Technology Re-Emergence: Creating New Value for Old Innovations

HBS Working Knowledge • 6 January 2014

Old wine, new bottle. Check out this overview of Harvard Business School professor Ryan Raffaelli's research into how some industries once considered obsolete have managed to breath new life into their marketing efforts. Raffaelli's research into the resurgent appeal of Swiss watches, fountain pens and vinyl records suggests that, "Successful companies may be able to reposition a 'dying' technology by redefining its identity and value for the customer." Read on for Raffaelli's suggestions on how to resuscitate the independent bookstore market.

This approach to reviving value is yet another—and I think important—way for us to understand the mandate to re-invent the library. The library is in the midst of repositioning a "dying" technology by redefining its identity and value for its customers. That redefinition will be different for public and academic libraries. In either case it is interesting to consider whether the Learning Commons and MakerSpace-type changes are libraries' Swatch period. (Michalko)

Now Boarding: How Airport Bookstores Are Reacting to a Changing Industry

Deseret News • 28 December 2013

Winging it. Airport bookstores are adapting to a changing landscape by offering e-books, charging stations and a focus on location-based titles. Read on for more on how this niche market is catering to the needs of their mobile clientele.

I hadn't thought about the fact that airport bookstores have incredible traffic characterized by highly motivated readers. Then I realized that the last few physical book purchases I've made have been at my local SFO bookstore. Great selection, staff commentary, and very audience aware. (Michalko)

The Year the Book Became a Luxury Object • 29 December 2013

Things of beauty. E-book design is reverting to basic functionality while print books are becoming "more sumptuous and fetishistic," says Salon reporter Daniel D'Addario, who notes that there are two types of books—those you want to read and those you want to own. Are vanity books the future of print publishing?

Well this is a little facile but it joins up with the Raffaelli research called out above (here's the .pdf of his paper). Luxury may be one end state for a "dying" technology. (Michalko)

Computer Algorithm Seeks to Crack Code of Fiction Bestsellers

Inside Science • 8 January 2014

Secret sauce? Researchers at Stony Brook University have developed an algorithm based on past success that they hope can help predict which books are most likely to climb the bestseller list. Read on for an interesting analysis of the most likely stylistic devices and grammar to attract large numbers of readers. It's not what you might think.

This work will certainly prompt some debates about what's literature and what's journalism. The researchers seem to have covered over some of that complexity by invoking their own complexity—"statistical stylometry" and "distribution of sentiment." Wow. (Michalko)

Big Data's Next Frontier: Crowd-Testing Fiction • 8 January 2014

Beta fiction. E-book subscription services like Oyster and Scribd are sitting on a trove of member data, creating a new marketing category that offers would-be authors detailed information on reader preferences. Read on for more on how the reader-author relationship is rapidly adapting to Big Data.

So maybe the debate about journalism, literature, escapism, literary fiction, and all the other labels won't matter if this kind of feedback becomes genuinely actionable. What wlll we get? Regional mysteries set among scrapbooking circles. (Michalko)

What Is a Library?

Narratively • 2 January 2014

Free for all. As metropolitan public libraries morph into community centers, there's a clear need to provide activities geared toward all age groups and abilities. "Libraries are aggressively moving into a range of services that aren't necessarily related to book lending," says Lee Rainie, director of the Pew Research Center's Internet Project. Read on for an overview of some of the more innovative outreach programs happening around New York City.

This is a good, detailed sampler of the many ways in which different libraries are re-inventing themselves and their services. It suggests, using the terminology of Professor Raffaelli, some of the ways in which community identity may become more important for libraries than organizational identity. (Michalko)

Above the Fold Quiz

According to an item in this week's News and Views section, where can you learn more about "interrogating the collective collection"?

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