In this issue:
The Washington Post • December 27, 2009
Digging in. The battle over who owns the rights to digital versions of older books is pitting readers and authors against publishers, and neither side seems willing to budge. Readers are looking for ever-cheaper content and authors are drawn by the larger royalties offered by digital publishers such as RosettaBooks. Meanwhile, traditional publishers are scrambling to come up with a business model that will allow them to charge more, pay authors less, and bank the difference. Is there any middle ground?
This seems to me to be yet another battle whose rules of engagement will be entirely altered when (if?) the Google Book Settlement is approved. ( Michalko)
The Tennessean • December 20, 2009
A finger in every pie. Ingram Content Group CEO Skip Pritchard says the future is bright for digital content and his savvy acquisition and partnering strategies have secured Ingram's position in a variety of fledgling markets: e-book distribution, digital textbooks, in-store print-on-demand and more.
E-books are still a very small fraction of the total sales according to Pritchard. He's another publishing leader who seems to think the book will be transformed by the addition of audio, video and other extensions made possible by the technology. Maybe. Remember the Voyager Company's CD-ROM books in the late 1980s? ( Michalko)
Poets & Writers • January/February 2010
Literary sanctuary. This is the first in a series of interviews with indie bookstore owners, and offers a glimpse into the passion that fuels this increasingly boutique market. Read on for insight into what has worked and what hasn't as this Oxford, Mississippi bookstore has experimented with opening its doors to community activities.
There are a lot of reasons for the continued success of Square Books--the Faulkner connection, specialization, and making it a community place and an author destination. How many stores can execute to that formula? Not as many as we'd like.
In the latest McSweeney's Quarterly—which was published as a fictional newspaper, The San Francisco Panorama—the book review section contains a daunting calculation. Andrea Danger of Modern Times Bookstore in San Francisco reveals that for her store to break even, they need to sell 108 hardcover books per day. That's "a hardcover book every 5.88 minutes to stay afloat." ( Michalko)
Interactions/ACM • January/February 2010
Participatory creativity. Design expert Don Norman says much of the participatory experience offered by today's customizable products is not truly creative—he likens the input required to that of assembling IKEA furniture. "The new design challenge is to create true participatory designs coupled with true multimedia immersion that reveal new insights and create true novel experiences." As we design interactions with our patrons—on our Web sites or as part of our exhibits—we should remember to look for ways to ignite their creative spark.
This is a thoughtful essay that connects back to the Ingram CEO's idea about the transformation of the book. Maybe what he was reaching for in that comment was something like Don Norman's notion of transmedia. ( Michalko)
The New York Times • December 29, 2009
Shake off that comfort zone. Scientists used to believe that a typical brain had lost 40% of its cells by middle age, but it turns out that older brains continue to develop and occasional "senior moments" are more attributable to easy distraction than memory loss. In fact, older brains are more adept at seeing "the big picture" and drawing conclusions than younger ones, giving seniors an edge in problem-solving activities. The trick to nurturing your brain as it ages is to "jiggle the synapses" a bit periodically—learn a new language, take a different route to work, pick up an instrument. Your brain will be glad you did.
I am so glad to know that there is a name for the phenomenon I experience more and more often. That feeling that what you're trying to remember is just right there on the tip of your tongue but just not available to you—that, according to this article, is a "tot." ( Michalko)
The Telegraph • January 1, 2010
Revelations. Selected papal correspondence dating back more than 1,000 years has been compiled and published for the first time, including letters to the Holy See from Ghengis Khan's grandson; Erasmus; Mary, Queen of Scots; Jefferson Davis and a tribe of North American Indians.
Calling it a "secret archive" feeds on the Dan Brown view of the Vatican. It's great, interesting stuff, but it's not really secret—just not open to the public. ( Michalko)
Search Engine Land • December 29, 2009
Compared to what? Check out these tools and see how your go-to search engine measures up against the competition.
I've never found this to be particularly helpful. The process of search seems to me to be a serial proposition that isn't satisfied by these side-by-side comparisons. I was pretty taken with the Amazon A9 service when it arrived as the first of these types of search approaches but didn't use it much after the Open Search novelty wore off. It's still out there. ( Michalko)