Sunday, April 28, 2013

MediaWeek (V7, N17): Amazon Taxes and Apps, New Magazines, Fixing Higher Ed, Library Budgets + More

Short takes from the New Statesman:
Over 150,000 people have signed a petition demanding that the UK government take “decisive action [to] make Amazon pay its fair share of UK corporation tax”. The petition drafted by Frances and Keith Smith, independent booksellers from London, was inspired by Margaret Hodge’s questioning of representatives from Google, Amazon and Starbucks last November.
John le Carré has published his 23rd novel: A Delicate Truth. The team behind Skyfall and Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy have made a short film to celebrate. Watch it here
Paper Airplanes is a great title for this article about a new body of travel magazines (Independent):
And yet, as if to counteract this, there is a growing body of beautifully designed, weighty magazines that are very much about digging deep into a place. The geographical place first, but also the happenings, the history, the beauty and the deprivation. They are locally focused, yet global, rather than parochial; and it's not a coincidence that some of the most successful versions are labours of love.

Boat Magazine is aptly named. The office, run by husband and wife Davey and Erin Spens, is based in London, but it moves to a new city each issue. They gather up the most talented writers and photographers they can find, take them to the city they're featuring, cover their travel, food and living costs in lieu of paying them for their work, and – in Erin's words – "set them loose". They migrate for at least five weeks, and live together while collecting the content for their issue.

When Boat began, it had a strap that read 'the antidote to lazy journalism', but Davey and Erin quickly scrapped that because they didn't want to pit themselves against anything. They just wanted to do more. "Once we talked to more people and [heard] their stories, the cities were so different to how they were portrayed on the news," says Erin. They've had four issues so far – first Sarajevo, then Detroit, London and Athens. They've just had a special-edition newspaper about Derry-Londonderry, this year's UK City of Culture. Next stop: Kyoto, set to be published in May. "It's really fun," she says. "It's manic adrenaline the whole time."
Fixing higher ed should be done faster. Why are they waiting? From Inside Higher Ed:
Yet we’re slipping. Simply put, our graduation rates are too low, our costs are too high, and too many students are slipping through the cracks. Reformers -- and universities themselves -- grasp these realities and want wholesale changes that will fundamentally alter how we think about higher education.

Those long-term battles are important, even necessary. New innovations in distance learning and nontraditional degrees may provide new pathways for students. But such changes may take decades. In the meantime, we have millions of college students taking on ever-higher debt loads for a long, winding road to a degree. We need to make immediate changes to affirmatively lower costs – not just “increase affordability” – while we raise graduation rates. We need to work within the existing framework to do what we’re already doing, but do it better and cheaper.
Library Journal discusses an interesting report into library budgets and serials pricing (LJ)
Meanwhile, sequestration is not going to make state and local funding problems any easier. Historically, the federal government provides about one-quarter of all state revenues, and owing to sequestration, the federal government is now poised to make deep spending cuts. If a significant portion of sequestration is left in place, federal funding for schools and other non-entitlement grants to states are on track to reach their lowest levels in four decades, measured as a share of the economy.

The lack of public funding translated to flat funding in libraries. Data from the Association of Research Libraries (ARL) shows that median total expenditures for ARL libraries dropped slightly from 2011 to 2012 ($24,052,161 to $24,000,677). Since the ARL members are a mixture of public and private organizations, increases in expenditures by the private universities helped offset declines in spending from the public universities and the overall result was a slight decrease in expenditures.

There is good economic news out there, but most libraries that rely on public funding have not fully recovered from the recession. Flat budgets and ongoing inflation in costs are forcing libraries to continue to find creative ways to keep current services. In this environment, disproportionate serials prices are thrown into greater relief.
Anyone considering app building needs to consider Amazon as this report from Techcrunch makes clear:
Amazon doesn’t share details on how well its Amazon Appstore apps sell, but according to mobile app analytics firm App Annie, the app marketplace is seeing growing traction among developers. The company surveyed over 1,500 developers, and found that 22.5 percent of them were now publishing to the Amazon Appstore, and half of that group (50 percent) cited the game category on the Amazon Appstore as their leading revenue driver. Previous reports have confirm roughly the same thing: that Android developers are turning to Amazon’s Appstore in greater numbers, and are seeing the benefits. Amazon Appstore’s revenue per user tops that of Google Play, or even iOS, in some cases. Last summer, for example, mobile gaming startup TinyCo, was saying that its revenue per user was higher on Amazon than on iTunes or Google Play. However, another report from Flurry said that iTunes was number one, and Amazon was in second place in terms of its revenue generation capabilities. Flurry had found that for every $1 spent on the iOS store, Amazon’s store generated $0.89, and Google Play $0.23.
From my twitter feed this week:

Apple Passes 45B Total Unique App Downloads At A Rate Of 800 Per Second With Over $9B Paid To Devs A $1bill/quarter
Netflix Beats Analyst Estimates, With 29.2 Million US Subscribers And $1 Billion In Q1 Revenue
British Library feels the Arab wrath: Balfour Declaration is going to Israel 

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