Old Gods of Appalachia

A while back my friend Jay turned me on to Old Gods of Appalachia, an eldritch horror anthology podcast set in the Appalachian mountains. Steve Shell and Cam Collins (both Virginia natives) weave the idea of ancient evils imprisoned in the mountains with the very real hardships, temptations and injustice experienced by the poor settlers, […]

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Amazon asking for 70% of newspaper subscription revenue?

From an interview with Jim Moroney, publisher of The Dallas Morning News, with Brooke Gladstone at On the Media:

BROOKE GLADSTONE: Now, you testified about your negotiations with Amazon regarding the Kindle electronic reader. Could you tell us about that?

JIM MORONEY: Somebody was bringing up the Kindle as the solution we should all be focused on. And I love the Kindle. I read books on it all the time. My problem is that after negotiating and negotiating and negotiating, the very best deal we could get from Amazon was to split revenues for whatever price we decided to charge. We could get 30 percent of that money. They get 70 percent.


JIM MORONEY: I could have probably lived with that, but there was another clause in there that they would not give me relief on, and that said that they have the right to relicense my content to any portable device, not just an Amazon-owned device, any portable device. In essence, I was giving them a complete licensing agreement for nothing for all of my content, period.

I’m sort of – that’s – give away my future, you know.

If Amazon came back – I thought maybe they’d call today – and said, do you know what, we’ll give up on that little clause about the relicensing of your IP, I would have said, okay, you know what – I’ll try this thing at 70/30 and see if it works. But nobody called today, as far as I can tell.

Compare that to Apple, who keeps about 35% to 40% of the price of the 99-cent purchase price for a song sold on iTunes. Of course, Apple’s main business model is selling iPods while Amazon’s main business model is selling content, but even so I’m surprised Amazon is demanding such a high percentage for what still amounts to an untested market. Maybe they figure (probably correctly) that newspapers are desperate enough to go for it?

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New York Times holding out for a “simple” civil war?

In an interview with NPR’s On The Media, New York Times Deputy Foreign Editor Ethan Bronner had this to say about what it would take for the Times to decide that Iraq has finally turned into a civil war (question is 3:10 into the interview):

I don’t think I could answer that you know, sort of, we need to see X, Y and Z. I think that broadly speaking if it seemed that the sides of conflict in Iraq had separated themselves into full-blown millitias / armies and war was the full-time occupation in Iraq, that would be a civil war and I imagine that’s when we would start calling it that.

At a certain point it will, if in fact it grows to the point where the sides have divided into clearly defined groups fighting one another, I mean the government for example is a mix of Sunni, Shia and Kurd. Is it a player in this “civil war” that other people see? It’s not clear to me.

I wonder how the Times reconciles this whole Blue vs. Grey definition of civil war with the fact that wars are increasingly being fought by networks of loosely-affiliated like-minded allies rather than clearly defined armies. If they can accept that the US is at war with a “transnational movement of extremist organizations, networks, and individuals” (to quote a recent Defense Department publication) why insist on clearly-defined armies in the case of a civil war? If anything, civil wars have historically been messier and more complicated than other wars, not simpler.

If the Times is waiting for the situation in Iraq to congeal into a simple pie chart before they decide it’s in a state of civil war, I expect they’ll be waiting quite a while.

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Bob Garfield on Stephen Colbert

Speaking of On The Media, Bob Garfield has an interesting take on Stephen Colbert’s somewhat chilly (or at least uneven) audience reaction at the White House Correspondent’s Association Dinner:

The question shouldn’t be “Why was Stephen Colbert so rude?” The question should be, “Why is the press gathering to toast a sitting politician in the first place, socializing with the government officials they’re supposed to be covering?” How cna you sit there in your formal wear over boeuf and cabernet and maintain an arms-length distance from the person less than an arms-length away from you? The problem with the White House Correspondent’s Dinner on Saturday was not the Master of Ceremonies it was the ceremony itself. Democracy requires a vigilant press. It doesn’t much need the Friar’s Club.

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