Morning Brief: Time Inc. begins trading as independent company today; FIFA updates apps for start of the World Cup this week
Book Palette adds ten new templates to iBA companion program – though templates probably won’t tempt professional eBook designers to actually use them, casual users who share eBook files might find them useful
If the last decade or so was the era of the private equity company in publishing, this decade may be known as the decade of the spin-off: the time when major media companies decided it would be best to split their companies into two entities, one concentrating on broadcast media, the other print. Or, if you like, one profitable with a future, the other that they see has none.
But the spin-off is just another lazy management move, designed to ensure that profits – and hence, bonuses – continue. In the PE era, the real profits to be made were from the fees forced on the acquired companies, and only occasionally from the higher sales price that the PE might be able to get after four or five years of ownership. Today, the spin-off allows the parent company to unload debt onto the newly formed company, ensuring good performance for the parent, and usually forcing the new company to immediately start cutting costs.
In the case of Time Inc., it starts life with $1.3 billion in debt, of which $600 million is sort of a quick payoff to Time Warner shareholders. If this were done in the private world, it would be considered a crime – but this is just business, and today it is considered business as usual. No one need worry about going to jail.
Since 2000, the publishing industry has suffered through economic times that somewhat mirror the Great Depression – a big drop after the tech bubble burst (the 9/11) followed by a secondary jolt caused by the fiscal crisis of 2008. Most media observers believe that the twin threats of new digital media platforms, combined with poor economic times, have combined to depress the industry. But the industry has not been helped by the fact that its ownership – silent and public – has not always had the best interests of their companies in mind, but instead short-term gain for their investors, shareholders, and themselves. The spin-off is just the latest tool to make sure this continues.
Apple managed to go through WWDC and not update iBooks Author – not a surprise, but still a disappointment. As you will see later today with the next Books on Monday column, there are some book publishers doing excellent work with the program, even if Apple themselves does not use it for their own eBooks.
Today Book Palette, one of the handful of apps that offer templates for iBA, updated its Mac app, adding in 10 new templates. Generally speaking, pre-made templates for iBA are pretty much a waste of money as once the user gets used to working with iBooks Author one learns that modifying a template is pretty easy. That doesn’t mean that some of these templates are not attractive, just that one really wouldn’t want to have their final product look exactly like one of these templates anymore than one would want it to look like an unmodified version of one of the templates that comes with iBA.
On the other hand, one can create an eBook that is not for commercial distribution with iBA – something that many people forget. With iBA you can export an eBook as a PDF or an iBooks file and share that file with a friend. About a year ago I shared an eBook I had created with a small, independent record label to show them that they could get into the eBook space as a way of promoting their bands. The owner of the company had zero interest in digital media, though he didn’t bitching about music downloads and the declining prospects for record labels. Since then several record labels have started releasing interactive eBooks, less than a new profit center, than as a new way to market their artists.
It is probably not necessary to remind TNM readers in Europe that this week will feature the start of the World Cup in Brazil. But, believe it not, many US readers will hardly notice its start. (Both the UK and US look to be in pretty difficult groups. But whereas US fans will not be shocked if the US fails to make it out of the group phase, UK fans will be apoplectic.)
In preparation for Thursday opening match, FIFA, the governing body for the sport, has updated its iPad app FIFA for iPad. Here is what is new:
With this major update for the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil, you can take the World Cup with you everywhere you go.
In this pre-tournament version…
– Keep up to date with all the very latest World Cup news
– Discover the players and coaches from all 32 competing teams
– Plan your World Cup with a schedule of all 64 games
– Explore the host country Brazil and get familiar with the stadiums and cities where the action will happen
Watch out for a further update before the tournament kicks-off where you’ll be able to:
– Enter the Global Stadium and follow minute-by-minute action, live from all 64 games
– #Joinin the biggest football conversation in history alongside friends, players, coaches and fellow fans
– Keep up to date with match alerts from your favourite teams
– Follow our daily Live Blog, which will give you up-to-the-minute coverage of everything happening at the tournament with exclusive photo and video coverage
– Affect what happens at the World Cup by voting for Man of the Match