Technology * Innovation * Publishing Newsletter #286

Kathy Sandler
9 min readMar 6, 2024


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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

Abortion bans are fueling domestic violence in Texas

The leading cause of death for pregnant women is homicide, most often by an abusive partner with a gun. And Texas is forcing victims to stay pregnant, while making it easier for abusers to get guns.

World’s Largest Psych Association Passes Policy Supporting Trans Youth Care By Massive Margin

MT @ErinInTheMorn The American Psychological Association has released a groundbreaking policy resolution supporting trans youth care. The policy passed 153–9 by elected psych leaders representing 157,000 members. It rebuts many anti-trans talking points. They make it clear. It is a “necessity” for transgender youth to have access to care. The policy document declares that gender-affirming care is medically necessary and rejection risks negative mental health and suicide.

A new bill in Missouri would put teachers on the sex offense registry if they “contribute to social transition” of a trans youth

MT @ErinInTheMorn This includes pronouns, haircuts, information, and more. It would make a teacher “contributing to social transition” a class E felony.

“Retaliation”: Texas AG Paxton Demands PFLAG Provide Names, Addresses Of Trans Members

MT @ErinInTheMorn The demands include: Complete names, Social Security Numbers, Dates of Birth, Street and mailing addresses, Home, cell, and business phone numbers, and Email addresses. The demands center on a statement from CEO Brian Bond, which includes that PFLAG has “1,500 Texas members.”

$1 Billion Donation Will Provide Free Tuition at a Bronx Medical School

Some good news! MT @yashar Bronx medical school, the Albert Einstein College of Medicine, is now tuition-free thanks to a $1 billion gift from Dr. Ruth Gottesman, a former professor. Gottesman, whose late husband was an early investor with Warren Buffett, has made it a condition of the gift that the college NOT change its name — an unusual requirement in a world where much smaller gifts often come with the requirement that the colleges be named after the donor. Most students at the Einstein College of Medicine graduate with $200,000 in debt; they will now be free of that burden.


Google Is Paying Publishers to Test an Unreleased Gen AI Platform

In exchange for a five-figure sum, publishers must use the tool to publish 3 stories per day for 12 months

Authors Guild Releases AI Best Practices for Authors

The Authors Guild has released a comprehensive set of recommended best practices to help authors navigate issues related to AI technologies and their implications for the writing profession

The Intercept, Raw Story, and AlterNet sue OpenAI and Microsoft

The publications claim OpenAI and Microsoft intentionally removed important copyright information from training data.

OpenAI claims the Times cheated to get ChatGPT to regurgitate articles

OpenAI asserts the Times fed articles directly to the chatbot to get it to spit out verbatim passages and asks a federal court to dismiss four of the NYT’s seven copyright infringement claims against it.

79% of the top news sites in the U.S. block AI crawlers

HT @benedictevans

Automattic, owner of Tumblr& WordPress, in talks w Midjourney + OpenAI to provide AI training data from Tumblr

They plan to have a new opt-out setting, but scraped initial data dump w all Tumblr’s public content from 2014–2023, including content that wouldn’t be publicly visible

Here Come the AI Worms

Security researchers created an AI worm in a test environment that can automatically spread between generative AI agents — potentially stealing data and sending spam emails along the way.

Tensions of Creativity in the Age of AI

Interesting thoughts from @scottbelsky: Until now, skills have been a major differentiator for humanity. However, in the age of AI, taste will become more important than skills as much of skill-based work and productivity is offloaded to compute.

Meta to Wind Down Its News Feature in the US and Australia

Meta will wind down its news feature in the US and Australia as the number of people using it in those countries “has dropped by over 80%.”

Mobile World Congress asked us to imagine a world where phones bend to our needs

We’ve been busy shaping our habits and thinking around our phones. But what would it look like if they shaped themselves to better fit our lives?

Vision Pro demand higher than expected; returns down to 1%

MT @briansolis According to a trusted expert, Apple’s Vision Pro demand is higher than Apple originally expected, with US shipments expected to hit 200–250k units this year; return rates are now below 1%.

Roblox Game Developers Earned a Record $741 Million Last Year

HT @benedictevans Video-game makers are earning more money than ever developing and distributing games on Roblox

TikTok’s influencer money engine

HT @benedictevans TikTok has made a game out of human connection — and it’s making millions as some Australian users feel sucked into a “wormhole” of addiction.

Amazon’s Big Secret

According to unredacted notes in the antitrust case, Amazon stuffs more ads into search results, including irrelevant ads, and concealed a price-hiking algorithm. Unknown, even 30 yrs after Amazon was founded, is where their profits come from.

Publishing & Media

Where is the diversity in publishing?The 2023 Diversity Baseline Survey Results

Yes. There has been some progress, but super slow.

Amazon Accused of Selling Fake Copies of NYT Bestselling Book

Amazon sold knockoff versions of self-help book, which included poor print quality, missing pages, and wrong dimensions

Lots of People Make Money on Fanfic. Just Not the Authors

HT @KathMSchmidt⁩ Next year, SenLinYu’s Harry Potter fic Manacled will disappear from Archive of Our Own. They don’t want to take it down, but it’s the only way to keep others from profiting off of the work.

The Rise of BookTok Is Helping Women Find New Friends

HT @KathMSchmidt⁩ Book lovers are turning their online acquaintances into in-person communities

Spotify launches a $9.99/mo standalone audiobooks service for its free users

HT @KathMSchmidt⁩ Spotify’s Audiobooks Access Tier, similar to the service they offer to subscribers, allows customers in the US to stream 15 hrs of listening from its catalog of > 200K titles.

How the Media Industry Keeps Losing the Future

HT @KathMSchmidt⁩ Roger Fidler tried his best, but the excellent business of journalism is gone for good. Can the idea of “news” survive in a digital world?

1 million books and 4 months later, Toronto’s library recovers from a cyberattack

Returned books have been piling up in storage after nearly 5,000 computers went dark.

How teens benefit from being able to read ‘disturbing’ books that some want to ban

Research shows that after letting eighth graders choose what to read in class, they became more empathetic, improved relationships, became more thoughtful, were happier, and became better readers. They also found that books helped them heal from depression and grief.

Colorado Town Has A Plan To Tackle Censorship: Banning Book Bans

RT @veronikellymars The town of Wellington, Colorado, just voted to ban book bans at their library

Bill to End Book Bans on Table in Minnesota

MT @veronikellymars Minnesota’s HF 3782 would not only aim to end book bans in public schools and libraries but would emphasize the knowledge, training, and expertise of librarians.

Utah’s Draconian Book Banning Bill Close to Passage; An Anti-Book Ban Bill Proposed In Response

MT @veronikellymars Get to know the two bills in Utah legislation related to book bans. One will create mass bans throughout the state. The other would protect books from banning.

Resources & Opportunities

Women’s Media Group 50th Anniversary Gala Honorees!

Celebrate Excellence! 🎉 Join us at @WMG_NYC’s 50th Anniversary Gala on March 25th, 6PM at the New-York Historical Society, honoring trailblazing women in media. Cheers to 50 years of empowering voices and driving change! Tickets are $125 for members, and $150 for non-members. It will sell out, so reserve your tix ASAP!

The Vulnerability of Hope: Creating a Memoir-in-Essays with Morgan Parker

MT @girlswritenow Join us for a free workshop & talk with Morgan Parker, author of You Get What You Pay For, available from Penguin Random House! In this Friday Night Salon, Morgan will discuss her process writing about respectability politics, race and culture. #teamPRH

Educators Making a Difference Grants

RT @diversebooks 📢 Educator Grant Applications are officially open! 🍎📚 The grant will provide up to $2000 per recipient and can be used toward buying diverse titles, hosting diversity-focused events, or any other project that supports diverse literature.

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Kathy Sandler

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