuse, repurpose, and reinvigorate their existing content in exciting new ways.