Airport Strikes and Anxiety: Frankfurt Book Fair 2011

October 25, 2011

The Frankfurt Book Fair this year started on a bad note for many as baggage handlers delayed all incoming flights amid mounting concern over the proposed airport strike on the Friday.

News from across the channel that the British Library had added a ‘buy’ link to Amazon caused a certain amount of angst and publishers were no more amused by Amazon’s ‘request’ for a 90% discount to participate in their Kindle promotion.

In spite of all this, the atmosphere at the fair was focused and business-like and, once people had caught up with the appointments they missed on Wednesday morning, they settled down to three days of productive meetings and discussions.

In addition to the much improved cafes in the halls, several of the pre-fair conferences provided food for thought.  The STM conference on the Tuesday, for instance, had a good talk by Frank Schirrmacher of the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung (FAZ), a national German daily.  In his keynote speech, Frank spoke about a conversation he had had with Eric Schmidt of Google about how in the future machines will do all our remembering for us.  He also had some interesting stories to tell about Germany, such as how the German government had introduced a Trojan virus into their population’s computers to capture emails, thus endangering people’s ability to write thought pieces not intended for publication without fear of reprisal. 

For fair-attendees, though, the German government appeared in a more benign light when it was announced that the airport strike had been called off.  As Angela Merkel fights fires on all fronts, she may be comforted to know that the publishing community considers itself indebted to her for ensuring they weren’t stuck in Frankfurt over the weekend.

Kathy Law

European Business Development Manager


BETT 2011

February 2, 2011

BETT, Jan 2011, London Olympia

BETT was a very busy show, easily as big and vibrant, in terms of exhibitors and visitor numbers, as in the days when the London Book Fair used to reside here.

This was a show of high technology and cutting edge teaching environments and resources providing a glimpse into the future of education delivered in a way designed to engage students’ attention.

The show encompassed all subject disciplines from pre-school to graduation along with special educational needs and CPD areas.

Education is now firmly in the hands of publishers and software companies cooperating to provide every technology, resource, and tool that any teacher could wish for.

At the Macmillan booth, the Global eWorkbook (and other products also built by MPS) attracted many educators who were looking for all-encompassing resources and platforms to allow them to do their teaching well… whilst also delivering a challenging and structured environment to allow students to learn creatively, with confidence, and be motivated to learn and explore more in a fun environment.

The early 70s saw a huge change in education with the advent of the calculator…

The late 90s saw a massive change in learning with students commonly working on laptops and using USB sticks…

This decade has seen a seismic change associated with IWBs, touch tablets, mobile devices, and networking for home and distance learning…

Education has never been so exciting. 

  

Kathy Law

European Business Development Manager


A Day in the Life of iPad vs Kindle: Day 4

November 22, 2010

The XXX Charleston Conference wound down and sadly, I must return the iPad and Kindle to our main office next week. The iPad proved to be a terrific conversation starter; I would say that I saw only 10 or so people with them. Most people were taking notes by hand, also surprising. The number of laptops in use was higher than iPads and Smartphones, but most people were writing in long hand. When I asked a few folks about it, the reason was cost. More vendors and university press people had devices, most librarians had notepads. Totally fits in with the rampant budget cuts libraries are facing, I imagine. The Kindle experiment will have to be for another day; I think I would like it for air travel, and perhaps reading in bed; however, this trip was too packed with work and I didn’t have time for leisurely reading.

Friday’s COUNTER forum, featuring an ex-MPSTechnologies employee, David Sommer (now consultant to publishing and vendor communities, incoming Chair of COUNTER, and great guy to share a beer with), was near to my heart, as MPS recently completed a survey about COUNTER stats with the library community. This forum focused on the history of COUNTER and the challenges going forward: mobile is an issue; how to count user stats on devices, as more people use them; and “per-article” or “per-chapter” effective counts. Since an overall theme of this conference was the need for libraries to buy fewer full journals and books and move toward the patron-driven, pay-per-view models, how will COUNTER…count? They have created PIRUS, which will provide a common standard for measuring online usage of individual articles. Check out http://www.projectcounter.org for more info.

The last forum I attended was with Dr. Frances Pinter, currently publisher of Bloomsbury Academic. She was calling on libraries worldwide to form consortia that buy and share books, whether hard copy or print. She believed in open source access and that can be achieved only if the cost to purchase books would be spread among thousands of libraries. She didn’t think publishers would be open to slashing their prices just to help cash-strapped libraries.

On the way home, I pulled off the side of the road to watch 23 vultures “remove” a deer that had been killed in the road. Fascinating birds. They are my favorite for sure; I love them because they clean up messes. I got out of the car and had them swooping overhead, some only a few feet above me. I’ve also developed a weird superstition involving vultures. For each one I spot on the way to or from a visit with a new customer, one vulture = $10,000 in sales. So, I figure my contacts from the Charleston conference will garner $230,000.00! Were it that easy…

Cheers from Charleston.  Rose


A Day in the Life of an iPad vs Kindle: Day 3

November 5, 2010

Typing on the iPad has gotten easy and fast; love it, as a matter of fact. I took copious notes during all forums.  Only issue after these few days is sometimes it doesn’t go landscape mode when i turn it. The keyboard is larger in landscape and i am finding it is my typing preference. I did run out of battery life during a forum and had to switch to the BB for note taking. I fixed the auto-spelling feature that was druiving me crazy; went into settings and turned it off. Duhhhhh.

(Editor’s Note: Driving was left purposely misspelled to note the irony in that last sentence – TMM)

Still haven’t really cracked the Kindle; I think I would not buy it because I am getting more services from the iPad.

A little about this conference, “Anything Goes.” Libraries are having to move away from traditional models; will vendor models change? Pay-per-view, POD, leasing? Libraries are having their budgets slashed.  Scholarly sharing off the grid with social networking is gaining steam, as well.  Publishers and librarians have to understand which areas of social media will take precedence?

Patron driven acquisition (PDA) is the buzz term. During the first forum on Wednesday, “Let them eat… Everything,” we were given clickers for real-time poll taking. Most interesting for me, the question, “Librarians, do you envision needing PPV, POD, leasing, and PDA”?  Majority answer was “yes, but will take a lot of time to implement.”

When publishers were asked the same question, the answer was , “no, too expensive to implement.”

Ouch.

During “Putting all the pieces together,” the overall tone was that there are too many platforms to choose from, and libraries are overwhelmed. Patrons want content seamlessly delivered. The goal is a unified, rationalized experience for the library patron.

More tomorrow; raining and cold and I need a nice warm meal. I’m not going to the annual meeting tonight because I have a call report about _______. Can’t tell you readers or I’d have to kill you! Trust me, I need to spend a few hours on this.

Rose  Rummel Eury

Sales Manager, MPS North America


XML 2010, eMedia Revolution

November 3, 2010

I attended XML 2010, eMedia Revolution at the Crowne Plaza Hotel in downtown Philadelphia October 13-15. It was observed that attendance was down from previous XML conferences.

Sessions included such XML details as “Everyday DITA” (Darwin Information Typing Architecture) to what is a good wiki editor (CKEditor http://ckeditor.com/). Norm Walsh, who is well regarded in XML standards development, gave an overview of the new developments in DocBook v.5.

Of high interest to those who expect to become involved in digital book (especially ePub) development was the presentation From InDesign to iPad given by Gabriel Powell. Gabriel is an Adobe Certified Trainer and much of his training notes and videos are available from http://www.instantindesign.com/.

His presentation went into fine detail about how best to set up an InDesign template so that all the information is captured when exporting to Digital Editions (ePub) format. The key is that everything must be modified with a style–paragraph of character. Don’t just use bold or italic as an attribute, create a character style that makes the type bold or italic or the change will be lost in your ebook.

There were lots more important details about how NOT to set up an InDesign file, but check out his website for some cool document creation tips.

Jim Link

Business Technology Strategist, MPS North America


A Day in the Life of an iPad vs Kindle: Day 2

November 2, 2010

Eating fried conch at a week-old restaurant in the the Historic District of Charleston, called “david’s.” Four-hour trip down: 9 vultures, 3 hawks, 2 dead deer, 1 dead dog, 1 dead ????, and horrible gas mileage on the rental (why is it no rental companies will buy hybrids?).

Well, iPad update: the map is awesome! Didn’t really need it, since I knew where I was going, but fun.  Typing: Don’t like it at all. Having to switch from the alpha board to the number board just to use a semi-colon, hyphen, parens, and $$$, is annoying and slow. Okay for all you two-fingered typists, but not a viable replacement for my BB’s keypad, nor my laptop’s.

Glare on the board because I am outside, but that would be the case with laptop, so no black marks. It will offer to fix a misspelled word, and automatically caps words at the beginning of a sentence. It will not allow me, however, to start a sentence with a lower case word, so I cannot properly spell iPad at the beginning of a sentence. It is quite sensitive, so when my bad hand drops too closely to the keypad, I get this: lklki.

Kindle update: just now reading the directions; looks easy; screen is easy to read and I am getting no glare holding in same position as iPad. Looks like great for just reading, but I still just want only ONE device: phone, computer, camera, eReader.

Convention starts tomorrow; the Kindle will be popular.

Took me at least four times longer to write this and when I just typed “longer” incorrectly, it gave me “salinger.” Interesting.

Sent from my iPad

Rose Rummel Eury

Sales Manager, MPS North America


Cape Town Book Fair

August 13, 2010

Amid all of South Africa’s football hysteria, it might have been easy to overlook the Cape Town Book Fair.  There was certainly less vuvuzela-blowing and celebrity-spotters had to be content with Archbishop Desmond Tutu, who opened the four day event, but the fifth anniversary of the fair sowed seeds of digital change which could change Africa’s literary and educational landscape.

Exhibitors, 273 in total, included publishers from several other African countries, and – despite the odd European publisher – the focus was on location-specific issues. For instance very few people in South Africa have access to computers and although there is almost 100% mobile phone penetration, most are what could be called ‘dumb phones’ (as opposed to smart phones).  So one question many publishers had was: is it possible to provide eBooks that can be read on these basic phones, and if so how?

The digital publishing forum was packed, and there was standing room only for those who hadn’t got there early.  The panel, which included representatives from Pan Macmillan, New Holland Publishers and S. Fischer Verlage, talked about their digital experiences.  The audience was interested in the basics: how PDFs can be turned into ePub files; where should they start with eBooks.  XML was conspicuous by its absence.  There was though also a discussion of issues that even the most digitally-advanced publishers still haven’t figured out: what’s the right figure for eBook royalties; and, fundamentally, how do we make money out of digital?

African publishers, though, are also pondering a bigger question: should they focus on providing cheap books to the poor rural swathes of their countries, or pour resources into the top-end digital products which they can only sell to a few?  In a country where there’s only one library per 32,000 people*, creating a killer iPad app is probably not quite such a pressing priority as it is further West.

Something to mull over as MPS gears up for the crush of Frankfurt.

Pearson introduces fair goers to an interactive whiteboard.

*As per Van Helden, P. and Lor, P. 2002. Public community libraries inventory of South Africa: PACLISA final report. Pretoria: National Library of South Africa.

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