Technology * Innovation * Publishing Newsletter #227

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Important Items

A far-right judge appointed by Donald Trump may soon ban the abortion pill in all 50 states.

In November, an anti-abortion group filed a lawsuit seeking to invalidate the FDA’s approval of mifepristone, arguing that the decision was arbitrary and capricious. The suit also alleges that a nearly 150-year-old law known as the Comstock Act bans the shipping of medication abortion, thereby barring online pharmacies from mailing the pills to patients. The plaintiffs strategically filed their case before Judge Matthew Kacsmaryk, a former anti-abortion activist whom Donald Trump elevated to a federal district court in Texas. If he issues a nationwide injunction against mifepristone in the coming months, which is entirely likely, the first drug in a medication abortion, mifepristone, could disappear nationwide.

It’s Making Us More Ignorant

Governor Ron DeSantis’s anti-critical-race-theory legislation is already changing how professors in Florida teach. When you implement a law like this, you’re asking professors to leave out things that clearly happen or have happened in the past …It’s making us more ignorant in this generation and generations to come.

Stop Blaming Women For Leaving Tech: Look At Your Work Culture

RT @GirlsWhoCode How do we stop women from leaving the tech industry? It starts with inclusivity. Founder of @5xminority Elaine Montilla explains how tech leaders can create a more supportive space for women.

Hollywood’s Progress on Hiring of Female Directors and POC Has Stalled Out

RT @GPBmadeit “Women of color only accounted for 2.7% of directors in the top 100 last year. Of the 1,600 films surveyed going back to 2007, only 21 movies, or 1.3% were directed by women of color.” 1.3%


How virtual reality is helping young people with their mental health

Researchers at Orygen are testing a number of virtual reality interventions for young people with complex mental health challenges. Virtual reality exposure therapy has allowed people to first face things they find traumatic — such as social situations, flying or going to the top of a high-rise building — in the simulated world with the guidance of a psychologist. #VR

2023 is set to be the year of Apple’s mixed-reality headset

Apple is aiming to unveil their mixed-reality headset this spring ahead of the annual Worldwide Developers Conference in June. Apple has already shared the device with a small number of high-profile software developers for testing, letting them get started on third-party apps. The device’s operating system, dubbed “Borealis” inside the company, will be publicly named xrOS. With the current plan, Apple could introduce the device to consumers — likely under the name Reality Pro — and then get developers up to speed on its software features in June. On this timeline, the company would then ship the product later in the fall of 2023.

How Generative AI Will Change Business. All You Have To Do Is Ask.

This reporter asked AI why it’s important and got the answers. #AI

Picture Limitless Creativity at Your Fingertips

Generative AI’s secret is that best applications are not by typing in a single prompt but of very long conversations btwn humans & machines. Progress comes from many iterations, back-&-forths, detours, & hours/days of teamwork, on back of advanced machine learning.

Apparently I am a robot

This author fed some excerpts from her book into a GPT-2 output detector, which is supposed to detect AI-generated text. Unfortunately, it thought it was written by AI, so these tools are not very useful.


74 Things That Blew Our Minds in 2022

RT @TheAtlantic There is a planet with clouds made of sand. Sour milk is often perfectly safe to consume. And 72 other facts that blew @TheAtlantic’s science, technology, and health reporters’ minds this year

Girls: Code Your Avatar

Did you know that women make up only 24% of video game developers? Head to and code your avatar today. #GirlsWhoCodeGirls

Apple patents next-gen Pencil with an Optical Sensor that can pick colors and textures from real life

Apple recently filed a patent at the US Patent & Trademark Office for a next-gen Apple Pencil with built-in optical sensors that don’t just capture colors, they capture textures too. A complicated array of tech built into the Apple Pencil’s nib would help turn it into more than just a stylus. Instead of being merely a note-keeping and art-creating device, the Pencil would also now help gather inspiration, letting you build your own bank of hues and textures to use in your projects as reference material.

Netflix’s Peloton Pivot

Netflix’s new Nike fitness videos, along with a plan to develop social gaming, could be the start of a transition to a lifestyle hub. Fitness and connected engagement can help keep Netflix the first screen of the connected home, and do so without adding lofty production costs. #Netflix

Companies can ‘hire’ a virtual person for about $14k a year in China

HT @BoSacks Tech company Baidu said the number of virtual people projects its worked on for clients has doubled since 2021, with a wide price range of as little as $2,800 to a whopping $14,300 per year. Beijing city announced in August a plan to build up the municipal virtual people industry into one valued at more than 50 billion yuan in 2025. Many of China’s large tech companies have already been developing products in the virtual people industry. Looking ahead to 2023, 45% of advertisers said they might sponsor a virtual influencer’s performance or invite a virtual person to join a brand’s event.

New York City Schools Ban ChatGPT Amid Cheating Worries

The nation’s largest school system is blocking access to the powerful AI-powered chatbot on its networks.

€390M fine strikes blow to Meta’s ad-fueled business model

MT @NicholasVinocur “Meta has 3 months to legalize its data-targeting model after European Union regulators found that the current legal basis for advertising that Facebook and Meta use is invalid. The orders heap yet more pressure on Meta’s revenue streams.”

Death of the narrator? Apple unveils suite of AI-voiced audiobooks

There have been many articles in the past about using AI for voicing audiobooks. What makes this significant is that it’s Apple. “In recent months, Apple approached independent publishers as potential partners, but not all agreed to participate. Authors were told that Apple — which at the time was not named as the company behind the technology — would shoulder the costs of production and writers would receive royalties from sales. Publishers involved in the project were required to sign non-disclosure agreements. Apple’s development of AI to narrate books could represent a significant shift in how major technology companies see the future of audiobooks.” #AI#audiobooks

Publishing & Media

The Great Podcasting Market Correction

HT @Mediagazer Sirius XM and Amazon are slowing podcast deals, Spotify is freezing US budget for new podcasts; all three seek to keep 50% of ad revenue vs. 20% before

Feds arrest Russians accused of running the largest pirated e-book library

Z-Library has linked readers to millions of free e-books since 2009, but it wasn’t until Z-Library began recently trending on TikTok that authors protesting the piracy decided enough was enough. Last month, The Authors Guild complained to the Office of the United States Trade Representative, detailing the growing popularity of the TikTok hashtag #zlibrary — viewed by 19 million TikTokers — and providing author impact statements. Romance writer Sarina Bowen told officials, “Z-Library is killing us.” “A book we release in the morning is up on Z-Library by lunchtime,” Bowen said.

BookTok trope-ification debate: How hashtagging titles is affecting authors and readers.

On TikTok, videos using #EnemiesToLovers as a tag have a total of 4.2 billion views, while #EnemiesToLoversBooks has 78.2 million. Books like It Ends With Us by Colleen Hoover (#FriendsToLovers), The Love Hypothesis by Ali Hazelwood (#FakeDating, #GrumpySunshine), and People We Meet on Vacation by Emily Henry (#FriendsToLovers) became print bestsellers in 2022 after being promoted across the app using these trope tags. There’s almost no avoiding it — trope-ification plays a key part in BookTok’s influence on the publishing industry, especially for the fantasy, YA, and romance genres. #BookTok

At Court for the Spine Collector’s Final Chapter

On Friday morning in Manhattan federal court, Filippo Bernardini pleaded guilty to wire fraud, bringing a resolution to a bizarre saga that roiled the publishing industry for the past six years. Bernardini, a 30-year-old Italian man who worked a series of publishing jobs, most recently with Simon & Schuster U.K. in London, had engaged in an elaborate email-impersonation scheme aimed at duping others in the industry into sharing unpublished book manuscripts. The government said that he made off with “more than a thousand manuscripts.”

Indie Romance Author Susan Meachen Accused of Faking Her Suicide

The world of indie romance has been upended by allegations that an author faked her own suicide and now wants to return like nothing happened.

When the Writing Demands Talent and Discretion, Call the Ghostwriter

Ghostwriters write books in someone else’s voice — without leaving fingerprints. Doing it well requires great technical skill and a flexible ego.

Media businesses are slowly getting less white, male-dominated, stats from Condé, WSJ, NYT, others show

Why Disability Representation In Children’s Books Is Key To An Equitable Future

HT @LauraB7 Books are a wonderful way to help kids understand that people with disabilities are often just like them — with the same dreams, ambitions, passions and sense of humor. At the same time, there also exists an unmissable opportunity for children living with disabilities to view themselves reflected out there in the world.

How publishers are learning to create and distribute news on TikTok

Around half (49%) of top news publishers are now regularly publishing content on TikTok. News organizations are attracted by the fast-growing audience and younger demographic, but they are also motivated by the desire to provide reliable news, amid fears about widespread misinformation on the platform.

Book Bans in US Prisons Undermine Rehabilitation

When it comes to banning books in prison, the U.S. is one of the worst offenders in the West. But studies show great benefit to reading (and writing) programs for the incarcerated.

More Censorship. Florida №1 in Prison Book-Bans

Florida has banned prison inmates from reading more than 20,000 books and magazines, including coloring books, language-learning texts and issues of ‘The Economist.’

Duval Schools to keep 73 ‘diverse, inclusive’ books out of classrooms

HT @FLFreedomRead Dozens of books the Duval County school district ordered in the summer of 2021 will never hit classroom shelves. Among the rejected titles are a book about Martin Luther King Jr. intended for fourth graders; a biography of Rosa Parks for second grade classrooms; a first grade Berenstain Bears book about God; and multiple titles including LGBTQ+ characters and families.

Duval Schools cancels high school play over sexual content

RT @PENamerica A high school production of “Indecent,” a play about #censorship has been canceled due to what @DuvalSchools describes as “inappropriate” content.

2022’s Most Popular Ebooks and Audiobooks from Public Libraries

#libraries #BestBooks

Resources & Opportunities

Media Changemakers: Real Actions You Can Take To Make A Difference

Are you mad as hell at the Supreme Court ripping away women’s rights, worried about what they will do next, and feeling powerless? Well, we are, and we want to learn from women who have done something. @WMG_NYC is pleased to invite you to a Master Class with some powerful and purposeful media changemakers who will share their stories, vision, and how they made it happen. Hear from Vaishnavi Patel, Author who created Authors for Abortion Access; Arielle Nissenblatt, Podcast Professional who started PodVoices; Sara Berliner, Co-Founder of Kinspire and the force behind the Vote Like a Mother movement; and moderator Bridget Todd, journalist, Host of There Are No Girls on the Internet and Director of Communications at UltraViolet.

Barnes & Noble to Host Inaugural BookTok Festival

The event will begin at 10 a.m. with a “BookTok Con,” featuring booths run by such publishers as Disney, Hachette, HarperCollins, Macmillan, Penguin Random House, Simon & Schuster, Scholastic, Sourcebooks and Union Square & Co., all of whom will be giving out advanced reading copies and other free merchandise. Panel discussions and book signings will start at 2 p.m.

Know Your Rights: Publishing Employees and Disability

RT @DisabilityinPub Don’t miss our first event of 2023! We will be hosting a discussion with employment lawyer and author @meredithmwrites on disabled workers’ rights in the publishing industry. Click here for more info and to register:

Emerging Voices Fellowship

RT @jjackso92 The 2023 @PENamerica Emerging Voices Fellowship application period is open through January 31. Tell a friend to tell a friend.

Kundiman Retreat

HT @wordisdiversity You still have time to apply for @kundimanforever’s June retreat! Apply by January 15th. During each Retreat, six nationally renowned Asian American poets and fiction writers conduct craft classes and mentorship meetings. Kundiman hopes to provide a safe and instructive environment that identifies and addresses the unique challenges faced by emerging Asian American writers.

Entrepreneurial Journalism Creators Program

HT @KarnikaKohli The Entrepreneurial Journalism Creators Program (EJCP), a 100-day online certificate training program offered by the Craig Newmark Graduate School of Journalism at CUNY, is accepting applications from journalists around the world to join the upcoming sixth cohort. The application deadline is February 3, 2023. The program begins on March 21 and ends June 29, 2023.

Inclusive Publishing in Practice

RT @LauraB7 Do you know about the Inclusive Publishing in Practice (IPIP) set of resources? It has 4 learning paths, 11 courses, 30 modules and 75 learning units. The free learning materials are available in English, German and French and Dutch. #eprdctn #a11y

Survey of Anti-Censorship Groups Actively Fighting Book Bans

If you’re part of an anti-censorship group or know of one in your area, let’s hear about it. This list of anti-censorship groups, their locations, and their web presence (social media or websites) will be shared in the coming weeks to help connect people who are eager to join in the fight.



Sr Mgr, Content Applications, Penguin Random House * Innovation * Technology * Publishing * Opinions expressed are my own

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Kathy Sandler

Sr Mgr, Content Applications, Penguin Random House * Innovation * Technology * Publishing * Opinions expressed are my own