Thursday News Facebook buys WhatsApp, Top Shelf opens DRM-free comics store, LinkedIn expands its publishing platform, and English university offers MA in self-publishing
Facebook to buy WhatsApp for $19 billion – That collective groan you heard across the Internet yesterday heralded the announcement of this small purchase, which Mark Zuckerberg hopes will boost the messaging power of Facebook, by at least the 450 million users WhatsApp currently claims. Growing by about a million users daily, according to Zuckerberg, WhatsApp will now be represented on Facebook’s board by CEO Jan Koum. After news of the deal hit, Facebook stock fell slightly, given the hefty price tag.
Facebook said on Wednesday it will pay $4 billion in cash and about $12 billion in stock in its single largest acquisition, dwarfing the $1 billion it paid for photo-sharing app Instagram.
The price paid for Instagram, which with just 30 million users was already considered overvalued by many observers at the time.
Facebook promised to keep the WhatsApp brand and service, and pledged a $1 billion cash break-up fee if the deal falls through. –Reuters
Top Shelf Comix launches DRM free store – Check out the 2014 offerings for the Top Shelf digital comics store, including From Hell, by Eddie Campbell and Alan Moore, Lost Girls, by Melinda Gebbie and Alan Moore, and The Underwater Welder, by Jeff Lemire. –Boing Boing
LinkedIn’s publishing platform opens to all users – With sites like Medium and Tumblr providing new opportunities for online users to create and share shorter form content, LinkedIn has decided to join the trend by opening its existing publishing platform — previously exclusive to 500 so-called “influencers” — to all members. The company is looking to expand its focus and use, as evidenced by its purchase of Pulse, which added a news aggregating feature to the service. LinkedIn plans to start by providing 25,000 users with access, and slowly expanding to a “global roll-out” over the next few months.
Ryan Roslansky, LinkedIn’s head of content products, told TechCrunch ,”We do this because we want LinkedIn to be the place where members can become productive, successful professionals – not just when you’re trying to find a job, or search for another person.” –Gigaom
Self-publishing MA aims to bring authors’ ideas to book – Yes, you read that right: The University of Central Lancashire is offering a master’s degree in self-publishing. With 25 students a year, and an in-house university press, Uclan Publishing, the University’s existing program in publishing has become popular enough to warrant expansion to a self-publishing program, which will begin with approximately 15 students and looks to be a year-long program. Given the fact that publishing is a tough business, and self-published authors have to function as both author and publisher, this doesn’t sound like such a bad idea to me.
Those embarking on the course will acquire core publishing skills such as editing, production, layout, sales and marketing, although from the perspective of an author rather than an employee, while also learning the basics of running their own business.
The final semester will give students an opportunity to put all this into practice, taking their text up to PDF stage, so that it is ready for publication as either an e-book or a traditional hard copy book. –Times Higher Education
The self-publishing MA has several embarrassingly bad factual errors on its website, including the oft-repeated myth that E. L. James self-published. And worse, this: “New technology is obviously contributing to the astonishing growth in this area – but so too is the exorbitant charges being levied by some traditional publishing houses who can charge aspiring writers as much as £15,000 to work with them.”
If someone is thinking about investing that sort of time and money into learning this business, I’d suggest they find a course staffed by people a whole lot better informed about the publishing industry than UCLan appears to be.
re. EL James and self-publishing, I remember when Fifty first came out, from the Writer’s Coffee Shop, and there was basically *nothing* about it as a publisher. The best I could figure out, it was some sort of author’s cooperative that seemed very much like self-publishing. IIRC print copies were being generated POD by LuLu, even. So even though TWCS has since emerged as a small digital pub, I still think of the original Fifty as very much in that gray (heh) area between self and small publishing.
Yes, I remember that lack of clarity too. But since we do now know what it was, it looks pretty unprofessional to be repeating the error if you’re running a self-publishing MA.
@Ros: I think it’s the article’s author and not the woman who runs the program who made the erroneous statement.
I actually think James is a poor example all the way around, because you really have to trace all the way back to Master of the Universe and the fan fiction angle, and then you get into a whole mess of other questions and issues that complicate the lineage of 50.
@Robin/Janet: It’s all over the course page on the UCLan website: http://www.uclan.ac.uk/news/uclan_launches_uks_first_self_publishing_degree.php
And here: http://www.uclan.ac.uk/courses/ma_self_publishing.php
And my o_O was more directed at the claim that traditional publishers are charging authors up to $15,000 to publish their books than the EL James thing. I mean, I gripe pretty loudly about lousy digital royalty rates, but any publisher that’s charging $15,000 is a vanity press, not a legitimate publishing house.
@Ros: Yeah, that’s pretty bad, isn’t it. I wonder if they’re trying to use MOTU to stand for self-pub, although that’s not really accurate, either. It will be interesting to see if anyone responds to your comment (interestingly, the Guardian’s coverage on the program made no mention of James).
I’m kind of surprised by that, since UCLan doesn’t exactly seem like a fly-by-night outfit: http://www.topuniversities.com/universities/university-central-lancashire/undergrad
They also claim this on their general publishing MA program page (http://www.uclan.ac.uk/courses/ma_pgdip_pgcert_publishing.php):
…we have designed the programme through consultancy with leading publishing houses such as Canongate, Faber & Faber, Harpercollins and Penguin, academic publishing houses, such as Liverpool University Press and Manchester University Press, as well as specialist houses, such as Carcanet and Comma Press.