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Amazon Signs Up Authors, Writing Publishers Out of Deal

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Amen! The scientific journal scam has to end -- these scientific articles, funded in good part by public dollars, need to be free.
-mouser (April 07, 2012, 07:57 AM)
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Yes, I think it is very heartening to see this.
It could be the start of freeing up a lot of publicly-funded research (knowledge), but I think that could be wishful thinking. From experience, I strongly doubt that it will happen. The Wikipedia entry on Elsevier indicates that:
...In 2010, Elsevier reported a profit margin of 36% on revenues of $3.2 billion.

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In separate discussions in the DC forum, we have probably pretty well explored the boundaries of power of the Corporation and its obligations to its stockholders. This is all about money and power. So the prospect of earning forward potential revenues amounting to many billions of dollars will likely not be abandoned easily, unless (say) some form of government anti-trust regulation kicks in, in a deliberate market restructuring.
What it might need is (say) for someone like Amazon to take a hand in disruptively restructuring the market that is Elsevier's niche. Given what Amazon has been and is doing in aggressive fashion, this is not outside the bounds of possibility, but I wouldn't care to make a guess on the probability of Amazon becoming that kind of white knight. It might be more likely that Elsevier could (say) decide to pre-empt that and diversify by buying up Amazon anyway. Who knows?

A bit of background as to why I say the above:
SpoilerI have mixed feelings about Elsevier.
The company as it is today has some really interesting (to me) history. It essentially evolved out of a huge multi-national corporation called Reed International (formerly Reed Ltd., Reed Group) that acquired it years ago. I coincidentally happen to have used Reed's corporate libraries and management for information regarding its operation whilst writing a thesis (a study of the pulp and paper packaging industry and its effect on the UK economic model).
Reed incrementally evolved or "absorbed" itself into its subsidiary Elsevier.
Originally an accumulation of acquired (taken over) roofing felt and paper, pulp and packing manufacturing companies - with some pretty big manufacturing operations worldwide - Reed came to generally dominate its market sector. Because I knew how the company ticked, as the years passed I held onto my Reed stock as a large part of my investment portfolio.

Reed seemed to grow largely by acquisition and diversification. It became a humongous operation. It had diversified vertically and horizontally into newsprint (paper) manufacture and decorating products (notably the Polycell range) and a range of small publishing companies, including Elsevier.
My attention was elsewhere and I rather lost track of Reed, but I think it was largely in the '80s that they embarked on asset-stripping and selling off most of their old core pulp and paper manufacturing operations, due to them having become only marginally profitable. I gathered that product obsolescence and the market dynamics had changed. Still a stockholder, I watched as Reed's  annual reports showed them progressively taking a path where they acquired and built upon (consolidated) the publishing operation called Elsevier. It seemed to me at first to be an experimental activity, until they progressively divested themselves of (sold off) the old Reed operations, becoming just Elsevier. They had found a niche with Elsevier, which I guess they planned to expand and dominate - and they did expand, and I think they do dominate it today. Scientific, Academic, Pharmaceutical research and media publishing is a big and seemingly somewhat incestuous business. The organisations involved have very deep pockets and powerfully influential (read $$$) government lobbies (QED).

The Elsevier website's "history" page is here, but it does not really reflect any of the above, though you can get an idea of the company's impressively comprehensive market breadth and scope from their website.
Money, locked-up knowledge, and power.

Interesting take on the US Department of Justice charging Apple and five large book publishers with conspiring to raise e-book prices:
A dark day for the future of books

Thought-provoking. Not sure whether this warrants a new thread of its own.
Exercises in democracy: building a digital public library
...How much content should be centralized, and how much should come from local libraries? How will the Digital Public Library be run? Can an endowment-funded public institution succeed where Google Books has largely failed (a 4,000-word meditation on this topic is offered by Nicholas Carr in MIT's April Technology Review)?

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More steps in Amazon's groundbreaking progress into the market:
Amazon Createspace Launches in Europe
(Post content copied below, but without the links.)
SpoilerAmazon has just launched their seminal self-publishing service Createspace in the United Kingdom and the rest of Europe today. This will allow authors to publish their books and have them distributed all over Europe and North America.

Amazon Creatspace has been running since 2007 and allows you to make your book available to millions of potential customers by distributing through the Amazon ecosystem and your own eStore, and the Expanded Distribution Channel. Set your book’s list price and earn royalties. Upload completed book files, or use our free tools to prepare your content for publication. On-demand production of your book means you’ll never worry about inventory or minimum orders. The big draw on their program is the “Print on Demand” feature. It basically prints the tangible version of the book as people order it. So instead of buying 1000 copies of your book in printed format and hope it sells, Createspace will only print the books as people buy it

UK and European authors can now publish on Createspace and they can have their books, audiobooks and digital content all distribution in many different countries. This is a huge benefit for the local self-publishing scene and now makes digital publishing a bit easier. If you have any questions, check out our Amazon Europe frequently asked questions or contact Member Support.

Much as I love books, the main reason I have held off buying an e-book reader is that there are too many devices in the market, each with their own proprietary DRM. It's all designed around Lock-in of the user, and is archaic anti-competitive marketing behaviour by psychopathic corporations.

The only reader I would probably like right now is what seems to be the lowest common denominator - the latest Amazon Kindle 4 (basic model, without supporting advertisements).

Otherwise the situation looks a bit like a repetition of the early industrialisation of the UK - when they constructed parallel rail tracks of differing gauges. Stupid, but true.
That's why I thought this news was a rather hopeful sign:
e-Books may take a page out of digital music's book


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