Sunday, 17 August 2014

The Digital Reader

The Digital Reader

The Morning Coffee – 18 August 2014

Posted: 17 Aug 2014 07:45 PM PDT

The reading list this fine Monday morning includes Kobo President Michael Tamblyn’s comments on Amazon v Hachette, the failure of Kindle Worlds, super-dialects on Twitter, and more.

  • 10 Classic Young Adult Novels That Would Make Amazing Movies (io9)
  • Amazon's fan-fiction portal Kindle Worlds is a bust for fans, and for writers too (GigaOm)
  • Computational Linguistics of Twitter Reveals the Existence of Global Superdialects (MIT Technology Review)
  • George Orwell Inappropriately Invoked: A History (Flavorwire)
  • Judge Orders Mediation in Latest E-book Price-Fixing Suit (PW)
  • Kobo president questions Amazon's tactics in dispute with publishers (Financial Post)
  • Reading Literature on Screen: A Price for Convenience? (

The post The Morning Coffee – 18 August 2014 appeared first on The Digital Reader.

Judge Cote Orders Mediation in Latest eBook Antitrust Lawsuit

Posted: 17 Aug 2014 03:45 PM PDT

14135683605_a5650500d5_b[1]The antitrust lawsuits brought by 3 ebook retailers took an unexpected turn on Thursday when Judge Denise Cote ordered the 3 plaintiffs to enter into mediation with the Price Fix 6 to settle claims that Apple and 5 US publishers had conspired in 2010 to raise and fix ebook prices.

According to PW:

In a conference in her Manhattan courtroom, Judge Cote conferred with the parties on discovery issues, and outlined a schedule that could have the case ready for trial by late 2015. Although a final schedule was not set, the judge said she would order the parties to enter mediation in December.

In pre-conference filings, attorneys for Apple and the publishers had asked the judge to "bifurcate" the case—in essence, to "litigate whether the conspiracy alleged…actually caused the damage claimed, before addressing the underlying merits of Plaintiffs' antitrust claims." Cote, however, citing more expeditious discovery, declined to break the case into stages.

Initially filed as three separate lawsuits, this suit alleges that the Autralian ebook firm Dnaml as well as the defunct US ebook retailers BooksOnBoard and Diesel eBooks were harmed “directly and as a proximate result” by the 2010 conspiracy between 5 US trade publishers (Hachette, HarperCollins, S&S, Macmillan, and Penguin) and Apple.

The first lawsuit slipped by under the radar when Dnaml filed it in September 2013, but the latter two lawsuits got more attention when they were filed in early 2014. Both retailers had failed and shut down, resulting in their successor companies, Lavoho LLC (Diesel eBooks) and Abbey House Media (Books on Board), filing a lawsuit after terminal damage had already been done to the businesses,

Apple and the 5 publishers had tried to have the lawsuit quashed in June,  but in a 22-page opinion Judge Cote ruled that it was “more than plausible that a discount retailer was harmed by a conspiracy to remove retailers' ability to discount e-books”, adding that the retailers were “indisputably competitors in a market in which trade was restrained.”

No details have been revealed about the specific damages awards sought by the plaintiffs, but to be honest I do not expect this lawsuit to amount to much. Sure, I’m cheering on the retailers, but the three retailers were not exactly powerhouses even before Agency went into effect in April 2010. In fact, even Judge Cote has said that proving damage in terms of lost revenue was going to be difficult “in the extreme”.

image by toridawnrector

The post Judge Cote Orders Mediation in Latest eBook Antitrust Lawsuit appeared first on The Digital Reader.

Social Traffic and Other Misleading Terms

Posted: 17 Aug 2014 09:23 AM PDT

8527817179_d182c11a8a_b[1]Buzzfeed is back in the press again this week with the news that this viral content site had raised $50 million to make a movie. Many people are talking about how this site promotes itself, but I don’t know how many are using the correct words for the activity.

For example, this was published in the NYTimes on Tuesday:

While many people now find their news on Facebook, it's easy to forget that very recently they found it on Google, and will surely find it somewhere else in the not-too-distant future. The danger for media companies, then, is to focus too much on the way stories are delivered and too little on what the pieces say.

BuzzFeed has been clear about its strategy: Publish items that people want to share on social media. It called Facebook the "new 'front page' for the Internet." The strategy appears to be working. BuzzFeed's new $50 million investment values the online media company at $850 million — one year after Jeff Bezos bought The Washington Post for $250 million.

I’ve gotten the impression that readers prefer shorter posts, so let be get to the meat of the matter.

Everyone talks about Buzzfeed and social traffic, but so far as I know no one seems to be (explicitly) using the right word for what Buzzfeed is doing.

And that word is Marketing.

I suppose this point is obvious to anyone in publishing; books and authors have long been promoted on social networks. I certainly knew about that type of marketing, but I would also add that I have never heard anyone explicitly apply the “M” word to Buzzfeed and other websites.

Let me give you a couple examples of how using that word changes what we’re saying:

  • When The Telegraph says that they have increased website traffic by placing ” an emphasis on carefully promoting stories with Facebook's more youth-oriented audience in mind”, what they are really saying is they have a new marketing effort which focuses on social networks.
  • Similarly, when Buzzfeed publishes stories “that people want to share on social media”, what they are doing is letting their marketing dept drive their editorial dept. (Arguably this is a violation of journalistic ethics, but I’m not going to wag a finger. We’ve always had tabloids and Weekly World News has been putting out similar nonsense since long before the internet.)

Adding that one word changes everything, I think, and it also means that anyone not actively marketing their content on social networks is probably making a mistake.

There are still a sizable number of websites that aren’t making enough (or perhaps the right kind of) efforts to promote themselves on social networks. For example, I was tipped to this story by Jane Friedman, who tweeted:

This blogger has long counted organic search results as a leading source of traffic, and I am one of a number of bloggers who have discounted the value of social networks as a traffic source. But now that I see how to classify my activities on social networks, I realize that attitude was a mistake on my part.

Again, this point might be obvious to some, but I for one have never heard or read Buzzfeed being discussed in relation to the “M” word. Perhaps everyone assumed what that meant, but I did not catch the subtext.

And so I thought this was worth sharing.

image by Krista Baltroka

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