Frankfurt Book Fair

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Frankfurt Book Fair

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Edited: Oct 15, 2006, 4:06pm

There are two pieces by Steffen Büffel, in German, about the panel I was on in Frankfurt, discussing libraries and Web 2.0.

As Steffen writes, the panel was in German, which I don't speak. That was a bit strange, although I was not making a doodle! *g*

Anyway, I've Google-translated it. Does anyone know what the heck this means? I think it's wrong, but I can't quite get it.

"Die Antwort auf meine Frage, wie Abebooks der LibraryThing-Community auch etwas für die dort gratis erarbeiteten Inhalte zurückgeben wird, beantwortete Marcus Polke interessanter Weise damit, dass durch die finanzielle Unterstüzung von Librarything der Fortbestand und Erhalt der Community sichergestellt werde, eine weitergehende Einmischung von Abebooks in die Community aber nicht vorgesehen ist. Ich werde das kritisch im Auge behalten… ;-)"

Incidentally, after the talk, the guy who runs came up to me, and joined us for lunch. Have people used it? What does it do better than LT? How can LT do its German user better and win-out over

Oct 15, 2006, 6:21pm

The system ate my previous translation, so here we go again. Vogons have plenty of time ...

"Marcus Polke answered my question about how Abebooks will compensate the LT community for the content created for free with the interesting view that the financial interest (support) in LT guarantees the survival of the community. Further intervention/interference by Abebooks is not planned. I will keep a close watch ... ;)"

Oct 15, 2006, 6:36pm

About which I only glanced at: Serious booklovers with large collections do not appear to be its target audience. The cover view is its main interface, it only displays very limited book data from Amazon (however: it grabs the content description, something valuable which I miss in LT) , and its social features are still fairly limited.

As far as the two communities are different, a quick search for the in Germany immensely popular Perfume (now also a pretty lame movie) turns up the following recommendations in LT and Reliwa:

1. The Name of the Rose by Umberto Eco 211/2166
2. The Secret History by Donna Tartt 171/1154
3. The Pigeon by Patrick Suskind 50/65
4. The Unbearable Lightness of Being by Milan Kundera 185/1670
5. Possession : a Romance by A.S. Byatt 153/1305

Reliwa (unordered):
- Der Gefangene der Wüste. Von: Heinz G. Konsalik
- Kampfstern Galactica. Die Todesmaschine von Cylon. Von: Glen A. Larson
- Space View Special - Star Trek: Dies sind die Abenteuer... Von: Thomas Höhl, Mike Hillenbrand
- Der siebte Tag. Roman. Von: Ingrid Black, Birgit Moosmüller

As only 66 Reliwa readers have catalogued the book, recommendations are hit or miss. Nevertheless, in common with LT, it seems there are many SF fans. In contrast to LT, they only recommend cheesy novels.

Interestingly, only 43 persons have the newest Harry Potter and its first match for books is the CD.

Oct 15, 2006, 6:39pm

Interestingly Marcus Polke answered my question on how Abebooks will give something back to the LT-Community which created the free content, that way that due to the financial backing the communitie's continued existence will be ensured without further intervention intended by abebooks. I'll definitely keep an eye on this... ;-)

hope i'm doing better than google :)

Oct 15, 2006, 7:28pm

Okay. I get it now. It didn't make sense in Google-speak.

Marcus was, I think, trying to be diplomatic. I would rather be straight. Without Abe's investment, LibraryThing would have had a lot of difficultly surviving and growing. Users on LibraryThing create a lot of great content, but they do so in a context that has costs. The servers are a fixed cost—LibraryThing was struggling under one, and buying $30k worth of extra servers would have been a leap-of-faith for me. And there's the cost of developing the site. The site was actually profitable before, but only for me. Hiring Chris and Abby required money, and would have been a leap into the dark for me alone (anyway, they wouldn't have joined, since one bad month and they'd be out on the street). Things have actually turned out well. The increased visibility Abe gave, plus the improvements we've all been able to put in have lifted the site up beyond where I alone could take it.

Anyway, I suppose the last part is him being sceptical about whether Abe will keep its hands off LT. If so, he is unaware that Abe's investment in LibraryThing was a minority one, and did not give them that sort of control. It came with various strings. They did not, for example, get any rights over personal data. No Abe salesman knows what's in your library--except, I suppose by visiting LibraryThing--and they certainly don't know your email.

6mediaocean First Message
Oct 17, 2006, 4:35am

Tim! Thanks for letting me know about this discussion. jcbrunner and cherubino did a great job in getting the translation right. As you have mentioned in your comment above I am rather sceptical indeed when the "big(er) ones" buy themselves into the "small(er)" but fast growing ones. There is always a fear in me that great projects light LT might get messed up by such movements. What you said about Abe's investment though makes now totally sense to me and i think it is great that they are doing this. So thanks for making things clear instead being too diplomatic. :-)


p.s. About the doodle: I thought that you had an interpreter plugged into your ear. But when I asked the moderator if that was the case he answered no. I guessed that it must have been rather boring for you then to sit there listening to German. Well, and what better than drawing a doodle when there is nothing else to do ;-)

Oct 17, 2006, 10:09am

It reminded me of when I was car-jacked in Mexico. I spent an hour trying to make sense of what my car-jackers were saying to each other--discovering that countless years of French and Greek didn't help a damn. But, at the end, I was similarly no worse for wear! I hope, incidentally, that you didn't get my cold—now bronchitis.

There's a lot of tension in Web 2.0 around "authenticity," "community control" and "not being evil." These issues become acute when a social site is bought. Most don't understand that social software is (at least) half social, and you can't own a web society, or control it for long.

You know the goose who laid the golden eggs? (Do German children get a lot of Aesop?) I see it that way. There's a real danger that big companies and their MBAs will kill their social-site geese*. Abe isn't a big company, and they understand book lovers and rely on their good will to a notable extent. But, in my opinion, they might be better off not owning the whole goose. They'll never be tempted to get at all those eggs.

*Fun with the rare irregular English plural.

Oct 17, 2006, 10:54am

I think French children get more exposed to Aesop via La Fontaine. Better known is The Golden Goose, a fairy tale collected by the brothers Grimm which has a slightly different meaning in German (a benign version of the Midas touch). However, the saying to "kill the goose that lays the golden eggs" is very common in German too.

Actually, "buying" communities is quite an old problem in business administration. Bank, insurance or media acquisitions are mostly about buying relationships of both employees and customers. If they leave, only an empty shell remains ...