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Publishing News: Week in Review

An easy how-to on stripping DRM, venture capitalism hasn't dried up yet, and new ISBN ISO standards may be underway.

Here’s what caught my attention in this week’s publishing news. (Note: These stories were published here on Radar throughout the week.)

Stripping DRM 101

Last week, Brian O’Leary, founder of Magellan Media, pointed out that: “Any good pirate can strip DRM in a matter of seconds to minutes.” Now, Wired magazine proves it with a brief how-to on stripping DRM from Kindle books, borrowed from Apprentice Alf.

Calibre screenshot
A screenshot of the Calibre ebook management system. Plug-ins can be added to the system to remove various forms of DRM.

Remember DVD Jon? He set the DVD free and created Double Twist to strip DRM from music with a single click. He’s still around, and his company does much more today. And that’s just one organization championing the open source format. My mom still won’t be stripping DRM from her ebooks, but it certainly looks like easy-to-use tools are on the horizon.

TOC: 2011, being held Feb. 14-16, 2011 in New York City, will explore “publishing without boundaries” through a variety of workshops, keynotes and panel sessions.

Save 15% on registration with the code TOC11RAD

VCs funding entertainment, cloud technology, and social media

Startups dreams can come true. Ben Huh and his team at Cheezburger Network have raised $30 million in venture capital. The money reportedly will be used to hire people — perhaps including a sales person, as they (impressively) don’t have one.

And no, a business doesn’t have to involve cats to secure venture capital. Sonian, a company that archives cloud-based data, secured an additional $9 million when corporate giant Amazon jumped onboard, bringing their venture capital total to about $15 million. Social publishing site Scribd and Perfect Market, a company that helps Web publishers monetize content, also have landed solid capital investments of $13 million and $9 million, respectively.

Huh will talk more about his company’s success — and its venture into book publishing — in a keynote address at TOC. As a teaser, Huh discusses the limitations of blog-to-book publishing in the following short interview:

The Book Industry Study Group began the process to establish an ebook ISBN ISO

ISBN.jpgThe ISBN — originally based on nine digits, then 10, and now 13 — might be getting shiny, new ISO standards. The Book Industry Study Group (BISG) is looking into the issue and has reviewed an ebook ISBN study conducted by Michael Cairns (@Personanondata) of Information Media Partners.

One of the larger problems highlighted in the study seemed to be a lack of acceptance for a “standard,” with participants calling the ISBN policies “recommendations” or “best practices.” And looking forward to the future of digital publishing and the possibilities of aggregating custom content by consumers has made some publishers wonder if the ISBN will even be needed. And if the ISBN does still have a place, how will it work in this new environment? Lots of work needs to be done before an ISO can be established and ratified, but this study looks like a step in the right direction.

From the report’s executive summary:

Achieving [an ISBN ebook standard] will require closer and more active communication among all concerned parties and potential changes in ISBN policies and procedures. Enforcement of any eventual agreed policy will require commitment from all parties; otherwise, no solution will be effective and, to that end, it would be practical to gain this commitment in advance of defining solutions.

The full ebook ISBN report will be released by BISG in a few weeks.

Got news?

Suggestions are always welcome, so feel free to send along your news scoops and ideas.


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  • http://www,isbn-international.org Brian Green

    Re your article on the BISG e-book study,ISO is the Geneva-based International Organisation for Standards. ISBN is an ISO standard, ISO 2108, and there is currently no plan to revise it. If the various voting countries in ISO decided to revise it, the US would be represented (through NISO) and any contribution from BISG would of course be seriously considered. What BISG is currently working on is a set of good practice recommendations for the US book trade.

    The International ISBN Agency is participating in the BISG working group and its executive director was present at last week’s BISG meeting.

    The International ISBN Agency recently issued its own Guidelines and FAQs for ISBNs and e-books, which the BISG working group plans to review. They are availabkle from http://isbn-international.org/news/view/31

    Brian Green
    Executive Director
    International ISBN Agency

  • Bob

    It’s so funny to watch O’Reilly pretend that they’re not into DRM. Hah. I laugh every time I read this because O’Reilly is slowly morphing into a publishing company that makes all of its money by distributing information through conferences. It uses DRM, they’re just called security guards at the conference halls that prevent people from entering if they don’t pay the $2k-$4k to enter.

  • http://blog.guaguapublica.com Kevin Shockey

    Wow Mac, great interview with Ben! I think Ben is really tuned into the new relationship between brand and fans. It comes out very clear in his answers, especially their implicit participation. #transmedia #direct2fan