Technology * Innovation * Publishing Newsletter #279

Kathy Sandler
12 min readJan 20, 2024

Reminder: I optimized this newsletter for subscription. If you’re reading this on my blog or Medium (via website or email), please subscribe at for the best user experience (and to get it in a timely fashion).

While I focus on Technology, Innovation, and Publishing, because I have a platform, I also flag items that I think are important, which you might have missed, and try to include a bunch of resources & opportunities. I’d love to hear what you think of this newsletter.

Important Items

Indiana has filed a bill to end ALL recognition of transgender people and end gay marriage

MT @ErinInTheMorn It is one of several states to do so, perfectly mirroring Russia’s 2020 law and Hungary’s 2023. I will also note, it updates the definition for gay marriage as well, in preparation for overturning Obergefell.

Asking people to “do the research” on fake news stories makes them seem more believable, not less

A new study asked thousands to evaluate the accuracy of news articles — both real and fake — by doing some research online. But for many, heading to Google led them farther from the truth, not closer.

The Supreme Court Will Decide if States Can Force Hospitals to Let Women Die

HT @amydiehl

Democracy’s Super Bowl: 40 elections that will shape global politics in 2024

For goodness sake, get everyone you know to vote! ICYMI A record-breaking 40-plus countries, representing more than 40% of the world’s population and an outsized chunk of global GDP, are due to hold national elections in 2024. The outcomes will help determine who controls and directs the 21st-century world. Casting lots in this multinational, multiparty democratic Super Bowl are some of the most powerful and wealthiest states (the US, India, the UK), some of the weakest (South Sudan), the most despotic (Russia, Iran) and the most stressed (Taiwan, Ukraine). Some elections will be open, free and fair, many less so. Some will not be free at all. Paradoxically, this unprecedented vote-fest comes at a moment when classic forms of liberal democracy are under existential attack from authoritarians and dictators such as China’s Xi Jinping and Russia’s Vladimir Putin, far-right nationalist-populist parties such as Fidesz in Hungary, and military coup plotters and Islamist militants from Venezuela to Chad.

America Is Having a Senior Moment on Vaccines

Get your vaccine today!


Strategic Myopia


1. Are our customers adding new types of firms or going to other firms for new capabilities?

2. What are our key competitive advantages that we believe we have and are they truly advantages today or are they anchors that hold us back?

3. If we were to start our company today with all our assets and no constraints except law and science, given everything we know what would our company look like?

From the brill @rishad.

Swarovski has developed a pair of AI powered binoculars that can identify 9000 different kinds of birds and wildlife

They can also capture photos and videos.


‘Impossible’ to create AI tools like ChatGPT without copyrighted material, OpenAI says

Pressure grows on artificial intelligence firms over the content used to train their products.

OpenAI in License Talks with CNN, Fox, Time

OpenAI is in talks with CNN, Fox Corp and Time to license their work, in a growing effort to secure access to news content.

Microsoft, OpenAI hit with new lawsuit by authors over AI training

OpenAI and its financial backer Microsoft have been sued by two nonfiction authors who say the companies misused their work.

Scammy AI-Generated Books Are Flooding Amazon

Authors keep finding what appear to be AI-generated imitations and summaries of their books on Amazon. There’s little they can do to rein in the rip-offs.

What Happens When Amazon and Meta Ads Generate Themselves?

So how big is this toaster, and is it on the floor?!

Fox Corp. launches blockchain platform to negotiate with AI firms

MT @sarafischer Fox Corp., the parent to Fox News, FOX Sports etc, has built a blockchain platform to track how AI firms use its content

— It plans to use that data to negotiate with Big Tech

— It’s in talks with other media companies to use it too

Leaked: the names of more than 16,000 non-consenting artists allegedly used to train Midjourney’s AI

Artists are making creative companies apologize for using AI

Wacom and Wizards of the Coast have been scrutinized this weekend for reportedly using AI-generated images in their recent ad campaigns.

Nikon, Sony and Canon fight AI fakes with new camera tech

Sony, Nikon and Canon are collaborating on a watermarking standard to show that an image is not made by AI

Walmart is betting that AI can help you shop faster — and maybe do your shopping for you

The future of grocery shopping is no grocery shopping at all. It’s your fridge just being full, always, automatically.

OpenAI’s custom GPT Store is now open for business

The platform lets people who’ve created their own chatbots publicly share their versions of ChatGPT. Since announcing the GPT Builder program in November, OpenAI said more than 3 million bots have been created by users. The store brings more potential use cases to ChatGPT and expands OpenAI’s ecosystem beyond what the company builds for customers.

The Rabbit R1 is an AI-powered gadget that can use your apps for you

Powered by a ‘Large Action Model,’ the $199 R1 isn’t just a chatbot — it’s a device for doing almost anything. Potentially. (But it doesn’t want to replace your phone, yet. And it sold out of two batches of 10,000 devices over two days.)

US regulator denies Apple, Disney bids to skip votes on AI

Apple and Disney cannot avoid shareholder votes about their use of artificial intelligence, the top US securities regulator has ruled.

How AI Replaced the Metaverse as Zuckerberg’s Top Priority

Meta’s founder has become deeply engaged in his company’s AI efforts ahead of its 20th anniversary.

A clever publicity stunt: Tropicana is one company that’s ditching AI

Tropicana introduces “Tropcn,” a new limited-edition packaging — now with the letters “AI” removed from their name — to celebrate the orange juice brand’s natural ingredients.

Disney to Debut New Shoppable Ads on Hulu

Disney’s new shoppable ad format will be served in mid-roll ad breaks, framed by additional information for the products in the video.

Meta to restrict teen Instagram and Facebook accounts from seeing content about self-harm and eating disorders

X Bans and Then Unbans Journalists and Podcasters in Twitter’s Latest Free Speech Massacre

Amazon’s Five-Year Corporate Hiring Binge, Revealed

Amazon’s corporate headcount more than tripled over five years to hit around 415,000 by the end of 2022. The numbers far outpace growth at other big tech companies such as Microsoft and Alphabet.

Publishing & Media

Following a Successful 2023, B&N Aims to Open 50 Stores in 2024 To Become Reactor, Debut New Site, On January 23rd

A TikTok Influencer, A Cruise, and Some Books

Interesting analysis by @KathMSchmidt of Atria’s use of a non-BookTok TikTok Influencer going on a cruise

Librarian faced spate of insults. Thousands of people came to his defense.

@mychal3ts is the library champ! Librarian Mychal Threets said sometimes the best way to respond to people who level insults is with empathy

How many books did you read in 2023? Are you in the top 1 percent?

HT⁦ @publishingtrend ⁩Having read five books puts you in the top 33% of U.S. adults while those who read ‘more than 50 books are the true one-percenters.’ A whopping 46 percent finished zero books last year.

The secret to reading the most complex literary classics

HT⁦ @publishingtrend

The Most Popular Books on Goodreads in the Last Decade

HT⁦ @publishingtrend

Since when did reading books become a game? Well, millions are playing

HT⁦ @publishingtrend Reading Challenges: Good or Bad?

Survey: More Editors Flee Traditional Media

Some 92% of editorial professionals believe the traditional media industry is shrinking. And 82% are looking for a new job. Via ⁦@TheTalentFairy

Calling all Marketing, Media, and Ad Tech leaders!

The Marketing, Media and Ad Tech Inclusion Index in partnership with the @SheRunsItOrg #Inclusive100 consortium — is designed for advertising agencies, public relations firms, media companies, ad tech companies, and marketers. Its intention is to learn from this industry best practices on inclusion, representation, and culture. Results will be segmented by sector to provide companies best practice information and insight into performance by sector (e.g. all media agencies, all ad tech companies, etc.).

CNBC to begin selling paid courses

CNBC will debut its first paid course as part of a new educational venture developed by the editorial team behind CNBC’s “Make It” franchise. The new course, called “How to Ace Your Job Interview,” will provide interview tips and tricks, insights into how hiring managers think, and guidance about how to handle tricky interview questions. The course will cost $99 for 100 minutes of video content plus a companion workbook. CNBC is offering a launch discount of $50 for the entire course.

Love a TV Show? Now You Can Live It.

ICYMI Bridgerton, Squid Game, Only Murders in the Building, and Stranger Things are just some of the shows that have extended their story worlds into live experiences. These immersive attractions mix theater, commerce, viral marketing, and fan service

The Dictionary, Guinness World Records Among Books Banned in Escambia County, Florida

RT @veronikellymars Student dictionaries, the Guinness Book of World Records, Bible stories, and dozens of classics among 1600 books “temporarily” banned in Escambia County

Yes, Florida Tried to Ban the Dictionary!

If an article began stating that the dictionary had been banned in Florida for containing offensive language, you would be right to assume it was a satire piece. Instead, it is the absurd, unfortunate reality we find ourselves in. In fact, the utter idiocy does not stop with just one dictionary: Escambia County Schools banned five dictionaries from shelves for being in violation of the state’s HB1069 law that has tightened restrictions around what is allowed in classrooms and libraries. Let’s not kid ourselves. This would have been funny as a joke several years ago, but the fact that censorship has reached the point that dictionaries are considered dangerous to students is beyond the pale.

These Books are Banned

MT @FLFreedomRead The math is pretty easy. If your staff is able to squeeze roughly 100 reviews into their workday over a 6 month period, and you have 1600 titles to review, that’s an 8 year timeline to complete the review.

North Carolina’s Firestorm Books Offers Free Books Banned in Florida

Firestorm Books, a collectively-owned radical bookstore in Asheville, N.C., has acquired 22,500 copies of 46 children’s books that were banned from the Duval County Public School system in Florida. Under a campaign named “Banned Books Back!,” the bookstore plans to distribute these books to children and families across the United States, starting with Florida.

A ‘major win’ for PEN America, publishers, and parents in FL book ban lawsuit

A lawsuit challenging the Escambia County School District’s removal of books from school libraries will move forward toward a jury trial, in a closely watched case that could have implications for parents and students across the state. U.S. District Judge T. Kent Wetherell II ruled the lawsuit had standing to continue, rejecting a motion to dismiss the suit and an argument from Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody that the district’s actions amounted to “government speech” that should not be subject to First Amendment scrutiny.

Several public libraries in Minnesota have received bomb threats

Resources & Opportunities

Las Comadres & Friends National Latino Book Club

MT @wordisdiversity Las Comadres & Friends National Latino Book Club hosts its monthly teleconference on January 29! Join authors Joy Castro and Nylda Dieppa as they discuss their recent books.

Writing Classes for Black Women Writers

MT @wordisdiversity Literary magazine and small publisher midnight + indigo offers online writing programs for Black women writers of short stories, essays, and more! Peruse their class options:

Bay Area Women and Non-Binary Folks: Apply for BAWiP’s Robin Seaman Award

Deadline extended to 1/22. “So many women have game-changing visions for the world and the role of books and publishing in getting us there. This award is designed to empower them.” — Charlotte Abbott, BAWiP cofounder

Want to read my old newsletters or subscribe? Go to my blog here.



Kathy Sandler

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