Friday, October 30, 2009

Kindle and a Croissant

I thought it interesting that the Four Seasons Hotel in Georgetown offers its guests the Kindle rather than the drab, black-and-white daily paper to read during breakfast and brunch. I can't say for sure if they offer one to each table or each guest, but it's certainly an option.

Ink-stained fingers during brunch are so uncivilized.

Thursday, October 29, 2009


Hey guys,

I got this deal on my email this morning and thought you all might be interested. It is a $10 ticket to the Newseum, instead of spending the $20 that is usually costs (isn't $20 a bit much for a museum?). You have to get the ticket today, but you can use it until the end of the year. It looks like fun, especially for us newcomers to the DC area!

Random House Dominates PW's Top Ten

Publishers Weekly has named their top ten books of 2009 (comprised of fiction and non-fiction).

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Tale From A Very Different Time

Saw this on my Forgotten English Word-a-Day Calendar for today and thought you all might find it amusing:

Bibliothecary: Keeper of a library. -- Elisha Coles's English Dictionary, 1713

Thoreau's Big Library

On this date in 1853, six years after leaving the solace of Walden Pond, Henry David Thoreau wrote in his journal: "My publisher has been writing from time to time to ask what disposition should be made of the copies of A Week on the Concord and Merrimack Rivers still on hand, and at last suggesting that he had use for the room they occupied in his cellar. So I had them all sent to me here, and they have arrived to-day by express, filling the man's wagon--706 copies out of an edition of 1000 . . . I have now a library of nearly nine hundred volumes, over seven hundred of which I wrote myself." Looking on the bright side, the reclusive philosopher added: "Sitting beside the inert mass of my works, I take up my pen to-night to record what thought or experience I have had, with as much satisfaction as ever. Indeed, I believe that this result is more inspiring and better for me than if a thousand had bought my wares. It affects my privacy less and leaves me freer."

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

A coming new obsession: how to handle a smaller print-book business

Found this blog posting while researching for the book report. Interesting thinking.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

The Nook

NPR wrote a nice little piece on The Nook... check it out here. Apparently Apple is working on a "Super iPhone" that will be their eBook.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Publishing Axioms

Some familiar phrasing:

Death to the Dictionary?

I think not! Check out this little Word Journal... or this little Word Gem.

Monday, October 19, 2009

High Schools Experiment with Digital Textbooks has a front page article about our nation's high schools experimenting with digital textbooks in the classroom. It shares a few of the advantages and disadvantages that could come about from the dismissal of traditional textbooks. Check it out here.

Making old new again--INNOVATION

I wonder if this concept would work with "old" publishing technologies--books, magazines, newspapers, etc.

Piano stairs - -

Kalb Report

I posted a couple of weeks ago that there was going to be an edition of the Kalb Report focused on print organizations in the digital age. While we had class that night, GW posted the show on their youtube account. Check it out if you have the time (about an hour long):

Ink on the Brink
On October 5, four top newspaper industry insiders joined Marvin Kalb at the National Press Club to discuss how the venerable print organizations of our time will survive and thrive in the digital age. Guests: David Hunke, President and Publisher, USA Today; Anne Bagamery, Senior Editor, International Herald Tribune; Cynthia Tucker, Columnist, Atlanta Journal-Constitution; Marcus Brauchli, Executive Editor, The Washington Post.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Google Settlement Debate Heats Up in Frankfurt

This Publishers Weekly article sums up the “European and American Positions Towards the Google Settlement” panel that took place at the Frankfurt Book Fair.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Barnes & Noble e-reader

This is one of the first photos of the Barnes & Noble e-reader from today's Huffington Post.
The B&N e-reader is likely to give the Kindle and the Sony e-reader run for its money.
The layout features a black-and-white screen like the Kindle and a multi-touch display like an i-Phone and will also feature a color screen approximately the size of a paperback book.

Curling up with a nice... e-book?

Does the Brain Like E-Books?

A NY Times discussion involving three professors, an author, and a computer scientist.

Off the Shelf and Onto the Laptop

Libraries and Readers Wade Into Digital Lending

NY Times
article discusses how libraries are attracting readers with downloadable e-books and audio books.

Freelance editing has a new post for freelance content editors. Check it out

Wednesday, October 14, 2009


These Microsoft ads made me think of our class discussion on Monday. This first one gets pretty good at about the 2:30 mark.

"The Short Story as Dress Rehearsal"

Or Why Book Publisher's Love Short Stories. Thanks, New Yorker... for leading me to Alan Rinzler.

Free Press?

Was China the right choice for the Frankfurt Book Fair?

Free For All--Business Models

An interesting news segment from Sunday Morning on CBS.;featuredPost-PE

Monday, October 12, 2009

The Journal of Cultural Conversation

Yet another really cool online community to check out. The Journal of Cultural Conversation

"The Journal of Cultural Conversation is an online magazine dedicated to featuring original commentary that highlights a colorful range of cultural topics. Authored by a team of fascinating storytellers, TJCC puts a creative lens on the people, places and things that make our world so cool."

I found it whilst looking around for reasons to like this city. Outside of starting school, I wasn't sure what else I really liked about ole DC anymore. Turns out, the District isn't dead, it's just a little hard to wake up from a nap.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Show & Tell

As some of you are aware, after the Donnelley plant trip I boarded a train and headed up to the Boston area for the weekend. While my host was at work, I explored a bit of the area on foot and ended up on the Harvard campus. I did in fact hike along Mass Ave to the Harvard Bookstore, where I saw the Paige M. Gutenborg (we so could have done better with the name!) POD machine at work, and got one of the $8 GoogleBooks titles made up. (It's neater in person than on the video.)

As I will be coming straight from Union Station to class on Monday night (I hope my train is on time!), I'll have a POD book with me if anyone's interested in taking a look at it. (I had to be a little careful with it on the way back to the T as the spine-glue hadn't totally hardened yet.) The cover is rather generic as they didn't have one archived for the particular book I got; I was told very clearly by the bookstore staff that "this is the one Google makes us put on, we want to design a nicer one!" :-)

I was rather surprised to see that Paige was fed by two commercial printers as opposed to having some sort of internal mechanism for that; I don't believe that was in the video that was posted a few weeks ago -- what essentially amounted to an actual copy machine fed the text-block pages into it (and what took the longest for my book was calling up the scanned files) and a Canon color printer fed the cover in on more durable stock.

I got to talk to the bookstore owner too (he was hovering over the machine since it's only been up a few weeks and there are still a few small glitches occasionally involving the cover somehow, but they've fortunately so far been rare) and he was discussing how as a bookstore owner he believes that eventually bookstores will be more like a showroom, and that machines like Paige will be standard issue for those that need actual books. (He also was interested in finding out that he had what I believe to be one of the few ones of these machines -- for instance in the DC area I think the only ones are the ones like Megan was mentioning that end up used almost as short-run presses for some nonprofits.)

While I was there, there was also someone telling a small group about the machine in French -- unsurprisingly, there's been quite a bit of interest in this machine!

Review: The Cult of the Amateur

I had mixed feelings about Andrew Keen's book The Cult of the Amateur. He begins with an introduction in which he both admits that he is an elitist and assures the reader that he doesn't believe all amateur art is bad. It feels a bit lame, like a person who prefaces an offensive comment with "No offense, but..." As though this preface neutralizes the offensive comment.

Yes, Keen comes off as very elitist. And his "OK, you got me. I'm an elitist" confession didn't really make it OK for me. As a narrative voice I found him shrill and annoying. Moreover, his claim in the introduction seemed contrived, as his attitude throughout the book is that no art, film, music, or writing is worth anything but those of the mainstream.

As a big fan of indie music and film, I found this attitude pretty shocking and ignorant. I'm sure there are plenty of awful blogs, videos on YouTube, and artist MySpace sites. But there are also likely many talented people who would have otherwise been overlooked by major labels, production companies, etc. and who now have a vehicle to get their name and work out there. He seemed worried people would stop appreciating real, quality art and all just watch animals doing stupid things on YouTube. This shows a real lack of faith in people. Frankly I see nothing wrong with having access to low-brow comedy. Moreover, I think there will always be a place for the high-brow, the thought-provoking, and the boundary-testing.

As Shelby mentioned in her review, Keen also seems to believe that no opinion or news is worth anything unless it comes from a PhD or a veteran journalist. While these sources obviously are more easily trusted, it's unfair to think that everyone else in the world lacks knowledge or perceptive opinions. It doesn't help that when he refers to knowledgable, educated people, he is clearly drawing a line between us and them. That is, he feels he is part of this educated group and is worried about information and art getting into the hands of the rest of America. The simpletons I guess.

I thought his concerns that Joe Shmoe news blogs will take over from the traditional trusted news sites were unfounded. My thought is that people who do care about news and world events are savvy enough to know who to trust and who not to. I do understand his dislike of Wikipedia I guess, but I feel that most people use Wikipedia as a reference site with an asterisk. We know there is a chance that everything is not completely accurate.

Luckily, the second half of the book is devoted to some more worthy concerns. Namely copyright and privacy of information. These are things that I definitely agree need to be monitored and considered.

And I think, in general, I mirror his hesitance about Web 2.0. I'm not a technophile by any means, and I sometimes get annoyed with the way things advance online, be it the internet or gadgets. I feel like we are culture that really idealizes convenience. If anything is mildly inconvenient to us, we just download an app to our iPhone so that we no longer have to deal with that minor inconvenience or even use our brains. (I sometimes envision a world where we all sit at home on our computers and never have to leave the house for everything ever). I also wonder how much of technology is just self-fullfilling prophesy. That is, sometimes it just feels like we are trying to advance things, like the Google book search, because we can, not because we really should.

I agreed with Keen that there should be some regulation online to prevent the various dangers such as piracy and identity theft. Likewise, I think we should think and have a conversation as a society about what we really need and what is good for us, instead of just jumping blindly in.

Bottom line: the goal of The Cult of the Amateur is stated to be to start a conversation about Web 2.0. In this respect, it does alright but would be much more palatable coming from a less biased, elitist, and obnoxious writer.

Friday, October 9, 2009

open access

A coworker sent me some info on this free open access webinar with five publishers on October 20th.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Kindle Goes International; U.S. Price Lowered

By Jim Milliot

Amazon made its long-awaited move into the international market, announcing last night that it will begin shipping a new device with U.S. and international wireless access October 19. The new Kindle, priced at $279, will be available in more than 100 countries, Amazon said, and will have more than 200,000 English-language books. Amazon also said it is lowering the price of its U.S.-only Kindle from $299 to $259. The U.S. Kindle now has more than 350,000 titles available, with Lonely Planet one of the newest publishers to sign on.

Titles for the international Kindle come from a wide array of publishers, including Bloomsbury, Canongate, Faber and Faber, HarperCollins and Quercus. A major holdout is Random House, though spokesperson Stuart Applebaum told the New York Times the company was in discussions with Amazon. The e-tailer said more than 1,000 rights holders now have books available through the Kindle store. The international Kindle will also carry a number of foreign newspapers.

Google book debate back to the drawing board

AP article

NEW YORK – Lawyers on both sides are poised to continue their court battle over Google Inc.'s effort to get digital rights to millions of out-of-print books.
A hearing is set for Wednesday in Manhattan federal court.
Judge Denny Chin plans to set a schedule to define how the debate will proceed.
A $125 million agreement between Google and U.S. authors and publishers is being renegotiated. The parties agreed to return to the drawing board after the U.S. government said it seemed the agreement would violate antitrust laws.
Justice Department officials will be part of the new negotiations.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009


In the rapidly changing publishing industry, former editorial assistant Makenna Goodman (who traded her gig in a fab NYC house for the dirt, pigs, and IHOPs of Vermont) says less is more, and that going green in publishing is going to really take off. Sustainability is not just a new craze, it's something that will become more and more important as resources become more precious. Read her article from The Huffington Post here.

New audiences for digital books--TEENS

Simon & Schuster today launches Pulse It (, a social networking site for readers 14 to 18. Registered users can read free e-books and discuss them with other teens and authors.

This week, Penguin launched an online network on its website ( offering book-related entertainment for readers of all ages, with teen-specific material. "YA Central" features interviews with authors and book club discussions. It's being marketed to schools, libraries, parenting websites and mommy blogs., a fledging firm looking for new ways to connect the worlds of video and books, says it's smart for publishers to experiment with new formats, especially for teen readers. The format isn't important it's the fact that they're reading.

Digital publishing provides an outlook for discussion and employment. Check out their discussion on the future of digital publishing.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Has it Begun?

Gourmet Magazine closing its doors.

xml at AGU

Some people have expressed some interest in seeing some of the developments that AGU has been working on with xml, so I'm extending the opportunity to anybody that would like to visit and see for themselves. If anybody is interested, please let me know so I can make the proper arrangements.


Coolness, Sweetness!

Short, concise audiobooks that you can soon download on your iPods? How cool is that! What a fun way to brush up on your general knowledge...Read on!

iMinds Launches Eight-Minute Audiobooks

MP3s offer compact overviews of general knowledge subjects

By Lynn Andriani -- Publishers Weekly, 9/29/2009 2:19:00 PM

In an attempt to capitalize on people’s short attention spans and ever-increasing dependence on iPods and other MP3 players, a new company, iMinds, has launched a series of eight-minute audiobooks that offer compact overviews of general knowledge subjects ranging from the history of whale hunting to creationism. There are currently 72 iMinds MindTracks available for download at Audible and the iTunes store, and iMinds plans to roll out hundreds more by the end of 2010. The audiobooks, or "tracks," are available in the U.S., Canada, the U.K. and Australia.

Tracks cost $0.99 each, or customers may buy them in bundles, paying $3.99 for six, $5.99 for 12, $14.99 for 36 or $24.99 for 72. The tracks cover 12 categories: ideas and concepts; politics; law and business; the arts; history; people and places; medicine and inventions; sports and action; crime; war and conflict; pop culture; science and nature; culture and religion; and mystery and conspiracy. Initial titles include The Federal Reserve, Epidemics, D-Day Invasion, Seven Wonders, Film Noir, Stockholm Syndrome, and Evolution.

Olivia Wood founded iMinds in Sydney, Australia, earlier this year. She had previously worked in magazine publishing in Australia and at NewsLink, an Australian book retailer, and wanted to create a place for nonfiction content to be formatted for MP3 players. iMinds employs researchers, writers and topic experts to create content, and editors and fact-checkers to ensure accuracy. Voice-over artists read the content against a backdrop of music and sound effects. The company does not collaborate with book publishers for content. A spokesperson said that in the future, iMinds may partner with other content producers, but currently that is not a main objective, nor does it have plans to release its content in print or e-book format.

Wood believes iMinds MindTracks are “the perfect companion for busy MP3 owners who utilize technology to get the most out of life.” Additionally, as part of an initiative called The KUE Project, iMinds will send tracks free of charge to any nonprofit, library, school, teaching college or non-government organization that qualifies.

The company has hired a national PR agency and is working with Audible’s marketing efforts. MindTracks went live earlier in September, and while the company would not release the number of downloads, a spokesperson said that in the U.S., so far both the Anime and Film Noir tracks have landed on iTunes’ Arts & Entertainment Top 100 list. Christina Harcar, director of editorial business development at Audible, called iMinds “a compelling new category of content that will appeal to a broad range of consumers.”

Digital publishers and the law

As more states consider the legal ramifications of distracted drivers, I have to wonder what responsibility digital publishers have to both their craft and the consumer. More and more media (newspapers, web sites, radio, publishers, etc.) encourage their market to use hand-held devices to "stay connected." But do the media also have an obligation to society to encourage safe and responsible use of technology that goes beyond piracy of books, music, and apps to ensure that everyone arrives safely at their destination? YES seems the obvious response, but I'm sure publishers feel the pull of market share and entertainment value as more people spend time commuting and less time in the "real" world.

Friday, October 2, 2009

NPR and Kindle

Here is a real review of owning a Kindle. I thought it was funny. Thanks again, NPR.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Should Newspapers Die???

As print versus electronic media has been a continuous topic during our class discussions, I thought I’d share with you this article I came across on Newsweek Blogs. The article is entitled Don't Bail Out Newspapers--Let Them Die and Get Out of the Way. The author is strongly against any type of bailout that would be of assistance to the newspapers by giving tax breaks if they become non profits. He expresses his desire for newspapers to be discontinued altogether because they are old forms of media and not thriving compared to Internet news sources. He stated “Fact is, I only care about a tiny percentage of what those papers publish, and I can read them on my computer or my iPhone. And I can rely on blogs and Twitter to steer me to articles worth reading.”

So, take a look at the article and share your thoughts.