In screens vs paper, paper may have an edge; Churnalism US launches; and a chef takes cookbook publishing matters into his own hands.
Digital vs paper: ink on paper may still have the advantage
In a recent edition of Scientific American, Ferris Jabr took a look at how technology is affecting the way we read and the differences between reading on screens and reading on paper. Jabr says that though many studies have been conducted across many fields since the 1980s, the matter of digital versus paper is far from settled. Still, he notes, there is compelling “evidence from laboratory experiments, polls and consumer reports” that shows a notable difference in the tactile experience of reading on screens versus paper that leads to navigational difficulties when reading lengthy texts, which may in turn have negative effects on comprehension. There’s also evidence, he says, that reading on screens may be more taxing on our mental resources, making retention a bit more difficult.
Crowdfunding the news, advice for publishers on surviving the digital frontier, and innovation in library e-lending.
Fundraising for newsMathew Ingram reports this week on one entrepreneurial blogger and journalist who, finding local news coverage of his home town lacking, crowdfunded his own hyper-local news blog. Ingram notes that Joey Coleman does not have a journalism background, but after he started a blog reporting local news in his home town of Hamilton, Canada, readers started offering to pay for his reporting. Since then, Ingram reports, Coleman has completed two successful Indiegogo campaigns to fund his work.
In a podcast interview with Ingram, Coleman described his journey into journalism, which started in 2004 with a domain name and a blog that, once he started writing about university news and politics, became one of the most-read outlets for university news and ended up landing him a job with Maclean’s magazine. He eventually returned to his home town to spend a summer working at the local newspaper, which didn’t do much on the web, opening up possibilities for Coleman. “My goal is to build a local news service, where the business model is sustainable for hiring a number of staff … to build a business model around journalism and then expand when I have a base that’s sustainable,” he told Ingram. You can read more about Coleman’s work in Ingram’s report and you can listen to Coleman’s interview in the podcast.
Nook Press launches, self-publishing raises digital have-not concerns, ebook subscription tests continue, and BitTorrent wants more books.
Will rise in self-publishing leave world’s digital have-nots behind?
Barnes & Noble announced this week it has upgraded and rebranded its PubIt! self-publishing platform and is launching Nook Press to better compete against platforms such as Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing. Laura Hazard Owen noted at PaidContent that the major feature update is the web-based authoring tool the company developed in partnership with FastPencil that allows authors to write, format, edit, and preview ebooks in a browser.
“What we are trying to do here is make self-publishing simple,” Theresa Horner, Nook Media’s VP of digital content, told Owen. “You can come to the product, write, edit and publish into EPUB without ever knowing any bit of technology.”
Data-driven publishing, ReDigi loses in court, and the Digital Public Library of America is ready to launch.
Data’s growing role in the digital publishing ecosystem
Data is becoming a driving force in the era of digital content. From subscription strategies to target marketing and advertising to content curation and methods of consumption, data is increasingly becoming the backbone of new publishing models.
Mashable’s Lauren Indvik took an in-depth look this week at the role data is playing in the Financial Times’ success in its digital first campaign. Last year, the newspaper notably reported its number of digital subscribers surpassed its number of print subscribers, and today, Indvik reports, the revenue from subscriptions accounts for more than 50% of the Financial Times’ revenue, compared to 39% from advertising.
Financial Times CEO John Ridding told Indvik the digital subscriber success stems from collecting reader data at their paywall to map reader behavior leading up to a subscription, and requiring readers to register to access up to eight free articles per month allows them to gather user-specific data to better target potential subscribers. Their data-driven approach also is helping to target advertising and marketing, and to give advertisers highly detailed reports on a particular campaign’s performance. “We can prove in real-time quite effectively what advertising is working and put that data in front of advertisers,” Ridding told Indvik.
Amazon buys Goodreads, book blind dates, bailouts for French indie bookstores, and U.K. libraries will join the digital era.
Amazon marches on toward global retail domination
The whiplash-inducing headline this week was Amazon’s announcement late Thursday that it has acquired book discovery and sharing site rival Goodreads. Industry response to the announcement was “swift and laced with skepticism,” Leslie Kaufman reported at the New York Times. She quoted Edward Champion tweeting, “Say hello to a world in which Amazon targets you based on your Goodreads reviews. No company should have this power.” Kaufman also noted part of the bigger picture: “The deal is made more significant because Amazon already owned part or all of Goodreads’ competitors, Shelfari and LibraryThing.”
Wired’s Marcus Wohlsen expanded on the targeting issue Champion mentioned. He highlighted Amazon self-published success story author Hugh Howey, who was quoted in the Amazon press release saying, “I just found out my two favorite people are getting married. The best place to discuss books is joining up with the best place to buy books.” Wohlsen pointed out that “even as Amazon provides Howey an ‘independent’ platform to spread his work, his success also makes him a valuable Amazon product” — and now Goodreads readers will become valuable Amazon products as well.
Publishers react to Kirtsaeng ruling, School of Data Journalism returns to festival, and a look at publishers' struggles to remain relevant.
Publishers express disappointment in SCOTUS “first sale” ruling
Headline news this week was the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling in favor of the student textbook seller in Kirtsaeng v. John Wiley & Sons, Inc., in which the court upheld the “first sale” doctrine in the case of copies of copyrighted material lawfully made outside the U.S. Jeff John Roberts reported the gist of the ruling at PaidContent:
“Writing for the majority, Justice Stephen Breyer rejected John Wiley’s argument that the phrase ‘lawfully made under this act’ implied a geographic limitation. He also cited the concerns of library associations, used-book dealers, technology companies, consumer-goods retailers, and museums — all of which had urged the court to reject the restricted notion of ‘first sale.’”
Andrew Albanese rounded up reactions to the ruling in a post at Publishers Weekly. Wiley president and CEO Stephen M. Smith said, “It is a loss for the U.S. economy, and students and authors in the U.S. and around the world.” Read more…
Intel futurist Brian David Johnson on the future of publishing — and why there will be one.
At the recent TOC conference in New York, Intel futurist Brian David Johnson (@IntelFuturist) gave a keynote address about changing the future. It’s so simple, he said, but changing the future requires us only to “change the story that people tell themselves about the future that they will will live in.” He noted that as writers and publishers, we are not only in control of the narrative, but that we are masters of it, and it’s our job to continue reaching people and changing the narrative, regardless of changing devices or methods of delivery — it’s the story, the narrative, that matters. (You can watch Johnson’s keynote on YouTube.)
I had a chance to sit down with Johnson to talk about the future of publishing and fear of change. He said the beauty of it is that the publishing industry can change and adapt to continue to give readers and consumers what they want. Read more…
Attorney Dana Newman on the implications of the Supreme Court ruling in Kirtsaeng v. John Wiley & Sons, Inc.
The U.S. Supreme Court ruled in Kirtsaeng dba Bluechristine99 v. John Wiley & Sons, Inc. yesterday, upholding the “first sale” doctrine in the case of copies of copyrighted materials lawfully made outside the United States. O’Reilly GM and publisher Joe Wikert (@jwikert) quoted from the majority decision in a post about his surprise at SCOTUS’ decision:
“Putting section numbers to the side, we ask whether the ‘first sale’ doctrine applies to protect a buyer or other lawful owner of a copy (of a copyrighted work) lawfully manufactured abroad. Can that buyer bring that copy into the United States (and sell it or give it away) without obtaining permission to do so from the copyright owner? Can, for example, someone who purchases, say at a used bookstore, a book printed abroad subsequently resell it without the copyright owner’s permission?
“In our view, the answers to these questions are, yes. We hold that the ‘first sale’ doctrine applies to copies of a copyrighted work lawfully made abroad.
I reached out to transactional and intellectual property attorney Dana Newman (@DanaNewman) to find out what the ruling means in the short term and what broader implications the decision might hold. Read more…
A brighter side to used ebook resale, the Google Reader dustup, and a look behind the Financial Times' digital success.
Opportunities in used ebook resale
With the recent patents filed by Apple and Amazon to create used digital resale platforms and digital resale company ReDigi’s ongoing court case that will weigh in on the legality of reselling used digital goods, many are concerned about how digital resale would affect revenues for publishers and authors. MediaShift’s Jenny Shank checked in on author concerns and talked with John Scalzi and Ayelet Waldman to get their thoughts — both writers expressed deep concerns that if allowed, digital resale would create insurmountable revenue issues for most writers.
“I think all the ways we chip away at the possibility of writers to earn a living ultimately makes it less likely that we’ll have a chance to read a wide variety of works,” Waldman told Shank. Read more…
John Ingram on the importance of taking risks in our environment in transition.
One of the major themes at the recent TOC conference in New York was addressing — and overcoming — the fear of change many in the industry are experiencing in today’s volatile publishing environment. I had an opportunity to sit down with John Ingram, CEO and chairman of Ingram Content Group Inc., to talk about those fears from a publisher’s perspective and how he and his company are approaching the changing landscape. Read more…