Business models

Bezos Started Amazon Based on Math Error

Before Amazon, there was the Online BookStore (OBS), now Open Book Systems (OBS). We maintained a list of all the publishers who had online presences; it took up about half a computer screen in 1994. Before starting the Online BookStore, our company packaged books for publishers, one of which was John Quarterman’s The Matrix (Digital Press,

What’s Old is New: Excerpts from Meme Machinery 101

Meme Machinery 101: The Evolution of a University Press Marketplace” by Laura Fillmore President, Open Book Systems (OBS) Presented to AAUP Annual Meeting at Snowbird May 24, 1996 Excerpted from http://archives.obs-us.com/obs/english/papers/mememach.htm Copyright © 1996 by Laura Fillmore; written permission required to reprint. Coming back to the Wasatch mountains at Snowbird is a welcome pilgrimage for

Agile Hands in the Machine

As we trek along in the Human Machine Interface (HMI) – driving, texting, reading, recording – we inform our electronic environment, enabling it to grow smarter as it records our thought paths and virtual lives. We allow this thinking machine to sort, separate, sequence, map, aggregate, and otherwise contextualize our digital footprints with billions of others’

“Online Publishing: Threat or Menace?” Redux

OBS founder and president Laura Fillmore recently revisited and updated this article she wrote over 20 years ago for The Journal of Electronic Publishing, and she would like to thank Editor Maria Bonn at the University of Illinois for the invitation to do so. The internet has introduced so many radical changes in our publishing

Future Library Project

Talk about the publishing cycle, long-form! Last fall, Margaret Atwood delivered her new novel “Scribbler Moon” to the Future Library Project (http://www.futurelibrary.no/), to be read in 100 years after it is printed on some of the thousand tiny new trees that the project has just planted in the forest outside of Oslo, Norway, home of

All Eyes on London in April

Looking forward to the London Book Fair in two weeks, and especially the Research and Scholarly Forum. In our 30+ years of e-publishing experience, it seems like the real innovations come out of the STM space. That may be because scientists seek to discover or uncover the truth as they publish. Scientists tend to stretch

The Art of Programming: The Coder as Rock Star

A recent article in The New Yorker, “The Programmer’s Price,” described a new business model in the tech world: programmers are working with agents to find business opportunities and negotiate contracts.  This demonstrates a shift in how the tech world and other industries view programmers – no longer are they hired to sit in a

Followup: Used Digital Marketplace 1, Publishers 0

Tom Kabinet, the controversial online marketplace for used ebooks, has won the first (albeit small) battle in what promises to be a long war regarding the resale of digital files. Tom Kabinet received its first legal notice from the Dutch Trade Publishers Association just 8 days after the site went live; now, only one month

The New Marketplace: Used Digital Files

A debate is raging in the publishing industry about whether the selling of secondhand ebooks is legal. One startup isn’t waiting for the dust to settle. Tom Kabinet.nl is an online marketplace for used ebooks that essentially acts as a liaison between buyers and sellers: it processes credit cards (for a fee), and oversees the