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September 02 2013

Syrie : les « preuves » de Paris déclassifiées, Al-Assad menace « les intérêts de la France »

Syrie : les « preuves » de Paris déclassifiées, Al-Assad menace « les intérêts de la France »
http://www.lemonde.fr/proche-orient/article/2013/09/02/syrie-les-preuves-francaises-declassifiees-assad-menace-paris_3470082_3218.h

La première partie introduit le document déclassifié de l’Élysée (cf. http://seenthis.net/messages/171565 ) la deuxième rend compte de l’interview d’Assad par Georges Malbrunot pour le Figaro. Ça donne :

POUR AL-ASSAD, LA FRANCE EST DÉSORMAIS UN « ENNEMI »
La publication de la note confidentielle des services du renseignement par le gouvernement semblait répondre par anticipation aux déclarations du président syrien, Bachar Al-Assad, dans une interview publiée par Le Figaro mardi. « Quiconque accuse doit donner des preuves, a-t-il déclaré, niant une nouvelle fois sa responsabilité dans l’attaque du 21 août. Nous avons défié les Etats-Unis et la France d’avancer une seule preuve. MM. Obama et Hollande en ont été incapables, y compris devant leurs peuples. » M. Assad a prévenu qu’en « contribu[ant] au renforcement financier et militaire des terroristes », Paris était devenu un ennemi de Damas, mettant en garde contre les « répercussions, négatives bien entendu, sur les intérêts de la France ».

En fait, Bachar El-Assad répond à une question. Tel que dans Le Figaro :
La mise en garde d’Assad à la France
http://www.lefigaro.fr/international/2013/09/02/01003-20130902ARTFIG00532-la-mise-en-garde-d-el-assad-a-la-france.php

La France est-elle devenue un pays ennemi de la Syrie ?
Quiconque contribue au renforcement financier et militaire des terroristes est l’ennemi du peuple syrien. Quiconque œuvre contre les intérêts de la Syrie et de ses citoyens est un ennemi. Le peuple français n’est pas notre ennemi, mais la politique de son État est hostile au peuple syrien. Dans la mesure où la politique de l’État français est hostile au peuple syrien, cet État sera son ennemi. Cette hostilité prendra fin lorsque l’État français changera de politique. Il y aura des répercussions, négatives bien entendu, sur les intérêts de la France.

Le reste (au Figaro) derrière #paywall

August 12 2013

Sur fond de rivalités syndicales et avant des élections en 2014, la mine de Marikana en…

Sur fond de rivalités syndicales et avant des élections en 2014, la mine de Marikana en #Afrique_du_Sud a fait une nouvelle victime. Le meurtre devant son domicile de Mme Nbongile Madolo, responsable du Syndicat national des mineurs (NUM), parmi les plus importants du pays, vient s’ajouter à d’autres assassinats, un an après les #grèves réprimées par la #police (34 morts). En mars, le long reportage de Sabine Cessou nous plongeait dans l’histoire sociale d’un pays en « état d’insurrection permanente », dont les racines politiques remontent au temps où Nelson Mandela était encore en prison.

Trois émeutes par jour en Afrique du Sud, par Sabine Cessou (#2013/03)
http://www.monde-diplomatique.fr/2013/03/CESSOU/48841

En dépit d’accusations de #corruption, le président Jacob Zuma a été réélu à la direction du Congrès national africain (ANC) le 18 décembre dernier. Mais les signes de fragilisation se multiplient, comme la création du parti Agang (« Construisons ») par la célèbre militante antiapartheid Mamphela Ramphele, en vue de l’élection présidentielle de 2014. La sanglante répression de la grève des mineurs de #Marikana, le 16 août 2012, a révélé l’ampleur de la crise sociale et les débats qu’elle suscite dans la nation arc-en-ciel.

#Conflit #Travail #Histoire #Violence #Chômage #Pauvreté #Politique #Apartheid #Syndicalisme #Parti_politique #Crise_économique #Mouvement_de_contestation

Lire aussi cet article pour l’heure réservé aux seul(e)s abonné(e)s (#paywall) : Nelson Mandela, les chemins inattendus, par Achille Mbembe dans le numéro d’août (#2013/08)
http://www.monde-diplomatique.fr/2013/08/MBEMBE/49518

August 09 2013

Why The New York Times doesn't have to sell | TIME.com

Why The New York Times doesn’t have to sell | TIME.com
http://swampland.time.com/2013/08/09/last-ones-standing

The Times, on the other hand, while building a hugely popular website, has not relied on web advertising to pay the bills. The company has gone directly to its readers, for whom the paper is a sign of identity and status—a luxury good they are willing to pay for. Jacking up prices (the Sunday newspaper retails for $5 now in New York and $6 a copy elsewhere), and targeting their demographic more and more precisely, the Times has been able to dampen its dependence on advertising while making paid circulation its principal source of revenue.

#presse #paywall

August 05 2013

OHM 2013 : les hackers sortent du bois | Mediapart paywall

#OHM 2013 : les #hackers sortent du bois | Mediapart #paywall
http://www.mediapart.fr/journal/international/040813/ohm-2013-les-hackers-sortent-du-bois

Aujourd’hui, on voit émerger l’idée que la convivialité est un outil de sécurité. [#cybersécurité]

« A Tottenham, la disparition d'une œuvre de Banksy ravive la “guerre des murs” »

« A Tottenham, la disparition d’une œuvre de Banksy ravive la “guerre des murs” »
http://www.lemonde.fr/a-la-une/article/2013/08/05/a-tottenham-la-disparition-d-une-uvre-de-banksy-ravive-la-guerre-des-murs_34

’tention, y a un #paywall, auquel je n’ai pas plus accès que toi, mais on a l’essentiel de l’info avant ça : le #street_art c’est tellement in qu’une compagnie découpe un bout de mur dessiné par #Banksy pour l’exposer...

http://s1.lemde.fr/image/2013/08/05/534x0/3457441_6_d5cb_l-uvre-de-l-artiste-banksy-sur-un-mur-de_5e4141ef53a36c0bdadaa33e695aec1f.jpg

#Tottenham est l’un des quartiers les plus pauvres d’Europe. C’est là, dans le nord de la capitale britannique, qu’éclatèrent les graves émeutes raciales de l’été 2011. C’est là aussi que, grâce aux artistes de rue, cette zone qui broie du noir peut rêver en couleurs. D’où l’émotion qu’a provoqué la disparition d’une oeuvre murale intitulée No Ball Game (« ballon interdit ») signée du célèbre plasticien anglais Banksy.

Au croisement de Tottenham High Road et de Philip Lane, le mur beige de l’épicerie a été découpé. Une compagnie événementielle, Sincura Group, a fait enlever fin juillet le graffiti réalisé en 2009 par Banksy qui montre un petit garçon et une fillette jouant au ballon. L’oeuvre de l’artiste – qui a toujours choisi de rester anonyme – doit traverser l’Atlantique en 2014 pour être vendue aux enchères à Miami. Les « muraux » de Banksy s’arrachent à prix d’or.

« Ce dessin faisait partie de notre identité » : telle est l’antienne des habitants de Tottenham qui se sentent dépossédés d’une oeuvre que l’as du « street art » leur avait offerte. La colère est d’autant plus vive que l’auteur du coup de force, Sincura Group, est un récidiviste en la matière. En février, la société avait fait enlever d’un mur de Wood Lane, dans le nord londonien, un autre pochoir en noir et blanc de Banksy.

Lequel pochoir, intitulé “Slave Labour”, avait été vendu par le groupe pour la modique somme de £750,000.
http://www.independent.co.uk/arts-entertainment/art/news/no-ball-games-anger-as-another-banksy-removed-from-north-london-wall-

https://metrouk2.files.wordpress.com/2013/06/ay_111269365.jpg

En angliche, tu trouveras davantage d’explications, et notamment cette splendide justification du Sincura Group : mais puisqu’on vous dit que c’est pour restaurer cette oeuvre splendide, et en plus on fait dons des bénéfices à une ONG
http://www.ibtimes.co.uk/articles/494859/20130726/banksy-tottenham-sincura-art-auction.htm

Sincura pledged to hand profits from the auction sale to a charity. A statement said: “A number of attempts have been made over the past to deface the piece. [With] further concerns about its safety, the piece has been removed to be sensitively restored to its former glory.”

Dans un communiqué sur son site, le groupe ajoute dans un bel effort de #casuistique que 1. cette restauration parfaitement désintéressée a nécessité un gros investissement en temps et en énergie (sous-entendu en argent) ; et 2. de toutes façons, c’est le dessin qui était illégal, pas le fait de l’enlever
http://www.thesincuragroup.com/uploads/statement_11052013.pdf

The showing of this piece was the culmination of months of hard work and we simply wish to display it in again its home city before it disappears forever.

It should be noted that both Scotland Yard and the FBI have issued statements that there is no evidence of criminality involved in the removal of this illegally painted mural and therefore no case to answer.

Le Sincura Group, qui semble en effet un excellent expert en #récupération, #foutage_de_gueule et #mépris, comme en atteste son slogan

your gateway to a VIP life

et son manifeste pour une “conciergerie” de luxe
http://thesincuragroup.com/about.html

The Sincura Group started as a secret organisation opening buildings and acquiring access to the inaccessible. Having been unhappy members of other concierges in the past, the company grew to offer a full range of services worldwide, based on three simple values we felt where missing from the concierge industry.

Value for money – we offer the best value for money service on the market; from tickets to travel, fashion to frolics we are here to offer you that VIP lifestyle at an affordable price.

Contacts and delivery – quite simply we are the best connected network in London and indeed worldwide and our experienced and highly skilled team are hired for their connections and the doors they open.

Old fashioned values and knowing our clients – we have met every member and every affiliate we work with and can tailor services for our members’ needs.

Cela (re)pose l’intéressante question du #bien_public : ce qui n’appartient à personne, n’importe qui peut-il se l’approprier pour en faire commerce ? Comment ce découpage de mur se passe-t-il sur le plan des droits : accord de Banksy, impossibilité pour lui d’agir là-dessus ? Et la ville, le proprio du bâtiment ? Tout ce qui se propose comme bien public, dans la forme, le support, la diffusion, etc., ne devrait-il pas tomber automatiquement dans le #domaine_public ?

#gentrification #artification

July 27 2013

Islamophobie, racisme anti-musulman : le sens caché des mots | Mediapart paywall

#Islamophobie, #racisme anti-musulman: le sens caché des mots | Mediapart #paywall
http://www.mediapart.fr/journal/france/250713/islamophobie-racisme-anti-musulman-le-sens-cache-des-mots?onglet=full

Les mots ne sont pas neutres, y compris ceux qui en ont l’air. À un moment où les agressions physiques et/ou verbales à l’encontre des musulmans, et en priorité des femmes portant un foulard, augmentent (selon les données du ministère de l’intérieur, qui répertorie les infractions constatées, leur nombre a progressé de 23 % en 2012 sur une année, confirmant une hausse de 34 % en 2011), la question de savoir comment désigner ce phénomène est importante.

http://seenthis.net/messages/158994

June 29 2013

March 18 2013

Why I’m changing my tune on paywalls

The Pew Research Center is out with its annual “State of the News Media” report. Much of it is what you’d expect: newspapers and local television are struggling, mobile is rising, digital revenue hasn’t — and can’t — replace traditional print revenue, and on and on.

But read carefully, and you’ll find hope.

For example, Pew says the embrace of paywalls might improve the quality of the content:

“The rise of digital paid content could also have a positive impact on the quality of journalism as news organizations strive to produce unique and high-quality content that the public believes is worth paying for.”

I used to criticize paywalls. I thought they could only work for specialized content or material that’s attached to a desired outcome (i.e. subscribe to the Wall Street Journal, use the insights to make money).

My concern was that publishers would slam walls around their existing content and ask people to pay for an experience that had once been free. That made no sense. Who wants to pay for slideshows and link bait and general news?

But content that’s “worth paying for” is a different thing altogether. Publishers who go this route are acknowledging that a price tag requires justification.

Will it work? Maybe. What I might pay is different than what you might pay. There’s that pesky return-on-investment thing to consider as well.

However, my bigger takeaway — and this is why I’m changing my tune on paywalls — is that value is now part of the paywall equation. That’s a good start.

December 16 2011

Publishing News: Hating Amazon is not a strategy

Here are a few of the stories that caught my eye in the publishing space this week.

Amazon's Price Check ignites passions, but perhaps cooler heads will prevail

Amazon's Price Check promotion caused quite the kerfuffle last week, and the publishing industry arguably made the most noise — which is interesting, as books were not included in the promotion. Author Richard Russo fanned the flames again on Monday with his op-ed piece in the New York Times, in which he noted responses from his fellow writers: "I wondered what my writer friends made of all this, so I dashed off an e-mail to Scott Turow, the president of the Authors Guild, and cc'ed Stephen King, Dennis Lehane, Andre Dubus III, Anita Shreve, Tom Perrotta and Ann Patchett." The response?

These writers all derive considerable income from Amazon's book sales. But when the responses to my query started coming in it was clear Amazon's program would find no defenders in our ranks ... 'Scorched-earth capitalism' is how Dennis described it ... Andre was outraged by Amazon's attempt to turn its customers into 'Droid-packing' spies ... [Stephen King] saw the new strategy as both 'invasive and unfair' ... it was 'a bridge too far.'

Russo went on to praise the indie bookstore experience and indicate Amazon is killing the reading culture: "Armed with such experiences, my writer pals and I took personally Amazon's assault on the kinds of stores that hand-sold our books before anybody knew who we were, back before Amazon or the Internet itself existed. As Anita [Shreve] put it, losing independent bookstores would be 'akin to editing ... a critical part of our culture out of American life'."

Chad W. Post over at Three Percent chimed in with a piece, in part a response to Russo, that is well worth the read (hat tip to Peter Brantley and @calliemiller). Post argued that Amazon is a corporate business acting like a corporate business — just like the Big Six publishers:

... it's worth wondering if the Big Six are in this publishing game for the benefit of book culture as a whole, or to make as much money as possible for their shareholders. The correct answer is the latter, and that's reflected in nearly every decision they make. As a result, people like Richard Russo and Stephen King publish their books with Random House and Simon & Schuster so that they can reap the benefits of these corporate practices ... And that's totally well within their rights. And by 'their,' I mean Russo & Co., the Big Six, and Amazon.

Post goes on to suggest more productive ways to approach the situation with Amazon that are worth a look.

Ed Cain over at Forbes had another pragmatic approach to the situation:

This is the future of online retail. Expect price checking apps from lots of other companies in the near future. Brick-and-mortar retailers and booksellers will have to respond by offering something that online stores simply can't offer: an experience.

At the end of the day, Don Linn had perhaps the most succinct response to the Amazon as Evil Empire situation:

don-linn-tweet.png

This kerfuffle isn't likely to die anytime soon, however. Slate fired things up in the opposite direction from Russo et al., Tuesday with its post "Don't Support Your Local Bookseller: Buying books on Amazon is better for authors, better for the economy, and better for you."

Ingram Content Group Inc. is the world's largest and most trusted distributor of physical and digital content. Thousands of publishers, retailers, and libraries worldwide use our best-of-class digital, audio, print, print-on-demand, inventory management, wholesale and full-service distribution programs to realize the full business potential of books. Learn more at ingramcontent.com.

Consumer Reports hits digital publishing's sweet spot

The New York Times reported this week that Consumer Reports "has more than six times as many digital subscribers as The Wall Street Journal, the leader among newspapers ... And in August, Consumer Reports started generating more revenue from digital subscriptions than from print." And on top of that, Consumer Reports isn't losing its print subscriber base.

Granted, as Bill Grueskin, dean of academic affairs at the Graduate School of Journalism at Columbia University and formerly managing editor of WSJ.com pointed out for the post, news organizations can't just rip a page out of the Consumer Reports playbook:

It isn't much of a leap for people to pay $5.95 a month for access to a database that will help them make a wise purchase of a $500 dishwasher or a $25,000 car. It is much harder to get consumers — particularly those trained for the past 15 years to expect content for free — to pay for coverage of metro news, football games or politics.

But news organizations certainly can glean some helpful tips. For example, Grueskin noted that Consumer Reports has been consistent with its paywall — it didn't go up, then come down, then go up again.

In addition to several other takeaways for news organizations — including discussions about crowdsourcing, injecting youthful creativity into business culture and supplying authoritative information — Consumer Reports' policy of not allowing advertising in order to "protect a reputation for clearsighted recommendations" should inspire insight. Obviously, news organizations can't eliminate advertising, but perhaps they can look at the quality of their ad inventories and make adjustments and decisions accordingly.

The verdict: Kindle Fire goes back in the box

KindleFireMissingManualCover.pngDavid Streitfeld at the New York Times followed up this week on a piece he recently wrote on consumer dissatisfaction with the Kindle Fire. Streitfeld said he received a "torrential response" that ranged from Fire devotion to Apple conspiracy theories. "The uproar," he said, "underlined yet again how people have deep-seated but contradictory feelings about their devices. In one sense, they demand a lot; in another, they are very forgiving."

Streitfeld turned to digital book consultant and author Peter Meyers for his professional evaluation of Amazon's tablet device. Meyers, who wrote O'Reilly's upcoming "Kindle Fire: The Missing Manual," was decidedly unbiased in his opinion of the Fire:

Apple would have never shipped a device like the Fire. It's got way too many rough edges (sluggish touchscreen, magazine apps that don't really fit the smaller screen, an easy-to-hit power button) ... But the Fire's not made for Apple's customers ... It's for the millions of people who: a) don't have $500-plus to spend on an iPad and b) really want to be part of the touchscreen revolution that's changing how we control devices.

Which device will win Meyers over in the end? He's very clear about what he'll do with his Kindle Fire: "Mine's going back in the box as soon as I'm done [with the manual]," he wrote in an email to Streitfeld. "The iPad 2 is years ahead of it and lets me consume and create with no friction."

Related:


August 19 2011

Top Stories: August 15-19, 2011

Here's a look at the top stories published across O'Reilly sites this week.


The Meat to Math ratio
Big data, machine learning, and an iterative, experimental mindset are essential for businesses — and increasingly, company valuations are tied to the efficiency with which firms put information to work.
Opening government, the Chicago way
Sustainability and analytics are guiding Chicago's open data and app contest efforts. The city's approach offers important insights to governments at all levels.
Data science is a pipeline between academic disciplines
Strata speaker and PhD candidate Drew Conway discusses how data science is influencing the processes and outcomes of academic research in the social sciences.
Honeycomb and the Android tablet tipping point
"Programming Honeycomb" author Marko Gargenta discusses the state of Android 3.x, the technical hurdles of Honeycomb, and why the slow adoption pattern of Android tablets may soon change.
Leaky paywalls and ads: What publishers can learn from the New York Times
Recent analysis of the New York Times' online paywall has put emphasis on advertising and the freemium model. Book publishers may not realize it, but those same things can apply to their content products.





Strata Conference New York 2011, being held Sept. 22-23, covers the latest and best tools and technologies for data science — from gathering, cleaning, analyzing, and storing data to communicating data intelligence effectively. Save 35% on registration with the code STRATA (offer ends 8/22).


Publishing News: Amazon lands "4-Hour" author Timothy Ferriss

Here's a few highlights from this week's publishing news. (Note: Some of these stories were previously published on Radar.)

Timothy Ferriss signs with Amazon Publishing to "redefine what is possible"

AmazonLarry Kirshbaum is not sitting on his hands. Amazon hired Kirshbaum in May to head its New York operations and this week he signed his first best-selling author, Timothy Ferriss, and acquired rights to Ferriss' new book "The 4-Hour Chef."

In Amazon's press release, Ferriss made it clear that he feels Amazon, as a publisher, has a better hold on digital publishing than its competitors:

My decision to collaborate with Amazon Publishing wasn't just a question of which publisher to work with. It was a question of what future of publishing I want to embrace. My readers are migrating irreversibly into digital, and it made perfect sense to work with Amazon to try and redefine what is possible.

A few feathers were ruffled by the announcement. As noted by The Guardian, Victoria Barnsley, chief executive at HarperCollins UK, voiced concerns over Amazon's aggressive moves into the publishing sector:

Amazon's foray into book publishing ... is obviously a concern. They have very deep pockets and they are now a very, very powerful global competitor of ours ... They are very, very powerful now — in fact they are getting close to being in a sort of a monopolistic situation. They control over 90% of physical online market in UK and over 70% of the ebook market so that's a very, very powerful position to be in. So yes, it is a concern.

Amazon will publish "The 4-Hour Chef" in April 2012.

TOC Frankfurt 2011 — Being held on Tuesday, Oct. 11, 2011, TOC Frankfurt will feature a full day of cutting-edge keynotes and panel discussions by key figures in the worlds of publishing and technology.

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RR Donnelley's latest acquisitions position it for digital success

This week, publisher RR Donnelley acquired both LibreDigital and Sequence Personal. With these moves, RR Donnelley is doing something about the digital situation that so many bemoan — it's repositioning to give its customers what they want, how they want it. That's the root of what the publishing business is all about, after all.

In a post at The Bookseller, novelist Kate Pullinger said, "I think the big publishers have got themselves into a difficult situation with the stranglehold that Amazon, Apple and Google have on bookselling currently." One could argue the situation is more disruptive than difficult. Instead of fighting against the stranglehold, perhaps it's better to focus on the unlimited potential the disruption brings. Embracing change might be more work than staying the course on a sinking ship, but the publishers who do — like RR Donnelley — will be the ones who remain in a position to succeed.

The roles of advertising and sponsorship in the future of book publishing

This segment was written by Joe Wikert

Felix Salmon recently wrote an article talking about how the New York Times paywall is working because it's porous. He contrasts that to other paywalled sites that haven't enjoyed the same success as the Times. As I read Salmon's article I was thinking less about porous vs. rigid paywalls and more about DRM'd vs. DRM-free books.

There are definitely some similarities here. At O'Reilly we believe in a DRM-free world because we trust our customers and we believe they value our content enough to pay for it rather than steal it. It would be naive of us to think this philosophy totally eliminates the illegal sharing of content though. We just happen to believe those situations shouldn't cause you to penalize all your customers. Shoplifting happens from time to time at your local grocery store but that doesn't mean the store manager should put everything under lock and key.

But it was only when I read Fred Wilson's follow-up post to Salmon's article that I realized what other connection this has to book publishing: advertising, sponsorship and other revenue streams. As Fred points out, the Times doesn't necessarily have to charge for each online page view since they run ads on every page served.

I'm not suggesting we can suddenly give away book content and make the exact same amount of revenue with advertisements. But what I am saying is that advertising and its close cousin, sponsorship (e.g., "This book brought to you in part by..."), can and will play a role in the future of book publishing. Every publisher won't necessarily experiment with that model, but many will.

This story continues here.



Related:


  • What investors are looking for in publishing companies
  • Books as a service: How and why it works
  • A premium layer for web-based content
  • More Publishing Week in Review coverage

  • August 18 2011

    Leaky paywalls and ads: What publishers can learn from the New York Times

    This post originally appeared on Joe Wikert's Publishing 2020 Blog ("Porous Paywalls and Book Publishing"). It's republished with permission.


    Felix Salmon recently wrote an article talking about how the New York Times paywall is working because it's porous. He contrasts that to other paywalled sites that haven't enjoyed the same success as the Times. As I read Salmon's article I was thinking less about porous vs. rigid paywalls and more about DRM'd vs. DRM-free books.

    There are definitely some similarities here. At O'Reilly we believe in a DRM-free world because we trust our customers and we believe they value our content enough to pay for it rather than steal it. It would be naive of us to think this philosophy totally eliminates the illegal sharing of content though. We just happen to believe those situations shouldn't cause you to penalize all your customers. Shoplifting happens from time to time at your local grocery store but that doesn't mean the store manager should put everything under lock and key.

    But it was only when I read Fred Wilson's follow-up post to Salmon's article that I realized what other connection this has to book publishing: advertising, sponsorship and other revenue streams. As Fred points out, the Times doesn't necessarily have to charge for each online page view since they run ads on every page served.

    I'm not suggesting we can suddenly give away book content and make the exact same amount of revenue with advertisements. But what I am saying is that advertising and its close cousin, sponsorship (e.g., "This book brought to you in part by..."), can and will play a role in the future of book publishing. Every publisher won't necessarily experiment with that model, but many will.

    TOC Frankfurt 2011 — Being held on Tuesday, Oct. 11, 2011, TOC Frankfurt will feature a full day of cutting-edge keynotes and panel discussions by key figures in the worlds of publishing and technology.

    Save 100€ off the regular admission price with code TOC2011OR

    24symbols is a great example of how this can work. The company offers both freemium (free, ad-supported content accessible only while online) and premium (for-pay, without ads and can be read offline) models. The customer decides which option they prefer. That last point is critical. 24symbols isn't just serving up free content and hoping that alone will somehow create a successful business model. They're also offering an ad-free offline option that some number of users will upgrade to. They key is to make the premium service feature set compelling enough that customers want to pay for the it.

    Kindle with special offersWill 24symbols be successful? It's too early to say (although I'm a huge fan of Justo Hidalgo and what he's doing with 24symbols; if you missed it, check out his presentation at our TOC Sneak Peek from earlier this year). But I'm convinced the future will bring more advertising-based book publishing experiments, not fewer. And as I've said before, I can see a future where Amazon offers two versions of many (if not all) Kindle titles: an ad-free version with pricing similar to today's models and a second one with ads but at a lower price. Amazon has taken the first step with the hardware itself by offering the lower-priced "Kindle with Special Offers." As Jeff Bezos mentioned in the seventh paragraph of Amazon's most recent earnings announcement, "Kindle 3G with Special Offers has quickly become our bestselling Kindle."

    Customers are already voting with their wallets and overwhelmingly choosing the advertising-subsidized version of the device itself. These results will undoubtedly encourage Amazon to start experimenting with ad-subsidized content as well.

    Services like 24symbols and the Kindle platform are one thing, but the next logical step after that is for publishers to expose more of their content to the major search engines. How long will it be before some of the current New York Times bestsellers are fully and freely readable online with ads? If the stories are good enough and the premium alternative offers a significantly better reading experience (e.g., no ads, can be read offline, includes other features/services, etc.), some number of customers will upgrade, just like they're doing with Times subscriptions.

    Associated photo on home and category pages: Black Mountains, Wales: rock wall by markhillary, on Flickr

    Related:

    May 19 2011

    A premium layer for web-based content

    ValoBoxLogo.pngThe co-founders of CompletelyNovel, Anna Lewis (@anna_cn) and Oliver Brooks (@cn_oli), have a new startup brewing. ValoBox, which is gearing up for private beta, will allow readers to consume books any way they want — they can buy pages, chunks, or entire books. Readers can also earn a 25% cut of sales by sharing and embedding books on blogs or Twitter.

    Lewis and Brooks discuss the inner workings of ValoBox in the following interview.

    (ValoBox will also be featured in the first TOC Sneak Peak webcast on May 31.)


    What are some of the major issues with web-based content?

    Anna LewisAnna Lewis: We're looking at the issues around premium content on the web. By premium content I mean quality media that people are willing to pay for — books feature prominently in this category. It's a bit cheesy, but I would summarize those issues as "hoops, headaches and hangovers."

    A major issue with premium content is the number of hoops we currently have to jump through to get it. It is often tucked away behind a checkout process on a separate e-commerce site or a subscription paywall. This is enough to make casual web users run for the hills.

    If you do stick it out, then you are rewarded with a product that can be a real headache. Best case scenario, you get to a web article or a fairly standard file, such as a PDF. In the worst case, it is an obscure file type restricted by DRM. All the downloads require special software to open, which you might not have.

    After you've bought from a few places, the hangover kicks in. You are juggling different logins, files, licences, and software sprawled across your devices.

    How will ValoBox overcome these sorts of barriers?

    Oliver BrooksOliver Brooks: We think of ValoBox as a premium content layer for the web. Rather than pulling users away to a different platform or website, ValoBox sits comfortably on top of communities of users who want to interact with that content on their own networks.

    To enable integration with the web, ValoBox's content and the delivery system are designed to web standards. ValoBox content can be embedded in any forum, website, or blog, or shared in any Twitter or Facebook feed. To reduce other barriers to access, we have created a pay-as-you-go system. This makes the "shall I buy it?" decision much easier. Anything spent is taken off the cost of purchasing the whole book, so there's very little risk. My favorite thing about this is that premium content can be linked to and accessed easily, so that fluid web browsing experience is not interrupted.

    Once the content is accessible, we can start to do some really cool things with the community surrounding it. ValoBox will reward every member of the content community who shares books with 25% of any sales that occur from those shares. Sharing can be as simple as tweeting a link or embedding in a site, or, for developers, integrating the content with web and phone apps.

    How will ValoBox work? Can readers move something like a Kindle book into the system?

    Anna Lewis: It's probably easiest to throw out an example. Let's say you are a publisher and you load up one of your titles to ValoBox. The ValoBox book is in the form of what I tend to call a super-widget — it's an embeddable reading application that you can place on any website, which will not only let customers start reading without leaving the page, it will let them purchase, too.

    So, a customer, "John," comes along to one of your titles and starts reading. John decides to write a blog post about that title. He can embed the book on his blog and link to specific pages in the book that he identifies as useful for his audience.

    Another reader, "Jane," starts reading John's blog and she jumps straight to the pages that John has blogged about. If she likes what she sees, she can pay for more pages, or the rest of the book. John's opinion is clearly valued, so he will get a 25% cut of any sales to Jane, or anyone else who accesses the book through his blog.

    Oliver Brooks: In terms of moving content between platforms or formats — such as moving a Kindle book into ValoBox — we have the philosophy that once a book is paid for, the customer should be able to get it on any platform they want. We have plans on how we can make this work, but it will depend on the publishers' wishes.

    When will ValoBox launch?

    Oliver Brooks: We will be launching a private beta in June, when we will invite publishers and lead users to test the platform. We will use that opportunity to load more content, polish the interface, and take on board views that will help us get a great user experience. We're planning a full public launch in autumn.

    What inspired ValoBox?

    Anna Lewis: I've been to publishing events where people in the trade have — only half joking — said that they don't care if people read their books, they just care that they buy them. That kind of attitude can't last when there are so many things competing for people's attention. We want to give the best choice to customers and help publishers learn which bits of their books and communities are most valuable.

    Oliver Brooks: ValoBox is a result of us, as web enthusiasts, working in book technology for three years. We've done a lot of thinking and experimenting, and talked to many people working in the publishing and tech industries. We have a strong aversion to the closed, proprietary form that ebooks have taken. However, as we run a book publishing service, we have also seen the requirement for effective monetization. I hope ValoBox will help provide the infrastructure for the content community to innovate, and ensure that premium content producers and their communities are supported.

    This interview was edited and condensed



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