Tuesday News: Hachette, book banning, Windows, and 17th C London
Hachette Book Group Reported Revenues Down 7.8% in the First Half – Pointing to a lack of major bestsellers during the first half of 2015, Hachette has announced that revenue is down so far this year, although the publisher has made some gains back from the 12.3% revenue decline for the first quarter of 2015. Oh, and ebook sales are down.
Much to no one’s surprise, Hachette’s return to agency pricing in late 2014 resulted in a decline in ebook sales. eBooks made up 24% of adult trade sales here in the US (compared to 29% a year ago and 34% in the first half of 2013).
In the UK, ebooks made up 33% of trade sales, down from 36% in the first half of 2014. The decline was attributed to the change in VAT at the beginning of the year. –Ink, Bits, & Pixels (The Digital Reader)
Harris Poll Shows Growing Support for Book Banning, Ratings – This article in Library Journal, along with this piece in Reason do a good job of trying to parse the results of a recent Harris Poll, which Reason’s Elizabeth Nolan Brown points out relied on some confusing wording, but that still suggests that Americans are becoming less and less resistant to book banning, and pretty darn comfortable with book ratings that are similar to movie ratings. One of the most interesting aspects of the poll findings is that books can push the “ban” button faster than movies and other media. Brown “can’t help but think some comes from how much Americans think they would be personally affected by each ban. Ban the Koran? Yeah, yeah, sure. But you can have my Walking Dead and Skyrim when … etcetera.” I think Brown is on to something there, but Library Journal’s Lisa Peet has a slightly different take:
Americans are more tolerant of other types of media, it appears. Only 16 percent of those surveyed felt that any movies or television programs should be banned outright, with nearly a quarter holding video games to similar standards.
“The fact that people are concerned about books speaks to the fact that people still believe in books and words as powerful things, that they have the power to change hearts and minds,” said Deborah Caldwell-Stone, deputy director of the American Library Association (ALA) Office for Intellectual Freedom (OIF). “However, it does reflect a concern of [OIF], that the easy idea that we simply ban a book we don’t like reflects on our civic education in the United States—that we’re not talking about, teaching about, thinking about the Bill of Rights and the First Amendment.” –Library Journal & Reason
Windows 10, Chicken Little, and the Digital Divide – I have never been a Windows fan, so some of the negative reactions to the new version didn’t really surprise me or, for that matter, register very strongly on my radar. Then Sunita wrote this great post on how Windows has, until now, been primarily a computing system, which makes some of the new integrative features almost paradigmatically different.
Unlike the two big mobile systems (iOS and Android), Windows is overwhelmingly identified with computers. Not tablets, not phones, just computers. Something like 90 percent of the world’s computers run Windows, while only tiny fraction of tablets and phones run Windows or Windows Mobile. So shrinking the gap between mobile and computer has different ramifications, both practically and symbolically. In the case of Windows 10, some of the most talked-about changes are features that people take for granted in mobile but haven’t thought about as being part of their computer use. –ReaderWriterVille
Prize-Winning Animation Lets You Fly Through 17th Century London – Yes, this post is almost two years old, but I hadn’t seen it, so I figured maybe some of you haven’t, either. And holy smokes, it’s SO COOL. –Open Culture