March 12, 2013
You may find “LinkedIn to buy Pulse Newsreader for More than $50 Million” interesting. If true, stakeholders in some large professional publishing companies may want to reconsider their holdings.
I think that the commercial business information publishers won’t pay much attention to this deal. Companies like Ebsco, Thomson Reuters, and Wolters Kluwer are trying to sustain their revenues while achieving growth. Thomson Reuters has faced some growth challenges. The other companies which compete with this venerable firm are in the same pickle in my opinion.
The reason is that LinkedIn is built of professionals who want to get jobs and sell work. Now hunting for a job may seem a far cry from searching an Ebsco database or consulting a Wolters Kluwer health database. I don’t think the gap is too big at all.
According to the write up:
LinkedIn will buy the maker of the newsreader app Pulse, according to sources familiar with the negotiations. The price of the acquisition is in the tens of millions, they said — between $50 million and $100 million.
The amount paid for Pulse is pocket change for the giants of business information publishing. But LinkedIn owns Slideshare, a collection of business information. Add that content to the base of people who want to make sure each can find a job or sell a consulting job, and you have a 21st century content system which is going to be of increasing importance.
With a nifty distribution channel like Pulse, which is a next generation magazine/journal platform, LinkedIn is in a position to start encroaching on the territory of the Thomsons, the Ebscos, and the Wolters Kluwers of the world.
LinkedIn is integrated professional publishing. Its customers and advertisers pay for value. Contrast that business model to “we have to buy this stuff” which characterizes some of the big professional publishing outfits.
What can these giants do to protect their markets? Is LinkedIn for sale? My hunch is that LinkedIn will put fragile professional publishing companies under more pressure. Why didn’t one of these giants of business information jump on the LinkedIn type of opportunity?
Perhaps none of the executives at these firms is thinking about finding a job or becoming a consultant? If the firms do not hit their financial goals, many of the senior executives at the business information and professional publishing powerhouses will have an opportunity to learn the value of LinkedIn first hand.
Stephen E Arnold, March 11, 2013
February 25, 2013
I suppose this is good news for the traditionalists. The weekly scientific journal Nature has found that “Researchers Opt to Limit Uses of Open-Access Publications.” The wheels are slowly creaking toward a consensus in academia that publicly-funded research should be freely available. However, recent data indicates that even authors who publish in open-access journals desire at least some control over the ways content is used.
Open-access advocates accuse such researchers of failing to understand how publishing licenses affect research papers, and that if they only knew, they would all opt for the least restrictive Creative Commons license, the CC-BY license. They also suggest that free papers should carry their licenses attached, making the re-use parameters crystal clear. I have to say that last part seems like common sense.
One open-access journal, Scientific Reports (which, by the way, is put out by the same publisher as Nature), maintains a licensing system with three levels of restriction: the CC-BY, the more restrictive CC-BY-NC-SA, and the even more limiting CC-BY-NC-ND. Records show that about 95 percent of their authors chose one of the latter two, with 68 percent picking the most locked-down option. (See here for descriptions of all the Creative Commons licenses.) Are these choices really the result of ignorance?
Ross Mounce of the Open Knowledge Foundation in Cambridge thinks offering researchers a menu of licenses leads to the reflexive choice of the most restrictive option. However, the issue might not be so simple. Journalist Richard Van Noorden writes:
“Many publishers are also arguing against CC-BY, concerned in part about the loss of income if others can resell open-access works. Indeed, the International Association of Scientific, Technical and Medical Publishers, a global trade organization based in Oxford, UK, is working on an alternative open-access licence that does not allow commercial or derivative use in reprints, abstracts or adaptations, but explicitly allows text-mining and translations.
“The problem is that adding restrictions to the re-use of work — even with good intentions — can create complex legal issues, explains Martin Hall, vice-chancellor of the University of Salford in Manchester, UK, and a co-author of the ‘Finch report’, an influential study on open access commissioned by the UK government.”
Here’s a link [PDF] to that Finch report, in case you’re curious. Yes, like anything involving legal distinctions, the issue is easily complicated. However, it will benefit us all if publishers, researchers, and open-access advocates can see their way through this thorny thicket. Together.
Cynthia Murrell, February 25, 2013
February 22, 2013
Recently, Google made the noteworthy offer to pay French publishers a hefty sum. Before that, the search giant reluctantly agreed to do the same for publishers in Belgium. Now, as suspected, the rest of Europe calls for similar treatment, we learn from “Google Must Extend Payments Across Europe for Use of Content.” The Reuters article quotes Francisco Pinto Balsemao, head of the European Publishers Council:
“Search engines get more than 90 percent of revenues from online advertising and a substantial part of these come directly or indirectly from the free access to professional news or entertainment content produced by the media. The situation is very bad for media groups (in Europe). This use is carried out without the authorization from copyright holders or without any payment in return. So, all aggregators, like Google, should pay. Google’s openness to negotiate and talk looks like a good step that must now be followed in other (European) countries.”
Google will not like this idea, but it may not have much choice. The company agreed to pay 60 million euros into a special fund for French media companies, but maintains an important caveat: This money is not direct payment for linking to media sites. Instead, the fund is devoted to helping those companies develop their Web presences. We are afraid that such a distinction may not provide much of a shield against the threat of legal precedence, as Balsemao’s comments demonstrate.
Cynthia Murrell, February 22, 2013
February 9, 2013
I listened to the Harvard Business Review “ideacast” with Jorge Cruz. You can find this 16 minute “living case study” on iTunes and at this link. Harvard types love euphemisms, so we have audio program morphed into ideacast. You will need to perform a number of mental transformations to interpret what it means to Encyclopaedia Britannica to have killed the print product. Interior decorators will have to find older editions for the dens of the nouveau riche. Libraries with the 11th edition will have another asset to make their Boards salivate with the profit potential of musty old volumes.
The point of Mr. Cruz’s comments is that the CD ROM was a big problem for print publishers like the Encyclopaedia Britannica. Broad Internet access is the next big thing. The “ideacast” omitted some detail. I assume that most “ideacast” listeners are too darned busy to hear a chipper interlocutor ask such questions as:
- What are the cost efficiency measures you have implemented and will be implementing?
- What changes in editorial processes have allowed your firm to produce accurate content without compromising quality?
- What is the technical infrastructure for your publishing operation?
- What are your plans for “pay to play” articles from scholars who need to toot horns now that peer reviewed publications are under attack?
- What are the new products and services you envision for 2013?
- What are your plans for acquisition of properties to accelerate growth?
- Where does your firm’s information fit in today’s content landscape?
Alas, these questions were not asked. What a happy coincidence that as I was listening to the ideacast, I read “The Elsevier Boycott One Year On.” The trigger for this write up was the birthday celebration for the Great Elsevier Boycott. Scholars have been grousing about having to pay to get their content into “real” journals. Once the money has been handed over, the Elsevier-type scholarly publications go slowly in the best tradition of the good old days of clubby publishing. I think of soft lighting in London clubs where careers are made and shattered amidst chuckles, cigars, and conversation.
The write up asserts:
In one respect the boycott has been an unqualified success: it has helped to raise awareness of the concerns we have about academic publishing. This, we believe, will make it easier for new publishing initiatives to succeed, and we strongly encourage further experimentation. We believe that commercial publishers could in principle play a valuable role in the future of mathematical publishing, but we would prefer to see publishers as “service providers”: that is, mathematicians would control journals, publishers would provide services that mathematicians deemed necessary, and prices would be kept competitive since mathematicians would have the option of obtaining these services elsewhere.
Elsevier and I assume other professional publishers have figured out that the Young Guns of academia are capable of pumping out tweets, blog posts, and talks at conferences suggesting that:
- Professional publishers charge a lot for scholars’ work which scholars’ had to pony up some dough to create
- Subscription prices are too high. Libraries cannot afford the gems of wisdom contained in a traditional scholarly journal.
- The time delays in traditional publishing, even when equipped with fancy technology from XML centric publishing systems, are unacceptable in today’s world. Hey, grant money may be available for a short time, and scholars want that citation in Twitter time, not hot metal type time.
The write up adds this point:
We acknowledge that there are differing opinions about what an ideal publishing system would be like. In particular, the issue of article processing charges is a divisive one: some mathematicians are strongly opposed to them, while others think that there is no realistic alternative. We do not take a collective position on this, but we would point out that the debate is by no means confined to mathematicians: it has been going on in the Open Access community for many years. We note also that the advantages and disadvantages of article processing charges depend very much on the policies that journals have towards fee waivers: we strongly believe that editorial decisions should be independent of an author’s access to appropriate funds, and that fee-waiver policies should be designed to ensure this. To summarize, we believe that the boycott has been a success and should be continued. Further success will take time and effort, but there are simple steps that we can all take: making our papers freely available, and supporting new and better publication models when they are set up.
My question, “Will Encyclopaedia Britannica’s new business model emerge as a beacon for professional publishing?” My hunch. Nah. The Harvard Business Review will, however, explain how management did the buggy whip thing. That old chestnut should be tossed in la poubelle. The hip scholars either look information up via Google or follow in the footsteps of Emilio Delgado Lopez Cozar et al.
Stephen E Arnold, February 9, 2013
February 8, 2013
In June 2012, an insular commercial database and professional publishing operation paid me to show up and share the trends my team had identified in online information. We were deep in the open source search study, which will be available to registered attendees of the Lucene Revolution in May 2013. I showed up, ran down a list of five areas which looked like potential investment areas. The group said, “We have these on our list already. What the heck did we hire you for anyway?”
Flash forward eight months. The insular outfit is still insular. And one of the opportunities I highlighted just became much more expensive. Navigate to “LinkedIn Eyes Future as Professional Publishing Hub.” The story points out that LinkedIn is profitable and growing organically. Here’s the passage I noted:
LinkedIn plans to hook you with business content you can’t get elsewhere — whitepapers, news articles, educated discussion threads, and so forth. When you come back more often and stick around longer — LinkedIn likes to use the term “engagement” to describe your attention — the professional social network can get clients to list more jobs and spend more on ads.
Oh, oh. Content marketing. I think the approach is a variation on Augmentext type content.
Most professional publishing and database companies do not grow organically because after years of trying to move into new markets and channels, the outfits just raise fees to lawyers, accountants, librarians, and financial analysts. When that stops working, the companies buy stuff and try to make the investments work. Whether it is medical fraud or crazy online encyclopedias, the path to the good old days of commercial professional and database publishing are harder and harder to recapture.
LinkedIn, like a couple of other outfits, is now heading into professional publishing land. If one of the big guys like Thomson Reuters or Ebsco try to hop on the train, the price of ticket has gone up a lot.
I don’t like to say, “I told you so.” I am more inclined to point to Williams James’ comment about “a certain blindness.” If you don’t see it, you cannot react. This is not Google or Facebook “arrogance” on the part of these traditional publishing companies’ management. The inability to spot an hot opportunity, overcome the friction of the “way it was,” and then act in a purposeful manner is the core problem in this business sector. Mark Logic can run conferences that cheerlead slice and dice as a strategy for growth. Outsell-type consultants can spin reports about innovations in publishing. The failed Web masters and unemployed journalists who bill themselves as mavens and poobahs can explain what’s happening in content created by and for professionals.
The problem is that making money means getting in before the CNet’s of the world report the obvious. So, no I told you so. Just a certain blindness. One can get run over crossing the street when blind. Stakeholders, are you listening? Some of the management in the companies in which you have invested may not be able to see the opportunities on the information superhighway.
Stephen E Arnold
January 29, 2013
The Internet is a wonderful resource, offering researchers the ability to information that they would never have had access to before. It also makes it easier to access databases (if you have subscription), but one problem that has come up concerns the publishers. Nature has the news on, “Mathematicians Aim To Take Publishers Out of Publishing.” The Episciences Project is run by a group of mathematicians with the goal to launch free open access journals that will electronically publish their peer-reviewed articles. The goal is that researchers will be able to get their work reviewed and published at a very low cost. The main goal is to offer mathematicians access to a bigger research community without having to rely on commercial journals.
“Many mathematicians — and researchers in other fields — claim that they already do most of the work involved in publishing their research. At no cost, they type up and format their own papers, post them to online servers, join journal editorial boards and review the work of their peers. By creating journals that publish links to peer-reviewed work on servers such as arXiv, Demailly says, the community could run its own publishing system. The extra expense involved would be the cost of maintaining websites and computer equipment…”
The Episciences Project is starting small, but the more prominent mathematicians join the more recognition it will gain in the academic community. The good news is that it makes it easier and cheaper to write a research paper, but the bad news is that trusted journals will fall out of favor.
Whitney Grace, January 29, 2013
January 24, 2013
Well, quite a surprise for a giant, traditional, print-centric outfit. Elsevier may be gearing up to put a head lock on ProQuest (high dollar databases) and Ebsco (databases with stunning names). Both of these competitors, along with outfits like Ovid are trying to adapt to a world in which libraries have to decide between paying the electric bills and licensing six and seven figure online databases. Can these companies continue to grow and generate profits.
Some say, “Yes.” Others say, “Not a chance.”
I am indifferent to the plight of this market sector. Isn’t everything a modern person requires available on a free Web system? If not, do today’s researchers care? With made up results and marketing taking the place of thinking, I am okay with the Google type system. The students whom I know are even more fond of Google than I am.
However, Elsevier may be hip to the new direction in revenue direction. I read “Elsevier Acquires Knovel, Provider of Web-based Productivity Application for the Engineering Community.” Knovel had funding from what I think of as venture sherpas. The K2 task was to develop a different type of electronic information which served specific market needs and warranted real dough. Think thousands for a “content object,” not $0.50 an abstract.
Elsevier, modestly described as “a world-leading provider of scientific, technical and medical information products and services,” acquired Knovel. No misspelling. Just some cute word play which may be lost on some recent college graduates.
Knovel is an electronic publisher which recycles high value content and adds value. Here’s how Knovel describes its “live PDF” innovation:
Knovel is the leading online technical reference resource for 3 reasons. First, Knovel locates more potentially relevant answers in a collection. Second, Knovel is better at quickly narrowing the potential answers to those most relevant to your search. Third, Knovel has interactive tables and graphs to help engineers use and export relevant data, making Knovel so much more than just e-books. (See http://why.knovel.com/company/about-knovel.html)
The key point is number three. The PDF instance allows the reader to plug in data and get an output. Think a baby version of Mathematica for civil engineers and others of their ilk. The idea is that an engineering text can be interacted with.
Elsevier has fired blanks in the electronic publishing sector for years. I won’t wander through the history of Elsevier, but I would like to give the company a happy quack for what looks like a reasonably good move.
How will Elsevier’s competitors respond? Raising prices is one option. Talking about doing bold actions may be another. At some point, fresh thinking and reaching for new opportunities will be necessary. Otherwise, there will be one or two commercial database outfits, one or two database aggregators, and one or two sources of professional content. Once that consolidation takes place, the revenues will be under severe pressure from folks who get advertisers to foot the bill for online information.
In short, nice move Elsevier. Time for the ProQuests and the Ebsco to do something which pumps up the top line in a meaningful and returns a healthy profit to the companies’ stakeholders. Even rich people want a return.
Stephen E Arnold, January 24, 2013
January 3, 2013
Another partnership in the IT and knowledge management realm has been announced. Datamatics Global Services has decided to create a strategic alliance with TEMIS, a provider of semantic content enrichment solutions. We learned more about this alliance in the article from Semantic Web called “Datamatics Partners with TEMIS.”
As for existing clients, the Digital Publishing Solutions division at Datamatics offers next generation digital solutions to several top publishing houses around the world. The semantically enriched content solutions from TEMIS will enable users to intelligently work with and share increasing volumes of information.
Michael Thuleweit, Managing Director of Datamatics in Europe commented in the article:
“Semantically enriching content enhances the ability to discover, navigate and analyze the most relevant content. Today, this is an essential part of the modern digital publishing workflows. Through our partnership with TEMIS for semantic content enrichment, we will be able to help our customers attract new visitors, differentiate their products and also engage with them with a personalized experience.”
Semantic enrichment is an important aspect to a suite of technology tools that claims to be next-generation. It seems like the folks at Datamatics know what they are doing to strike up a partnership with such a company.
Megan Feil, January 03, 2013
December 19, 2012
For a number of years, I have exchanged emails with a person known as “yachts.” In our last exchange, Yachts sent me these factoids.
- Every minute more than 1,649,305 tweets get shared.
- Every minute more than 3,472,225 photos get added to Facebook.
- Every minute more than 2,060 brand new blogs are created.
- Every minute more than 52,488 minutes of video are added to YouTube.
- Every minute more than 31,510 new articles are created by an online newspaper.
- Every minute more than 3,645,833,340 new spam emails are delivered online.
Accurate? Who knows. Interesting? You bet.
Stephen E Arnold, December 19, 2012
December 8, 2012
I received a promotional link to the bargain basement enterprise search report, which is hot off the press from Research and Markets. The report “Global Enterprise Search Market” reveals:
At present, the global enterprise search market is in a state of transition on account of the massive consolidation activities in the market in 2010-12. The growing relevance of Big Data has made enterprise search highly valuable. The concept is not restricted to any one vertical as diverse end-user segments are witnessing an explosion of data, all of which has to be navigated through and used optimally for making informed business decisions. It also optimally utilizes resources that exist within the organization – if you can’t find it, you can’t use it. With customers developing a clearer understanding of their enterprise search needs, the solutions too are expected to evolve in tandem.
The contents include:
- Executive Summary
- Market Overview
- Enterprise Search Market
- External Challenges: Drivers and Restraints
- Forecasts and Trends
- Market Share and Competitive Analysis- Total Market
- Market and Technical Trends
- On-premise Segment Breakdown
- Cloud Segment Breakdown
- Hot Company Watchlist
- The Last Word
Hop to buying this report. We are confident that the analysis goes way Beyond Search. Even better, the report contains the last word. Is it Omega?
Stephen E Arnold, December 8, 2012