Friday, April 10, 2015

BPN 1704: Growth Dutch e-books Q1 2015

The Dutch central book distributor CB has published an infographic about the Dutch E-book market.

The Dutch market for e-books is maturing fast. The number of E-book transactions (sales and loans) has grown almost 50 percent in the first quarter of 2015 in comparison with the number in first quarter of 2014. E-books are 5,2 percent of all sold books (in 2014 it was 4 percent). The number of E-book titels is growing, the number of E-book publishers as well as the number of E-book retailers.


Friday, March 13, 2015

BPN 1703: Internet has caught up with Dutch pensionados

In the Netherlands we have reached a milestone: 9 out of 10 people are using internet daily, says CBS Statistics. Faster connections through broadband (cable and fiber), better access to internet, a larger offer are leading to more online activities such as listening to the radio, reading news, watching tv and e-shopping. The percentage internet users has gone up from 68 to 90 procent from 2005 till 2014. In 2005 already three quarters of youth between 12 and 25 years were on internet every day, but in 2014 they were increasingly using smart phones to connect to internet. In 2014 three quarters of the internet users between 65 and 75 years use internet daily.

It has taken twenty years for silver tsunami of pensionados to become digital natives. They were resp. between 45 and 55 years when Digital City (De Digitale Stad – DDS) started to roll out consumer internet. Now they are intensively using internet in order to find their forebears, mail, skype and transfer (photo)files with their kids, grandchildren, relatives and friend as well as electronic banking.

A real tipping point in this development is the reading habit of the pensionados as they are officially still seen as the majority of readers of printed newspaper. But this is changing rapidly. With the rise of online newspapers, the print editions of the newspapers are going down with rapid speed. Between the third quarter of 2011 and 2014 print has decreased no less tah 15 percent of the paid print newspapers, regardless of the age brackets. But the pensionados can be seen as the last wall of the print Mohikans, so print will die off more rapidly in the next ten years. This will pose the next problem of transformation for the newspapers. Now the online newspapers are divided in freesheets and registered and/or paid subscription papers. In the coming years the companies will mainly continue to land paid subscriptions. Yet the pensionados will discover as the the younger generations have already done, that they like to compose their own newspaper and buy articles instead of editions. So there is a future for article kiosks like Blendle. (But their business model will have to be finetuned so that the publishers will pay their freelance journalists for republishing on Blendle and the freelance journalist can publishedarticles for pay without publishers).

Are there now main differences between the generation born with digital tools or the pensionados finally arriving as digital natives. I recently had the opportunity as a guest lecturer of a University of Applied Sciences to make a digital X-ray of the students. The study communication and are in the second year of their bachelor of arts. They are between 19 and 25 years old. Of course you do not have to ask wether they use internet, that is like asking for the use of the holy book  (Bible, Quran, Thora) in a sanctuary. They all have a portable computer and a smart phone; only few of them had an iPad or tablet and only one an e-reader. Of course, they all bank electronically.

Interesting was to make an inventory of their reading habits. Yes there were a minority of students reading printed newspapers, freesheets as well as paid newspapers. The majority however was reading free online newspapers, the free shortened versions of paid newspapers as well as the advertsiement papers with some news bullits. Only one of the students did have an e-reader and many, many e-books! And their was one student reading one of his three e-books on a tablet.

Part of the X-ray are questions about the digital background of their parents. These parents are globally of the generation of 40 to 50 years. These parents were the digital migrants. The responses tell that most a gaming console was a digital first at home. A computer for home use was introduced from 1996 onwards; former generations bought an encyclopedia for self education and that of their children. From the answers it was clear that the parents had started to work with computers at work. But internet came into their homes after 2000 and so they also took on the habit of banking electronically.  

The results of CBS combined with the X-ray of a limited group of students clearly shows that pensionados are now joining the ranks of digital migrants and that the present group of students are the first generation of digital natives. The difference between the digital pensionados and the digital natives is the smart phone and most likely the iPad/tablet.While you would suppose that the students have been born with a smartphone, the digital pensionados still sit behind their desk computer or portable PC or they start their day with reading the news on their iPad/tablet in bed. Besides pensionados have started to read books on an e-reader But give it another five years and improved interfaces and the digital pensionados will have catched up with the smartphone and the students with the iPad and tablet.


Friday, February 13, 2015

BPN 1702: Ethics for robo-pets

Okay, I confess: dogs are not my thing, excuse me my type of pets. In fact I am not a pet lover. But this week Google went too far when they showed their new acquisition, the robo-dog Spot. Well they did not really show the robo-animal, they kicked a rudimentary robo-dog into the world  (yet no word of protest from the Dutch political Party for Animals!). And in this same week there was some more kicking, but now Sony was going to kick out the robo-dog Aibo maintenance service.

The Aibo (Japanese for mate and acronym for Artificial Intelligence Robot) was presented in an interesting knick of time, the last two years of the former century. After the bringing down of the Berlin Wall and the ending of the Cold War, people needed something cuddly. And the toy industry with for example Warner responded with Furby, a mix of a cat and an owl. The pet was fluffy and able to speak, although it never made its promise of self learning come true. Yet fluffly was loved by babies and female pensionados. The pet was speaking to them, usually in English, felt fluffy and could be turned off and on. Beside it was not really an expensive pet.

For those with a purse of at least 2500 US dollar, Sony presented in 1998 the Aibo, a small cuddly dog. The dog could walk, sit up vertically, dance and sleep. You could talk to the dog, give command and stroke the pet. The Aibo could be nosy, busy or calm. They were also able to play with a pink ball, could balance a bone on their nose and when Aibos were brought together they would play together.  The Aibo also became a favourite with kids and female pensionados. (It is even rumoured by my Nordic friends that they love to have Aibos for their sleigh rides in the snow.)  

I remember an experiment from 2006 in the Netherlands where Furbies and Aibos were tested on pensionados (see photograph). The Aibo won. Over the years and mainly in Japan, small groups of Aibo owners got together to let the pets play together, but also to discuss issues of the silver wave of Aibo’s to come. Just like pensionados need knee and hip surgeries, robo-pets need limb repairs. But now that  Sony has announced the shut-down of its Aibo maintenance department due to budget cuts, the pets will have to look for a caring team or an old-folks home.

Spot, the pet from Google is a different kind of breed. It is as high as a young Great Dane. Its features are not very natural yet. It is (yet) not a likeable pet. It is still a technical pet even with a rear light at its tail, just like domestic dogs have these days for their evening walkies. And from the beginning it was made clear that the dog would be a new work horse type of robo-animal and not exactly a pet. Spot fits in Google’s portfolio of mobiles such as drones and self-driving cars. Spot is going to be a sturdy dog which will not easily roll over to be cuddled or when it is hit or kicked. Spot will be a delivery dog for example being used by facility managers for having the mail distributed within an office or perhaps by the national mail services.

It is interesting to see on the one hand the lifecycle of Aibo coming to an end, while on the other hand Google kicks Spot into the world. There is really a world of difference between them. The Aibo is realistic and seen as real pet, while Spot is work horse-like mobile. But the Aibos pose a basic question: are there ethics for living with robots and do the robo-pets have rights to a decent pet life and funeral?  Sony said: we are pensioning off you, flock of Aibos, so get to the scrap heap. But the people who possess an Aibo have come to see them as part of their life and are not willing to bring them to the scrap heap, like sheep to the slaughter house. One owner has already taken his Aibo along into his grave. And the other Aibo owners are now calling for an old-dogs home with a resident robot technician. The Aibo owners might even compose a digi-euthanasia statement for when the Aibo gets really old and disassembled. But is there then a cementary or a crematory for robo-pets?
Rest in peace, mate
                                                            © Tom's new stuff page


Thursday, January 15, 2015

BPN 1701: In the year 1980: start of Dutch information industry

Young generations most likely are not aware of the existence of a Dutch information industry before the introduction of internet in 1994. The run-up to the commercial and public start of the digital Dutch information industry started in 1967 and 13 years later in 1980 the Dutch information industry went life with databases, videotext services and teletext information services, produced by existing and new companies.

The run-up to 1980
The digitisation of publishing information started with the automation of the typesetting process and storage on magnetic tapes. The process was figured out by Excerpta Medica and its sister company Infonet. Scientific publisher Excerpta Medica started phototypesetting and offline and online distribution, resp. on magnetic tapes and by host organisations such as Dialog since 1974. The expertise of Infonet was used by the reference team producing the Grote Spectrum Encyclopedie (GSE) and the national library system.  
In 1975 the management of Kluwer visited legal publishers such as Westlaw in the USA and started to discuss setting up a Dutch legal database. By 1977 Kluwer Legal was in the process of building up databases and having demos of the first legal databases.
In 1976 videotex was researched for introduction in The Netherlands. The Dutch state owned telco PTT expressed interest in videotex. A year later the Dutch public broadcasting company NOS started to study the variant of videotext, the text television service teletext.
The 1978 the consumer electronics fair Firato was the decision point to get serious about electronic services or stay behind. So in 1979 NOS decided to start experimenting with the official text television service Teletekst. PTT took the decision to start introducing a videotext service; also the Dutch publisher VNU set up a videotext consultancy service TVS (Toegepaste Viewdata Systemen). So two state companies and three private companies were preparing to go resp. public or commericial.

Race for digital information
The year 1980 started with firecrackers. VNU launched a media laboratory named VNU Database Publishing International. It was founded to research the digital opportunities in the business sector.
On April 1, 1980 two introductions happened. The public broadcast system started the television text service Teletekst, excluding the newspaper sector from this service. On the same day Kluwer Legal launched its Legal Database service commercially.

On August 8, 1980 the Dutch PTT started hosting the videotext service Viditel with VNU being one of the largest information providers with Jobdata, Teletips and Distrifood and several third party clients. In the same year Elsevier bought the US Congressional Information Service (CIS) for 43 million guilders; it considered the service to be a stepping stone for a comparable service of the European Economic Union (EEU).

It was clear that the race for digital information had started. Elsevier was far ahead with experience in the online database field worldwide and in the US. Kluwer had started the legal service as a new distribution channel for the legal information it owned. VNU set up a media laboratory in order to find its way in the business sector, but it failed as it did not own content and lacked a real policy. The two state companies just started the Teletekst and Viditel services on public money. However it was clear that the race for digital information distribution had started in The Netherlands. All three companies aimed at 30 percent of the turn-over coming from digital services and products in the year 2000.

Digitisation as part of the internationalisation
The race for digital information was not just limited to Dutch territory. All three publishing companies also got explicit on internationalisation policies. Elsevier had expanded already internationally with its scientific division. Kluwer started to look around in the scientific and professional sectors. VNU started its journey from Haarlem to Harlem at the business sector by buying the US service Disclosure and starting VNU Business Publications in London (UK).

Looking back after 35 years, we can conclude that Elsevier and Kluwer are great in the digital information industry and have established an international footprint. Elsevier is big with information services like LexisNexis, Science Direct and Scopus. Kluwer has specialised in law and health care and offers digital services. VNU is no longer since 2007, when its name was changed in Nielsen Corp.

Thursday, January 01, 2015

BPN 1700: Liberated from Facebook

Just before the end of 2014 I have deactivated my Facebook. I have not done this as I will be 70 years this week. I did not do so in order to get rid of the dog and cat photograhs and stories. If people love pets, fine with me, but do not force them upon me. But the way that Facebook is pushing  the boundaries of privacy and wants to usurp copyrights should be halted. Some FB account holders have made statements of their own arguing that copyright is theirs. That kind of statements do show displeasure, but still Facebook is being used. Besides Facebook will not be impressed. NO, YOU MUST VOTE WITH YOUR FEET AND STEP OUT OF FACEBOOK.

 Yes and then? You can look around for a similar service. I've looked at Ello, but  the site is too arty-farty.I also checked  Brewster but this site does not realise its promise.

Of course it is a pity to lose your contacts. I had about 300 contacts. And yes that's a shame to lose them. No longer you are informed about relatives and friends as well as business acquaintances. In my case I lose the necessary contacts in the World Summit Award (WSA) circuit. So I will now have to put more effort in it in order  to keep up with that circuit. Before Facebook, you had to keep an eye on the relevant sites for information, but now you must keep the social media. Well I still have contacts through the business LinkedIn, where you do not encounter  dogs and cats pictures and stories. And  I can see and communicate through Twitter, nice and short and pointed.


Talking of liberation. On the occasion of my 70th birthday I received this vase, the so-called liberation vase from 1945. The vase belongs to the series orange vases, made on the occasion of a Dutch royal event. This vase is dated 1945 and designed by AD Copier, master glassblower from the Leerdam Glass Factory to celebrate the liberation of The Netherlands. The vase is not blown with the mouth as opposed to the other orange vases, but machine-produced. The series has a variety of vases orange coloured glass as there was a  limited glass supply in 1945.



I wonder what I will happen without Facebook. Is it a liberation? Will I have free time? Now I can no longer place an announcement for a new blogposting through Facebook; only on LinkedIn and Twitter, and in some cases by special groups on LinkedIn, as Heritage 2.0. Does this affect the reading stats?

So my communication channels for 2015 are LinkedIn and special groups within LinkedIn, Twitter Yjabo) and Skype, but you can also follow me on my blogs:
- Http://  (in English);
And of course I also have an email address (the same for 20 years, this year).

What am I going to do with that free time? In early February I go to Abu Dhabi for the World Summit Award Mobile. A series of nifty apps, including the app Touch Van Gogh of the Van Gogh Museum, will receive their awards.

And on July 1 our company Electronic Media Reporting will celebrate its 25 years. It was founded in The Netherlands in 1990 as one of the first consultancies, specializing in content strategy. The anniversary will be commemorated with the launch of an interesting archive, whch is presently under construction.
Electronic Media Reporting wishes you a prosperous 2015! 

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

BPN 1699: Reed Elsevier acquired LexisNexis 20 years ago

Twenty years ago the Anglo-Dutch publishing company Reed Elsevier acquired the pioneer online information service LexisNedis. It was in fact twenty years, since Elsevier mounted its bio-medical files, EMbase,  on the US information service Dialog. These two milestones were great moments in the history of Elsevier, but also in the history of the online information industry.

In 1994, Reed Elsevier purchased one of America's oldest full-text information services LexisNexis. This pioneer had originated from an activity of the IT department of the paper company Mead Data Central. Since 1967 this department delivered full texts of legal rulings to the Ohio Bar Association. In 1970, the Lexis company was founded, that was to distribute legal information online. Later the news archive service Nexis was added. This service offered the full text of newspaper articles, for example, of the Boston Globe and the Philadelphia Inquirer. A great asset to the service in 1979 was the addition of the archive of the renowned New York Times. Thereafter it bought the news archive service Profile of the Financial Times. By 1994 Mead Corporation streamlined its paper and packaging business and sold LexisNexis for $ 1,5 billion to Reed Elsevier.

The acquisition of LexisNexis happened right at the turning point from online to the internet. Lexis was the main reason for Elsevier. Since 1970, the company had acquired the Congressional Information Services (CIS) as legal-political information service. In 1983, the CIS model was copied for the European market under the name of Europe Data. However, the company failed and in 1987 it was closed. But when LexisNexis in 1994 came on the market, it was an opportunity for Reed Elsevier as general publishing company with a consumer division, a business division and a scientific division buy the online information service. In addition to the newspaper archives as well as business and legal information, LexisNexis yielded many technical and marketing experience. This was used to establish online scientific information services such as ScienceDirect (1997) and citations index Scopus. Now LexisNexis has successfully converted to the internet world and has penetrated in companies, law firms, institutes, colleges and universities.

Excerpta Medica
Twenty years before the acquisition of LexisNexis by Reed Elsevier, in 1974, the first electronic publishing within Elsevier product was launched by scientific publisher Excerpta Medica (EM). This company was founded after the Second World War. The war had changed the scientific world. Before the war, the language used for scientific publications was German with publishers like Springer Verlag and Thieme Verlag. After the war this changed and English became the language of science. That meant new opportunities and new players in the scientific publishing world. EM was founded as an international publishing house in 1946 by Janos Freud and E. Landsberger, both German immigrants, in collaboration with Prof. M. Woerdman. The mission of the publishing house was to publish abstracts of biomedical articles. The medical discipline was divided into 15 sectors and from 1947, the first abstract magazine were distributed.

In 1957, Pierre Vinken arrived as an assistant abstractor/editor. Vinken studied medicine at Leiden University and was trained to be a neurosurgeon. Within Excerpta Media he eventually managed Section VIII, psychology and neurology. But besides work for this section, he also proved to be an excellent organizer and innovator. In 1964 he was appointed as chairman of the editorial committee and in 1966 as co-director of the publishing house. By that time the publishing company had a permanent staff of 54 medical specialists who took editorial responsibility for 35 abstract journals and reference works. The editorial staff produced the summaries of biomedical articles and allocated the index terms. In the mid-sixties the archive contained more than 1.3 million English-language abstracts and an even larger number of index terms.

(© 1980 NVB; Collectie Jak Boumans)

After his appointment as chairman of the editorial committee Vinken quickly developed plans for the publishing portfolio. He wanted enlarge the number of abstract magazines. In practice, this meant reusing a summary and index terms in several magazines. In order to avoid retyping the abstracts, to prevent typo’s and misspelled index terms and to save time and hiring extra hands, he thought about an automated production street.

During his tenure in the academic hospital in Leiden, he had come into contact with the Hospital Information System (HIS), under development by  prof. dr. A. R. Baker. Inspired by this computer project, Vinken ordered in 1997 a report with technical specifications, which the Excerpta Medica system had to meet. In his quest to realize such a system, Vinken met Frans van der Walle, an aeronautical engineer. He advised him the purchase of a computer, four linked NCR 315 machines. These machines and the data entry activities were integrated in a new software house, Infonet, a joint company of the publisher and Van der Walle. In 1968 a successful trial run was held and after the installation of the system in 1969, the production process was completely realised with the portfolio enlargement and all significant savings.

Barry Stern, head Sales EMbase (© 1980 NVB; Collectie Jak Boumans)

By 1974 Excerpta Medica - in 1972 acquired by Elsevier - began to distribute electronically its publications both to pharmaceutical companies for internal use of the research departments as well as to electronic online services such as Dialog Information Service and ESA/IRS. With the launch of the online version, EMbase, the company had become a pioneer of the online industry in the Netherlands and had become a money maker for Elsevier in time.
Illustration from a brochure of Excerpta Medica is printed in the book Tegen idealisme, een biografie van Pierre Vinken, written by Paul Flentrop; Dutch publisher Prometheus (2007)


Thursday, December 11, 2014

BPN 1698: Fading files

On December 5th, 2014 I told the story about the first daily newsletter to go online in Europe in 1984. The newsletter was marketed by VNU on Telecom Gold for some years and then an aggregator incorporated the newsletter in its portfolio, most likely on the host Dialog (these days a ProQuest resource). This is all I know about the life of the electronic newsletter. I mailed Clive Snell, who designed the marketing for the newsletter, to inquire about the life cycle of IDB Online, but he could not help (see mail below). Checking on internet you cannot find any edition nor even a reference to a source on internet anymore. There is a good chance that all the editions have not been preserved or just faded out.

Hi Jak,
Good to hear from you. I think you know more about all this than I do.

I have been away from that world for some 20 years
so can't help with any of your queries at all.
Best wishes

Looking further in my archive, I hit upon another electronic newsletter I contributed to in the beginning of the eighties. The Online Chronicle was a fortnightly online newsletter, produced by Online Inc, publisher of the print magazines Online and Database, later acquired by Information Today. The newsletter was started by the editor of Online, Jean-Paul Emard and ran from 1981 till 1988. I contributed European news to it, some 300 articles.  These were loaded on one of the oldest online information services, Dialog as file 170. Dialog originated within the aerospace industry Lockheed, was acquired by the owner of Reuters, the Canadian publisher Thomson and later sold to ProQuest.  No files can be retrieved nor a mentioned source  on internet. The only content I have left of the articles is a list of bibliographic data such as date stamps and 308 headlines. Perhaps I might have some of the information on a floppy disc, but who can still read a floppy disc.

Why should have these files been preserved? This is usually one of the first questions. In my view these online publications pictured a developing information industry, in particular of Europe, before internet came onto the scene. IDB Online was a monitor for the computer industry in Europe and could give insight how companies came about and computing was promoted throughout Europe. And the Online Chronicle presented articles about the young European online information industry before the word internet came into fashion.

Sample list of 30 European News headlines of articles for the Online Chronicle (Dialog File 170)  from 1982 till 1988 by Jak Boumans on a Superbrain PC (see photograph above)

Jr   Titel

1988 Agricultiural Abstracts On CD-ROM
1988 Elsevier Buys TWO U.S. companies
1988 German CD-ROM With Economic Formule
1988 Dutch Magazine Titels On CD-ROM
1988 Book Review – Electronic Publishing, Looking for a Blueprint

1987 Kluwer Announces Merger With Wolters Samsom Group
1987 Hoppenstedt Shows CDROM With Dataware Software
1987 Elsevier Makes Public Bid For Legal Publisher Kluwer
1987 Jim Ducker Leaves One Pergamon Company For Another

1986 10th  International Online Informaton Meeting Held In London
1986 Search Aid & Publications (European) – Business Guide Minitel
1986 Pergamon-Infoline After The Take-Over Of Orbit 
1986 Changes at MEAD Data Central International
1986 Three Scenarios For European Information Industry

1985 Finsbury Data Adds New Database
1985 Belindis Keeps Going
1985 Datasolve To Launch New Database
1985 Belgian Host Euris Stops
1985 Television Channel Used For Business Data Transport
1985 G-Cam Launches French Language Daily Newspaper
1985 Eurolex Sold To Butterworth by Mead Data Central
1985 Finsbury Moves Into The Black Afther 5 Years
1985 Excerpta Medica Ups Prices
1985 CNOL Goes With Data-Star

1984 Prestel Security Breach
1984 French Online Market 1983: FFR 100M

1982 Elsevier-NDU To Start Europe Data
1982 Belgian Host Belindis To Enlarge Capacity
1982 IEPRC To Institute Fellowship