- Designs, Lessons, and Advice from Building Large Distributed Systems (Slideshare) — in the words of Matt Webb, through whom I found it, There’s a lovely collection of numbers from Jeff Dean at Google, about how long common computer processor and network operations take. […] What makes this more human is this comparison, which reveals a little bit about computer time: your equivalent to a computer looking up data from a chip is remembering a fact from your own brain. Your equivalent to a computer looking up data from a disk is fetching that fact from Pluto. Computers live in a world of commonplace interactions not the size of a house, like us, but the Solar System. On their own terms, they are long, long lived, and vast.. (via Matt Webb)
- Amazon Selling More Kindle Books Than Paperbacks (New Scientist) — Since the beginning of the year, for every 100 paperback books Amazon has sold, the Company has sold 115 Kindle books. Additionally, during this same time period the company has sold three times as many Kindle books as hardcover books. (via Brad DeLong)
- The AOL Way — the leaked business plan for AOL’s content farms. I was fascinated by how big companies plan, but this is yet more sausage best made unseen. Most sausagey for me was Slide 33 showing the fantasy: a story suggested by high searches and advertising possibilities, with heavily “SEO optimized” text. (via Chris Heathcote on Delicious)
"ebook publishing" entries
Anna Abraham on PlayTales' strategies for success.
In this TOC podcast, Anna Abraham, marketing and PR manager at PlayTales, talks about what makes PlayTales unique and describes how they've embraced the opportunities in children's ebook publishing.
BBC Pares Web, Data Interaction Design, Long-Form Commerce, and Dangers of Free Themes
- BBC Web Cuts Show Wider Disconnect (The Guardian) — I forget that most people still think of the web as a secondary add-on to the traditional way of doing things rather than as the new way. Interesting article which brings home the point in the context of the BBC, but you can tell the same story in almost any business.
- 40p Off a Latte (Chris Heathcote) — One of the bits I enjoyed the most was unpacking the old ubiquitous computing cliche of your phone vibrating with a coupon off a latte when walking past a Starbucks. This whole presentation is brilliant. I’m still zinging off how data can displace actions in time and space: what you buy today on Amazon will trigger a recommendation later for someone else.
- Long-Form Reporting Finds Commercial Hope in E-Books — ProPublica and New York Times have launched long-form reporting in Kindle Singles, Amazon’s format for 5k-30k word pieces. On Thursday, he told me his job involved asking the question, “How do you monetize the content when it is not news anymore?” Repackaging and updating the paper’s coverage of specific topics is a common answer.
- Why You Should Never Search for Free WordPress Themes in Google or Anywhere Else — short answer: free themes are full of SEO rubbish or worse. Every hit on your site boosts someone else’s penis pills site, and runs the risk that search engines will decide your site is itself spam.
De-DRMing eBooks, Chinese Data, eBook Pricing, and Universal Translation (soon)
- Remove DRM from EBooks — it’s been done, and the tools are getting easier to use. The Kindle DRM-remover uses gdb to hook into the Kindle for Mac application, watch when a book’s decoded and snaffle the key. (via BoingBoing)
- AliBaba’s Data Possibilities (The Economist) — Alibaba has a huge and barely exploited asset: the data it has gathered on the spending habits of China’s emerging middle class. The firm is cagey about what, exactly, it will do with these data, and insists that it will not violate anyone’s privacy. Nonetheless, there are ways in which Alibaba could profit from what it knows. One idea might be to use customer data to identify trends and so help companies to anticipate what consumers want. Given the paucity of accurate data in China, this would be extremely valuable.
- Agency Pricing — Under agency pricing, the publisher controls the price and the retailer is not allowed to discount […] under Agency Pricing and with a reduced sales price of $9.99, the agency publishers are making the same amount of money as its hardcover revenue. (via Hacker News)
- Google Translate for Conversations — Because this technology is still in alpha, factors like regional accents, background noise or rapid speech may make it difficult to understand what you’re saying. As Douglas Adams said, by allowing everyone to understand each other, the babel fish has caused more wars than anything else in the universe.
Deadline for submissions is January 10, 2011.
TOC's first Publishing Showcase will give you — and your business — a chance to get in front of hundreds of potential users and investors. Submissions are due by Jan. 10, 2011.
More than 800 O'Reilly titles are now available in DAISY format. If you've already bought an oreilly.com ebook, you can find the DAISY files on your account page.
Economic Growth Without Copyright, Ebook Numbers, Hypothesis Analysis Tool, Who Pays for Open Data?
- Germany’s Industrial Expansion Fueled by Absence of Copyright Law? (Der Spiegel) — fascinating article about the extraordinary publishing output in 1800s Germany vs other nations, all with no effective and enforceable copyright laws. Sigismund Hermbstädt, for example, a chemistry and pharmacy professor in Berlin, who has long since disappeared into the oblivion of history, earned more royalties for his “Principles of Leather Tanning” published in 1806 than British author Mary Shelley did for her horror novel “Frankenstein,” which is still famous today. Books were released in high-quality high-price format and low-quality low-price format, and Germans bought them in record numbers. When copyright law became established, publishers did away with the low-quality low-price version and authors complained about the drop in revenue.
- Cheap Ebooks Give Second Life to Backlist — it can’t be said enough that dead material in print can have a second life online. Here are numbers to make the story plain. (via Hacker News)
- Competing Hypotheses — a free, open source tool for complex research problems. A software companion to a 30+ year-old CIA research methodology, Open Source Analysis of Competing Hypotheses (ACH) will help you think objectively and logically about overwhelming amounts of data and hypotheses. It can also guide research teams toward more productive discussions by identifying the exact points of contention. (via johnmscott on Twitter)
- Economics of Scholarly Production: Supplemental Materials — scholarly publications include data and documentation that’s not in the official peer-reviewed article. Storing and distributing this has been the publication’s responsibility, but they’re spitting the dummy. Now the researcher’s organisation will have to house these supplemental materials. If data is as critical to science as the article it generates, yet small articles can come from terabytes of data, what’s the Right Thing To Do that scales across all academia? (via Cameron Neylon)
Ebook Sharing, Distributed Labour Laws, and Two Graduation Speeches
- Publishers Who Don’t Know History … (Cory Ondrejka) — interesting thoughts on publishing. Friends share, borrow, and recommend books. Currently, publishers are generally being stupid about this.
- Regulating Distributed Work — should Mechanical Turk and so on have specific labour laws? This is the case in favour.
- We Are What We Choose — Jeff Bezos’s graduation speech to Princeton’s Class of 2010. Well worth reading.
- The Velluvial Matrix (New Yorker) — Atul Gawande’s graduation speech to Stanford’s School of Medicine. The truth is that the volume and complexity of the knowledge that we need to master has grown exponentially beyond our capacity as individuals. Worse, the fear is that the knowledge has grown beyond our capacity as a society. When we talk about the uncontrollable explosion in the costs of health care in America, for instance—about the reality that we in medicine are gradually bankrupting the country—we’re not talking about a problem rooted in economics. We’re talking about a problem rooted in scientific complexity. (via agpublic on Twitter)
Publishing Business, Google Apps Marketplace, iPad Design, and Visual Communication
- The Future of Book Publishing Business Models (Stephen Walli) — some good thoughts about the book publishing industry and ebooks. When does Amazon create the iPhone/Android app and the programme that will allow bookstores to receive a cut of every Kindle edition they sell? I scan the book’s in-store barcode with my smartphone, and I get the Kindle edition delivered, and the store gets its cut. Why is this different in concept than Borders on-line store being run on Amazon, or any of the independent book sellers that front through Amazon? It’s not the normal book mark-up, but people already browse bookstores and buy on Amazon. This is better than no revenue. (When was the last time you went to a travel agent?)
- Google Apps Enterprise Marketplace — this is sweet. It looks like the play is to become the home page for authenticated apps rather than to make commissions from selling the apps themselves. This may be the Google business model vs the Apple business model in a nutshell. (via Marc Hedlund)
- iPad Application Design — some fantastic notes about the kinds of UI design that iPad encourages. I’ve avoided covering The Second Coming of The JesusPhone but this is interesting because of the middle ground it stakes out between phone and laptop. The primary warning about designing for the iPad is: more screen space doesn’t mean more UI. You’ll be tempted to violate that principle, and you need to resist the temptation. It’s OK to have UI available to cover your app’s functionality, but a bigger screen doesn’t mean it should all be visible at once. Hide configuration UI until needed. Look like a viewer, and behave like an editor … There’s been a history of modes getting some bad press on the desktop. The issue is that they trade stability (things always being in exactly the same place in the UI, and not changing) for simplicity (not having too many controls to look through at once). On the iPad, it’s clear where the winning side of the balance is: simplicity. Modes are completely appropriate on this device. (via Marc Hedlund)
- The Howtoons Visual Creation Guide — we teach grammar and spelling in schools but not visual communication. This short booklet is a good start to remedying that. (via BoingBoing)
I found myself quoting that great Bob Dylan line the other day on a mailing list for those dealing with the changes sweeping through the publishing industry. Michael Coffey from Publisher’s Weekly wrote an eloquent and moving lament that expresses the fear of many that the book might be losing its pre-eminent position in the cultural canon.