Industry news: Librarian threatened with billion-dollar suit; the DOJ doesn’t like Apple; kids more likely to read electronically
Publisher threatens librarian with a billion-dollar lawsuit
OMICS Publishing Group has threatened to sue University of Colorado research librarian Jeffrey Beall, for one billion dollars over blog posts in which Beall called them predatory. According to Beall, OMICS charges professors trying to publish their work a handling fee that requires them to pay thousands of dollars if their work is published. OMICS is an Indian-based publisher, and the legal threat came from an Indian law firm. According to The New York Times, OMICS charges authors as much as $2,700 to publish a paper.
What this means to Jeffrey Beall: According to the threat, he could get arrested if he ever goes to India. It also gives him a chance to work on his Dr. Evil imitation (with a slight adjustment).
What this means to you: It’s further proof that you need to beware and read the fine print of any contract you consider signing with anyone in this industry. The drive to publish in academia is at least as strong as the drive we face to publish. That means desperation, which means predatory business practices. And there’s always the Dr. Evil thing.
Apple, DOJ (surprise!) disagree in filings before lawsuit filing
In a shocking development (you should be shocked, I tell you), Apple and the Department of Justice have filed substantially different versions of the events that led to the adoption of the agency model for e-book pricing. According to the DOJ, Apple was the ringleader in the collusion, pushing the publishers (who’ve settled with the DOJ) to accept the new pricing model. The DOJ brief included references to Apple’s alleged attempts to push HarperCollins, Random House, and Penguin to the agency model. According the Apple’s brief, the publishers had already decided to end the heavy discount of e-books before Apple approached them. The trial is slated to begin on June 3.
What this means to you: Overall, it doesn’t mean much. It’s a filing before the trial. Given that the publishers have settled already, the after-effects of the trial are probably limited. The pricing approach for e-books doesn’t seem to have shifted a lot, though. The ultimate outcome of the trial, however, could affect Amazon’s long-term influence over e-book pricing.
For the first time, kids dig e-books more than hard copy
In the Star Trek universe, the Borg are formerly humans, assimilated into an computer-organic collective. Resistance, the Borg say, is futile. A recent study of 8-to-16-year-olds in the UK indicates that the Borg encroaching on us in the real world, as well. The study has found that for the first time, kids who use read with electronic devices outnumber kids using physical books, 39 to 28 percent. However, the kids who read physical books are nearly twice as likely to be above-average readers than those using e-books. Kids who read physical books are nearly four times more likely to say they enjoy reading as those using electronic means.
What this means to you: Based on our family’s experience, your mileage may vary. The first book my son (14 at the time) got for his Nook was Moneyball, not something below-average readers his age would embrace. Assuming it doesn’t vary, it could mean that you need to follow what the National Literacy Trust, which ran the survey, suggests and work with your kids to read more physical books. But it also re-enforces a point that’s been made about a gazillion times about the digital revolution and attention spans, for all ages. As our lives become more digital and faster paced, what we digest has gotten shorter and less complex.