Tuesday, June 02, 2009

MediaWeek (Vol 2, No 21): BookExpo, Newspapers, China,

We are lagging behind this week due to BookExpo and the resulting back log of work; nevertheless, here are some of the news stories I found interesting over the past week. Many (all) of my twitter feeders (is there such a thing) will have seen most of these. From PW describing the seminar "Stupid Publisher Tricks"(PW):
Among the more provocative proposals were one from Miller that booksellers start publishing and Madan’s request for a good clean data feed, or virtual catalog of all publishers' books, so that independent booksellers could effectively sell books online. Fifteen years after the rise of Amazon, he said, there is no such catalog, and independents have to pay hundreds of thousands of dollars to Ingram or Baker & Taylor for data that should be free.
Peter Preston points to some stats that suggest all is not doom and gloom in newspapers - perhaps though only where we notice (Guardian):

Cue those WAN statistics one more time and find that 81% of American online users also say they read a printed paper at least once a week. In sum, for the moment, it's not one or the other: it's both. And transition from one to the other, where it's happening, comes unpredictably and patchily from city to city and country to country. Gurus with web fish to fry sing a different tune, sure enough. Burgeoning tycoons who got their debt mountains wrong (like David Montgomery at Mecom) invoke broken old revenue models. It all seems so obvious boiled down to a ritual sentence or two in some TV script.

But too much "doom and gloom", according to O'Reilly? Absolutely: and perhaps he should look at his own Independent web figures - up 63% in a year - for some added personal cheer. But it's still a melee of hopes, dreams and disappointments out there - and, certainly, too many glib simplicities.

Paul McGuinness the manager of U2, isn't satisfied with copyright protections despite the Pirate Bay case and service providers required to do more (CNET):
I would really like them to willingly go to the movie studios and the music companies and say this is how we can collect money from the people who are listening to your stuff and watching your movies. We acknowledge that it's the fair thing to do and we have some responsibility for doing it. Let's do it together and let's make some money. I've heard the estimates that half of traffic across the Internet is technically illegal non-paid-for content. That can't go on. It's such a waste. Future generations of artists will face a vacuum where payment used to be. Artists are entitled to get paid, whatever kind of art they do, the same way technologists are entitled to get paid.

But if the technology you develop prevents artists from being remunerated then there's something wrong with it. I'd like to get a moral tone into the discussion. I think there is a big moral question for civilization. It's not good enough to say that the Internet is free to all and there should be no restrictions on its use. I had the experience last year of making a speech to a group of (Members of European Parliament) in Brussels and they were very hostile to the idea of any kind of monitoring or regulation of the Internet, which they regarded as the precursor to a form of taxation. And of course, as politicians, they were against any kind of increased taxation. But it's not taxation. It's paying for something that people are consuming.

NYTimes is becoming its own ad agency (Forbes)

In the past month, the Times has unveiled a real-time news wire feature wrapped in ads for software outfit SAP ( SAP - news - people ), as well as a Web campaign for the AMC series Mad Men, which includes a mini-archive of Times articles about the show within the ad unit. The Times' recent efforts demonstrate a realization that newspapers and magazines can't wait for Madison Avenue to create lucrative new ad models online. J.P. Morgan estimates newspaper revenues will decline 20% this year to $30 billion. Last year, the digital arms of newspapers only contributed an estimated $3 billion. Along with experimenting with new ad mechanisms, the Times has said it is considering various plans to charge users for access to NYTimes.com.
Days after BookExpo you may recognise the truth in research that suggests that Publishing and Media professionals lead all industries in binge drinking (Independent):
People working in media, publishing and entertainment sectors are the heaviest drinkers, according to the Department of Health. They consume an average of 44 units a week, almost twice the recommended maximum amount of three-to-four units a day for men, and two-to-three for women.
Plans for the Plastic Logic reader device were discussed at the All things digital conference (FOX)

A big highlight from the event is Plastic Logic’s new e-reader that is bigger and thinner than Amazon’s (AMZN) popular Kindle and targeted at business users.

This device measures 8.5 inches by 11 inches, the same as the standard letter size for the paper you load into your printer at the office.

Plastic Logic CEO Rich Archuletta told FOX Business in an interview the device will be available at the start of 2010 and that it will be able to handle all different types of content, including PDFs, Word, and Excel files. He showed a working prototype of the device displaying a cover of Fortune magazine as well as a couple of documents.

Very interesting (and generally off the radar) article about publishing mergers in China (Economist):

At a recent industry forum Liu Binjie, the director of China’s General Administration of Press and Publication, the industry regulator, said China would like to see such partnerships between studios and publishers lead to a massive consolidation, leaving half a dozen giant companies capable of spreading Chinese words internationally. Small firms not swept up in the various deals would be able to auction manuscripts. Instead of indirect censorship through publishers, there would be a government clearing house.

The result would be a better organised industry, somewhat similar to what already exists for Chinese films. Production is largely done by government studios, censorship is overt, productions have a global audience and there is strong consumer demand. However, much of that demand is met not by Chinese films but by black-market consumption of foreign films blocked from entering China legally because of tight controls.

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