Wednesday, September 22, 2021

MediaWeek (Vol 14, No 8) Pearson Sues Chegg, B&N goes COVID Book Crazy, UK Copyright, Open Access Policies + More

Pearson plc is suing Chegg for Copyright Infringement over test packs. (CourtListener)
As part of Pearson’s focus on pedagogy, Pearson and its authors devote significant creative effort to develop effective, imaginative, and engaging questions to include in the textbooks it publishes. Pearson’s end-of-chapter questions are strategically designed and carefully calibrated to reinforce key concepts taught in the textbooks, test students’ comprehension of these issues, enhance students’ problem-solving skills, and, ultimately, improve students’ understanding of the subject matter. Pearson’s textbooks can contain hundreds or thousands of end-of-chapter questions. These end-of-chapter questions form core components of the teaching materials contained in Pearson textbooks and are frequently hallmarks of Pearson titles. As such, the availability, quality, and utility of these questions are often important considerations when educators select which textbooks to adopt for their courses.

Barnes & Noble has done well during COVID.  News reports suggest double digit growth unseen 'since before Amazon (NYPost)

Industrywide, US sales of books are up 12 percent so far this year through August compared to the same period a year ago —  and up 20 percent from 2019 over the same time period, according NPD Group, a market research company. CEO James Daunt says B&N sales have risen 6 percent since 2019.Jon Enoch Photography

“Double-digit growth in books has not happened since Amazon came along,” Barnes & Noble Chief Executive James Daunt told The Post in an interview. 

Those kinds of numbers are encouraging for Elliott, a fund known for taking big positions in public companies and agitating for change: In this case, it bought B&N whole as a fixer-upper. A source familiar with the matter says Elliott is about halfway through its plan that would eventually spin the bookseller back onto the public markets — or sell it to another private buyer.

Guardian Opinion on proposed changes to UK copyright law: 

It might sound like good news for book lovers too, but only in the short term. While books might become a bit cheaper, the long-term loss for readers has the potential to far overshadow the gain. “The loss of revenue will make publishers more risk-averse and close down access for new work,” Hilary Mantel has warned, with knock-on effects including cramping the innovation that feeds our film and TV industries.

Researchers and publishers respond to new UK open-access policy (Physics World)

IOP Publishing, which publishes Physics World, broadly welcomes the UKRI’s new open-access policy, which it says “aligns with our mis­sion to expand physics globally”. However, it thinks that the require­ment for researchers to deposit the final version of a manuscript in a repository under no embargo will be “harmful to the significant OA pro­gress already made”. “This approach cannot form the basis for an econom­ically viable publishing model for physics journals seeking to maintain the highest standards of peer review and publication.”

That view is echoed by the Inter­national Association of Scientific, Technical, and Medical Publishers (STM), which says it is “deeply con­cerned” that the UKRI policy gives equivalent status to the “subscrip­tion-tied accepted manuscript and the full OA publication of the version of record”. This, the STM says, could “jeopardize the continued progress of the open-access publishing tran­sition by enabling an entirely unsus­tainable route”. The STM urges the UKRI board to “carefully consider these issues”.

 An App called Libby (New Yorker)

The sudden shift to e-books had enormous practical and financial implications, not only for OverDrive but for public libraries across the country. Libraries can buy print books in bulk from any seller that they choose, and, thanks to a legal principle called the first-sale doctrine, they have the right to lend those books to any number of readers free of charge. But the first-sale doctrine does not apply to digital content. For the most part, publishers do not sell their e-books or audiobooks to libraries—they sell digital distribution rights to third-party venders, such as OverDrive, and people like Steve Potash sell lending rights to libraries. These rights often have an expiration date, and they make library e-books “a lot more expensive, in general, than print books,” Michelle Jeske, who oversees Denver’s public-library system, told me. Digital content gives publishers more power over prices, because it allows them to treat libraries differently than they treat other kinds of buyers. Last year, the Denver Public Library increased its digital checkouts by more than sixty per cent, to 2.3 million, and spent about a third of its collections budget on digital content, up from twenty per cent the year before.
 Wuthering fights! Will this priceless book collection be preserved or broken up at auction? (Stephan Fry -Airmail)

The story in brief: over their lifetimes, a pair of childless, mid–19th century North Country millowner brothers named William and Alfred Law assembled, with knowledge and discernment, a private collection of books and manuscripts. This library passed to successive descendants for a century, neither supplemented, catalogued, nor open to visitation by academics or enthusiasts—save on a few occasions which served only to enhance the legend of the collection’s existence. And now the entirety is for sale at Sotheby’s in London.

Very little is known about the Laws, but their taste and judgment give the lie to that snooty stereotype—vented if not invented by Dickens in Hard Times—of the hard-nosed industrialist for whom art and books are nowt but fancy folderols for fops and fools.

Barnes & Noble Education Financial Results (Edgar)
  •  Versus same period last year: Revenues up $40mm and Net Income flat on higher selling and admin costs
 Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Financial results (Edgar)
  • Revenues up 30% for same quarter in 2020
  • Significant improvement in Net Income
  • Gain on sale of trade business $218mm 
Wiley Financial Results (Edgar)
Publishing Technology Report 2021 - Insight into software and services companies supporting publishers and content owners. 

Monday, September 20, 2021

Publishing Technology Report 2021 - PrePub Price Ends 9/21!



A fully revised, up-to-date version of my Publishing Technology Software and Services Report is now available for purchase.

It features more than 200 software and services companies popular with publishers, and we conducted in-depth interviews with 31 of the most relevant companies. We also talked to customers to get their views on the market and their opinions about these suppliers.

Now, for a limited time, you can purchase the report at a pre-publication price of $950. After September 21st the price of this report will be $1,500

Bonus: 4 hours of consulting time is included with each purchase.

In addition to the 'traditional' company market map, this year we decided to get a little more creative and illustrated the market in a 'subway-style' map. I hope you find this both innovative and informative.

As in past years, this report covers all the main operational and functional areas served by these companies: Order to Cash, Financials, Title (Product) Management, Contract Rights and Royalties, Editorial, Production and Scheduling, Subscription Management, Digital Asset Management, Digital Asset Distribution and Content Management Services.

To produce this report, we interviewed 31 companies and 50 executives. Each 60 minute interview was transcribed and used to create a 3-5 page profile of each company. Also included are company product information and,graphics as well as our own research to support the analysis.

This report is required reading for any publisher with technology requirements!

Use the following link to purchase using Paypal or a credit card.
If you prefer an invoice, please email me:
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Monday, August 16, 2021

Publishing Technology Software & Services Market Report - 2021 Now Available

A fully revised version of my Publishing Technology Software and Services Report will be formally published on September 15. To complete this report we identified more than 200 software and services companies popular with publishers and conducted in-depth interviews with more than 31 of the most relevant companies. We also spoke with customers to apply their views and opinions about the market and these suppliers.

Special pricing until September 21st: Prepublication price of $950 ($1,500 regular price).  I also include in every purchase up to four hours of consulting time to review the report and answer any specific questions about the market and companies in the report. 

Use the following purchase link to use either Paypal (prefer) or credit card.

In addition to the 'traditional' market map of companies we also decided to get a little more creative to describe the market in a 'subway' map version. 

I hope you find it interesting and informative.

In this 170 page report we cover many operational and functional areas served by these companies including Order to Cash, Financials, Title (Product) Management, Contract Rights and Royalties, Editorial, Production and Scheduling, Subscription Management, Digital Asset Management, Digital Asset Distribution and Content Management Services. 

To produce this report, we interviewed more than 31 companies and approximately 50 people in total. Each interview was approximately 60 mins. We transcribed these interviews and created 3-5 page profiles of each company and included company product information and, in some cases, graphics provided to us by the company.  We have also created our own supplemental information to support the analysis.

This report is informative and relevant for any publisher with technology requirements.

The following companies were profiled in detail:

See how we put together the Subway map here.

Thursday, August 12, 2021

Building a Subway (Map): Annual Publishing Technology Report

As semi-frequent readers may know, I have been publishing a market research report reviewing technology companies which support publishing companies. My next report will be published in mid-September and, as I thought about how I would like to display the market environment for this version, I decided to try to depict the companies graphically in a "subway" map.

It turned out to be harder than I anticipated.  I like the result which I will present in the next weeks but there were a lot of twists and turns (and what-have-yous). I thought it would be interesting to show how this came together.

Firstly, I listed all the companies I wanted to cover in a spreadsheet and then added color coded the functional 'modules' attributed to each company.  Initially, I had many more columns with software capabilities but this became unmanageable so I consolidated into 13 specific capabilities. This is an example of the spreadsheet:


This document became my 'control' document and I eventually identified over 200 companies.  As I worked through the process of identifying which capability applied to which company I also concluded that these would define the 'stops' on my eventual subway map.

I researched whether there was and standard software I could use to create my map and basically came up empty handed. I think it exists but I was unable to find any.  That meant I had to draw the map by hand and figure out later how to make it pretty.  I did find a tool I thought might work but as this image (left) shows that didn't work at all.

The difficulty in drawing the map was trying to determine the overlaps and the stops which would apply to multiple companies and to draw the map so it would appear logical. This was much harder than it sounds and I went through many iterations.  





 As the following images show:


It was this version I sent to Upwork as a first draft.

Eventually, I was satisfied with a drawn draft and I posted a job on Upwork (which I had never used before).  I found someone at $45/hour (not the cheapest) who did great work. If anything he was too literal in translating my drawing into Illustrator but correcting this was a matter of iterating through versions.

I estimate I spent 40 hours on this - which I admit was probably a bit much. But that said, I think the final map looks pretty good.  I am even thinking mugs and t-shirts (so let me know).

We eventually got to this version which I will reveal next week.  Meanwhile more information on the report and a pre-publication purchase price is here.