Sunday, June 29, 2014

MediaWeek (V8, N26) Dangerous Literature, Newspapers, Ranking Publishers, MOOC Feedback + More

More here: Personanondata - The Magazine  via @flipboard

From The Chronicle of Higher Ed, a discussion on when books were dangerous:
The American Library Association, which designates the final week of September as Banned Books Week, has no problem finding titles to fill its annual lists of books under siege. However, these are generally books that have been removed from particular libraries or schools, not the kind of total proscription imposed on Ulysses, as well as Lady Chatterley’s Lover, Tropic of Cancer, Naked Lunch, Lolita, and other works that have since become staples of literary study. Over the decades since the Woolsey decision, authors, publishers, and judges have struggled to parse the differences between "indecent" and "obscene" and determine the meaning of such terms of art as "prurient interest" and "redeeming social value." However, the upshot is that, though sexual explicitness and offensive language are the most frequently cited reasons for which books are now challenged, neither is now a legal barrier to publication or sale.
Publishers Weekly has updated their hugely useful listing of top publishers by revenues:
Although there was a fair amount of deal making among the global book publishing giants last year, those mergers and acquisitions did not have much of an impact on the top of Livres Hebdo/Publishers Weekly’s annual ranking, based on annual revenue, of the world’s largest publishers in 2013. Pearson came in first, with $9.33 billion in revenue, followed by Reed Elsevier, Thomson/Reuters, and Wolters Kluwer. All four educational and professional publishers held the same respective positions on the list in 2012.
Wired Campus blog at CHEd has a look at digital versus print from the AAUP annual meeting last week in New Orleans.
Christopher Schaberg, an associate professor of English at Loyola University New Orleans, said he appreciates well-done print books more now than before the rise of e-books. Mr. Schaberg is not averse to e-publishing; he is a co-editor of the Object Lessons book and essay series, which appears in both print and digital formats. But he pointed out that e-texts aren’t necessarily more efficient for teaching purposes; he recalled a class in which everybody had an iPad but it took much time to get all the students on the same page, so to speak.
On a global scale it has long been arguable that newspapers are dying and here is another look by The Atlantic.
This captive readership is also the bedrock of the business model. Businesses seeking to target immigrant communities often find more value in advertising in these small publications than the mainstream press.

Disruptions like Craigslist, which has bled dry classified sections of large print publications, have had limited impact on these publications. The foreign-language ethnic press is reaching an audience that isn’t necessarily online and doesn’t always understand English. Nearly a quarter of New York’s population, according to the U.S. Census data, isn’t proficient in English.

The result is that many of these publishers can still support their operations with revenue from print advertising. Castaño, for example, makes 90 percent of his money from print ads, with the majority coming from local businesses. “I’ve been profitable since the beginning,” he told me.

That’s also partly because the Queens Latino only has one full-time employee: Castaño. The rest of the work is done by freelancers, and Castaño’s wife does the layout and design.

At the Urdu Times, Rehman has outsourced most of his newspaper’s operations to a small production unit in Pakistan. “I have 18 people working for me in Lahore,” he explained. The copies are drafted there and then emailed to the basement in Queens for proofreading, as are all the page layouts. Rehman and his wife approve everything, and then forward it to the printers. His only full-time employee in New York is an advertising manager, who has his own desk at the back of the store above the basement.
Rowling may be telling the publishing industry what she thinks about the industry in her newest book as contemplated by The New Republic:
It’s also one of ego-maniacs. And the writers, or would-be writers, are the worst of the batch. When the amateur author of erotica describes her work to Strike in rehearsed phrases and sound bites, he wonders how many people “who sat alone for hours as they scribbled their stories practiced talking about their work during their coffee breaks.” (One wonders: Did—or does—Rowling do this?) Meanwhile, Quine’s agent describes him “as a bigger glutton for praise than any author I’ve ever met, and they are most of them insatiable.” Of course, this agent, a wannabe writer with a first in English from Oxford but no novels to her name, turns out to be pretty insatiable herself.
Instant gratification can be a double edge sword for academics serving online courses (The Conversation):
When your classroom is a global one, filled with well-informed online learners, they don’t cut you much slack. Hundreds of people pore over every element of your course, making well-informed and sometime acerbic comments. Academics who run Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) are finding that they can’t afford any sloppy reasoning, one-sided arguments, or narrow perspectives when teaching to a massive global audience.

As academic lead at FutureLearn, a company offering free online courses from UK universities, I’ve seen that this instant feedback can be eye-opening for course designers.

On a university campus, students stick around even though the teaching may be dreadful, because they need the degree qualification. In MOOCs they leave as soon as they lose interest.

So far, much of the debate in the United States about MOOCs has focused on the dropout rate. Typically, just 7-10% of students enrolled on a course from a US MOOC provider reach the end. But that assumes completion should be the goal of online learning, and that students who drop out early are failures. Much of the early publicity around free online courses focused on them as alternatives to an expensive campus university education. It’s hardly surprising that the simplest measure of failure, student dropout, has been picked up by commentators hoping to burst the MOOC bubble.
For the music lovers, something from Salon on Led Zeppelin
Led Zeppelin, Led Zeppelin II, and Led Zeppelin III have recently been given deluxe reissues by Atlantic Records. Each package contains a remastered version of the original album, along with a generous helping of bonus tracks. The first boasts a live set from a concert in Paris in 1969 (which has been floating around the Internet for years) while the second two include collections of rough mixes from the sessions from Led Zeppelin II and Led Zeppelin III, respectively.

The remastering is pretty superfluous: These are, and always have been, three of the most perfect sounding rock albums ever made. The rough mixes of II and III, though, are a revelation, casting light on Jimmy Page’s immense talents as a producer and giving us the opportunity to rediscover this band as they were, four absurdly gifted young people making music together, as opposed to the rock deities they’d forever after be imagined as. You can hear Page’s pick scraping string on a demo-ish “Whole Lotta Love,” Robert Plant feeling his way through an early pass at “Ramble On,” Bonzo counting the band back in on a skeletal version of “Moby Dick,” the careful interplay of Page’s acoustic and John Paul Jones’ mandolin on a rough cut of “Gallows Pole.” Listening to the ragged life behind these recordings reminds us, on the one hand, that four guys made these records. It also reminds us, on the other, that four guys made these records. Sometimes being made human only heightens your immortality.
James Bridle in the Guardian tells us why digital art matters:
Given this, it seems crucial that it is also accessible to all; not merely engineers, scientists, politicians and policy-makers, but also artists, commentators and the general public. There has never been a greater need for critical engagement with the role technology plays in society, but there's a corresponding problem with that engagement, as severe now as it was when CP Snow diagnosed it in 1959: the lack of understanding between the sciences and the humanities.

If anything, digital technologies have rendered this problem even more acute, as the vast and smoking industrial architectures of the 20th century give way to the invisible, intangible digital architectures of the 21st. If technological literacy is going to rise, it's going to need the help of artists to enlarge its vocabulary, and the leadership and guidance of cultural institutions to frame the discussion.

Different institutions are approaching this in their own way. This summer, the Barbican unveils its take, called Digital Revolution. The Barbican has form in this area: in 2002, it staged the hugely popular Game On, a retrospective of video games which included everything from original Space Invaders arcade games to Grand Theft Auto. Digital Revolution aims to walk a similar line through the entire history of digital creativity, showcasing not only some of its signature events and works, but also the stories of their creators. According to the curator Conrad Bodman, "It's not a show that just looks at contemporary art, but film, music, video games and design, the way they relate to each other, and sometimes merge into one."
Columbia Journalism Review looks into investments in media for millenninials
This problem goes deeper than man-buns and Lena Dunham, though. This month, for example, the GroundTruth Project, which trains young reporters as international correspondents, launched a project called “Generation TBD: Despair and opportunity for millennials in an uncertain global economy.” It will deploy 21 reporting fellows in 11 countries to dig into an issue legacy media has, at times, treated like a joke—the place of millennials in the economy today.

Although GroundTruth Project isn’t explicitly targeted towards any generation, it is distinctively millennial in its desire to make a difference in the world.

“It’s such a rough time—it’s risky to care too much. We’re trying to build an environment in which caring is fine,” says Kevin Grant, the managing editor.

GroundTruth Project grew out of the international news site GlobalPost; the initial idea was to raise nonprofit funding to cover social justice issues in more depth. The project, says Grant, works “to identify these big stories that impact a lot of people, and we try to identify them before our colleagues at other organizations.” And for “Generation TBD,” the GroundTruth Project, with its team of young reporting fellows, has an in and an angle to this story that older media organizations might not

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Image: Dutch Haven 1970 Pennsylvania


I don't know what a shoo-fly pie is but it must have something to do with wind mills.  I believe this place is still there.

Monday, June 09, 2014

Global Library Budgets Study from PCG



Recently the Publishing Technology business unit PCG released their annual library study for 2014.  Here is the executive summary and here is a link to the downloadable report.

Governments around the world have reacted differently to the economic situation they find their country in. Many have introduced austerity measures, while others have pursued an altogether different policy of stimulus. The plight of national economies is important as it impacts library budgets for the coming year/s.

The IMF reported in April that global economic prospects had improved1. More recent announcements from the IMF suggest that the recovery is bumpy and that global growth in 2013 would be just over 3%2, slightly down on their earlier forecasts. While growth is higher in major emerging economies, there has been a downward shift; within the euro area the recession has proven to be deeper than expected, and in the US the economy is expanding, but not as fast as expected. In contrast growth has been
stronger than expected in Japan, mostly due to the depreciation of the yen.

Similarly to the economic global outlook, the prospects for library budgets in 2014 are more positive - overall library budgets are expected to grow, albeit at a low rate of 1%. The materials budget is also set to increase by 1%. In respect to the underlying serials and books budgets, we see slightly higher increases. By diverting funds from other budget lines libraries indicate they will increase their serials and books budgets by 1.5% and 2% respectively.

Although library budget forecasts this year are more positive than in previous years, many expect information price inflation to be greater than their predicted budget increases and many believe they will be pressed to maintain existing services.

When forecasting further forward, the picture looks slightly better.  Forecasts show that between now and 2017 the materials budget will increase by a year on year average of 1.7%.

In geographical terms, Asia Pacific region predicts the most growth, with overall budgets set to increase by 4.2%. It seems many institutions are able to maintain or improve their holdings.  In spite of the depreciation of the yen, which has reduced the purchasing power of libraries, Japanese librarians are a little more optimistic than they have been in recent years. This is likely due to the new Japanese government introducing quantitative easing and a fiscal stimulus that included a substantial investment in science3. North American and European budgets are largely static, but with a slight negative leaning. The overall budgets for these two key regions are expected to decline by 0.5% in 2014.  Europe presents a slightly more mixed picture - although the overall budget is expected to decline slightly, through the management of various budget lines libraries will be able to increase their serials and books budgets. South America sees marginal increases across all four main budgetary areas, this follows decreases of between 3-4% forecast for 2013.

As economic conditions continue to challenge, the allocation of budgets remains a careful balancing act. Given the optimistic forecasts for 2014, the expectation is that some budgetary pressures will ease as recovery from global recession continues.

Friday, June 06, 2014

Monday, June 02, 2014

Media Week (V8, N22) Donna Tartt, Access Copyright, Getty Photos, The Great Newspaper Bubble + More

See this update on Flipboard:

I just finished The Goldfinch and it was an excellent book. (Guardian)
In The Goldfinch, Tartt has dispensed with overt literary references. Theo does carry a copy of Antoine de Saint-Exupéry's Wind, Sand and Stars, a gift, on a cross-country journey, but the book is a talisman of a genuine friendship instead of a substitution for one. Rather than have her narrator deliberately emulate fictional characters, Tartt has taken a fistful of Dickens novels, ground them into a fine powder and then blown the results all over her fictional world: Dickens permeates and perfumes The Goldfinch. So does Salinger, at least in the novel's New York passages, but as a flavouring rather than outright citation. The events in The Goldfinch, from the nebulously motivated terrorist bombing of the Metropolitan Museum, in which Theo loses his adored mother, to the devices by which he ends up in secret possession of the Carel Fabritius painting that gives the novel its title, to the climactic showdown with a bunch of international gangsters – all of this is as outlandish, as frankly and unashamedly fictional, as the bacchanal in The Secret History or the scene in The Little Friend where Harriet and Hely succeed in dropping an albino king cobra from a highway overpass into the sunroof of a moving car.
A current favorite: Alan Furst is out with a new book. (NYTimes
Who’s your favorite novelist of all time?
Years ago, I developed a grand passion for the novels of Anthony Powell. I tried, at a friend’s insistence, “A Dance to the Music of Time.” Couldn’t do it. Then I tried again, still couldn’t. But then, a year later, poking aimlessly about in my library, I paged through the books and came upon the “Autumn” section, Book 3, which includes the World War II novels: “The Valley of Bones,”  “The Soldier’s Art” and “The Military Philosophers.” Now the hook set. Going back to the beginning after reading “Autumn,” it all made sense: the interwoven lives of cosmopolitan British men and women, tossed about by the times they lived through. Powell does everything a novelist can do, from flights of aesthetic passion to romance to comedy high and low. His dialogue is extraordinary; often terse, pedestrian and perfect, each character using three or four words. Anthony Powell taught me to write; he has such brilliant control of the mechanics of the novel. Somewhere in his autobiography, he remarks that a character, when asked a question by another character, need not answer it. I remember sitting there for a long time and letting the stylistic implications of this sink in.
Can anyone compete with Amazon? (PW)
Competing with Amazon, even to carve out a slice of the market, is a daunting task. The company has a number of obvious advantages: scale, resources, and a diverse product line that can let the company treat books as loss leaders. The company, as has been well documented, is also focused on driving prices as low as possible. The perception of Amazon as the cheapest place to buy books, enhanced by its combining books with high ticket items with free shipping, gives the company a tremendous advantage over both online and physical bookselling competitors, says Peter Hildick-Smith, CEO of the Codex Group.

Hildick-Smith believes that if publishers want to help ensure a diverse marketplace, they need to move back to agency pricing on e-books once the court-order restrictions expire, and to return to windowing. Hildick-Smith believes publishers should follow the film industry's successful model of releasing new content in premium format first, followed by discount formats in later releases. Hildick-Smith has been a longtime supporter of windowing as a way to "give bricks-and-mortar stores a chance to do what they do best," noting that Amazon's own bestseller publishing program has struggled without physical-world retailer support. (One possible roadblock to windowing are reports that Amazon's contract prohibits the practice.)
Newspaper ad revenue (CJR)
It’s striking how much less dependent papers were on advertising before the 1980s than they were during and afterward. The rise of advertising was largely due to the decline of newspaper competition, which has fallen steadily since the late 1970s (the number of dailies is down about 22 percent in the last 35 years).

The last paper standing in a market could charge readers the same or less while corralling much of its former competitor’s advertising. While that was fun for a while, it undermined the long-term health of the industry. Newspapers became structurally dependent on sky-high advertising rates, ones that a true market couldn’t support.

In 1990, for instance, newspapers lost more than 6 percent of their ad lineage but also raised their ad rates by more than 6 percent. The New York Times, for instance, lost 38 percent of its advertising lineage from 1987 to 1992 but continued to raise rates.




Big doings in the Canadian copyright market (Quill  & Quire)

As royalties continue to shrink, the situation is having a profound impact on the bottom line of publishers catering to both the K–12 and postsecondary sectors. OUP Canada eliminated three jobs as a result of the closure of its schools division. At Winnipeg-based scholarly press Fernwood Publishing (which focuses on the higher-education sector), Access Copyright royalties usually amount to the salary of one of its seven staffers. And at Broadview Press, Access Copyright payments total $50,000 per year. It’s clear that these royalties have a significant impact on publishers’ abilities to break even, pay their staff, and create new works.
Royalties from the schools market dried up when Access Copyright’s K–12 customers (which include provincial ministries and, in Ontario, individual school boards) walked away from their licences, a move that was prompted in part by the 2012 passing of the Copyright Modernization Act (Bill C-11). The postsecondary sector is also distancing itself from Access Copyright, with many of the country’s biggest universities opting out of collective licences. A year ago, the agency launched a lawsuit against York University to challenge its interpretation of Bill C-11’s “fair ­dealing” provision.
Some publishers have also begun to see declines in sales. “The loss of income is not limited to the loss of the Access Copyright fees,” says Broadview Press president Leslie Dema. “There are now many professors turning to coursepacks instead of anthologies for the first time – simply because the coursepacks are so much cheaper when there is no charge for copyright.”
Plus more at my flipboard magazine.