Monday, April 24, 2017

Bezos' Principles for Success

Recently, Jeff Bezos released his annual letter to shareholders and it it he defined why it will always be "day 1" at Amazon.  In order to ensure that determination, he also outlined a few management principles which he believes are critical for the continued success of the company. 

These are:
  • Operate a high-velocity decision making environment
  • Recognize it is preferable to decide when only partial (70%) truth is known
  • Appreciate that a boss or team member can disagree but must commit when decisions are taken 
  • Recognize true misalignment issues early and escalate them immediately
Read the whole letter here.

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Friday, April 14, 2017

Two million miles flown.

I think I got 90% of them counted. Beginning in 1968 - through last week.




And which airports have I visited the most:


EWR


712
LHR


390
BOS


79
SFO


78
DCA


76
JFK


70
LAX


59
HNL


52
OGG


41
FRA


37
ORD


37
CVG


34
SYD


32
CMH


27
ATL


26
HKG


21
BKK


19
DFW


16
GVA


16
IAD


15
MEL


15
PDX


14
DET


13
SEA


12
CDG


11
LGA


11
TXL


11
DUB


10
YYZ


10
AKL


8
LAS


8
LIR


8
LNY


8
ZCH


8
OLY


7
IAH


6
LIN


6
MCO


6
MIA


6
MSY


6
THR


6
PBI


6
DEN


4
HAM


4
ROM


4
SING


4
TPA


4
BUD


3
AMS


3
ARL


2
Beirut


2
Birm


2
BNA


2
BNA


2
BOM


2
BRU


2
CBR


2
CNS


2
DAYTON


2
DEL


2
EDI


2
GLA


2
ICH


2
KBL


2
KHI


2
LHE


2
MAD


2
MSP


2
MXP


2
NRT


2
ORK


2
PEK


2
PEW


2
PPT


2
PRG


2
RSW


2
SAN


2
YUL


2
YVR


2
YVR


2
MAN


1
SLE


1
VIE


1

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Pearson Annual Results

Pearson released their annual results back in February.  Here are the highlights and also their annual report which includes details about their future business strategy.  Since the release, share prices have remained flat and at long-time lows.

From their press release:

Pearson, the world’s learning company, is announcing its preliminary full year results for 2016, following its 18 January trading statement. Key headlines include:
  • 2016 operating profit and eps slightly better than January 2017 guidance. Strong 2016 cash conversion
    • Sales of £4,552m declined 8% in underlying terms. Good growth in Pearson VUE, US Virtual Schools Online Program Management and Wall Street English in China was more than offset by expected declines in US and UK student assessment and US school courseware, and a much worse than expected decline in North American higher education courseware, as detailed in our 18 January trading statement.
    • Deferred revenue was broadly level in underlying terms and is now 18% of our revenues (2015: 16.5%).
    • Adjusted operating profit of £635m was down 21% in underlying terms due to weaker revenues, the partial reinstatement of incentives and other operational factors, partially offset by cost savings from the restructuring plan announced in January 2016, a larger contribution from Penguin Random House, helped in part by modest one-off benefits from the integration programme, and a return to profit in our Growth segment.
    • Adjusted earnings per share fell 16% to 58.8p reflecting weaker operating results, higher interest and a higher tax rate of 16.5%, offset by the strength of the US Dollar and other currencies against Sterling.
    • Operating cash flow increased 52% benefitting from tight working capital control, lower cash incentive payments and the weakness of Sterling. Our cash conversion increased to 104% (2015: 60%).
    • Net debt increased to £1,092m (2015: £654m) reflecting the strengthening of the US Dollar relative to Sterling and restructuring costs.
    • Digital & services revenues now make up 68% of our total revenues (2015: 65%). We have made good progress in simplifying our technology platforms and seen strong growth in key digital products Revel, iLit, Q-Interactive, Connections Education and global wins in Online Program Management.
    •  
  • 2016 statutory results and goodwill impairment: Statutory loss for the year of £2,335m included an impairment of goodwill of £2,548m. This impairment charge is consistent with the challenging market conditions which we disclosed in January, and which resulted in an outlook for profit which is approximately £180m lower than previously anticipated.
  • 2016 restructuring program: Our 2016 restructuring program was delivered in full, reducing our cost base exiting 2016 by £425m at a cost of £338m. Adjusting for the impact of currency our plan delivered slightly higher benefits at a slightly lower cost than planned.
  • 2017 guidance, strategic actions to accelerate digital, simplify the portfolio and preserve financial flexibility
    • 2017 outlook in line with 18 January trading statement: Our guidance range is for operating profit in 2017 of £570m to £630m, adjusted earnings per share of 48.5p to 55.5p and cash conversion in excess of 90%. This is based on our existing portfolio, a 2017 net interest charge of £74m, a tax rate of approximately 20%, and exchange rates on 31 December 2016.
    • Trading in early 2017: Our early trading is in line with expectations. The phasing in our North American higher education courseware business in 2017 will show a benefit from returns normalising in the first half, whilst the underlying market pressures we have described will impact gross sales primarily in the second half.
    • Higher education courseware strategic actions: On 18 January we announced a series of actions, accelerating our work to simplify our product technology platform and enhancing our courseware service capabilities with £50m of additional investment, reducing eBook rental prices and launching our own print rental program piloting with an initial group of 50 titles made available through Pearson’s approved rental partners. We have reduced prices for eBook rental across 2,000 titles, have made good progress on our print rental program and are today announcing details of the first wave of new digital products with greater personalisation, enhanced engagement and cognitive tutoring.
    • Simplifying Pearson
      • Penguin Random House: With the integration of Penguin Random House complete, and with greater industry-wide stability on digital terms, we have issued an exit notice regarding our 47% stake in Penguin Random House to our JV partner Bertelsmann, in the contractual window, with a view to selling our stake or recapitalising the business and extracting a dividend. We will use proceeds from this action to maintain a strong balance sheet; invest in our business; and return excess capital to shareholders whilst retaining a solid investment grade credit rating. Our guidance assumes ownership of our stake in PRH for all of 2017.
      • Direct Delivery: We will continue to reduce our exposure to large scale direct delivery services and focus on more scalable online, virtual, and blended services, across our portfolio. We are today announcing that Pearson has initiated processes to explore a potential partnership for our English language learning business Wall Street English (WSE) and the possible sale of our English test preparation business Global Education (GEDU). These processes are at an early stage and there is no certainty that they will lead to transactions. In 2016, these businesses contributed £253m of revenues and £3m of adjusted operating income. Our guidance assumes ownership of both for all of 2017.
      • Efficiency: We continue to manage our costs tightly. We will take further actions to improve the overall efficiency of the company and continue to realign our cost base to reflect the changing needs of our markets. We will update on our plans through the year.
    • Preserving financial flexibility
      • Debt repayment: To ensure efficient use of the cash balances we held at 31 December 2016, we are today announcing that we will trigger the early repayment option on our $550m 6.25% Global Dollar bonds 2018.
      • Rebasing the dividend: As already communicated in January, we intend to recommend a final dividend of 34p for an overall 2016 dividend of 52p in line with our guidance, but as a result of the factors above we intend to rebase our dividend from 2017 onwards.

Friday, April 07, 2017

Initiative for Open Citation Data

A new group backed by PLOS, Wikimedia Foundation, eLife and others has come together to establish a framework for sharing article & journal citation data in an open manner.   In a short period of time this initiative appears to have gained significant support from publishers such as American Geophysical Union, Association for Computing Machinery, BMJ, Cambridge University Press, Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory Press, EMBO Press, Royal Society of Chemistry, SAGE Publishing, Springer Nature, Taylor & Francis, and Wiley.  Each of these publishers have agreed to supply citation metadata publically and this support will also significantly increase the amount of citation reference data available in Crossref.

The organization establishing this effort is named I4OC and they list (on their site) what key benefits should result for release of the citation databases: 
  • The establishment of a global public web of linked scholarly citation data to enhance the discoverability of published content, both subscription access and open access. This will particularly benefit individuals who are not members of academic institutions with subscriptions to commercial citation databases.
  • The ability to build new services over the open citation data, for the benefit of publishers, researchers, funding agencies, academic institutions and the general public, as well as enhancing existing services.
  • The creation of a public citation graph to explore connections between knowledge fields, and to follow the evolution of ideas and scholarly disciplines.
Press release here

Wednesday, April 05, 2017

Library of Congress Copyright Office wasted $11MM on new Technology

Techdirt received documents detailing gross negligence and incompetence at the office of copyright which resulted in the abandonment of a system to improve copyright recording and reporting at the library of congress.  

Techdirt does a great job of summarizing the findings but the bigger story is the White House's determination to remove the copyright office from the Library of Congress and make the head of the office a political appointment.

Here is some of the write-up from Tech Dirt:
Basically, the ship was almost entirely rudderless when Pallante was in charge. Ask for $1.9 million, spend $11.6 million -- without getting a working system -- and no one seemed to check on any of it.
According to the report, the most basic project management concepts were completely lacking at the Copyright Office. Pages 26 through 28 of the document embedded below should elicit gasps from anyone who's done any kind of project management. I won't detail all of it, but here are just a few highlights:
  • No monitoring of the project schedule
  • No project budget approval process at all
  • No periodic reviews to see if things were on schedule and within budget
  • No project management framework at all
  • No comprehensive project management plan for the executiion and monitoring of the project.
  • No official tracking of scope and schedule changes
  • No documentation of departures from planned schedule
  • No plan for what staffing was needed for the project
  • No analysis of alternatives
  • No system requirements baseline
  • No system development plan
  • No requirements for best practices, customer oversight or acceptance of the vendor
  • No technical requirements to ensure user functionality given to the vendor
  • No details on deliverables given to the vendor (seriously -- no requirements to hand over the code or any documentation)
  • No review criteria
  • No defined technical framework
  • No security testing

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Annual Horizon Higher Educational Trends Report

Just released from the executive summary:
What is on the five-year horizon for higher education institutions? Which trends and technology developments will drive educational change? What are the critical challenges and how can we strategize solutions? These questions regarding technology adoption and educational change steered the discussions of 78 experts to produce the NMC Horizon Report: 2017 Higher Education Edition, in partnership with the EDUCAUSE Learning Initiative (ELI). This NMC Horizon Report series charts the five-year impact of innovative practices and technologies for higher education across the globe. With more than 15 years of research and publications, the NMC Horizon Project can be regarded as education’s longest-running exploration of emerging technology trends and uptake. Six key trends, six significant challenges, and six developments in educational technology profiled in this report are poised to impact teaching, learning, and creative inquiry in higher education. The three sections of this report constitute a reference and technology planning guide for educators, higher education leaders, administrators, policymakers, and technologists.
Full Report: http://cdn.nmc.org/media/2017-nmc-horizon-report-he-EN.pdf

Past reports 

Thursday, February 09, 2017

An iPad in every classroom and for every student

At Maryville College in Missouri, campus President Mark Lombari speaks to CHE about their recent initiative providing iPads to all students:
Well, we about outfitted our entire student body with iPads, 2,800 deployed thus far to our traditional and certain selected graduate programs, loaded with free apps, about 80 learning apps of all different types, around different disciplines.
And then we've provided training for our faculty. We actually added two weeks to every faculty-member contract so that one week in May and August would be faculty training in the use of all this technology. And thus far 90 percent of our faculty have gone through the training and then are applying it in the classroom.
So what happens in that classroom is we've got our students and our faculty engaged in this vibrant learning process, where the students own it. They're involved, they're engaged, they actually are a part of creating that content.
So an example of that would be in a science class, for example, we would be going through a smart textbook. And the students and the faculty would be downloading and bringing video and other materials and loading that in so everyone can benefit from what the students and the faculty are bringing in and learning.
And the other part of this that's crucial is it's based on learning theory and learning diagnostics. So we have a learning diagnostics profile of every student, and we also provide that and implant that into the class for the faculty member. So the instruction on a one to one can be very personalized.
So if you're an auditory learner, you might be listening to the faculty member talk about this while I may be sitting next to you watching a video on the same topic and learning. So it really gets at the multiplicity of learning styles that exist, that we know exist, in every student and in every classroom.
 Link: http://www.chronicle.com/article/One-Campus-s-iPad-Revolution/238942

Friday, February 03, 2017

The Netherlands welcomes Trump in his own words





And if that's not funny enough here's link to all of them (so far).

http://www.everysecondcounts.eu

Wednesday, February 01, 2017

Eugene Schwartz - A Life.

My friend Gene Schwartz passed away this week aged 90.  Several years ago he returned to Del Mar, California where he had spent many years earlier in life and, as always with Gene, he seemed to be cheerfully loving the lifestyle.   Recently, he was using his new 'start-up' Worthly Shorts to document the tales and stories about the Del Mar community he seems to have cared a lot about.

I can't say I knew him very well since I only met him for the first time less than 10 years ago but he was a good friend and always had a positive view on life (including mine).  He was always supportive of PND and frequently had something to say about my photos.  I tried to encourage him to scan and catalog his own collection but he never got to it, but Gene always seemed to have a lot going on - especially for someone in his twilight years.  Back in 2009, Gene wrote a post for PND which happily got me a lot of traffic.

About a month ago, I asked him for some advice about reaching out to military communities to promote a new website I've been working on (TheGlassFiles) and his advice was perfect.  Gene was one of the 'great generation' who served in world war 2 which is why I wanted his advice.   We also occasionally spoke about politics and the world generally and I am happy to report that Gene's last sentences to me were of hope about our prospects under this new administration.

PS regarding the election, now that the results are in, thinking out of the box may be in order. I have great faith in the foundations of our republic that our founders left us with, and the ultimate common sense of human nature given the opportunity to exercise it. Given the poor choices we had, It may not be as bad as you fear.
 I hope he is right.

All the best Gene.

Monday, January 30, 2017

Aaron Perzanowski on The End of Ownership






From Youtube intro:
Recent shifts in technology, intellectual property and contract law, and marketplace behavior threaten to undermine the system of personal property that has structured our relationships with the objects we own for centuries. Ownership entails the rights to use, modify, lend, resell, and repair. But across a range of industries and products, manufacturers and retailers have deployed strategies that erode these basic expectations of ownership. Understanding these various tactics, how they depart from the traditional property paradigm, and why some have been embraced by consumers are all crucial in developing strategies to restore ownership in the digital economy.

Aaron Perzanowski teaches courses in intellectual property, telecommunications and innovation. Previously, he taught at Wayne State University Law School, as a lecturer at the University of California Berkeley School of Information, and as a visitor at the University of Notre Dame Law School. Prior to his teaching career, he served as the Microsoft Research Fellow at the Berkeley Center for Law & Technology and practiced law at Fenwick & West in Silicon Valley.

His research addresses topics ranging from digital copyright to deceptive advertising to creative norms within the tattoo industry. With Jason Schultz, he is the author of The End of Ownership: Personal Property in the Digital Economy (MIT Press 2016), which argues for retaining consumer property rights in a marketplace that increasingly threatens them. His book with Kate Darling, Creativity Without Law: Challenging the Assumptions of Intellectual Property (NYU Press 2017), explores the ways communities of creators operate outside of formal intellectual property law.

More info on this event here:
https://cyber.harvard.edu/events/lunc...

Monday, January 23, 2017

NISO Report: Understanding MetaData

From their press release:
The National Information Standards Organization (NISO) continues its Primer Series with the publication of Understanding Metadata. This comprehensive overview of information about an item's creation, name, topic, features, and more updates NISO's 2004 advice on the subject and follows on the Research Data Management Primer published in 2015. An additional such work, Linked Data for Cultural Institutions, is forthcoming, and more guides will be published periodically.

"It's crucial for NISO to build understanding of technical issues at various levels and for various audiences," says NISO Executive Director Todd Carpenter. "Our Primers are therefore written to provide guidance for expert information managers who are already working with metadata as well as for professionals who are less familiar with information exchange issues. NISO values the opportunity to offer this guidance," Carpenter continues, "because in a digital world, information about content can often be more important than the content itself. Without good metadata, information effectively disappears."

The Primer, authored by Jenn Riley, Associate Dean, Digital Initiatives, McGill University Library, demystifies a type of information that is ubiquitous in our lives but that can be challenging to produce, store, and understand. Coverage includes topics such as metadata types, standardization, and use in the cultural heritage sector and in the broader world. The Primer is accompanied by plentiful examples of metadata at work.

Url:  http://http://www.niso.org/apps/group_public/download.php/17446/understanding%20metadata

Friday, January 20, 2017

Picking Pineapple. Lanai, Hawaii 1959

Image dated approximately 1959 on Lanai, Hawaii.

The central part of Lanai was the inside of a volcano and is naturally shaped like the inside of a shallow bowl.  Lanai was nicknamed 'the pineapple isle' since virtually all the arable land there was devoted to growing pineapple.  Related, about 90% of the land was owned by the Dole Pineapple company.  In more recent times, this has all changed and there are now no commercial operations on the island and Dole sold off their holdings about 20 years ago.  The island is (for all intents and purposes) now owned by Larry Ellison of Oracle Computer fame.


Copyright Michael Cairns.  Lanai, Hawaii 1959

Thursday, January 05, 2017

Predictions 2017: Subscribe To Me


The end of one year and the beginning of another always represents an opportunity to reflect and think about what the future will bring.  That is, if you've nothing better to do over the two week break for Christmas and New Year’s.   Like many others, I've been doing this for most of my career and, over the past ten years of PND's history, I've been publishing annual prognostications.  As I have said before, it is less about being right about the future than being thoughtful about the future.  Trying to think about what it all means and making sense of what you see is important to planning how your business operates and confronts change.

This year I also looked back to 2016 at some of the big stories of the year and I've decided to use a similar, shorter format for my predictions for 2017.  At the bottom of this post are links to my predictions from prior years.  Read them (and perhaps laugh).

Subscriptions Are All In:

The explosion in podcasting is an indicator for publishing – specifically of the rapid growth of subscription models for content.  According to McKinsey's annual Entertainment and Media Report, consumers are spending less to buy content and more to access it without owning it.  And, as the trend gains in momentum, any doubt or concern about ownership seems to be waning.   Subscription models are offered for everything from jets and cars, to vacation homes and movie services.  Spending to buy content fell by 8% and access to view content grew by 31% in 2015.  Access to content will overtake ownership by 2018, according to McKinsey.

How subscription models will continue to evolve and expand will be a strong theme during 2017.  According to consulting company Activate, subscription revenues represent 50% of the $1.7Tillion content market and will grow by $226B (or 5%) by 2021.  Additionally, consumer pay models (subscription) for the top 100 (by revenue) non-game apps represent 71% of app downloads and 86% of revenue generated in 2016 versus 65% and 82% in 2015.  The strength and growth of content subscription models is real and will expand beyond video and entertainment to all content markets in the coming years.

Personalisation and Opt-in Marketing

More content and technology companies will work out how to tailor content for specific users and they will do this via browser and opt-in newsletter marketing.  Driving usage of content will become a mantra - not at the expense of irrelevance - for engaged users who receive highly relevant content, which will drive high-value subscription revenues.   The NYT has been using technology to "profile" users and deliver relevant content for several years now and the Washington Post (under new management) has aggressively used technology to create opt-in marketing programs oriented around user interests.

For publishers, the effort to market their content more effectively cannot be done without the use of third-party platforms such as Twitter and Facebook.  In particular, the adoption of live events (Facebook Live) will help publishers enliven their content and also reach a much wider market - than traditional book tours, for example.   Additionally, publishers will create "news teams" to maintain (constant) activity via these new avenues to readers.  Thus, avenues such as Facebook Live, Opt-In marketing/newsletter programs and similar initiatives will become vibrant channels delivering content to specific interested groups which will, in turn, drive purchasing.  Facebook Live Audio will be particularly applicable to the expanded role audio books will play in publishers planning for 2017.

While platforms are critical and an unavoidable necessity, don't underestimate the power of newsletters and personalized content delivery.  Understanding how your users interact with your content, making sense of that and then acting on it via a variety of efforts will be a focus for publishers in 2017.  Simply counting page hits “vanity stats” is not good enough.  Renewals is where it's at.

Rights Management

For many publishers, rights management and royalty processing is a complex business process.  And things will only get worse as markets become increasingly border-less.  Managing a more complex environment of publishers, authors, companies, territories, business segments, product types, formats and many other criteria will become standard practice with each deal.   All interested parties (not least authors) expect the "Amazon experience" where information is presented in real time and in an easy-to-understand manner.  Most media and publishers are years away from achieving anything like this level of transparency, but movement in this direction will be precipitated by numerous high-profile royalties audits as well as possible financial regulation requirements.

Over the coming years, more publishers will need to replace their royalties software as well as extract more value from the rights they hold.  These two trends are not mutually exclusive.

Some other more quick thoughts:
  • It’s unlikely we'll see much consolidation in publishing this year.  S&S is probably still stuck in the Viacom mess.   If only: Pearson may be sold to private equity.
  • I expect a big shake-out in the K-12 edtech market.  Some consolidation but more failures than you can count.  The market is too saturated for (me-to) edtech products and with uncertainty over the direction of federal policy this will cause many small providers to run out of time.
  • How long can NetFlix owner(s) withstand the ever-increasing values and still not sell?  More to the point, can Apple resist buying its own content business?  If the ATT/TW deal is not approved, then does the value of NetFlix go even higher?  Stay tuned.
  • Publishers will be doing much more with data - particularly in scholarly and academic - and will use tools like Tableau to rapidly experiment with and iterate new products.
  • Will Trump's AG go after Amazon for unfair trading practices because of the Washington Post’s coverage of the Trump administration?  I'd buy that subscription.
Past year predictions:

2017: Predictions 2017: Subscribe To Me
2016: Predictions 2016: Education, China, Platforms and Blockchain.
2013: Predictions 2013: The Death of the Middle Man
2012: Predictions 2012: The Search for Attention

2011: Predictions 2011: The Growth of Intimacy
2010: Predictions 2010: Cloudy With A Chance of Alarm

2009: Predictions 2009: Death and Resurrection:
2008: Predictions 2008

2007: Predictions 2007


2007-2013: My Big Book of Posts & Predictions on Slideshare

Tuesday, January 03, 2017

Recap: Some of The Big News Stories from 2016

2016 was a tumultuous year and one we are glad to see the back off.  From the constant stream of celebrity departures to Brexit to Trump, we all deserve a breather; but it won't come and I expect 2017 will be an even more intense year.  Things don't look promising.

Many of the biggest media stories of 2016 revolved around the election but, while there were other big stories in media this year, it was arguably a quiet year for publishing and media.  Here is my list of top media and publishing stories from the past year (in no particular order):
  • Gawker lost a libel case to fake wrestler Hulk Hogan with a judgement against that effectively bankrupted the company.  The escrow amount required for an appeal was so high they couldn't afford it and the company was eventually sold to Univision for $135million.  Most troubling to many was the legal sponsorship provided by Silicon Valley investor Peter Thiel.  This verdict and the legal sponsorship that enabled it have people concerned about press freedoms in the future. (NYTimes)
  • Thomson Reuters sold their IP and Science business unit for $3.5Bill to a Canadian equity fund with little previous experience in publishing.  The purchased business is now named "Clarivate Analytics".  There's a saying: Never be a buyer when Thomson is a seller.  Not sure where I heard that; however Thomson, in transforming itself over the past 15 years, has shown itself to be very adept at moving out of failing businesses ahead of time - newspapers, educational publishing - and moving on into new markets.  (Reuters)
  • During 2016 we saw a significant increase in social publishing for advocacy - no single news story here but the activities of athletes and celebrities together with advocacy groups such as "black lives matter" using their profiles and notoriety to push social commentary and raise awareness for causes seemed to gain stream during the year.  Whether this "movement" exhausts itself flailing against trolls and fake news remains to be seen during 2017.
  • Small bundles made a comeback in 2016 mostly in video/television content but with the likes of ESPN, Hulu, HBO, SlingMedia and others showing the way the long term viability of the big package offering we've all been used to for 30 years may be fracturing.  Obviously, the web combined with the proliferation of devices is driving this trend as audiences - particularly the younger crowd - look to make their own bundles. (WSJ)
  • That said, the proposed ATT/Time Warner merger is a bet that content and distribution will drive value and also protect each company strategically.   The Comcast/NBC combination has been a success with average annual subscriber revenue well over $1000 - very near the top of the range. ATT/TM will expect to benefit from that level of revenue but they will also hope to project themselves against any adverse effects of the content market fracturing.  With HBO and Warner Studios, ATT would be a stronger business particularly in competing with Comcast and others. (NPR) 
  • After the election, there was a mini renaissance in subscriptions to old line news sources such as The New York Times, Washington Post and magazines.  Will this be sustainable is the question? (NiemanLabs)
  • Follet emerged from a protracted period of management upheaval and strategic review where they contemplated selling the business with the purchase of Baker & Taylor.  The combined company now has revenues over $3.5Billion with strong positions in library and school distribution and educational retailing.  Industry watchers are hopeful that years of under investment in B&T will be reversed and significant operational improvements made to the combined business.  (ChicagoTrib)
  • Wiley acquired the content management platform Atypon both as a strategic asset and a technology provider to their existing business.  Atypon will remain a separate business unit but will also support and supply Wiley with technology to support the re-platforming of their existing product suite.  Assuming Wiley manages the integration well, this stands to be a great deal for both sides.  In related news, Highwire Press acquired Semantico (UK) to further consolidate the content solution market supporting academic and scholarly publishers.  Highwire is owned by Accel/KKR and is generally considered the largest business in this segment. (PND) 
I've probably forgotten something important....

Looking forward to 2017 anyone?

Michael Cairns is interested in discussing c-level executive management and/or board and advisory positions.  He has served as CEO and President of several technology and content-centric business supporting global media publishers, retailers and service providers and can be reached at michael.cairns@outlook.com and he blogs at personanondata.com

Thursday, December 08, 2016

Digital Book World Relaunches for 2017

For many publishers concerned about digital publishing over the past ten years the annual Digital Book World (DBW) conference has been a must-attend event in New York.

Use this discount code for $100 off the registration fee: MICHAELCAIRNS100

This year it will be a different conference having undergone a needed top-to-bottom revision of content and purpose. I am looking forward to it since I have not attended in several years and, I anticipate a revised interest in new topics and digital constructs which all of us in the industry will be managing through over the next few years.

In an effort to manage the content and subject coverage for DWB this year Ted Hill, the new conference manager, has created the following focus areas which are all being led by 'captains' who have managed the selection of speakers and scope of their respective channels:
  • Editorial Acquisitions + Development: Laura Dail, president of Laura Dail Literary Agency, Inc.
  • Production + Distribution: Bill Kasdorf, vice president and principal consultant of Apex Content Solutions
  • Marketing + Sales: Rick Pascocello, marketing consultant and literary agent with Glass Literary Management
  • Analysis + Reporting: Kempton Mooney, senior director of research and analytics for Nielsen Book
  • DBW Indie Author: Jane Friedman, editor and publisher of TheHotSheet, columnist with PublishersWeekly, a professor with The Great Courses, and an award-winning blogger at JaneFriedman.com; and Porter Anderson, co-founder of The Hot Sheet, editor-in-chief of PublishingPerspectives, and principal of Porter Anderson Media
DBW gives attendees the opportunity to learn new approaches to old and new problems in digital publishing and to learn about new ideas and products. The forum is also exceptional in creating an environment for networking. There is more than ample time during the conference to mix with attendees and, if years past are any indication, there are always a lot of attendees for active mingling.
If you haven't been to DBW in a number of years - or even if you have - the 2017 conference will be a well-timed revision and well worth a look. Let me know if you are there and we can plan to meet.

Use this discount code for $100 off the registration fee: MICHAELCAIRNS100

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Is LinkedIn the new Facebook?



My patience is wearing thin.  I saw a stat recently that showed that Linkedin is used by less than 1% of the users of Facebook.  On the surface, not so surprising; however, based on the trends I am seeing on LinkedIn there’s a lot of business people who need to get a Facebook account. And quick.

I’m sick and tired of your word games and number puzzles so difficult they wouldn’t challenge a nine year old.   I don’t want to see your selfie with Trump and I don’t want to hear about or see your cat.   LinkedIn is losing decorum as a place where professionals mingle with their colleagues and network.  It can be an excellent place to learn, to expand your network and to build your career but it’s not Facebook.  Yet more and more users seem to think everyone is interested in their cat.  It has got to stop.

I’ve curated my network.  I’ve worked at making sure I have something – often a lot – in common with the people I am connected to.  I want to learn from them, understand how I can help them and know whether they are looking for something new.   I want to be able to reach out to this group with my own questions and needs – especially now as I am looking for my own new role.   Increasingly, I find myself blocking anyone who is ‘Facebooking’ my Linkedin.  It’s distracting and it’s got to stop.  You wouldn’t place a water cooler in your office.  Leave it in the cafeteria (Facebook) where it belongs.

It may be possible that LinkedIn has become so big we are starting to sense its apotheosis.  The point at which utility is beginning to slow or decline due to the sheer size and inherent conflict within the audience and user base.  How online social networks die is a subject so new there’s few examples (myspace), but there does seem to be some truth to the idea that there’s an natural evolution to social networks that produce, at some point, a gradual and inevitable decline in utility.  I’d wager it is the first movers who reach this conclusion soonest.



Michael Cairns has served as CEO and President of several technology and content-centric business supporting global media publishers, retailers and service providers. He can be reached at michael.cairns@outlook.com and is interested in discussing executive management and/or board and advisory positions. He blogs at personanondata.com