May 12 2011
Facebook employed a major PR and lobbying firm Burson-Marsteller to launch a whisper campaign against Google. The Daily Beast broke the story and it is a compelling and almost unbelievable story. Burson-Masteller, for political junkies is the company owned by pollster Mark Penn, a chief strategist for Hillary Clinton’s run for presidency.
Confronted with evidence, a Facebook spokesman last night confirmed that Facebook hired Burson, citing two reasons: First, because it believes Google is doing some things in social networking that raise privacy concerns; second, and perhaps more important, because Facebook resents Google’s attempts to use Facebook data in its own social-networking service.
The idea that FACEBOOK is concerned about privacy is a joke. But given that all the whispers were true, it’s hard to make a case out against Facebook, at least a legal one. More from the Daily Beast.
Remember when Jennifer Egan made the off the cuff criticism of YA author Kaavya Viswanathan for plagiarizing banal YA authors? She’s offered up a gracious and fulsome apology calling her comments indefensible and thoughtless, adding nothing of value to the conversation.
“I have nothing to defend in what I said,” she said. “I really wish I hadn’t said that, and was incredibly and immediately sorry that anyone was hurt by it. I don’t blame anyone for being mad about it.” Though she does believe there’s an interesting conversation to be had about genre and gender and literary culture, she doesn’t see her comments in that interview as any kind of effective contribution to that discussion. “I’m all for criticizing; I’m not saying that no one should ever criticize anyone else,” she continued. “But if you’re going to criticize, you should do it intentionally and thoughtfully and carefully and know whom you’re criticizing and for what. And I didn’t meet any of those criteria.”
Paidcontent has an article summarizing the publishers’ fears of tech companies overtaking publishing.
HarperCollins’ international CEO Victoria Barnsley warned delegates, noting Amazon (NSDQ: AMZN) recently launched a new publishing imprint for romance novels.
“We must be very wary of any of the tech companies becoming too dominant, We must recognise the misalignment between us and some of the technology companies. Some of them would happily see content commoditised and, as we’ve seen with Google (NSDQ: GOOG), they can have a casual attitude to copyright.”
Authors in the news include:
Danielle Steele is still known as a romance author, although I am not sure why. She apparently lives in Paris now and is offending San Francisco by deriding its lack of style.
In an interview this week, she complained: ‘There’s no style, nobody dresses up — you can’t be chic there. It’s all shorts and hiking books and Tevas [an ugly but practical style of shoe].
‘It is as if everyone is dressed to go on a camping trip,’ she told the Wall Street Journal.
and Nora Roberts was wearing the requisite hat at the Kentucky Derby. This is a short interview of her on the KD red carpet.
Facebook contests run by authors might be coming to an end. Ashley March alerted her fellow authors that hosting facebook contests could lead to your page being deleted.
***You should read this last one again. If I’m reading this correctly, it means that we can no longer hold “Like my page and I’ll give away a Kindle when I reach 5,000 fans” contests.***
Barnes and Noble has finally convinced Wall Street that it is on the right track. Stock is up 50% in the last month. This is a great analysis of BN which includes praise for its digital initiatives:
Shares really took off in the last week of April when Barnes & Noble formally upgraded the Nook and kicked off an ad campaign highlighting the Nook’s unsung capabilities. (Forget books. What about streaming movies, reading e-mails and all of those other time-sucking hobbies that the iPad is known for?)
But warnings about the drag of the physical retail space:
This is still a company that has slowly sat by as $400 million in annual free cash flow (back in the middle of the past decade) steadily shrank until the red ink started to flow in 2010. Foot traffic continues to slump at its stores, and a rising number of them are no longer profitable (and would have been culled by a tougher management team). The race is on for the Nook and BN.com (the company’s web arm) to boost profits high enough to offset losses from the brick-and-mortar stores.
Ultimately BN will either have to downsize it’s physical presence or convert that retail space into selling something other than books. In many BN stores, there is a rise in toys and game merchandise but BN will have to go beyond selling Legos and Monopoly in order to maintain revenues to justify its rents.