Not Virtual, Just Reality

April 26th, 2015

… We know these things are growing apart but we seem reluctant to acknowledge the difference. [Nowhere] has this been more marked than in the newspaper industry, which strictly speaking we should now stop calling the newspaper industry. If we called it ›news media‹ we might get closer to seeing how differentiation is taking place, and mark the points at which the digital service elements are going out on a track that print can never follow, and creating information in formats which will become the hallmark of communication. They are the defining moments in the separation of print and digital, and we should point to them whenever some senior executive says (so many do, I am afraid) ›There will always be a market for print‹ or ›digital is neat but what are its real advantages for which I would pay extra‹.

They still say these things and there have been moments when I have thought the entire news industry would go the way of Yellow Pages, despite Vox, Buzzfeed, Fast Company (and that stubbornly non-innovative digital analogue of print, the Huffington Post). And then last week I saw surprizing green shoots of change, and not from the new digital news industry, but from those good souls who have huffed and puffed up and down the the peaks of inflated expectations a time or two, the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal. The latter have been celebrating Nasdaq’s birthday in fine style. They have taken my pathetic wave metaphors in a different context into a graphers delight, a 3D journey around the index from its inception ( Use it on your mobile, walk round the room with it, or (get this!) get the WSJ headset and really appreciate it. This is not just a beautiful birthday card – you are looking at the way graphical information will be read, or, rather experienced, as the years go on. Here we move away from anything which can be ›printed‹, and once this style of activity does become the way in which we experience and record change, then only the network can deliver it.

But I would have to reserve special praise for what the New York Times did last week on an architectural review of the new Whitney Museum building (
This is a delight to the eye. Once you have seen this you will never want to read a review of a new building which does not include this type of 3D analytical effect. It enhances every readers’ appreciation of the points Michael Kimmelman is making, yet this is VR lite, needing no headset and simply deploying great VR graphics to display the planes and vistas of a new building in a moving dynamic. And until they start moving you think you are just encountering another illustration in text. This answers the question – what would you pay extra for – because it adds a new dimension to understanding which could only have come from this environment.


How APIs Can Make Publishing More Efficient

April 18th, 2015

By Emma Barnes

»As a rule, application programming interfaces, or APIs, aren’t easy to talk about.

For instance, you can’t have a debate about whether or not APIs are a good idea. That would be like arguing over whether the Internet is a good idea.

Instead, it’s easier to talk about what a modern API actually is. …

Modern web services make data available in that JSON format, at a perfectly ordinary web URL. And if you know some rudimentary programming, it’s straightforward to go to that URL, authenticate with your username and password and read the data. If the application’s API allows it, you can also send data. In practical terms, that means that even novice programmers can get computers to share information.

This has terrific, and by now well-known, implications for digital publishers. Take our metadata web app, Bibliocloud, which sends its data to the e-commerce platform Shopify via an API. In the same vein, publishers can write their own web apps and get them to ask Bibliocloud for up-to-date metadata to populate them.

From a publishers’ point of view, any efficiency gains from new web services are lost by repetitive web processes. If you have to type book data manually into your ebook platform, and then into your metadata system, and then into a rights marketplace, and then into retailer web forms and so on, it’s no better than the bad old days. APIs let us enter data in just once and get the computers to do the boring bit of sharing it around. And then things start look a lot more productive.

So when you’re considering your options from the plethora of web services coming to market, ask web service developers to show you their well-documented APIs as well as the functionality of their products. You’ll be headed toward a more strategically sound, better integrated investment.«


London Book Fair’s Evolution Reflects Publishing’s ›New Ecology‹

April 18th, 2015

By Roger Tagholm

»The London Book Fair has evolved to reflect the ›new ecology‹ of publishing and shift in confidence, says Faber’s Stephen Page.

Faber Chief Executive Stephen Page is another fan of the return to the Grand Hall. ›I love it. I think that it’s right that’s it a bit like an old medieval market. You know, if you want saffron it’s that way, if you want something else it’s over here‹ — he gestured as he spoke. ›Publishing is like that. It can’t be too tightly organized.‹

He went on to talk about how he feels ›a new ecology‹ has emerged for the industry now. ›The previous ecology got hammered and challenged. A new one has emerged that is partly around the resilience and return of physical books, partly around the new confidence there is. There is a new confidence about the options open to publishers, about the creation of value, about investing in content with confidence. There is a shift towards the consumer, which is still continuing and isn’t finished yet, and just a new confidence about the tools and opportunities open to us.‹


New Business Models in the Digital Age

April 9th, 2015


»This Report is definitely the most informative discussion of new business models on the Internet that you will read. It has been written specifically to help professionals in book-related industries (publishers, libraries, universities, bookstores, agents or distribution platforms) to design the best mix of business models to meet the needs of their customers. first published the paper, sponsored by Cedro (Spanish Reproduction Rights Centre), in 2014 in Spanish. The paper was a huge success and had over 5,000 downloads. As a result, the paper has been released in English in conjunction with BookMachine just in time for the London Book Fair.

To download the “New Business Models in the Digital Age” study, please click in the following links:


Are Publishing Investments A Good Bet?

April 1st, 2015

By Brian O’Leary

»A few months ago, Marc Andreesson wrote that he expects demand for news content will grow 10- to 100-fold over the next two decades. He went on to claim that demand for news is already outstripping supply, a point of view not typically expressed inside established newspapers.

Of course, Andreessen isn’t making the case for increased demand for traditional products. His benchmarks are digital, driven by three interwoven trends (presented here verbatim):

Andreesson provides a useful framework for thinking through new publishing investments: ›[E]xpect the big winners in the news business to either be the broadest or the deepest: To go maximum mass, or maximum specific.‹ His investments in Talking Points Memo, Business Insider and PandoDaily all fall in the second bucket.

The distinction between mass and targeted echoes a theme teased out in ›Disaggregating supply‹, a talk I gave at the Publishers Forum in 2013. There, I argued that ›the web isn’t a community of millions; it’s millions of communities‹. Effectively serving those communities has become possible through the use of the web.

When it comes to publishing investments, I think the opportunity is not hidden in the existing supply chain. Consolidation at any level – publishing mergers, for example – works only to the extent that it increases a firm’s ability to reach and serve global communities.

It also competes effectively against the kinds of investors who value traditional publishers for their cash flow. Those buyers tend to be in the liquidation business.«


How HP Digital Printing Brings Innovation to Publishing

März 30th, 2015

By Edward Nawotka, Editor-in-Chief

»Hewlett-Packard’s innovations in digital printing allow publishers to reduce costs for printing and inventory management, and generate new revenue streams. …

›When it comes to HP, you have two types of innovation: innovation that is relevant for publishers and printers, and innovation that is relevant for consumers. If we consider the first category, this is about cost reduction and a reduction in inventories, as well as new revenue generation.‹

Publishers have been struggling over the last years, but, says Martin ›our digital innovation is helping them better cope with print-on-demand (POD), short runs, and many things they were dreaming about are now available.‹

Consumers, naturally, benefit too, now that they can print short-run books whenever they want. For example, if a professor wants to produce a unique book for their classroom, this can now be done — and affordably.

Offset printing is almost 200 years old, while digital printing is still nascent. ›Now we can do the same without plates, waste or inventory,‹ says Martin. ›Publishers don’t need to worry any more about the printing process and only need to focus on the content and distribution. It can be managed well [and] cost effectively.‹

Now that is the very definition of innovation if I have ever heard one.«


Gesättigter Markt

März 24th, 2015

»Anteil der Buchkäufer im Internet stagniert

Laut der Studie ›Total Retail‹ ist der Anteil der deutschen Online-Käufer, die Bücher, Musik, Filme und Videospiele am liebsten im Internet bestellen, nach einem kräftigen Anstieg 2013 im vergangenen Jahr von 78 auf 74% leicht gesunken. Auch in den Segmenten Mode (–7 Prozentpunkte) und Unterhaltungselektronik (–2 Prozentpunkte) sind die Klicks weniger geworden.


Collaborators Will Not Be Shot

März 20th, 2015

»The nature of networks is collaboration. …

Well, clearly the STM Association has only just found out. …

Now there are elements to this consultation which strike me as highly risible. While I know that, under Fred Dylla as chair, the consultation will be conducted impeccably and with total integrity and fairness, the difficulties that this enterprise faces are daunting. It’s not just that SCNs are ways of helping researchers do something they will do anyway, regulated or not. It’s not just that publisher attempts to regulate what they do have never made the slightest difference in the past and are unlikely to do so in the future. It’s not even the sight of STM making the ungainly ascent into the seaside throne of Canute that amuses so much. It is the fact that most of the SCNs who are possibly involved in the widespread transference of copyrighted scholarly materials between researchers who do not always have formal permission for those transfers, are owned and funded by … publisher members of STM.

My sympathies will always lie with the market. ….


Martina Bergmann: Das Prinzip Boutique

März 18th, 2015

»Der Totengräber des Buchhandels war nicht Amazon. Das Schäufelchen wurde eher und emsiger geschwungen. …

Und dieses Internet: Es kommt uns Buchhändlern soviel mehr zugute als dass es schadet. Es macht uns für Autoren und Verlage sichtbar, wenn wir uns nur ein bisschen Mühe geben, es gibt uns auch im Kundenkontakt neue Möglichkeiten von Unmittelbarkeit. Wir könnten jetzt sagen, wir Indies, ok, wir sind die Sieger der Geschichte. Uns gibt’s und wir sind fröhlich, und dass die Ketten mit dem Rotstift Struktur vernichten – ist das unser Problem?

Ich fürchte, ja, das ist es wenigstens zum Teil. Ich verkaufe natürlich kein Buch mehr oder weniger dadurch, dass zwanzig Kilometer weiter soundsoviel Quadratmeter mit Osterhasen zugestellt sind. Auch das Bedürfnis nach modernem Kaffee wird landwärts eher nicht in den Buchladen getragen. Problem ist aber zum einen, dass nicht wenige Titel aus Publikumsverlagen inzwischen Kaufhausbücher sind, für deren relativ beliebigen Inhalt Kunden wahrlich nicht in den Facheinzelhandel gehen müssen. Das ärgert mich. …


Data is a Commodity, Analytics is not a Solution

März 17th, 2015

»… But it is now becoming very clear, to me at least, that the value does not lie in the accumulation of the data, it lies in the analytics derived from it, and even more in the application of those analytics within the workflow of a user company as a solution. Thus if I have the largest database of cowhide availability and quality on the planet I now face clear and present danger. However near comprehensive my data may be, and whatever price I can get now in the leather industry, I am going to be under attack in value terms from two directions: very small suppliers of marginal data on things like the effect of insect pests on animal hides, whose data is capable of rocking prices in markets that rely on my data as their base commodity; and the analytics players who buy my data under licence but who resell the meaning of my data to third parties, my former end users, at a price level that I can only dream about. And those data analytics players, be they Bloomberg (who in some ways kicked off this acquisition frenzy five years ago when they bought Michael Liebrich’s New Energy Finance company) or others, must look over their shoulders in fear of the day when the analytics solutions become an end user App.

… If data really is a commodity business, far better to be a user than an owner.«