This week’s headline quotes Suzanne Herz, publisher of Vintage/Anchor Books, on the growing role of big-box retailers in book sales during the pandemic. (The New York Times "How to sell books in 2020: Put them near the toilet paper")
A scheduling note – there will not be a post next week, August 3, as I will be out of the office on vacation.
What new information has sparked your interest? Drop me a line to let me know what you're reading or discovering that helps you consider the future of libraries.
The New York Times "How to sell books in 2020: Put them near the toilet paper"
During stay at home orders, with a smaller number of stores open, big-box retailers like Walmart, Target, and Costco, and even grocery stores and pharmacies, have played a larger role in books sales.
Vox "Whatever happened to the classic teen summer job?"
A June 2020 report from Drexel University’s Center for Labor Markets and Policy finds that the teen summer employment rate during the pandemic will be a historic low of 23% – had the pandemic not happened, the report explains, the seasonally adjusted teen employment rate was expected to be about 31%, the highest level since before the Great Recession.
The Washington Post "Private ‘school pods’ are coming. They’ll worsen inequality."
As schools begin to share re-opening plans, some parents, concerned that their children will miss out on social interaction or that online education will not provide the same quality instruction, are turning to home-schooling pods, sharing the costs for a private instructor to work full time for the year – some businesses, including Swing Education, have already shifted to provide teachers for the “in-home learning pod.”
NPR "One-third of U.S. museums may not survive the year, survey finds"
A new American Alliance of Museums (AAM) survey of 760 museum directors finds 33% responding that there was either a "significant risk" of closing permanently by next fall or that they didn't know if their institutions would survive – many key sources of funding, including ticket and gift shop sales, school trips, and events, have all been wiped away during the coronavirus pandemic.
TechCrunch "The New York Times is buying the production studio behind ‘Serial’ for $25M"
In a bid to further expand into the audio production, the New York Times Company has acquired Serial Productions, the podcasting studio behind the popular Serial podcast – the deal brings the studio into the same department that has produced The Daily since early 2017.
Algorithms, Artificial Intelligence, and Learning Machines
GeekWire "Amazon expands route for package delivery robot Scout with addition of two Southern cities"
Amazon Scout, the company’s wheeled package delivery robot, will expand its test operations to Atlanta, Georgia, and Franklin, Tennessee – Scout has continued to operate throughout the coronavirus pandemic and has helped the company meet increased customer demand.
Vogue "I am a model and I know that artificial intelligence will eventually take my job"
Digital models and influencers are successfully breaking into the fashion industry, first with computer-generated image (CGI) models, but soon to include more advanced models built from generative adversarial networks (GANs), which can offer a vast array of posing options that mimic what real-life models do in e-commerce and commercial modeling.
Cities and Government
GeekWire "Pandemic threatens dominance of ‘superstar’ tech cities, creating uncertain future for innovation hubs"
The concentration of big technology companies and the skilled labor and talent they bring to cities could be upended by the pandemic, as more employers shift to remote work and more local governments impose higher taxes to confront budget shortfalls – Seattle and San Francisco are already considering new business and wealth taxes to make up for lost revenue from the pandemic’s fallout. See also The New York Times "Coronavirus threatens the luster of superstar cities"
Economics and the Workforce
Reuters "Who still needs the office? U.S. companies start cutting space"
A Reuters analysis of quarterly earnings calls over the past week revealed more than 25 large companies plan to reduce their office space in the year ahead as they allow more employees to work from home.
Fast Company "All Apple products will be carbon neutral by 2030"
Apple, which is already carbon neutral in its corporate operations, announced plans to reach the same goal across its entire footprint, including its supply chain and the full life cycle of its products, which it says will have “zero climate impact.”
CNET "Facebook will let you live stream video from its Zoom competitor Messenger Rooms"
Facebook announced a new feature that allows some users to live stream video calls from Messenger Rooms, the video conferencing tool introduced in April – the live video from Messenger Rooms can be broadcast with up to 50 people, making it useful for planned events such as book club meetings and fitness classes.
The Verge "Facebook will study whether its algorithms are racially biased"
Facebook is forming new internal teams dedicated to studying its main social network and Instagram for racial bias, with a particular focus on whether its algorithms adversely affect Black, Hispanic, and other underrepresented groups.
Mobility and Transportation
Mashable "Google Maps just made it way easier to rent a bike in 10 cities"
With interest in bike-share services rising during the pandemic, Google Maps is updating its bicycling directions to list bike-share services as a route option, with information about the nearest station, where users can drop off the bike near their destination, and how many bicycles are available – the new route instructions will be available in ten cities, including Chicago (Divvy/Lyft), New York City (Citi Bike/Lyft), the San Francisco Bay Area (Bay Wheels/Lyft), and Washington, DC (Capital Bikeshare/Lyft). See also The New York Times "Citi Bikes, scooters, skateboards: Anything but the subway"
Restaurants, Retail, and Spaces
CNET "AMC moves back reopening as movies delay release dates"
AMC has again delayed the reopening of its nationwide movie theaters, announcing plans to "reopen in waves" as the release dates for movies like Tenet, Mulan, and Wonder Woman 1984 are delayed indefinitely.
Engadget "The NBA will use Microsoft Teams to virtually seat fans courtside"
The National Basketball Association (NBA) will use Microsoft Teams’ new Together Mode to recreate the atmosphere of an arena with fans – the NBA will equip arenas with 17-foot tall LED screens that surround the court to allow players to see and hear the people who are watching them via Teams. See also Engadget "Fox Sports will pack MLB broadcasts with virtual crowds"
The Verge "HBO Max has more than 4 million subscribers, AT&T says"
HBO Max has signed just over four million customers since it launched in May, AT&T announced to analysts on the company’s earnings call – the service is starting from a different place from other providers like Disney Plus, which hit 10 million subscribers within its first 24 hours. See also Vox "The global pandemic has been great for Netflix"