Tag: Publishing

I’m Calling Political Ploy

Nameless bureaucrats in the Pentagon announce plans to shutter the military newspaper Stars and Stripes, and Trump reverses the decision with a tweet.

Call me a cynic, but I think that this was the plan all along.

In the middle of a minor sh%$-storm about Trump dissing dead soldiers, he gets to play hero:

Update: Following blowback, President Trump announced on Twitter that the publication will not be shuttered after all.

The United States of America will NOT be cutting funding to @starsandstripes magazine under my watch. It will continue to be a wonderful source of information to our Great Military!

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 4, 2020

The Trump administration has decided to shutter Stars and Stripes, the award-winning independent military newspaper that began during the Civil War and has continuously published since World War II. The publication has broken many important stories, including highlighting predatory or unethical practices by military brass.

Lawmakers from both sides of the aisle have been trying to prevent this move for months. “Stars and Stripes is an essential part of our nation’s freedom of the press that serves the very population charged with defending that freedom,” fifteen senators said in a letter sent to Defense Secretary Mark Esper.

Even Trump sycophant Lindsay Graham has attempted to save the paper, writing to Esper, “as a veteran who has served overseas, I know the value that the Stars and Stripes brings to its readers.”

But the administration announced it is going ahead with closing the publication as part of cost-cutting measures, ordering it to stop publishing by September 30th and setting a deadline at the end of January to dissolve it completely.

If you think that this is a sincere effort, or has resulted from the storm blowing up over this, I have a bridge in Brooklyn to sell you.

Also, I cannot believe that I am f%$#ing reposting a f%$#ing a f%$#ing Donald f%$#ing Trump Tweet.

Textbook Publisher Sees Brave New World of Screwing Students Even Harder

Kara Swisher of Recode has a remarkably credulous interview with textbook publisher CEO John Fallon, and swallows his line of crap without any challenge.

Fallon is claiming that somehow or other, the digital textbook will fix Pearson’s flagging textbook business (it probably will) and will make things better for students. (It certainly will not.)

The text books have gotten expensive enough that the resale market, and the 3rd party rental market, have been eating the publisher’s lunch.

Pearson’s solution is digital, not because it is more convenient, nor because it is better for students, but because it allows to lock down the market, preventing students selling their old books, and extend their monopoly rents.

This is just another way to f%$# their customers.

About F%$#ing Time

The mammoth University of California (UC) system announced today it will stop paying to subscribe to journals published by Elsevier, the world’s largest scientific publisher, headquartered in Amsterdam. Talks to renew a collective contract broke down, the university said, because Elsevier refused to strike a package deal that would provide a break on subscription fees and make all articles published by UC authors immediately free for readers worldwide.

The stand by UC, which followed 8 months of negotiations, could have significant impacts on scientific communication and the direction of the so-called open-access movement, in the United States and beyond. The 10-campus system accounts for nearly 10% of all U.S. publishing output and is among the first U.S. institutions, and by far the largest, to boycott Elsevier over costs. Many administrators and librarians at U.S. universities and elsewhere have complained about what they view as excessively high journal subscription fees charged by commercial publishers.


Indeed, UC’s move could ratchet up pressure on additional negotiations facing Elsevier and other commercial publishers; consortia of universities and labs in Germany and Sweden had already reached an impasse last year with Elsevier in their efforts to lower subscription fees.


Jeff MacKie-Mason, who heads UC Berkeley’s library and is also co-chair of the negotiation task force, says Elsevier just didn’t move far enough to UC’s position. The publisher’s final offer “was closer to what we wanted in terms of open access” but nevertheless included a price increase, he says.


UC published about 50,000 articles last year, and a substantial share, about 10,000, appeared in Elsevier journals. For subscriptions and article fees, UC paid about $11 million, the Los Angeles Times reported recently. (UC says the information is confidential under a nondisclosure agreement.)


UC also noted that some of Elsevier’s newer content is already freely available through open-access publishing, open-access repositories, interlibrary loans, and “other legitimate forms of scholarly sharing.”

That last bit is actually the folks at the University of California system in talking in code.

What they are really saying is that, not withstanding the multi-million dollar judgement that Elsevier got against it, the Russian based Sci-Hub has is the future:

Little more than three years ago, Elsevier, one of the world’s largest academic publishers, took Sci-Hub to court.

It was a mismatched battle from the start. With a net income of more than $2.4 billion per year, the publisher could fund a proper case, while its nemesis relied on donations.

Elsevier won the case, including millions of dollars in damages. However, the site remained online and grew bigger. Ironically, the academic publisher itself appears to be one of the main drivers of this growth.

Several universities from Germany, Hungary, and Sweden previously let their Elsevier subscriptions expire, which means that tens of thousands of researchers don’t have access to research that is critical to their work.

This is where Sci-Hub comes into play.

The “Pirate Bay of Science” might just quietly play a major role in this conflict. Would the universities cancel their subscriptions so easily if their researchers couldn’t use Sci-Hub to get free copies?

Sci-Hub founder Alexandra Elbakyan has always been forthcoming about her goals. Sci-Hub wants to remove all barriers in the way of science. She also made that crystal clear when we interviewed her back in 2015.

“Everyone should have access to knowledge regardless of their income or affiliation. And that’s absolutely legal. Also, the idea that knowledge can be a private property of some commercial company sounds absolutely weird to me,” she said at the time.

I feel nothing but glee at the misfortunes of Elsivier.

They are a bunch of contemptible parasites.


The Guardian asks, “Is the staggeringly profitable business of scientific publishing bad for science?

Why yes, yes it is.

With reasonable regulation and antitrust enforcement, parasites like Elsevier have plundered publicly funded knowledge.

The end of this business model has been predicted for years, but with great profits comes the resources to engage aggressive rent seeking, which mitigates against this.

I don’t think that we will see any change in this until the government mandates another model for research that it funds.

Speaking of Corruption

Andrew Cuomo wrote a very poorly selling memoir. His publisher paid him $245 for a gook that had a suggested retail price of $29.99:

Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s low-selling 2014 memoir netted him another $218,100 last year, pushing his total book payments to $783,000 over the past four years, according to his tax returns.

Cuomo’s 2016 tax records, which his office made available for review Tuesday, showed the latest round of payments from HarperCollins, the major publisher that gave him a lucrative book deal in 2013.

The governor’s memoir — “All Things Possible: Setbacks and Success in Politics in Life — did not perform well: Just 3,200 copies sold since its release, including just 100 copies over the past two years, according to NPD Books, which tracks book sales nationwide.

It was a money-loser for HarperCollins, which ultimately paid Cuomo about $245 per book sold. It retailed at $29.99.

His Presidential aspirations are the subject of frequent speculation, which would be a f%$#ing disaster.

He needs not to be the Democrats 2020 nominee.

Heck:  He needs not to be the Governor New York State.

He needs to be fired ……… Out of a cannon ……… Into the sun.