Day: August 7, 2007

Librarything and Booktour.com

Eoin Purcell

I was a slow convert to the idea of LibraryThing using the collective data of all its users but in my conversion I think I may have veered towards zealotry. That may be why I think this is an excellent idea. From the Thonology blog post:

The product is called My Discoveries. Basically, it gives AquaBrowser a series of desirable social features, like tagging, list-making, ratings and reviews—and not in some half-assed way either. LibraryThing comes in as a way to kick off the tag data (a 21-million-tags kick) and to add recommendations to it. My Discovery customers who choose to go with LibraryThing data will be able to see both LibraryThing’s as well as their own patron’s efforts.

Putting tags and recommendations in AquaBrowser is a natural step. LibraryThing for Libraries is showing what LibraryThing can do to a library catalog and more generally the importance of having large amounts of data to help “social” features reach their full potential.

Sounds cool does it not? Links to AquabrowserLibrary and My Discoveries.

My LibraryThing zealotry might also be why I think of Booktour.com as an also ran or one trick pony. I said it before but there is just too little in this to hold my attention. Still I could be wrong,I have been often enough before that I’d almost bet against myself on it.

The Postal Service anyone? Yes please!
Eoin

Paid online content failing?

Eoin Purcell

Publishing 2.0 points to news that TimesSelect is to come to an end. It is mostly an interesting piece that scares the hell out of the publisher for profit in me. Given the calls from other quarters to free our content on the web the idea that we cannot then capitalise on that content and are destined to be squeezed out is unsettling:

The new economics of media make charging for content nearly impossible because there is always someone else producing similar content for free — even if the free content isn’t “as good as” the paid content by some meaningful metric, it doesn’t matter because there’s so much content of at least proximate quality that the paid content provider has virtually no pricing power. As smart, talented, and insightful as the New York Times columnists behind the paid wall are, the are too many other smart, talented, insightful commentators publishing their thoughts on the web for free.

The WSJ.com remains the last great bastion of paid content on the web, and with the News Corp acquisition, the pressure to tear down the walls will likely be too great to resi[s]ts. Even if it’s true that the WSJ has the highest quality business content bar none, the web is so awash in good, great, and utterly crappy business content, all free, that WSJ is holding onto its paid subscribers through sheer brand strength alone.

I have to admit that it all seems odd because only back in March the Editor’s Weblog was telling me:

TimesSelect has a total of 639,000 subscribers, about two thirds of which receive it in complement to their home delivery subscriptions (about a third are online-only subscribers). Last December, TimesSelect had 609,000 subscribers.

This means that about 217,000 online-only subscribers at the end of February were bringing the Times a potential $10.8 million in subscription revenue.

That is my kind of money but can see how it is chump change for the NYT. Still if the New York Times cannot charge and the Wall Street Journal ought not to, then just how the hell will independents like Mercier make money online? Maybe reading Andrew Keen will help (on balance probably not)!

Thinking money & listening to Regin Spektor
Eoin