Publishing and content

Agency model = Revenue share

Apple, as the company has in the past, has begun to upset, er, apple carts. With the announcement of the iPad, Apple also announced a book section in the iTunes Store, with a business model that is exactly the same as the hugely successful music model they use. For both books and music, Apple will collect 30% of the sales price of the item, and the publisher/seller collects 70%. The seller of the item sets the actual price. This is called the "agency model."

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Apple's iSlate (or iTablet) is going to transform publishing

Here is a roundup of rumors about the new Apple tablet. Apple has announced a media event late this month, but is not saying what the announcement is about. Until very recently, most pundits were guessing Apple's table computer would not be announced until June of this year, but I think the increasing interest in the Google Android phone may have caused Apple to move up their announcement to suck all the oxygen out of the room and take the media focus off Android.

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Blockbuster stores to close

The recently announced Blockbuster store closings will cut about 20% of the firm's stores. Blockbuster plans to replace them with kiosks and smaller stores in more densely populated urban areas. Blockbuster also has a Netflix-style subscription service, but will only one-fifth the customer base of Netflix.

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Will the iPad or iTablet save newspapers and magazines?

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Is journalism dead, near dead, or rising from the ashes?

The Huffington Post has a couple of interesting articles on the direction of journalism today. It is a weird time for news, as the old media and the new media continue to collide. There is much finger pointing going around, with many old media journalists and owners trying to make a fiscally sound transition to new media while simultaneously complaining that new media bloggers and news aggregation sites (like the HuffPost).

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Barnes and Noble readies Nook book reader

Barnes and Noble is about to release an ebook reader called Nook. The bookseller and publisher wants to compete with the Amazon Kindle and the Sony Reader. It is easy to find people who say they love their Kindle, but I remain skeptical. I do think that within a few years, we will reading many more books using some kind of reader device, but I think the long-rumored Apple tablet is likely to crush these dedicated devices.

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FTC to regulate blogs

In one of the strangest things to come out of government, the Federal Trade Commission has announced it intends to monitor and police.....blogs. That's right--there is apparently nothing more dangerous than a blogger who might be getting paid a few bucks to write a product review. So the FTC is setting rules for full disclosure on when a blogger might be getting paid directly or indirectly for writing a product review.

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Broadband is killing TV, slowly but surely

A sure sign that interest in TV is waning is the fact that major media firms like Disney, Viacom, CBS, and Time Warner have announced a partnership with some of the biggest advertisers in the country (Proctor & Gamble, AT&T, Unilever) to create a new ratings system that will more accurately measure viewer habits. The current Nielsen system is decades old, and the complaint is that it does not accurately measure the effect that DVRs and broadband are having on viewing habits.

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Sony ebook takes on the Kindle

Sony has announced it's $400 ebook. Intended to compete with the Amazon Kindle, the device costs $100 more than the Kindle but works with several open ebook formats, giving users access to a wider range of books.

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Has Amazon killed the Kindle?

Amazon may have inadvertently killed its own Kindle ebook reader over the past week. The company discovered that pirated versions of Orwell's 1984 and Animal Farm were available for sale on the Kindle bookstore. To comply with the copyright protection laws, Amazon removed the ebook versions from the online bookstore. But then Amazon also remotely deleted copies of the book from all Kindles and refunded the purchase price to the Kindle owners.

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The year that newspapers died, part two

2008 will likely be remembered as the year of the tipping point for newspapers. A new study by the Pew Foundation indicates that more people now get their news from the Internet than from newspapers, a sharp increase over 2007. 59% of young people (under 30) use the Internet as their main source of news and information, a figure that has doubled in the past year.

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News downsizing affects reliability

Michael Smerconish, a newspaper columnist, writes today about the Martin Eisenstadt hoax. Eisenstadt was the source of the rumor that Sarah Palin had mis-identified Africa as a "country," not a continent. The problem was that Eisenstadt was an entirely fictitious person, or as Smerconish puts it, the "Borat" of the news business. Both Eisenstadt and the Africa quote were entirely made up.

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Comcast invests in P2P

Comcast, which has been criticized of late for apparently trying to throttle peer to peer (P2P) file sharing traffic, seems to be shifting focus by investing in a P2P business start up. This is a good sign. As I and others have argued for a long time, we need to shift away from the "bucket of bits" model of broadband and move toward a service-oriented business and network model. P2P file sharing is just another service.

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Amazon: we want our cake and eat it too

A lengthy discussion on SlashDot highlights a new tactic by Amazon. The book distribution giant is trying to muscle out other print on demand services by forcing authors who use print on demand to use Amazon's print on demand (POD) service or else--the "else" being Amazon won't list their book.

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Google search within a search steals customers

Google has announced a new "search within a search" option that has online retailers worried that the search behemoth will steal customers. The new option lets you use Google to search only pages that are part of a single site. So if you want to buy a digital camera and go to Google to start the search, you get the usual search results page. If you click on a Best Buy site, as an example, Google will now do an extended search only on the Best Buy site.

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Blu-Ray wins

There are reports that Toshiba has decided to cut its losses and discontinue manufacturing HD-DVD equipment. Microsoft is the other loser in this battle, as the company had been a backer of the HD-DVD format. Christmas 2008 will be a good time to invest in the high def players and recorders, as by that time there will be plenty of competition and lower prices.

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The Eagles boot the record companies

The somewhat elderly Eagles rock band has given record companies the boot with the band's latest album. The Eagles simply skipped working with a record company at all, and went straight to Wal-mart to sell their new CD. The two CD set is priced at a very reasonable twelve bucks. The artists get a bigger share of the sales, and music lovers spend less and get more.

Even more interesting, the two CD set is priced low enough that some music stores are simply going to Wal-mart, buying a bunch of the CDs, and then marking them up and selling them in their own stores.

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Here we go again...

Senator Ted "the Internet is made of tubes" Stevenson is at it again, calling for "universal" filtering of the Internet to protect us all from pornography. The Internet pornography problem is a serious one, and deserves serious attention, but Senator Stevens is not making a serious proposal.

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Have FaceBook and MySpace peaked?

Those of us that have been watching how people use public networks (I started in 1982) know that there is a certain "newbie" phenomenon that takes place when some new feature or service is introduced. I have always been skeptical of the "social networking" trend, which is best represented by sites like FaceBook and MySpace.

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Just turn off the TV

This editorial from the LA Times discusses rumblings from the FCC that the agency may try to regulate "violence" on television, and may try to extend the agency's control to cable and satellite broadcasting--entirely new for the FCC.

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