Month: March 2008

The monopolists: You need to worry about Amazon too

Not content* with the audacious moves Kindle suggested, Amazon have made a big move in POD. James over at booktwo has some good words on it:

This is a pretty big deal. Amazon has around 15%-20% of the total book market (in the UK), but the vast majority of the online book market, which is growing all the time. Meanwhile, POD has been turning from a vanity publisher’s niche into a mainstream printing option – Cambridge University Press recently passed the 10,000 title mark (pdf news release) with Lightning Source. Big publishers are increasingly turning to POD to support backlist titles, while new publishers use the technology to bypass the industry’s traditional (and traditionally expensive) high print run, warehousing and return mechanisms (and yes, this is personal: an upcoming project of mine uses POD extensively – and not BookSurge).

You might say, “well so what”, it’s Amazon’s platform and they can tell people the rules, and to a degree you’d be right. But, and it’s a big but, Amamzon is using its selling muscle to grab market share in another area (a little like Microsoft using its windows monopoly to promote IE and here’s how that went down). Over at Personanodata, Michael Cairns has a nice piece on why it’s a concern:

Amazon hasn’t been merely a book retailer for some time. While many in the industry – PND included – can’t help but have admiration for this company they have amassed a level of market influence across the publishing value chain that should concern everyone. Today, the issue is focused on a small (ardent and vocal) minority of POD publishers who’s entire livelihood in many cases is dependent on the Amazon retail expanse. The WSJ should know better. Without being too dramatic, the release of Windows 3.1 heralded a period of intense exclusion at Microsoft: If you didn’t play ball with them you essentially had no marketplace. Perhaps at first blush the publishing industry doesn’t appear to have any correlation to the software world but with the migration to ‘platform’ based publishing (a publishing version of iTunes for example) we are seeing the germination of a world where there are only one or two legitimate channels to the consumer. If their actions in the POD world over these past two months are anything to go by then Amazon definitely has monopolistic tendencies.

It is worth worrying about, and keeping an eye on developments.

Tired after London and packing for our office move tomorrow,
Eoin

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Penguin’s We Tell Stories Week Two (Brave & Cool)

Eoin Purcell

I liked week one
But week two has enormous potential. Go here to get the low down.

Some of the characters are already following me (And Others) on Twitter and I’m following them, there is a Flickr account and SOME BLOGS!

Fun, fun and slick!

Lets see how this one plays out!
Eoin

Public Domain Works & GBS

Getting sick of Public Domain Works not appearing in GBS? There is much more to the story sometimes than you would think!

Eoin Purcell

Cross Posted @ Uncovered History

Search Max Weber and see what happens
Here is the result when you search with no limits here is the result when you limit your search to full view books. Here is a biography for Weber. He died in 1920 and so by any stretch his work is out of copyright, in the public domain and ought by rights to be free to view in a scheme like Google’s yet you cannot find a copy. What is going on?

How does Google Define Full View?
Here’s how:

Full View

You can see books in Full View if the book is out of copyright, or if the publisher or author has asked to make the book fully viewable. The Full View allows you to view any page from the book, and if the book is in the public domain, you can download, save and print a PDF version to read at your own pace.

Is there no work from this period in a library in the scheme?
This is the current list of Library Partners in Google’s Book Search program. At random I tested the catalogue of three of them.
The University of Virginia has in its archive a 1927 Edition of Weber’s General Economic History published by Greenberg in 1927.
Columbia has a similar edition
New York Public Library has the same edition too.

And then it occurred to me: what about the translator
And therein lies the solution. Weber was writing originally in German and the translator for this edition was Frank H Knight who’s bio is here. When you realise that, it all makes sense. The translation copyright therefore is not in the public domain! Such is life!

Digging and digging, finding out stuff,
Eoin

Public Domain Works & GBS

Getting sick of Public Domain Works not appearing in GBS? There is much more to the story sometimes than you would think!

Eoin Purcell

Cross Posted @ Eoin Purcell’s Blog

Search Max Weber and see what happens
Here is the result when you search with no limits here is the result when you limit your search to full view books. Here is a biography for Weber. He died in 1920 and so by any stretch his work is out of copyright, in the public domain and ought by rights to be free to view in a scheme like google’s yet you cannot find a copy. What is going on?

How does Google Define Full View?
Here’s how:

Full View

You can see books in Full View if the book is out of copyright, or if the publisher or author has asked to make the book fully viewable. The Full View allows you to view any page from the book, and if the book is in the public domain, you can download, save and print a PDF version to read at your own pace.

Is there no work from this period in a library in the scheme?
This is the current list of Library Partners in Google’s Book Search program. At random I tested the catalogue of three of them.
The University of Virginia has in its archive a 1927 Edition of Weber’s General Economic History published by Greenberg in 1927.
Columbia has a similar edition
New York Public Library has the same edition too.

And then it occurred to me: what about the translator
And therein lies the solution. Weber was writing originally in German and the translator for this edition was Frank H Knight who’s bio is here. When you realise that, it all makes sense. The translation copyright therefore is not in the public domain! Such is life!

Digging and digging, finding outr stuff,
Eoin

Penguin’s We Tell Stories is fun

Week One: We Tell Stories, Charles Cummings: The 21 Steps
I have to think more about this before I write about about it’s implications but as an experiment it sure pays off much much more than did A Million Penguins.

The build up is great even if the pay off is a little disappointing (if only because they are setting up week two but I don’t know if they are). I can see it going strong for longer than six weeks but then who knows.

The use if Google Maps gives it a really gaming quality and the clicking makes it feel like you control the action to some degree even though you have absolutely no effect on the movement or plot! Fun.

Go Read

PS In the credits, they include a youtube video of a performance of a song mentioned in the text. It is this that to my mind shows the full capacity of this storytelling format to really blow paper books, television and radio out of the water. When you can combine all these elements in a web story you have endless possibilities.

LibraryThing using Google Book Search’s API

Eoin Purcell

On the one hand this is pretty sweet:

The official Google Blog and the Inside Book Search Blog just announced the new Google Book Search API, with LibraryThing as one of the first implementors. (The others are libraries; I’ll be posting about what they’ve done over on Thingology.)

In sum, LibraryThing now links to Google Books for book scans—full or partial—and book information.

Google Book Search links can be seen two places:

* In your catalog. Choose “edit styles” to add the column. The column reflects only the exact edition you have.
* On work pages. The “Buy, borrow, swap or view” box on the right now includes a Google Books section. Clicking on it opens up a “lightbox” showing all the editions LibraryThing can identify on Google Book Search.

But on the other:
This is a little worrying. Google are stepping into the flow of traffic and pulling it in with content. You cannot blame them, they have put the investment in, they have been far sighted and now they are in a position to exploit that. I’m just getting a little uncomfortable with their power in this area and what they might mean going forward.

As a consumer I’m going to enjoy the feature though, despite my reservations and the limitations that Tim highlights in the rest of his blog post! But there is some good stuff too Here:

LibraryThing and its members can also like to take credit for moving the API along in another way. Your help with the Google Book Search Search bookmarklet forced the issue of GBS data. The message to Google was clear: our members wanted to use GBS with LibraryThing, and if Google wouldn’t provide the information, members would get it themselves. After some to-and-fro with Google, we voluntarily disabled the service. But I think it moved the openness ball a few feet, and that’s something for members to be proud of.

Worried and thinking!
Eoin

Grandad’s book is coming!!!*

So myself and Grandad has a wonderful chat on the phone the other evening. His Herself was chatting along in the background offering helpful hints and advice. I hope some of you are wondering how Grandad is doing with his book, what with Twenty’s book doing so well.
The answer is:

Damn Fine Stuff

But unlike me, ya’ll will just have to wait till February 2009 to read it! Sorry.

Posted in consultation with someone many of you will know
Eoin

* In February 2009!