DBW Weekly Roundup: 12/3/10

DBW Weekly RoundupDigital Book World presents a weekly round-up of some of the most interesting news, commentary and tweets related to publishing that you may have missed, from all over the digital book world:

The Future of Reading and Writing is Collaborative
Heather Chaplin, Spotlight on Digital Media and Learning

Stein says it’s better to take advantage of new technologies to push the culture in the direction you want it to go. Stein is fully aware of the political and cultural implications of his vision of the future of reading and writing, which shifts the emphasis away from the individual and onto the community. It’s asking people to understand that authored works are part of a larger flow of ideas and information.

“We’ve grown up in a world where all great ideas are pretty much ascribed to a single individual,” Stein said. “What we’re not particularly good at is understanding what the origins of that idea were or seeing the continuous flow of ideas.”

Such a redrawing of the boundaries of authorship, of course, undermines our system of intellectual property and copyright laws. If the creation of a book is a collaborative process, who owns it in the end?

Storytelling 2.0: The digital death of the author
Craig Mod, Culture Lab – New Scientist

THE idea of a book conjures up physicality. We imagine the thick cover, the heft of the interior block, the feel of a page’s edge. We sense its permanence. Inside, words are embedded in paper, unchanging. Publishers, writers, readers and software makers are busy trying to shoehorn this old idea of the book into new media. They ask, “How do we change books to read them digitally?” But the more interesting question is, “How do digital media change books?”

Penguin Plans Arabic-Books Venture
Paul Sonne, WSJ

For 75 years, Penguin has sold books almost exclusively in the English language. Many other big publishers, such as Lagardere SCA’s Hachette and Bertelsmann AG’s Random House, have operated significant businesses outside the English-language market. Though Penguin Chief Executive Officer John Makinson says that the decision to expand Penguin Classics into non-English markets is not “the start of a grand foreign-language strategy,” it does give the publisher a foothold in markets including Egypt, Brazil and China, where economic growth and demographic shifts have been driving physical book sales. “These are important but early-stage products in markets that offer huge opportunities for growth,” Mr. Makinson says. Looking ahead, Penguin will continue to focus on bringing classics to foreign-language markets “with a growth story” outside Western Europe, he adds.

B&N’s NOOKBooks en Español Gives US Retailer Unique Position in Global E-book Market
Emily Williams, Publishing Perspectives

Arancibia’s focus was on bringing the widest range of marketable trade e-books in Spanish to the US market, and she is proud of the results. “Seventy-five percent of the books we have are not available in any other online bookstore in the US yet,” she points out. “Being the first to bring e-books en español to the United States is also nice. We’re going to start to send a newsletter in Spanish, starting today, completely in Spanish for e-books and Nook. People seem to be very happy. We knew that US Latinos were starving for books in Spanish, and it looks like they are happy we are bringing them!”

Are you listening comfortably?
Ian Burrell, The Independent

So many great authors – Charles Dickens, W Somerset Maugham, Edgar Allan Poe, F Scott Fitzgerald – made fortunes from the short story. Eighty years ago, Fitzgerald could command fees of the equivalent of $50,000 today for a magazine piece. Poe, who loved to read his 108-line classic The Raven in New York pubs with the lights turned out, embraced the very modern notion of mastering the art of writing pieces that could be consumed in a single sitting. The suggestion that literature can change the “everything for free” culture of the download generation might prompt snorts of derision, but, believe me, the short story is in fashion. Events such as Literary Death Match – which is something akin to a hip-hop battle for scribes and takes place under a pizzeria in east London – the Shoreditch House Literary Salon and the Book Club Boutique are making short-form fiction funky.

Future of NYCIP in Doubt
Calvin Reid, Publishers Weekly

The NYCIP has been without a permanent director since early 2009, when Karin Taylor, executive director of NYCIP for more than 20 years, was laid off during the depths of the Great Recession. Commenting on Taylor’s departure last year, the GSMT, an educational, cultural, and social services organization founded in the 18th century and housed in a historic building on West 44th Street in New York City, cited the need to reduce expenses as it worked to get its own financial house in order. While Schnelbach was named interim director, Taylor’s departure revealed organizational disputes between the GSMT and the NYCIP’s executive and advisory boards, which took a direct role in managing NYCIP and its programming. Following Taylor’s exit, several NYCIP board members resigned, and now the organization appears in limbo or worse, with no one in charge, no apparent staff or volunteers, no events set, and no information available from GSMT on NYCIP’s future.

Dave Perry Cautions Against the Looming Threat of Steam
Andy Chalk, The Escapist

“When you outsource your digital strategy you are giving away your customers. Like iTunes, Steam has made it so easy and they have lots of users. So if you give them your product then you will start receiving checks from them. And that’s very convenient,” he told MCV. “But now people are starting to think about their own digital future. How long do you wait before you take control of your own digital strategy? Would you say, ‘Here, take my digital customers, and I’ll see you later?'”

Tweets of the Week

Public Art 4Culture on Digital Comics

Babette Ross on 2010 Highlight - Community!

That’s just a taste of what you may have missed this week. To stay on top of the most interesting news, commentary and tweets related to publishing, keep in touch via our RSS feed, follow us on Twitter, join your publishing colleagues in our LinkedIn group, and connect with the broader DBW Network.


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