A peek inside

Memories of my visits to Nike when I was working with them a few years ago come rushing back. The BBC gets access to Nike’s Portland research lab as they profile 19 year-old Olympic Gold medal gymnast Shawn Johnson, whom Nike is now sponsoring – an area in the campus that has highly restricted access.

Lost art, lost no more

In two somewhat-related news articles last week, the cassette is being brought back by people who are interpreting it as an art project, and classic vinyl album covers are being issued as stamps. I was intrigued to read that there are small shops like the Tapeworm that are bringing out limited edition (typically 250 copies) cassette-only releases, which often sell out.

As the BBC says,

“We do not view this as a dead format,” says The Tapeworm’s Philip Marshall. “We do not view this as something which does not have a place right now.

“We were looking for a way to edition music in small runs that was cost effective and would also make the artists we were commissioning think about the ‘a’ and the ‘b'”.

He is referring to the ‘a’ and ‘b’ sides of the cassette.

“There’s a lost art to the ‘a’ and the ‘b’,” he says of downloaded music in particular, “a lost art to a sequence of music, a lost art to the album.”

So my love of nostalgia stands vindicated. In fact, there’s money to be made from it, if you look for your audience hard enough!

More power to Google

On Thursday, Google’s latest project that will allow people to read books that have gone out of print, will go live. In partnership with On Demand Books, the Espresso Book Machine will print in 4 minutes flat, on demand, any book of upto 300 pages from a list of over 2 million books whose copyright period has expired or whose authors have given permission for them to be used by Google. All this at a cost of less than $10 to the user and $3 to the bookshop that owns the vending machine, which is to cover the cost of the materials. The machine costs a whopping $100,000 but quite a few locations already have it, including Blackwell’s in London. Here’s how it works:

I was really glad to read about this, and hope that it does not run into stormy weather like the Google Books deal has, where the US Justice Department has urged a New York court to reject this deal. Just as with the continuing debate over free, I wonder how long anyone can prevent it from coming to life. Dan Brown’s ‘The Lost Symbol’ is selling more e-copies on the Kindle than hard copies via Amazon, and that’s because there are enough people are willing to buy the e-version though they have access to the hard copy. If the situation is reversed and enough people decide they’d prefer to read out-of print books in the flesh rather than online, where Google Books will likely have an e-copy available, can Amazon, Microsoft and Yahoo, who are among the companies that object to the Google Books deal, continue to stand their ground? THAT will be an interesting conversation to follow.