May 2012

The Maturing Threat of Open Access

Elsevier’s substantial profit margin has persisted for as long as it has partly because of the lack of awareness and the apathy among stakeholders; those factors are changing.

The short investment thesis for Reed Elsevier is based on: 1) the low-probability but high-impact scenario of a revolt on the part of academics, libraries, governments, or any combination of the three that decides it no longer wants to subsidize this particular corporation; and 2) the new threat from disruptive green and gold open access competitors. As long as Elsevier takes a defensive, oppositional posture, competitors like Springer and others have the experimental open access field to themselves, with all of the brand-building and academic goodwill that comes with it. Neither scenario is likely to have an impact on share prices in the very short term. Even if the White House were to endorse immediately an open access policy on all federally-funded research, it would take some time before the effects would be felt in corporate profit margins. However, lackluster performance in the other business divisions and the short put option payoff structure of the Elsevier division make the company look like a safe short candidate than most. One short term risk to watch for is of an unexpected sale of the exhibitions or RBI divisions at a significant premium.

Book Places in the Digital Age

Book Places in the Digital Age

So maybe publishers should treat indies like showrooms, and send their books to indies on consignment. That means that only if and when a book sells is money paid to the publisher. The books in the store shouldn’t be the focus of the revenue. Instead, the revenue might come from membership fees, book rentals, and referral fees for drop shipped new copies or ebook sales. Members of this store/library then would have a stake in keeping the store/library open, so presumably they would have little motivation to misuse ebook files. Then I as a publisher might have a reason to trust the store and those members with DRM free files.

Wasting Time Is New Divide in Digital Era

Article about how children in different economic classes use technology. Librarians may find this paragraph interesting: The new divide is such a cause of concern for the Federal Communications Commission that it is considering a proposal to spend $200 million to create a digital literacy corps. This group of hundreds, even thousands, of trainers would fan out to schools and libraries to teach productive uses of computers for parents, students and job seekers. Full article

LISTen: An Program — Episode #199

This week’s episode is varied as it is released during a holiday weekend in the United States.

Direct Download: Ogg Vorbis Audio

Related links:
Bothersome Item #1
Bothersome Item #2
Bothersome Item #3
Bothersome Item #4
Bothersome Item #5
Dvorak on the Twitter book
Free Speech Radio News seeks further funding to bridge a shortfall
Google asked to yank a million search results per month

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Institution that shares and deals in ideas?

I saw two TED talks this weekend. They were:

Rachel Botsman: The case for collaborative consumption


Matt Ridley: When ideas have sex

The focus of the first TED talk was how sharing is going to be more important in the future and the great things sharing can do.

The second talk dealt with how ideas and information sharing breed on themselves and create a collective brain that drives human progress.

After I watched these two talks I thought that what we really need is an institution that deals with sharing and with ideas. Does anyone know if historically there has been an institution that has dealt in these two areas?

‘The Swerve’: When an Ancient Text Reaches Out and Touches Us

AIR DATE: May 25, 2012

Watch ‘The Swerve’: When an Ancient Text Reaches Out & Touches Us on PBS. See more from PBS NewsHour.

AIR DATE: May 25, 2012

Watch ‘The Swerve’: When an Ancient Text Reaches Out & Touches Us on PBS. See more from PBS NewsHour.

In his new book, “The Swerve: How the World Became Modern,” author Stephen Greenblatt unearths the tale of a book collector whose discovery of poet Lucretius’ “On the Nature of Things” helped change the direction of human thought. Jeffrey Brown and Greenblatt discuss the book and its many cross-generational messages.

The Whole Library In His Hands

On “The Story” – American Public Media

Dick speaks with Brewster Kahle, who is collecting copies of all the books he can from around the world. Some are scanned and put online while others are in storage. His model is the Ancient Library of Alexandria and if someone wants to look at a copy of Euclid’s Elements from centuries ago, all they have to do is search the database. You can also read at the Internet Archive a book that Dick’s grandfather wrote.

Download MP3 of the show

Page for the episode at “The Story” website.