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Sunday, January 29, 2012

Academic Publishing is a Good Gig if You Can Get It - And a Rip Off for Creators

The Elsevier's academic publishing model is about to Sink into Oblivion - the way all basically dishonest biz models should.

Academic publishers have a captive audience of writers who must write and publish in order to keep their jobs and/or advance AND they don't have to pay them! In fact, I suspect the writers/contributors/researchers pay the publishers at times to publish their works (or at least they should):)

Tim Worstall reports this for Forbes online:

Elsevier's Publishing Model Might be About to Go Up in Smoke

Academic publishing is a very good game indeed if you can manage to get into it. As the publisher the work is created at the expense of others, for free to you. There are no advances, no royalties, to pay. The editing, the checking, the decisions about whether to publish, these are all also done for free to you. And the market, that’s every college libarary in the world and they’re very price insensitive indeed.

Back when physical, paper, copies of the journals were an essential part of any scientists’ life the cost structure could, perhaps, be justified. It is expensive to typeset, proofread, complex texts and then print them in numbers of hundreds or perhaps low thousands. However, now that everything is moving/has moved online then the amounts charged for access to the journals seems less defensible. More like the exploitation of a monopoly position in fact.

No, there isn’t a monopoly on scientific journal publishing: but there is on the last 50 to 60 years’ worth of papers that have been published and are now copyright of said publisher. This is leveraged into the power to make college libraries pay eyewatering amounts for subscriptions.

There’s not much new about this analysis and investors in Reed Elsevier, the owners of Elsevier, either do or should know all of this.

However, there’s something hapening that might change this, for Reed Elsevier shareholders, quite delightful position. That is, a revolt of the academics who provide both the papers and the readership.

A start was made by British mathematician Tim Gowers, in a blog post here. That wasn’t the very start, but it looks like one of those pebbles that starts the avalanche rather than the one that just tumbles down the hillside. And there’s a great deal to be said for a scientific post which references Spike Milligan‘s superb book, Adolf Hitler, My Part in his Downfall.

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Wednesday, January 25, 2012

A Reader Feedback Publishing Model is Faster, More Flexible

Content creation will be developed and pre-tested through cooperation with the author's established community.

Interesting, no? And will result in faster author to reader timelines with consumer desired content (who needs third party editors, publishers, agents).

This new publishing model highlights the importance of writers establishing an online presence.

This from MarketWire:

Sourcebooks Launches Agile Publishing Model

A New Platform for Authors -- Faster, More Flexible, and With Reader Feedback

Sourcebooks launches today an Agile Publishing Model (APM) that will allow for the rapid and interactive development of books, ebooks, videos, and other materials by its authors, where the content evolves through a partnership between the author and their community. This framework allows for a more iterative publishing process -- making content available faster, getting real-time customer feedback, and shaping the final product based on the collaboration between the author and reader.

"The traditional publishing model -- long schedules, creating in a vacuum, lack of involvement with the readers of the end product -- drives some authors crazy," says Dominique Raccah, CEO and publisher of Sourcebooks. "This model is a great fit for experts who are highly immersed in their field and where the field is evolving rapidly."

Entering the Shift Age, by futurist, advisor, and speaker David Houle ( www.davidhoule.com ), will be the first book published under this model in fall 2012. Sourcebooks will release several related ebooks and other materials from Houle as part of the APM over the upcoming months, in which Houle will identify and explain the dynamics and forces that will reshape our world for the next 20 years.

"The model came to our attention from work O'Reilly Media was doing. What was really interesting to me was having a physical book come at the end of a community-building process, and what better way to launch than with a futurist," says Raccah.

The Entering the Shift Age blog will serve not only as the community site for review and discussion of the book, but also as a platform for the development of the Sourcebooks APM. Working together, Houle and the blog community will shape and change the content as the book moves from its initial stages as an interactive, digital platform to a "traditionally published" product.

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Wednesday, January 18, 2012

SOPA (Stop Online Piracy Act) Is Shortsighted - Will Hurt More Than Help

SOPA Will Not Kill Online Piracy
As is often the case, legislators jump into creating new laws (often with the noblest intentions) to correct inequities but write the legislation in such a way that the intended outcome winds up hurting peripheral entities more than the focused inequity correction is worth! And we end up with extremely bad legislation with unintended consequences that far outweigh any perceived benefits.

Could be our elected officials need to hire professional writers to spell out the legislation. You see, good writers are good thinkers/visionaries who can connect the 3-dimensional dots, 100% of the time, much better than the legislative bunch in D.C. today :)

Case in point: Jennifer Grassman, a musician, writer, journalist, and creative person nailed the SOPA weaknesses in an article for the Washington Times:

Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA): Will censoring the web stop online piracy?

As a musician, writer, journalist, and creative person, the title of the “Stop Online Piracy Act” (SOPA) has a distinctly pleasant ring to it. Equally innocuous sounding, PIPA stands for “Protect IP Act.”

But what, may one ask, is in a name? If the spider that lives on the back porch was named Fluffy, would it make her less menacing.
Most people do not have time to read the actual legislation (which, between the two bills, is a scintillating 108-page read), let alone the know-how to decode all the legal jargon. As a result, the dramatic and often contradictory claims of the bill's proponents and opponents become all the more difficult to sort.

Some claim SOPA will protect the rights and property of content creators. Others seem to think it will usher in a 1984-esk dark age of book burnings and fascist government censorship.

With melodramatic flare, on Wednesday, January 18, Wikipedia went black in protest of SOPA and PIPA, stating, “Imagine a world without free knowledge. For over a decade, we have spent millions of hours building the largest encyclopedia in human history. Right now, the U.S. Congress is considering legislation that could fatally damage the free and open Internet.”

Will SOPA restrict sites like Wikipedia with its crowd-sourced information gathering dynamism? Is America actually entering 1984 à la George Orwell?

Or will SOPA simply cut the lifeline on pirate websites that are explicitly engaged in criminal activity, i.e. theft or my, and your intellectual property?

CNN Money explains, “SOPA's main targets are 'rogue' overseas sites like torrent hub The Pirate Bay, which are a trove for illegal downloads of movies and other digital content. If you remember Napster you know that content creators have battled against piracy for years, learning that it is nearly impossible to take action against foreign sites. So SOPA's goal is to cut off pirate sites' oxygen by requiring U.S. search engines, advertising networks, and other providers to withhold their services. That means sites like Google would not show flagged sites in their search results, and payment processors like eBay's PayPal could not transmit funds to them.”

In other words, the U.S. Government wants to lay siege to online foreign smuggling enterprises. It's not their intentions many question, but rather their proposed methods.

We all have friends or relatives who illegally download music, movies, video games, and computer programs. Some of them know they are stealing and think it is funny. Others seem to have a romanticized idea of the underdog valiance of piracy, as if they are trotting through Sherwood Forest with Robin Hood and his Merry-file-sharing-Men.

Many seem to think that they are entitled to get everything they want for free, while still others are under the misapprehension that digital products (like MP3s and downloadable software) cost the creator nothing to make, and therefor ought to be free for everyone to enjoy, just like sunshine, sidewalks, and junk mail.

One Facebook user posted the comment, “This is about freedom and knowledge. Ever heard [sic] about how 'Knowledge should be free?' it is because it belongs to the world. SOPA is the typical Republican crap, and I think they are 100% wrong. So only rich people should be allow to watch HBO and get Adobe Acrobat? No way man! That cripples the knowledge. Should I be limited because I do not have money to pay for a class, or software, or books? [Instead], I can 'tweak it' and learn it by myself for free because I skipped their steps, and was smart enough not to get trapped in their BS. I'm the 1% bro, but I'm savvy enough to get the stuff the 99% enjoys because of my knowledge.”

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Saturday, January 14, 2012

Just What Is 'Content Licensing' ?

Guess what? Nobody knows exactly what the hell 'content licensing' is.

Like many things in the new, much uncharted, digital publishing universe ... the general concept is still in flux; but, getting it's focus little by little.

Content licensing implies monetizing written content in some way. And this is important for publishers to get right (after all it is money!). Exactly what is it, what and how to charge for it, how to police the contracted content for abuse, etc., etc., etc.

This insight from Stefanie Botelho in the Login section of FOLIO magazine:

Content Licensing: Making It Work for You

Publishers on creating an additional revenue stream, managing pricing and more

The term “content licensing” is an ambiguous one, especially among publishers. Some consider reprints and e-prints to be a full-fledged content licensing operation; while others leasing out logos and awards for third-party use count it as their content licensing service. Still others have moved custom publishing under the umbrella term of “content licensing”, with syndication often finding itself in this category as well.

Brian Kolb, vice president of Wright’s Media (which works with publishers like Forbes, LAPTOP Magazine and FOLIO: on content licensing deals) says, “We started doing this five years ago, which was the paradigm shift where many of the advertisers were gaining the content they wanted to use for free, like accolades, pull quotes, etc. In order to make up for the lost revenue from e-prints and reprints, we had publishers understand that shift and monetize the access they were giving away for free.”

For publishers who choose to monetize their property beyond advertising and subscriptions, vetting appropriate partners, managing the business and monitoring client contracts can equate to a full-time job. For what can seem like an overwhelming task, deciding which content to barter with may be the first step for companies considering a move into the content licensing business.

Offering the Best, Partnering with the Best

At Northstar Travel Media (NTM), VP of business development and licensing Sheila Rice says the publisher’s wealth of data drives its content licensing business. NTM’s central database includes 70,000 geographic places, 160,000 hotels, 54,000 hotel ratings, 900 convention centers, 30 million news alerts sent annually and a plethora of additional data (including visitor bureaus, cruise lines, ships and more).

“With the raw hotel data, I license it for public view and public use on large travel sites or OTA’s. My partners have the ability to choose the look and feel of how they present their data on their website because they have it in a raw format,” says Rice.

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Wednesday, January 11, 2012

How They Track Digital Magazines' Audiences

A little insight tonight into the world of magazine publishing and what a magazine's success is ultimately measured against.

Let's begin with two definitions:

BPA Worldwide (BPA) = Business Publications Audit of Circulation, Inc. BPA Worldwide audits the circulation of business-to-business and consumer magazines. It also provides audit services for newspapers, Web sites, events, email newsletters, digital magazines and other advertiser-supported media produced by its members. Membership comes from the media owners and advertisers.

BPA Worldwide is the largest auditor of media in the world in terms of membership. BPA is similar to Audit Bureau of Circulations, providing independent, third-party verified data that media owners provide to media buyers and advertisers.

BPA Worldwide audited data provides media owners, advertisers and advertising agencies with independent assurance that they are reaching the right audiences.

Audit Bureau of Circulations (ABC) = is a non-profit circulation-auditing organization. It is one of several organizations, operating in different parts of the world, that audits circulation, readership, and audience information for the magazines, newspapers, and other publications produced by their members.

ABC is a forum of the magazine and newspaper publishers, advertisers and advertising agencies, similar to BPA Worldwide. As a non-profit association, ABC is funded by dues and service fees by advertisers, advertising agencies and publishers. ABC provides credible, verified information critical to the media buying and selling process by conducting independent, third-party audits of print circulation, readership and Web site activity. ABC also maintains an electronic database of audited circulation and readership media.

The measurement of a magazine's performance data is vital to both consumers and advertisers to insure they are buying or investing in the right magazine with the right content and audience.

Makes sense, right? Hell yes ... BUT, the new digital metrics are harder to follow and damn near impossible to measure.

Damn near impossible but not impossible.

Ioanna Opidee teaches us this in an article for FOLIO magazine:

BPA Issues New and Amended Rules for 2012

App reporting continues to present a challenge.

Media auditor BPA Worldwide approved a number of new and amended rules during its December 2011 meeting in New York City, including several that address the increasing difficulty of measuring a magazine’s digital audience.

Reporting app usage, specifically, has been a challenge, increasingly so as the format is moving toward “push,” rather than email, notification of a new issue’s delivery, for which there is no mechanism for tracking successful delivery.

To address this, the BPA board has approved reporting “downloaded apps” by month within a BPA Brand Report, as opposed to a standard BPA report, along with a footnote disclosing the limitations of the figures. Apps related to the brand but not serving editorial content—such as a game—must be reported as their own channel in the Brand Report and cannot be counted as a digital copy. App copies, as opposed to downloaded issues, cannot be reported as qualified circulation.

Subscriber access to digital copies will now be used to substantiate a renewal in the following cases: when a weekly publication has been accessed nine times every six months, when a monthly publication has been accessed twice every six months, when a quarterly publication has been accessed once every six months and when a semiannual publication has been accessed once per audit period.

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Saturday, January 7, 2012

Merely Digital Authors May Not Have Clout To Establish Big Name In Writing

GAME-CHANGING technologies are upon us 
We all realize, of course, change is in the air RE publishing. Written content is being delivered by new tech media formats, content itself is morphing into a 3-dimensional entity containing videos, interactivity, real-time updates, graphics dripping with dynamic reality, new biz models are rapidly replacing older ones, etc., etc., etc. ...

But, big house publishers are fighting the tsunami change tooth and nail ... AND they still retain a big bargaining point:

"The technology and the devices are with someone else but the publishers have the content and the authors."

For how long though?

Here is an insightful view by Indian author, Binoo K John, in Tehelka, India's Independent Weekly News Magazine:

A new world of books is upon us

Indications are that the book in printed form is nearing an end. The wonders of a digital world and its commercial lure may be too much to resist

GAME-CHANGING technologies are upon us before we can adjust to their presence. We dread them and often we pretend that the game would not change. Closing our eyes to change is an old human habit. We have no answers so we remain smug. This is happening to the publishing industry worldwide. Technology has changed, the devices have changed, the economics has changed, the rules have changed and so has the scale.

So will the book, the printed and bound book, be a thing of the past?

Can the digital library, the Kindle store, the Apple Store, the many e-readers and tablets finish the book and the wooden bookshelf that decorated our studies and occupied our minds?

It’s possible. The only reason why the printed book might survive for a while is that publishers do not want the traditional model to vanish so fast. The brick and mortar world of publishing is too quaint and too good to be closed so fast and forever. Also, reader habits do not change that quickly. But the change is upon us. How do we cope? When Julian Barnes, while accepting the Booker Prize, sounded a clarion call to keep the bound book alive, he was pointing once again to the imminent danger: the printed book is no longer viable. That is why he wrote a short novel and was duly awarded. This year’s Booker Prize was a business award as well for it wanted to tell publishers the 1,000-page novel is over in printed form.

So, how will it pan out? School texts, either subsidised by the state or privately, would survive for many years. That is a huge number and form the majority of all books printed. The hardcover has almost disappeared. Fiction and nonfiction, including comics and graphic novels, would be printed in small numbers just to give it a physical feel. Actual sales would be in digital bookstores.

The pattern in India would be the same as in the West, because devices used for reading or downloading books are available here though not all books are. So, books would be bought digitally. Libraries in India too would have access to huge digital warehouses. The cost of digitally downloaded books would be lesser than printed books even if the payment is in dollars. Books are bought by the elite or educated classes in every society so they would have easy access to digital sources and have the money to pay as well.

PUBLISHERS WOULD still retain a big bargaining point. The technology and the ...

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