Monday, November 23, 2009

Today on the Diane Rehm show

11:00Robert Darnton: "The Case for Books" (PublicAffairs)

The future of books in a digital age. How the digital revolution and electronic books will affect the marketplace of ideas.


Robert Darnton, Author, Librarian at Harvard and founder of the Gutenberg-e program. A former professor of European History at Princeton University, Darnton is also a regular contributor to the "New York Review of Books."

Hope for Newspapers?

I heard about this on NPR this morning:

Here's the scoop first from the Financial Times online. Below, has a different opinion.

Microsoft and News Corp eye web pact

By Matthew Garrahan in Los Angeles, Richard Waters in San Francisco and Andrew Edgecliffe-Johnson in New York

Published: November 22 2009 23:01 | Last updated: November 22 2009 23:01

Microsoft has had discussions with News Corp over a plan that would involve the media company being paid to “de-index” its news websites from Google, setting the scene for a search engine battle that could offer a ray of light to the newspaper industry.

The impetus for the discussions came from News Corp, owner of newspapers ranging from the Wall Street Journal of the US to The Sun of the UK, said a person familiar with the situation, who warned that talks were at an early stage.

News Corp and Microsoft, which owns the rival Bing search engine, declined to comment.

One website publisher approached by Microsoft said that the plan “puts enormous value on content if search engines are prepared to pay us to index with them”.

Microsoft’s interest is being interpreted as a direct assault on Google because it puts pressure on the search engine to start paying for content.

“This is all about Microsoft hurting Google’s margins,” said the web publisher who is familiar with the plan.

But the biggest beneficiary of the tussle could be the newspaper industry, which has yet to construct a reliable online business model that adequately replaces declining print and advertising revenues.

In a possible sign of negotiations to come, Google last week played down the importance of newspaper content.

Matt Brittin, Google’s UK director, told a Society of Editors conference that Google did not need news content to survive. “Economically it’s not a big part of how we generate revenue,” he said.

News Corp has been exploring online payment models for its newspapers and has taken an increasingly hard line against Google.

Rupert Murdoch, News Corp chairman, has said that he would use legal methods to prevent Google “stealing stories” published in his papers.

Microsoft is desperate to catch Google in search and, after five years and hundreds of millions of dollars of losses, Bing, launched in June, marks its most ambitious attempt yet.

Steve Ballmer, chief executive of Microsoft, has said that the company is prepared to spend heavily for many years to make Bing a serious rival to Google.

Microsoft has sought to differentiate Bing by drawing in material not found elsewhere, though it has not demanded exclusivity from content partners. Bing accounted for 9.9 per cent of searches in the US in October, up from 8.4 per cent at its launch, according to ComScore.

James Murdoch, chairman and chief executive of News Corp Europe and Asia, hinted last week that the company was making progress with its online plans. “We think that there’s a very exciting marketplace, potentially a wholesale market place for digital journalism that we’ll be developing,” he said

Microsoft Offers To Pay News Corp To "De-List" Itself From Google (MSFT, NWS, GOOG)

Tags: Media, Microsoft

Microsoft (MSFT) wants to pay News Corp (NWS) and other large publishers to de-list their Web sites from Google's (GOOG) search index, the Financial Times reports.

The idea is to force Google (GOOG) to pay for content, thinning its currently fat margins.

Problem is, we can't imagine Google going for it.

For one, the FT reports that Google’s UK director Matt Brittin told a conference last week that Google did not need news content to survive.

“Economically it’s not a big part of how we generate revenue,” he said

For another, we can't imagine links to worthwhile stories originating from News Corp not finding their way onto sites that will happily remain indexed in Google's search engine free of charge.

Still, if News Corp were to "de-list" from Google, we'd expect to see all kinds of ads touting Bing as the only place to find the Wall Street Journal and MySpace pages online. Maybe that'd swing search engine share some, but we doubt it.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Review of "Going Rogue"

To sum up, Jordan Carr of The Standford Review is a GENIUS.

Best line: “Kid Rock, for instance, is very pro-America and has common sense ideas.” -Sarah Palin

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

September Bookstore Sales Increase 7%

-- Publishers Weekly, 11/16/2009 8:24:00 AM

Bookstore sales jumped 7.0% in September, to $1.58 billion, the U.S. Census Bureau reported Monday morning. The increase was most likely due to gains at college stores and the release of The Lost Symbol in the middle of the month. Despite the September increase, and an upward revision in the August numbers, bookstore sales through the first nine months of the year were still down, albeit only 0.7%. Sales for the period were $12.52 billion. For the entire retail market, sales were down 6.5% for September and 9.7% for the year to date.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Found This on "The Casual Optimist"

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Marketing Plan humor

from the New Yorker

Instant News

News outlets are becoming the middlemen. Are we headed towards getting our news from Twitter?

BREAKING: Possible hostage situation in Jeff City

Statehouse correspondent Jason Noble just called in to report a possible hostage situation in Jeff City.

Noble said law enforcement officials told him the event is occurring in a building known as the Governor's Office Building across the street from the governor's mansion on Capitol Avenue (not the state Capitol building).

(UPDATE: Here's Lt. Gov. Peter Kinder on Twitter talking about the incident.)


More as we get it.

The Internet is Killing Storytelling

Heard about this article on Morning Edition today. It was on Tina Brown's must-read list. An article by Ben Macintyre on Times Online.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Invitation to Shelby's Book Club

Hello all. Just wanted to send out an invite to you all to see if you'd like to join my Book Club -- I think I've mentioned it before. If you have time, and are interested, please let me know if you would like to participate. It's totally casual, but really fun. We're called The Vikings and generally meet every six weeks or so for a pot luck-style dinner, wine and book chatter (occasionally a game of Apples to Apples).

This month we are reading In the Skin of a Lion by Michael Ondaatje (author of The English Patient).

"Bristling with intelligence and shimmering with romance, this novel tests the boundary between history and myth. Patrick Lewis arrives in Toronto in the 1920s and earns his living searching for a vanished millionaire and tunneling beneath Lake Ontario. In the course of his adventures, Patrick's life intersects with those of characters who reappear in Ondaatje's Booker Prize-winning The English Patient." (Google Books)

The Meeting Date is set for Thursday, December 10th, 7:00pm in Arlington, VA. 

Love to have new members!

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

"What We're Reading"


NPR has a new feature called "What We're Reading" brought to my attention on of their blogspots. Sounds like they could use some help sorting through the stacks or books collected by staffers...

"Welcome to the first issue of "What We're Reading." At NPR, we cover a lot of books every week. Among those, there are always a handful of standouts — the great reads as well as the books whose buzz-level makes them impossible to ignore. "What We're Reading" brings you our book team's shortlist of new fiction and non-fiction releases, along with candid reactions from our reporters, hosts and critics."

Wonder if they're reading them online? Most interesting.... this is one of the first books reviewed.


The End of the World As We Know It

By Ken Auletta
The subtitle of Ken Auletta's book is The End Of The World As We Know It, which gives you some idea of just how important he believes Google to be. Googled is not the first book about the rise of the titans of search (and other businesses), but Auletta, a media columnist for The New Yorker, prides himself on his 2 1/2 years of research and broad access to the company. Combining anecdotes about the founders and others who make the company work with efforts to use Google as a metaphor for the broader digital revolution, Auletta attempts to explain the company's functioning and mind-set while drawing lessons that apply beyond its very famous doors.
I've met some of these people, and Auletta really does nail something about them — a peculiar mix of goofiness, arrogance and brilliance. My only critique is that sometimes he falls victim to the Silicon Valley spin army. But I was not bored. For someone who wants to understand what is without a doubt one of the most important companies in history, this is a very readable way to get a grasp of the players, the technology and its implications.
— Laura Sydell, digital culture correspondent

Given the absence of a shapely narrative or a strong point of view, Googledreads as a timeline skimming across the key moments in the company's history and providing rote miniature profiles of the key players
— Troy Patterson, NPR reviewer

Hardcover, 400 pages, Penguin Press, list price: $27.95, pub. date: Nov. 3

Monday, November 2, 2009

Simon & Schuster Sell E-Chapters

Simon & Schuster has started to sell individual e-chapters to its bestselling You series of titles written by Dr. Michael F. Roizen and Dr. Mehmet C. Oz. The initiative was developed as part of a broader effort by Dr. Oz to provide answers about health on his the "Ask Dr. Oz" section of his Web site. For answers to questions that appear in one of the You titles, S&S created an e-commerce widget that will allow consumers to purchase just the chapter in which the answer was found as well as providing the opportunity to buy the complete book in digital, physical, and audio formats.Prices for the chapters will range from $2 to $3 based on the number of chapters and list price for the complete book. The chapters will come with DRM protection. Currently, the e-chapters are available for sale only through the site, which is part of a new venture, Sharecare Inc., put together by Oz and Jeff Arnold, a WebMD founder and Discovery Communications's chief of global digital strategy. S&S spokesperson Adam Rothberg said being part of Sharecare puts the e-chapters in a "robust marketplace," making the material part of a platform that contains a variety of health-related information. S&S is willing to offer digital material on health or other subjects to other specialized sites, according to Ellie Hirschhorn, executive v-p and chief digital officer for S&S. S&S is also willing to offer the new e-commerce capability to other publishers and authors. In addition to the You books from S&S, chapters from the first book, You: The Owner's Manual, published by HarperCollins, will be available for sale through askdoctoroz.

Ayn Rand still hits home for most Politicos and Jonathon Safran Foer goes veggie.

I keep hearing the same story about Ayn Rand being the voice of politics, especially during a economic depression, especially bringing Atlas Shrugged out to fight with. So I thought maybe you guys had been hearing the same thing... if not. check this out from NPR, or The Daily Show with Jon Stewart.

Also out this week: Jonathon Safran Foer abandons his fiction style seen in Everything Is Illuminated and Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close for his new book Eating Animals. I'm curious as to how he reads as the new Omnivore's Dilemma.