Technology * Innovation * Publishing Newsletter #287

Kathy Sandler
7 min readMar 11, 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

Library cuts and teachers quitting: Texas’s takeover of Houston schools

Staff call for removal of state-appointed superintendent amid 600 teachers resigning and implementation of rigid curriculum

https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2024/mar/05/texas-houston-independent-school-district-takeover

They’re Dismantling Higher Education, Too

Via @veronikellymars Texas outlawed DEI programs at all public universities, as did several other states. The University of Florida fired dozens of employees who worked in DEI capacities. In Indiana, the Attorney General has set up a snitch line that targets “socialist” educators. Take a peek at the current list of socialist indoctrination being reported to the state. Indiana University’s School of Medicine is included because of that school’s belief in DEI, Justice, and LGBTQ+ people.

https://bookriot.com/higher-education-is-a-censorship-target/

Technology

Alibaba’s new AI system ‘EMO’ creates realistic talking and singing videos from photos

EMO Emote Portrait Alive can animate a single portrait photo & generate videos of the person talking or singing in a remarkably lifelike fashion.

https://venturebeat.com/ai/alibabas-new-ai-system-emo-creates-realistic-talking-and-singing-videos-from-photos/

Facebook will remove its News tab and stop paying publishers for news

ICYMI Meta’s news licensing deals in the US with outlets like CNN and the New York Times are already over, and it will do the same thing in Australia soon. Facebook’s News tab launched in 2019 with millions of dollars in content deals for publishers (a reported $10M for the Wall Street Journal, $20M for the New York Times, and $3M for CNN), but in April it’s going away for good. Meta says it will “deprecate” Facebook News in the US and Australia in April 2024, it won’t enter new commercial deals for news, and it “will not offer new Facebook products specifically for news publishers in the future.”

https://www.theverge.com/2024/2/29/24087220/facebook-news-tab-united-states-australia

Google hit with $2.3B lawsuit by Axel Springer, other media groups

HT @benedictevans ICYMI A large group of European publishers claims that Google cost them money by pushing down prices in display advertising.

https://www.reuters.com/technology/google-hit-with-23-bln-lawsuit-by-axel-springer-other-media-groups-2024-02-28/

Adobe reveals a GenAI tool for music

Adobe’s Project Music GenAI Control can generate audio from text descriptions (e.g. “happy dance,” “sad jazz”) or a reference melody and adjust the results.

https://techcrunch.com/2024/02/28/adobe-reveals-a-genai-tool-for-music/

Google Is Finally Trying to Kill AI Clickbait

Google announced changes to combat AI spam in search. An SEO expert says these new rules could “change everything.”

https://www.wired.com/story/google-search-artificial-intelligence-clickbait-spam-crackdown/

Wix’s new AI chatbot builds websites in seconds based on prompts

It won’t work miracles, but Wix’s chatbot is an easy way to get a website started. It’s free, but need premium to accept payments or don’t want to be limited to using a Wix domain name

https://www.theverge.com/2024/3/4/24090095/wix-ai-website-generator-chatbot

Laurie Anderson on making an AI chatbot of Lou Reed: ‘I’m totally, 100%, sadly addicted’

Anderson’s experiments with language-based AI predated ChatGPT.

https://www.theguardian.com/music/2024/feb/28/laurie-anderson-ai-chatbot-lou-reed-ill-be-your-mirror-exhibition-adelaide-festival

The Art of AI Prompt Engineering

Via @briansolis

https://twitter.com/briansolis/status/1766929126752129137

Publishing & Media

A New Publisher Promises Authors ‘the Lion’s Share of the Profit’

Authors Equity is tiny but has big industry names (Don Weisberg, Madeline McIntosh, & Nina von Moltke). Its founders hope their profit-sharing approach and experience will entice authors

https://www.nytimes.com/2024/03/05/books/publisher-authors-equity.html

RuPaul Launches Author-Owned Online Book Marketplace

HT @PENamerica Emmy Award–winning host and drag performer RuPaul has launched Allstora, an independent, author-owned online book marketplace offering more than 10 million titles. Per a release, the company plans to “challenge the e-commerce status quo by introducing a new model of splitting its profits with authors, in turn doubling their income on the sale of a book.”

https://www.publishersweekly.com/pw/by-topic/industry-news/bookselling/article/94497-rupaul-launches-author-owned-online-book-marketplace.html

Substack Is Both Great and Terrible for Authors

Via @janefriedman Newsletters remain the best way to directly reach your readers and biggest fans. If you’re an unpublished, unknown writer who has no work available, and no existing readership, could you benefit from and grow a newsletter — on Substack or elsewhere? Absolutely. But unknown and unpublished writers will have a hard time getting total strangers to either sign up or pay for their newsletter.

https://janefriedman.com/substack-is-both-great-and-terrible-for-authors/

Don’t Say Rape: How the Book Banning Movement Is Censoring Sexual Violence

HT @PENamerica In 2021, a CDC survey found that more than one in 10 teenage girls reported having been raped — an estimated one million girls nationwide. That same year, book bans in public school districts across the country took off with unprecedented magnitude and coordination. In the next school year, from July 1, 2022, to June 31, 2023, a quarter of over 3,000 book bans that PEN America recorded were books with scenes of rape or sexual assault. The erasure of books on sexual abuse is striking amid an epidemic of sexual violence.

https://msmagazine.com/2024/03/04/book-bans-censorship-rape-porn/

Haters attacked an inclusive public library. So its director made the whole city a book sanctuary in Hoboken, NJ.

HT @ALALibrary

https://www.lgbtqnation.com/2024/03/haters-attacked-an-inclusive-public-library-so-its-director-made-the-whole-city-a-book-sanctuary/

Resources & Opportunities

WMG 50th Anniversary Silent Auction

5 nights in Barbados? Orchestra seats to HADESTOWN? Exclusive VIP Art Tour of the Hamptons? Bid TODAY on these fab experiences and lots more at @WMG_NYC 50th Anniversary Silent Auction! Proceeds fund scholarships for women from diverse backgrounds. Items still being added — please help us spread the word!

https://wmg.betterworld.org/auctions/wmg-50

WMG Annual Business Meeting

WMG Members: Please come to the Annual Business Meeting on 4/3 from 12–12:30PM ET via Zoom, free. Vote in the new board, welcome new members, review highlights of the past year.

https://www.womensmediagroup.org/event-5645270

Zibby Owens and Estelle Erasmus Talk Publishing

Join publishing powerhouse Zibby Owens and author Estelle Erasmus for a fun and informative conversation about all things book publishing. 4/16 12–1pm ET via Zoom. Free for WMG members; $15 for non-members.

https://www.womensmediagroup.org/event-5643789

2024 Writing Fellowships at A Public Space

Writers who have not yet contracted to publish a book are invited to apply to the 2024 Writing Fellowships at @APublicSpace. Submissions of fiction, nonfiction, and poetry are welcome.

https://apublicspace.org/news/detail/the-2024-a-public-space-writing-fellowships

Shenandoah Fellowships for Writers and Editors

MT @marcelalandres The Shenandoah Fellowship for Emerging Editors for writers and editors of all experience levels especially members of communities that are traditionally underrepresented in academia and publishing, application period opens 3/15

https://shenandoahliterary.org/submissions/

The McGraw Fellowship for Business Journalism

RT @womenjournos JAWS members and friends! Apply for the $15K @McGrawCenter grant via @NewmarkJSchool. You’ll work on high-impact stories that ‘Follow the Money’ on key economic and business issues like inequality and corporate accountability. Apply by March 31.

https://www.mcgrawcenter.org/the-harold-w-mcgraw-jr-business-journalism-fellowships/

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Kathy Sandler

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