With the iPad selling 300,000 units on launch day, another 200,000 in its first week, and shortly to be available (we hope) in Europe, Barbara Quint provides a timely overview of apps available from traditional information industry players.
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The British Library recently announced the launch of the UK Web Archive, which will store and make accessible every site in the .uk top-level domain. The project will deploy an impressive array of text-mining and analysis software - Avi Rappoport reveals the details in Information Today’s Newsbreaks.
Open access advocate Stevan Harnad looks back over the progress made by the OA movement to date, in a detailed and far-reaching interview with Richard Poynder for Information Today. Harnad speculates as to whether 2010 will see the tipping point needed to usher in universal open access, with the aim of getting the 2.5 million articles a year that are published in 25,000 peer-reviewed journals all freely available online.
Harnad is realistic in his assessment of the progress made to date: “…the history of OA so far has been one of gratuitous over-reaching that has not only netted little, but it has failed even to grasp what has already been well within reach for some time: free online access to refereed reseach.” But he is cautiously optimisitic about the initiatives underway in 2010.
BBC Director General Mark Thomson and Lynne Brindley, head of the British Library, have signed a Memorandum of Understanding that will seek to develop ‘new ways of integrating access.’ They will also work together on issues such as rights management, digitisation and storage. A joint steering committee will develop a uniform approach across the two institutions.
Mark Thompson said it is “vital we partner, harnessing the power of digital technology to give the public the access they deserve.” According to Brindley, the project aims to “create a model of best practice which will allow the library to develop similar opportunities with other public institutions.” The partnership demonstrates that “we are keen to share content for the benefit of today’s researchers and the knowledge economy”, she added.
Springer Science and Business Media is to be sold to EQT, a Swedish private equity (PE) firm, and GIC, a PE fund backed by the government of Singapore. The deal is expected to close by late January or early February 2010. The German company is the world’s second largest scientific, technical and medical publisher after Reed Elsevier and was formed in 2003 by the merger of Kluwer Academic Publishers and Bertelsmann Springer.
The announcement of the purchase comes only days after British media group Informa, under pressure from shareholders, pulled out of discussions to buy the company, saying it could not close the deal within the timescale required by previous PE owners Candoven Investments and Cinven.
The details have not been disclosed, but it has been estimated that the deal is worth €2.3billion ($3.4 billion). The deal is priced to take into account the fact that the purchasers will take on Springer’s debt pile which is in excess of €2 billion ($2.9 billion). EQT is to buy 82% of the company and GIC the remainder.
Derk Haank, Springer’s CEO, described “constructive and collegial discussions” with EQT and added that the deal “will allow us to move our ambitious and ongoing ‘e’ strategy forward”.
What are the implications for the publishing industry? Compared with the deal values which were being touted when Candover and Cinven were originally trying to offload the business, EQT have got themselves a bargain. According to the Financial Times, the purchase values Springer at around 8 times earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation, which is similar to rival Reed Elsevier. Springer’s business is sound, turning over €880 million ($1290 million) in 2008. The looming squeeze on public sector budgets introduces a very real note of uncertainly into the equation, but in general Springer is operating in markets with reliable cash flow and low reliance on advertising.
For those inclined to look for green shoots of economic recovery, the deal says most about the state of the leveraged buyout sector. The deal is Europe’s biggest private equity transaction for more than a year, and an indication that the PE industry is pulling out of the credit crunch. Whether or not this is a good thing for the publishing sector will no doubt be open to debate. Possible buyers from within the publishing industry who, in less turbulent times, might have been interested in an acquisition of Springer, do not appear to have been in a position to do so, probably either because of regulatory concerns or because they have their hands full with their own business challenges.
Intriguingly, there is still speculation that a merger between Springer and Informa could lie in the future, but for the time being this draws a line under a particularly convoluted and long-drawn out courtship ritual.
If you blog, tweet or simply like to click through many layers of links as you surf, then you’ll be familiar with url shorteners, the handy tools from organisations such as Bit.ly ot TinyURL which slim down long web addresses to more manageable lengths. But have you ever stopped to think what would happen if one of these shortcut services ceased to exist, taking all its services and software with it?
In response to this problem, the Internet Archive has set up 301Works, an archiving project which will be able to keep the links running in the event of the demise of any member companies. Read analysis from Searcher’s Barbara Quint and comments from project director Stowe Boyd, here.
As 2009 draws to a close, Information Today’s Barbara Brynko asks industry figureheads to share their insights into the state of the information industry, and predict what lies in store for the year ahead. Check it out here.
Searcher’s Barbara Quint gives the lowdown on the revised Google Books Settlement, which once finalised will enable Google to make available millions of out-of-print books in the US.
The international scope of the agreement has been reduced, although books published in Canada, the UK or Australia – countries which share legal frameworks and book industry practices – are still covered. Dan Clancy, engineering director for Google Book Search, confirms that foreign works will continue to be added to the Google Books collection, and although “users will not have access to the full text or to the extended Preview mode for the bulk of foreign in-copyright works, they will still be able to search them, identify relevant items, and read the snippets.”
Don’t miss InfoToday’s 7th annual ‘Live from London’ coverage from the Online Information conference and exhibition, starting next week (30 November - 3 December). Exploring the theme of ‘State of the Industry’, IT’s editors Barb Brynko, Marydee Ojala and Dick Kaser will be interviewing participants to determine concerns, priorities, issues and tactics and ask how the information industry is doing, and where’s it going. Check out the trailer here.
- Wearable technology and apps June 13, 2013
- Multiscreen and mobile June 7, 2013
- Enlightened enterprise – the Etsy economy June 6, 2013
- BYOD – latest trends and predictions May 29, 2013
- Measuring the value of the British Library May 28, 2013
- A blog post about the decline of blogging February 2, 2012
- Is relationship building the key to customer loyalty? October 10, 2011
- Research libraries in the 21st century May 22, 2012
- Using social media tools to disseminate academic research December 4, 2012
- Getting more librarians published October 15, 2010
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