Tech vs. Trees: Seed paper in Katy Perry album considered 'biosecurity concern,' nearly 100 UK publishers close in past year, Financial Times takes step toward all-digital publication

LOS ANGELES , November 8, 2013 () – A roundup of recent trends pitting technology against the printed word:

Trees: Seed paper in Katy Perry album called ‘biosecurity concern’ in Australia

Pop star Katy Perry has included seed paper in the deluxe version of her new album “Prism,” which allows fans to plant a paper that could germinate and grow, International Business Times reported Nov. 5. But what could be a novel way of using specialty paper for liner notes in a physical CD has prompted biosecurity concerns from Australia. The government has banned the seed-paper imports on concerns that the “seeds or plant material of international origin may be a weed not present in Australia or the host of a plant pathogen of biosecurity concern,” according to a department spokesperson, reported Nov. 3. But that doesn’t mean Katy Perry fans in Australia have to miss out on owning a physical copy of her album. CDs that are locally sourced in Australia are available within the country, where the seeds are of Swan River daisies, CNN reported Nov. 6.

Tech: Nearly 100 UK publishers close in past year

Ninety-eight publishers in the U.K. closed their doors in the past year as a myriad of factors came into play, such as the growth of e-books, digital piracy, heavy discounting and an expanding secondhand book market, The Guardian reported Nov. 4. Niche publishers, such as academic and educational publishers, were especially hard hit by the rapidly changing industry in light of growing digital piracy and an online marketplace for secondhand books. Meanwhile, Amazon has cornered the U.K.’s e-book market to the tune of 79%, according to Ofcom. According to a recent study by Eurostat, Europeans in general are increasingly buying more of their books online, as 26 out of 28 countries have shown a rise in consumers purchasing books, magazines and e-learning materials online between 2008 and 2012. Not surprisingly, writers are expressing concern over the digital shift, as novelist Jonathan Franzen said that Amazon was hurting literary culture in favor of “yakkers and tweeters and braggers,” The Guardian reported Sept. 13.

Tech: Financial Times takes steps toward all-digital publication

Changes to the publication model of The Financial Times could suggest that the U.K. business newspaper is heading toward an all-digital publication, The Guardian reported Oct. 9. According to a memo by the editor Lionel Barber, the Financial Times will only publish a single global printed edition in the first half of 2014. Moreover, journalists will no longer be meeting “old print deadlines,” but rather they will be publishing stories toward high-traffic viewing times online, the memo said. The change comes about as the Times’ online subscriptions outpaced its print circulation for the first time in 2012. Moreover, its print editions showed a 15% year-over-year decline in August. The trend is prevalent in the U.S., Canada and the U.K., according to data from Communic@tions Management Inc., which showed that the circulation of national dailies as a percentage of households has plummeted from nearly 60% in 2000 to slightly above 30% in 2013, with regional dailies faring even worse, The Guardian reported Nov. 5.

Tech + Trees: Amazon turns to independent bookstores to sell Kindles

In a new program dubbed Amazon Source, the world’s largest online retailer is turning to independent bookstores to help them reach consumers in the nondigital world. In the program, stores receive a commission if they sell Kindles—to the tune of 10% when customers use the tablet to purchase e-books for the first two years, Wired reported Nov. 6. Several bookstores have been a part of the pilot program, according to an Amazon press release, such as Washington-based JJ Books. Its co-owner Jason Bailey said the partnership with Amazon would “will help us find a means of long-term viability for our independent bookstores,” according to the release. Other indie bookstores around the country are wary of the program. Becky Anderson, proprietor of Illinois-based Anderson’s Bookshop said that Amazon tries “to undercut everything we do,” adding that “this is insulting,” Wired reported.

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