Go Read This | Pearson buys stake in Nook Media | The Bookseller

On the face of it this seems an odd move for a company so keen to unload its trade business into a joint venture with Random House in the driving seat. However, the college stores and the fact that students and their instructors are rapidly moving online are clearly the driving factor on this deal, reminding us just how much Pearson sees education as its future:

Will Ethridge, chief executive officer of Pearson North America, said: “With this investment we have entered into a commercial agreement with NOOK Media that will allow our two companies to work closely together in order to create a more seamless and effective experience for students. It is another example of our strategy of making our content and services broadly available to students and faculty through a wide range of distribution partners.”

Worth noting too is the increased value now being placed on B&N’s Nook business. Seems that their device play has worked even better than might have been expected, even this time last year.

via Pearson buys stake in Nook Media | The Bookseller.

Apple: Some Skepticism And A Jaundiced Eye

I’m constantly amazed at how easy it is for Apple to generate publicity, rumour and spin for its forthcoming product and service launches. On occasion, I’ve been as guilty as everyone else when it comes to this.

The one rolling in tomorrow has generated considerable coverage and is variously supposed to involve new authoring tools for ebooks, a revolution in the text-book industry or new distribution routes for self publishers.

Of course that is all fine except that there are some pretty good authoring tools for ebooks, not to mention many fine companies supplying such services. There are already several companies pursing the text-book market with a view towards radical change. Apple’s ebook distribution platform is frankly lacking (how many companies could get away with providing direct access to their self-publishing services ONLY to those who have a MAC*) so I hope personally that they decide to improve that side of their operation. Looking at their marketing image and text, I reckon I’ll be disappointed.

It is possible that Apple will launch something revolutionary tomorrow but I doubt it. I can’t help but feel though that Apple seems to be seen as a white knight by commentators inside and outside of the book publishing industry.

This is almost completely unlike Amazon, a company that has TRULY revolutionized the book publishing industry (or rather rode the wave of the changes revolutionizing the book publishing industry like no-one else), but is becoming the favourite target for attacks.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m no Amazon apologist (In fact I pointed to their long game fairly early on) I just think we need to keep our heads and a fairly hefty dollop of skepticism in hand when we discuss Apple. It has an impressive track record of being right, but its victories are Apple’s and rarely (except as a handy by-product) anyone else’s.

Keep that in mind tomorrow,

* Yes, I know you can use an aggregator, but please, why is this a restriction?

Quick Link | Ebooks and opensource textbooks for Irish education – EirePreneur

Occasionally Google Alerts throws up some odd links, often old material that for some reason has been refreshed in the cache. This is one of them, and I’m very glad because I find it a fascinating attempt to pull together a very fractured discussion about digital publishing, curriculum development and ebooks in Irish Education. Hopefully, I’ll follow some of the links in the post to some more interesting discussion.

On November 6th last we asked on Twitter – “Can Irish educators explain what obstacles prevent the development of an opensource curriculum distributed on back-friendly ebooks?”

Darren Geraghty, a researcher at the Digital Enterprise Research Institute in Galway was first to answer – “I’m not an educator but I’m told book publishers want it to remain the current archaic way for obvious self-serving monetary reasons”

To which I reponded, “I’ve heard that too but wonder why, in the age of wikipedia, an opensource alternative can’t be developed? Lack of will?”

via Ebooks and opensource textbooks for Irish education – EirePreneur.

The most important IRISH book of the decade

Ireland in 2050: How We Will Be Living
Ireland in 2050: How We Will Be Living

Change happens
In Ireland in 2050: How We Will Be Living, Stephen Kinsella (Lecturer in Economics at the Kemmy Business School of the University of Limerick) has written what may be the most important Irish book of the decade.

Ireland in 2050 touches on a very broad set of subjects, from health, education, energy, employment, global competition, environmental change, technology and wealth and yet it manages to tie all of these to the real lives of people. Kinsella does that by imagining not just a future, but also a future family, the Murphy’s. They experience the best and the worst of the imagined Ireland of 2050 and through them we can see how well or how badly we have adapted to changing circumstances, our successes and our failures. it is a nice device and one, that although I was initially sceptical about, I rather liked.

The book is so important not because it is correct in every detail or because the ideas he explores are revolutionary but because by bringing together these thoughts, by projecting them forward and by imagining an approximate Ireland in 2050, Kinsella has set the stage for an almighty row about, who we WANT to be in 40 years time, how we GET there and WHAT values, hopes and dreams are our priority.

It is a row Kinsella invites us to take part in in his postscript Invitation To A Row and one I think he seems passionate about:

I wrote it [the book] to start a row. I want to invite you to that row, right now. Do you agree with me that Ireland will be a more unequal place in 2050? Do you see privacy going up in smoke? Do you think that half of the couples in Ireland will be divorced by the middle of the century? Do you see the continual erosion of the Catholic Church as a good or bad thing? What do you think we should be doing to get ourselves ready for the future?

But we get to decide
The general tone of the book seems to decry the way we have almost sleepwalked into many of the realities of Ireland in 2009. The marginalised young people of outer suburbia, the old-fashioned, poorly equipped health and education services, the lack of local government of any real capacity to effect change and the startling lack of debate about how and in what direction Ireland will develop.

It is this core message, the need to make key decisions, to look rationally at the alternatives before us and to choose the “best” option that comes through most forcefully in Kinsella’s writing. When he expresses an opinion ,like arguing Ireland should look West to the USA for its future, while at the same time, not letting go of our relationship with Europe, he is reasonable and sensible.

He takes a lomg term view and challenges the blithe assumptions of those who argue the balance of power is shifting east, towards China and India or that Nuclear power is dangerous and unsafe. I sense that he will encounter a fair amount of resistance from the left of Irish politics but at the same time, while he clearly expresses his view, he is often merely describing how changes will impact not how he would like them to impact. His thoughts on the impact of climate change on water supply, agriculture and consumption are scary and yet not alarmist either.

Two areas I think he touches on have been so badly covered in the past at least at a mainstream discussion level that he may as well be the first one to mention it, are the changes wrought by divorce and longevity. In many ways these factors are strangely entwined, as humans live longer, they have more relationships, more chances to live parts of their lives as almost completely different people. They may choose to send half their loves with one partner, a quarter with another and still another quarter with a third, our society will be changed beyond all recognition when that is a frequent occurrence.

Kind of
In short with Ireland in 2050: How We Will Be Living, Kinsella has moved the strategic decisions we have avoided taking for the best part of a decade (resulting on the mess we are in now) right into the centre of political and intellectual discussion and is demanding that we figure them out, make a decision and act accordingly. We should all step up to the plate, pay attention, join the row and make sure our voices are heard and that we make the RIGHT decisions.

This is a fascinating, accessible and readable book that will hopefully kick off a debate that Ireland really needs to be having and make the decisions we need to make to shape our future at best easier or at worst, better understood.

Well worth reading. Ireland in 2050: How We We Will Live is published by Liberties Press is 224 pages and is price €14.99, ISBN: 9781905483693.