Is Fast Flip a Fast Flop?

Alan Warms thinks it’s a giant step backward in online news distribution. It’s also nothing really new. For years, traditional media have devised and developed and partnered with technology companies to "digitize" their print content in print layout form. Thus far, none have been as successful as news content delivered via plain old vanilla web browser. (hat tip: @freddieoconnell)

From a consumer standpoint, I don’t get this at all.  I’ve spent from late 2005 to the end of last year almost exclusively on online news — seeing what’s worked and what doesn’t — and this feels like those “magazine readers” that appeared regularly through the last ten years.


Ingram’s POD Service Plans Expansion to France

Lightning Source, the print-on-demand brand of Ingram Content Group, and trade book publisher Hachette Livre are planning a joint venture that will create a print-on-demand hub in France. Lightning Source already offers print-on-demand services in both the United States and the UK.

Phase 1 of the joint venture will enable Hachette to vastly extend the range of services it makes available to both Hachette-controlled publishing houses and to third party customers of its distribution facility. With the successful completion of Phase 1, Phase 2 of the joint venture will be launched giving independent publishers the option to participate in the POD program, regardless of ownership or distribution contracts.

Philadelphia Shuts Down Library System

Cory Doctorow laments the closing of Philadelphia’s library system. Apparently the government could not find enough money in its budget to fund the system. The city’s neighborhood and branch libraries, as well as their community outreach programs, will close effective Oct. 2, 2009

Picture an entire city, a modern, wealthy place, in the richest country in the world, in which the vital services provided by libraries are withdrawn due to political brinksmanship and an unwillingness to spare one banker’s bonus worth of tax-dollars to sustain an entire region’s connection with human culture and knowledge and community. Think of it and ask yourself what the hell has happened to us.


Is Google Books Settlement ‘Legislating from the Bench?’

The Open Book Alliance kept a close eye on yesterday’s Google Books Settlement hearing. Click Read more for some of their thoughts:

From our notes, Rep. Johnson criticized the settlement as being a classic case of legislating from the bench, believes that the settlement will have a tough time withstanding a separation of powers review, and expressed concerns with the settlement’s antitrust implications. Fundamentally, Rep. Johnson commented that the scope of the settlement is most troubling, with a private settlement erecting Google as a gatekeeper.  He also cited the lack of consumer protections outlined by some witnesses as an area of concern.

It was a fitting end to what shaped up to be an informative hearing with knowledgeable witnesses on a subject that everyone – Congress, consumers, authors – needs to learn more about.

U.S. Copyright Office Doesn’t Support Google Books Settlement

The United States Copyright Office is weighing in on the Google Books/Authors Guild settlement controversy. From Yahoo! News and Reuters:

Google Inc’s plan to digitize millions of books as part of a class action settlement wrongly creates a virtually compulsory license for books, the U.S. register of copyrights said on Thursday.


Google Seeks to Help Newspapers Get Online Payment for Content

"’Open’ need not mean free," Google execs say. From Neiman Journalism Lab (tipped by Searchviz):

Google is developing a micropayment platform that will be “available to both Google and non-Google properties within the next year,” according to a document the company submitted to the Newspaper Association of America. The system, an extension of Google Checkout, would be a new and unexpected option for the news industry as it considers how to charge for content online.

 The news comes on the heels of a hearing over Google’s Books settlement with the Authors Guild. Some fear that the settlement will give Google monopoly control over the distribution and sale of digital books.

Google Stands By Books Settlement on Eve of Hearing

The Google legal team believes that the Internet giant’s controversial digitizing of millions of books and its legal settlement with the Authors Guild will pave the way for others to enter the digital book business, according to an article at Yahoo! News. A hearing on the Google Books settlement is scheduled for today.

Are Pixels Greener Than Paper?

Bill Reusch has some surprising insight:

The brochure I have on my desk in front of me asks the question, Are Pixels Greener Than Paper? I never really thought about it, but if I had I suppose my answer would be, “Of course, pixels are greener than paper.” After all you don’t have to harvest a tree for a blip on the screen.  Right? Well I was surprised to learn:


Smashword Publishers Get Wider Distribution for eBooks

From Joe Wickert’s Publishing 2020:

If you thought the eBook market was hot before, it just went super nova with Smashwords newest distribution to "major online retailers, the first of which is Barnes & Noble and their various properties including, Fictionwise, and their eReader app."

Smashwords is an eBook publishing service that is free for authors and publishers. Readers can purchase eBooks contributed by authors and publishers through the Smashwords store.

Authors, Publishers Continue to Struggle With Google Books Settlement

I can’t proclaim any special significant knowledge of the legal system or whether Google’s plan to create a digital library from copyrighted material is a detriment to authors and publishers. The Writer Beware blog has a good account of one author who opted out of the now famous Google Books Search settlement and her reasons for doing so.

It’s not the display of bibliographic information, or even snippets, that I object to–it’s the possible uses the settlement empowers Google to make of my work down the road (including selling my books in electronic and POD form). If those uses were limited and clearly defined, I might not have a problem–but they aren’t, and I just can’t see allowing such a sweeping license to my work, where the implications of granting that license are so unclear.

Some more information about the Google Books settlement with the Association of American Publishers and the Authors Guild is available at The Guardian.