Sunday, October 28, 2007
Taking a page out of the e-book
Ink on cellulose is so last century - at least according to those working to make e-paper a reality.
By Chris Morrison, Business 2.0 Magazine
(Business 2.0 Magazine) -- Back in 2000, the handheld electronic book was thought to be as much a part of the future as MP3s, broadband video, and ad-supported websites. That year, Forrester Research predicted $251 million in sales of e-book content by 2005. It seemed a modest goal, but today the market is so small that Forrester doesn't even track it. Held back by a lack of available titles and stifling copy protection, the e-book reader gathered dust while other dotcom-era innovations flourished.
But one part of the stalled e-book industry could yet surprise us: electronic paper. At the forefront of the technology is E-Ink, a company spun off from MIT in 1997. E-Ink's thin film display functions as a screen and looks much more natural than its LCD counterparts. Instead of using standard pixels, e-paper contains millions of microcapsules that change color when an electric charge is sent through them - mimicking the look of real ink on real paper, without any backlight to hurt your eyes. The power required is negligible.
Right now e-paper is still married to bulky devices like the Sony Reader and the Motorola MotoFone, which use e-paper in their displays. But in the next three years, according to E-Ink, e-paper will become untethered. E-Ink customers like Samsung and LG Philips have already created 14-inch color displays nearly as thin as a piece of paper.
E-paper's success, says Lawrence Gasman, principal analyst at tech research firm NanoMarkets, "depends not so much on the technology as on designers coming up with cool stuff." In 2008, for example, U.K.-based Polymer Vision will launch the Readius, a mobile device with a flexible 5-inch e-paper display that unfurls like a scroll.
By 2010, look for stand-alone e-paper that plugs into your laptop to update its content. Eventually e-paper could display video and contain tiny Wi-Fi chips to update itself on the go. (E-Ink has demonstrated paper with limited Internet connectivity.)
If that makes you think of the moving, self-updating newspaper featured in the movie Minority Report, you're on the right track, says Kenneth Bronfin, president of interactive media for Hearst and chairman of E-Ink's board of directors. "The dollar you pay for your newspaper doesn't even pay the printing costs," he says. "If there was a device that newspapers could give consumers to eliminate the printing cost, the economics could really work." Sign up for a two-year subscription to an e-paper, he suggests, and you might get the device for free. E-Ink's profit in such a venture would be more than paper-thin.
Thursday, October 25, 2007
Just An Online Minute... Book Piracy: Overrated Problem?
by Wendy Davis
WHILE THE MUSIC and movie industries have long been concerned that Web piracy cuts into their profits, file-sharing hasn't appeared to present as significant a problem for book publishers. After all, the general public hasn't yet taken to e-book readers the way it has to iPods or digital music.
But that reality has done little to assuage the fears of the book publishing world. Witness the lawsuit against Google for its library project, in which publishers are complaining about Google's move to digitize books in public libraries.
In the latest example, reported this morning in The New York Times, Penguin Audio has pulled out of an eMusic initiative to sell audiobooks because eMusic, unlike Apple's iTunes, sells digital content without the restrictions that limit consumers' ability to make copies.
While anxiety about Web piracy isn't totally irrational, it seems misplaced here. Consider, people who purchase books, or audiobooks, have long had the option to take them out of libraries instead. In fact, many libraries now offer digital downloads of audiobooks.
Yet pirated audiobooks have never emerged as a big problem. In fact, a monitoring firm used by Random House Audio hasn't yet found any unauthorized copies of the company's audiobooks on file-sharing sites, according to the Times.
What's more, sales were robust at 500 audiobooks a day, even though eMusic doesn't plan to advertise the offering until December, the Times reports.
The music industry appears to be figuring out that consumers want to download tracks free of digital rights management restrictions, if for no other reason than to freely make copies for their own use. Book publishers, who don't appear to face the same threat from file-sharing, also need to realize that consumers will be more likely to purchase their product, not less, when it comes in a format they want.
Wednesday, October 24, 2007
Could Samir Husni have finally converted to realism???
In Samir Husni's post of October 17th, The Media Changing Landscape according to Kevin McKean, VP and Editorial Director of Consumer Reports, Husni agrees with McKean 5 points for " what we must know of to succeed in the industry' of magazines:
1) There is an historic shift in media habits (towards digital delivery).
2) Advertisers chase their audience (who are migrang online).
3) As a result of this shift, traditional media are experiencing a squeeze (most dramatic in print).
4) Online media is growing.
5) We have been witnessing the rise of the citizen-journalist.
I agree with all these points and surprisingly, so does Husni. Amazing, in one felt swoop he has managed to contradict every one of the points he so confidently defends about the immutable nature of print in his blog, his presentations and his debates with Bosacks.
Saturday, October 20, 2007
Economist to put archive online
By Stephen Brook, press correspondent
Thursday October 18, 2007
Economist: its archive will contain more than 600,000 pages
More than 160 years of articles from the Economist are set to become available online with the launch of The Economist Historical Archive 1843-2003.
The archive will contain more than 600,000 pages of the weekly magazine's reporting and analysis.
It is a joint project between Gale - part of Cengage Learning - and the Economist.
"The Economist Historical Archive is more than a database - it is a remarkable record of the most significant world events over the past 160 years through the unbiased, probing eyes of the Economist," said John Micklethwait, the magazine's editor-in-chief.
The magazine, which has a worldwide print circulation of more than 1.2m, hopes to target educational institutions, public libraries, government organisations, corporations and financial institutions.
Users can search or browse by issue and date, or use more advanced search options such as sections of the paper, article type or article title.
Mark Holland, publishing director at Cengage Learning, said: "The Economist Historical Archive 1843-2003 is set to revolutionise the way institutions and educationalists conduct research.
"As mediums such as the internet become ever more advanced, it is imperative that the media evolves through digitisation to support 21st Century learning."
Preview trials of the archive are available and the full archive will be available via subscription in December.
Its website, Economist.com offers readers free access to content under one year old.
The Guardian and Observer newspapers recently announced they would make every edition available via a newly launched online digital archive. The first phase of the Guardian News & Media archive, containing the Guardian from 1821 to 1975 and the Observer from 1900 to 1975, will launch on November 3.
Annual subscriptions for the archive, which is not being offered to individuals, start from £1,500 for small academic institutions but prices vary depending on the type and size of the organisation.
Friday, October 05, 2007
Time Inc. Can't Force Reporters Write for Web
SEPARATE TASKS: Does The Newspaper Guild's proposed new contract with Time Inc. run counter to the new world order where journalists have to write for both print and the Web? It appears it might. The two parties last week reached a tentative agreement for a three-year contract that includes guaranteed annual pay raises, and changes to severance packages and other benefits to Guild-protected employees. One of the additions is a stipulation that prevents management from demanding that print reporters must write for the Web. The magazines under Guild protection include People, Time, Fortune, Fortune Small Business, Sports Illustrated and Money.
The contract clause comes after Fortune managing editor Andy Serwer and Time managing editor Richard Stengel sent memos to their staffs this summer that said print reporters were required to write for the Web; Stengel wrote at the time that performance evaluations of every Time writer, correspondent and reporter would include Web contributions. Though most reporters these days write for both print and online, The Guild, which does not protect dot-com employees, took issue with Serwer and Stengel's demands.
As part of a settlement between Time Inc. and The Guild on the issue, the new contract says Time Inc. will ensure Web site work will be voluntary for Guild-covered employees, and "there will no negative impact on any employee for not volunteering to do Web site work." It also says the company will "grant Guild coverage to any Web site employee who 'routinely or regularly' performs 'any work or services for any entity covered by the contract,'" and will cover magazine employees who are transferred to the Web sites. Finally, the contract says, "Time Inc. will issue a new memo that supersedes the previous two memos."
Meaning that, if the contract is approved — which The Guild has recommended the latest version to be — Serwer and Stengel's earlier demands would be moot, while reporters should be checking their in-boxes for updated letters from management. — Stephanie D. Smith
Thursday, October 04, 2007
Photoshopping Mag Covers: How Much is Too Much?
By Dylan Stableford
For its October issue—the “First Annual Figure Flattery” issue—Glamour put America Ferrera, star of ABC’s Ugly Betty, on its cover. For Jezebel, Gawker Media’s “girlie blog,” it was bit too much “figure flattery.” The site ran a post under the headline “Photoshop of Horrors” juxtaposing Glamour’s cover with a photo of Ferrera at the Emmy Awards the same week the magazine hit newsstands. (The apparent slimming recalled a similar incident in which CBS’s in-house magazine trimmed Katie Couric by about three sizes.)
A Glamour spokesperson denies any such trimming. “America was shot for the cover in June, and as she says in the article, she's a size 6/8. There was no slimming done to the cover.”
Photoshop manipulation on magazine covers is nothing new. George Karabotsos, design director at Men’s Health, points to a 1952 National Geographic cover, which moved the Pyramids closer together for the sake of the cover. But recently the practice has teetered into dangerous territory, with Glamour’s Ferrera and Men’s Fitness’ blatant enlargement of Andy Roddick’s biceps—which Roddick himself exposed as fake on his blog (“little did I know I have 22 inch guns and a disappearing birth mark on my right arm ... whoever did this has mad skills”) and led to the resignation of the magazine’s designer—as the most egregious examples.
Roddick isn’t the only victim to cry foul. Kate Winslet, after seeing herself on the cover of a British GQ: “I don’t look like that, nor do I desire to look like that.”
Sometimes it’s not the body that is manipulated. In May, In Touch touched up Angelina Jolie’s veiny arm for its cover. Editor Richard Spencer was unapologetic: "You're right, we softened those veins. The arm was very, very veiny ... I think they can forgive it for the cover — unless it is a story specifically about their body. This was about her plans to expand her family."
But what about making your cover photo fit the story? In June, Star magazine used a photo of Jennifer Aniston carrying what appeared to be a manuscript for a cover story on the actress’ alleged “$5 Million Tell-All!” One problem: the manuscript was actually an art catalog.
Indeed, the practice has become so widespread, says Karabotsos, that some magazines even include a budget line for retouching.
How Much is Too Much?
“Retouching should be like wearing light makeup, not to the point where you can’t recognize the girl anymore,” says Self art director Petra Kobayashi. “We retouch to make the models look bigger, healthier.”
Karabotsos agrees. “We look for the ideal celeb or model for our magazine—a regular guy to have a beer with. He can’t be too perfect, too retouched,” says Karabotsos. “A reader could think, ‘If the cover’s not real, maybe the info in the magazine isn’t that real.”
This is especially true with news magazines, says Karabatsis. Both Newsweek—which plopped Martha Stewart’s head on a different body for its “Martha’s Last Laugh” cover—and Time—which caused a literal outcry after placing a tear on Ronald Reagan in March—faced criticism for publishing manipulated covers.
The National Press Photographers Association called Newsweek’s treatment of Martha a “major ethical breach.”
“You’re a news organization,” says Karabotsos, noting that Newsweek has since changed their approach by noting manipulations like Martha’s on the cover.
But even transparency doesn’t translate to trust, says Karabotsos. “We go to magazines to bring us the world. They’re bringing us a modified world that doesn’t exist? Can we trust them?”
“You have to think,” adds Kobayashi, “Where does reality start?”