Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Javed Jabbar’s book discussed in House of Lords

Pakistan News & Features Services

Lord Nazir Ahmed of Rotherham and Lord Khalid Hameed jointly hosted a lively discussion on Javed Jabbar’s book ‘Pakistan-Unique Origins; Unique Destiny’ in the House of Lords in London recently. 

Prominent British Pakistanis, Indians and Bangladeshis, along with bureaucrats, journalists, scholars, social activists were in attendance during the event. 

Javed Jabbar, while presenting the theme of the book, said that the core concern was the extraordinary evolution of Pakistani nationalism after the birth of Pakistan in 1947. 

“Pakistan is an ailing state, not a failing state. Despite Pakistan’s enormous problems, people were demonstrating an exceptional capacity to survive,” the former Federal Information Minister stated, adding that the identity of Pakistaniyat was emerging towards a singular, broad persona, containing within itself multiple other identities. 

He identified sustained democracy, a rational, knowledge-based application of Islam and improved relations with India as potent factors likely to determine a dynamic future for Pakistan.

Ziauddin Sardar, co-editor of the quarterly journal ‘Critical Muslim’, and author of several books, remarked that major reforms were needed to make Pakistan’s destiny match the uniqueness of its origins. 

Some probing questions were hurled during the interactive session but Javed Jabbar responded diplomatically to each query and reiterated his conviction that the polity and society of Pakistan possessed vitality to strengthen the state and ensure its future progress. 

Concluding the discussion, Lord Nazir Ahmed thanked all attendees for their keen interest and participation and hoped that the book will soon be available for readers in the UK and Europe.

Lonely Planet staff suffer job losses after BBC sale

Pakistan News & Features Services

The staffers at the Melbourne headquarters of iconic travel guide Lonely Planet are facing job cuts and redeployments, affecting all editorial roles, as part of a massive global overhaul of the company’s operations four months after it was sold by BBC Worldwide. 

The Australian redundancies include editors, writers and cartographers and some casual staff also reportedly lost their jobs, according to reports from News Ltd. Redundancies and restructuring are also expected at offices in London, Nashville and Oakland. 

Lonely Planet was founded in Melbourne in 1972 by Maureen and Tony Wheeler, and grew to be the go-to guidebook for travellers the world over. The company has printed more than 120 million books in 11 languages since starting out as a single shoestring guide to Asia. 

The staff was informed at the Footscray offices that the company, owned by Nashville-based NC2 Media, would be undergoing changes amid media reports of more than 100 redundancies. It was reported that the mood in the office was gloomy and many staffers left the building in tears. 

The Chief Operating Officer of Lonely Planet, Daniel Houghton, was quoted to have said that his company’s travel guidebooks would continue to be of significant importance” to the business, their focus would now be on digital efforts and building a new content model. 

In a publicly released statement the company said: “Unfortunately, as a result of these changes, a number of positions at our offices around the world have the potential to be affected and we are in consultation with individuals whose roles may be impacted. These changes will enable Lonely Planet to be well positioned for ongoing success and investing in the future in line with our 40-year heritage.” 

The company has been a global powerhouse in the travel guide industry, but during recent years has faced numerous challenges and controversies. In March this year BBC Worldwide sold Lonely Planet to NC2 Media, the majority-owned by US billionaire Brad Kelly, at a reported loss of over $100 million. At the time of the sale, the Guardian reported the Melbourne office was incurring around 60% of the company’s costs.

Facebook enter mobile game publishing

Pakistan News & Features Services

Facebook have got into the business of publishing mobile games, offering developers help at going global with smartphone or tablet titles in exchange for a share of revenue. 

The leading social network has announced a Facebook Mobile Games Publishing pilot programme in which it will work with small or medium-sized developers and promote their works in the online community. 

"There are many developers with awesome mobile games who don't yet have the upfront resources for a paid strategy, and we want to help them find a path to success," Victor Medeiros, Software Engineer, Facebook, was quoted to have written on his blog. 

"We are using our unique reach and targeting capabilities to help games in our program find and engage a valuable audience of the right users," he blogged. 

“More than 800 million members of the social network use Facebook mobile applications and 260 million of those people play games on Facebook,” Medeiros claimed. 

"This program is designed to reach people who already play games on Facebook with new games that may interest them. We'll also be sharing analytics tools and the expertise we've gained from helping games grow on our platform for more than six years," he added. 

Facebook has made a priority of following its more than one billion members onto smartphones and tablets, and of finding ways to make money from visits by users on mobile devices. Along with mobile ads in the form of ‘promoted’ posts, Facebook makes commissions for getting members to install applications made by outside developers. 

Facebook shares have climbed to new highs since the California-based company recently reported quarterly earnings showing surging mobile revenues that some saw as a turning point for the social networking giant.

International approaches to Children’s Publishing in China discussed in webinar

Pakistan News & Features Services

The China Shanghai International Children’s Book Fair (CCBF), with the collaboration of the US Department of Commerce, offered an online conference covering several aspects of children’s publishing in China. 

Kathy Kelly of the US Department of Commerce’s Commercial Service’s Global Publishing Team, spoke about the role their 30 specialists take in helping small, medium, and independent publishers who need international assistance; and helping larger publishers establish contacts, advocating on their behalf, and sorting out payment issues. 

Henan Sue, CEO of Beijing Ingenta Publishing Technology Limited offered several reasons why publishers should come to the China Shanghai International Children’s Book Fair: increased income, reduced costs (by utilizing local suppliers, designers, and media companies), and increased influence (through media coverage and establishing relationships with the government.). 

“You’ll meet everybody, and most importantly, you’ll have the parents: Shanghai is currently the center of the best children’s education in China. Shanghai is also one of the best places to meet production and distribution suppliers, it’s very manufacturing based. You’ll also meet book designers and see the most beautiful books in China. Shanghai is the most fashionable city in China if your books are loved by Shanghai, they’ll be loved by all of China. And besides, we have China’s best food as well,” Sue explained. 

Linda Warfel, Vice President of Strategic Business Development for Scholastic Asia, discussed several challenges they faced in entering the Chinese market and what they did to become successful. 

Jessie Ness, from the US Patent and Trademark Office’s Office of Policy and External Affairs spoke about copyright issues under the intriguing title: “China: To Steal a Book is an Elegant Offense.” Pointing out that the counterfeiting and pirating of trademarked and patented goods “remain rampant in China."

Ness acknowledged that improvements have been made (membership in WTO, amendments to copyright laws), but the question still remains: Does China provide “adequate and effective” intellectual property protection?

Monday, July 29, 2013

Katikkiro launches Bukedde book on Buganda

Pakistan News & Features Services

Buganda Kingdom’s Katikkiro Charles Peter Mayiga has launched a book entitled ‘Ekitiibwa kya Buganda’ in commemoration of Kabaka Ronald Muwenda Mutebi’s 20th coronation anniversary.

The book, which was compiled and published by Bukedde, a sister paper to New Vision, was launched at Vision Group headquarters on July 29. The book details Buganda’s history over the past 800 years, cultural norms and customs of the people of Buganda. 

The Katikkiro arrived at the Vision Group headquarters at 9 am where he was received by the company’s top managers and staff. 

The Vision Group headquarters house New Vision and Bukedde newspapers, Bukedde FM and Bukedde TV as well as other platforms. The Vision Group has been carrying out a three-month project that involved highlighting the history of Buganda Kingdom and Kabaka Mutebi’s journey on the throne. 

The project has been part of the celebrations to mark Kabaka Mutebi’s coronation on July 31. The compilation of ‘Ekitiibwa Kya Buganda’ was spearheaded by Bukedde Ku Sunday’s Editor, Margaret Nankinga, a distinguished Luganda language expert. 

Joseph Lwanga, the circulation manager of Vision Group, said that the book would be available to the public at different bookshops and newspaper vendors across the country.

Simultaneous launch of three books in Manila

Pakistan News & Features Services

It was a dark and stormy afternoon outside but the top floor of Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf at Shangri-La Mall in Manila was lit up on July 27 when three books were simultaneously launched from 2 to 5 pm, celebrating the diversity of speculative fiction storytelling in the Philippines.

The master of ceremonies was the popular Dean Francis Alfar, who dreamed up ‘Philippine Speculative Fiction’ back in 2005. He was part of the cadre of writers who pushed for the inclusion of speculative fiction in a largely reala ist tradition of Philippine writing in English. 

The first book to be launched was ‘Now, Then, and Elsewhen’ brought out by the University of Santo Tomas Publishing House. It is a collection of fantastic fiction from award-winning writer and editor Nikki Alfar. It shows glimpses of the weird and wonderful worlds between and within the Filipino experience. 

‘The Best of Philippine Speculative Fiction 2005-2010’ was the next book that was launched during the afternoon. A publication of Flipside Publishing, it showcases of the best and brightest stories that have appeared in the yearly anthology ‘Philippine Speculative Fiction.’ 

While its print version was launched earlier this year as one of UP Press’ literary titles, the digital version provides access for local and international readers, and gives purveyors of speculative fiction the chance to see what local writers are exploring and writing about. 

Lastly, the 8th volume of the annual ‘Philippine Speculative Fiction’ anthology, also brought out by Flipside Publishing, was launched. Co-edited by Dean and Nikki Alfar, it has the range of stories which go beyond geography and history: from a 4th-grade classroom to the backwaters of Ubec to one’s own dreams.

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Shift to mobile hits tech giants' bottom line

Pakistan News & Features Services

With the shift to mobile Internet gaining pace, some of the big tech firms are adapting and others are not. The latest earnings from the sector show that mobile is hitting the bottom line, either in positive or negative ways, at giants like Facebook, Microsoft, Google, Amazon and Apple. 

Facebook's recent quarterly report showed how the world's biggest social network profited from that shift, as it delivered earnings of $331 million and drew 41 percent of its ad revenues from mobile. Shares jumped 30 percent after the earnings, helping Facebook approach its price after its public offering in May 2012. 

Analyst Jordan Rohan at Stifel Nicolaus said that based on Facebook's ability to leverage mobile users, "this is the type of quarter that makes an investor step back to re-evaluate his or her opinion of a company." 

For Microsoft, it was a different story, as the shift to mobile devices hurt its core Windows franchise, and the Surface tablet hit the market with a thud, forcing an "inventory adjustment" writedown of $900 million, limiting profits to $4.97 billion. 

Microsoft shares slid more than 11 percent after the news, which fueled concerns about its future in a post-PC world, despite its Windows 8 operating system designed for a range of devices. 

The research firm Trefis said Microsoft "faces headwinds" in the tablet market, which is growing rapidly while PC sales are slipping. "Since the competitive tablet industry has already established products such as Apple's iPad and Google's Android tablets, Windows 8 faces strong headwinds as it tries to increase market penetration," the firm said in a note. 

Gerry Purdy, analyst with the research firm MobileTrax, said companies need to start thinking about mobile first, and that Facebook successfully did so. 

"Mobile is becoming the center of the information technology world. Many companies launch with mobile and then figure out Web and desktop. Mobile is a lead rather than a follower. Microsoft has not produced the best user experience in its tablets or in Windows-power phones. Microsoft has a long way to go to be a successful player in the pure mobile sector," Purdy reckoned. 

Google delivered mixed results for the past quarter, taking a loss from the Motorola handset unit it acquired last year and seeing slower growth from its mobile ads. 

Google, which saw its profits rise modestly to $3.23 billion, gets less on a ‘cost-per-click’ basis, according to analysts who ho questioned whether it can maintain growth. 

Amazon's shares recovered from initial weakness after the online retail giant reported a surprise loss of $7 million, when most observers were expecting a modest profit. 

The results showed Amazon investing heavily in marketing, technology and content as it seeks to expand its footprint and digital content offerings while promoting its Kindle line of tablets. Apple, which is the pre-eminent mobile company with its iPhones, iPads and iTunes, managed to beat Wall Street estimates with a profit of $6.9 billion thanks to strong smartphone sales. 

But many analysts look to the future and wonder whether its pace of innovation will keep it ahead of rising competitors as the California giant has been losing market share in smartphones and tablets, which threatens its ecosystem.

EU ends e-book anti-trust action

Pakistan News & Features Services

The European Commission (EU) has announced an end to price-fixing anti-trust action in the booming digital books market. 

The EU's competition watchdog said it had accepted legally-binding commitments made by Penguin owner Pearson, falling into line with four other publishing groups initially accused of collusion. 

Along with iPad giant and key e-book distributor Apple, US, French and German giants Simon & Schuster, Harper Collins, Hachette and Holtzbrinck settled their cases in December 2012. 

"The commitments are now legally binding on Apple and all five publishers including Penguin, restoring a competitive environment in the market for e-books," EU Competition Commissioner, Joaquin Almunia, was quoted as saying in Brussels recently. 

That means that regulators on both sides of the Atlantic are satisfied that the e-books market, slow to take off but anticipating exponential growth, is in the right shape now to protect consumer interests. The United States reached a $69 million accord with US publishers last August. 

New releases are generally slightly cheaper to buy digitally than in print, but not that much, although prices for older material are often much lower. 

A recent report by PwC (PricewaterhouseCoopers) estimated that the consumer e-books market will overtake print in 2017, with US sales projections of more than $8.0 billion and Europe tipped to be even bigger.

Gender-sensitive radio programming guidebook published

Pakistan News & Features Services

An illustrative guidebook and manual entitled media guide for gender-sensitive radio programming has been published to help radio journalists and broadcasters for producing programs on the subject. 

The guidebook, published by Search For Common Ground (SFCG) Pakistan will be helpful to create public awareness and support for leadership role of women politicians as effective decision-makers in government. 

Guiding journalists on development of gender-sensitive programming, the tastefully designed and illustrated handbook has been published in both Urdu and English versions and can easily be downloaded from the website. 

The methodologies of Media Guide for Gender-sensitive Radio Programming are particularly relevant to journalists working in the mass medium of radio. It can also be used by journalists working in print and television media to engage with audiences on specific issues women's political participation and leadership. 

The handbook has been published by SFCG Pakistan as part of its nationwide Women's Initiative for Learning and Leadership (WILL) campaign of its Strengthening Women Parliamentarians for Effective Government project. 

The SFCG Pakistan and its partners are working with women political leaders at provincial and district levels, as well as providing guidelines to media for engaging with audiences on specific issues identified by women politicians and parliamentarians. 

It has published a series of freely available guidebooks and manuals to help media professionals, women politicians, youth leaders and community leaders to effectively work in their respective fields for building a peaceful Pakistan.

First mobile library opened in Myanmar

Pakistan News & Features Services

Popular leader and the 1991 Nobel peace laureate, Aung San Suu Kyi, launched Myanmar's first mobile library on July 27 as an effort to highlight her policy of spreading education in the country. 

"Now, it's only a bus with a room, but if our people use it correctly it may be great benefit for our country," Suu Kyi said at a ceremony in Kawhmu, 30 kilometres south-west of Yangon. 

Myanmar have few libraries and its schools and universities have suffered from years of neglect and poor budgets. 

Suu Kyi has stressed the need to improve the education system stymied after five decades of military rule. 

The Daw Khin Kyi Foundation in cooperation with the Education Ministry, with funding from local and foreign donors, bought a vehicle stocked with 1,500 books to take education to the countryside. 

"As the first such project in Myanmar, we may face many challenges, but the main thing is to draw the public's attention to the need for reading," Than Thaw Kaung, manager of the project, said adding that Myanmar needed new libraries and to train more librarians. 

The foundation is working with Beyond Access, Asia Foundation and National Library of Singapore to promote libraries and reading in Myanmar.

Friday, July 5, 2013

Author Shweta Kumar grows in stature with third book

Pakistan News & Features Services

Shweta Ganesh Kumar has been acclaimed as a versatile writer and travel columnist. Her recently published third book and first novella, 'A Newlywed's Adventures in Married Land,' is another feather in her cap. The book is now available worldwide from Toronto-based publishers Indireads.

An alumnus of the Symbiosis Institute of Mass Communication, she has worked as Communications Officer for Greenpeace India and as a correspondent with CNN-IBN, before dedicating her life to writing. 

Her second novel ‘Between the Headlines-The travails of a TV reporter’ was released in May 2012 and is still available in bookstores and online stores. 

Her first novel ‘Coming Up On The Show… The Travails of a news trainee’ sold more than 10,000 copies within the first two months of its release in May 2011 and was also listed on multiple bestseller lists. 

A mother herself, she writes on the joys and trials of being a parent in a five day a week bulletin called 'The Times Of Amma - the motherhood bulletin with badly-drawn cartoons.' The New Indian Express, One Philippines and Geo (Indian edition) have published many of her travel columns. RobinAge, a leading children’s newspaper features her pet and travel columns for children. ‘Kiski Kahani – The Ramayana Project’, an Open Space initiative, features her essays on the diversity of the Ramayana. 

Her non-fiction pieces have been featured in Chicken Soup for the Indian Spiritual Soul, Chicken Soup for the Indian Soul – On Friendship and also in CBW’s India’s Top 42 Weekend Getaways eBook. Women's Web has featured her feminist columns and Mahindra's Mom and Me - her columns on being a new mother. 

Her short fiction has been published in Indian Voices- an anthology, Shades of Love (An Anthology of Short Stories), Winds of Change (An Anthology), Australian Women Online, Single Solitary Thought, Pothiz, Damazine and the Asia Writes Project.

Shweta Kumar turns digital with A Newlywed’s Adventures in Married Land

Pakistan News & Features Services

Bestselling author and columnist Shweta Ganesh Kumar has come up with her third book titled ‘A Newlywed’s Adventures in Married Land’ now available worldwide via Indireads, a Toronto based Publishing house that brings out books on the vibrancy and intensity of modern South Asian life.

‘A Newlywed’s Adventures in Married Land’ is a novella and an eBook which can be downloaded off the site in less than five minutes. Her first two books, ‘Between the Headlines’ and ‘Coming up on the Show’, were paperbacks but she decided to go for the eBook format this time around to make it easily accessible to readers even from the comfort of their homes, no matter where in the world they may be. 

 'A Newlywed's Adventures in Married Land' is all about Mythili who has followed the love of her life, her brand new husband Siddharth to a distant land. Far away from her world, she feels like she has fallen down a rabbit hole into a completely new land, complete with distinct personalities. 

The book explores whether their once long-distance love now stand the test of living together and whether this real life Alice ever embraces her Wonderland. The book is available in multiple digital formats to be read on laptop, Kindle, Nook, iPad, mobile phone or any such device. 

The author reckons that ‘A Newlywed’s Adventures in Married Land,’ is for everyone who has chosen to make a leap of faith by saying ‘yes to a proposal’, ‘yes to moving to a distant land’ or simply ‘yes to meeting new people and making new friends’ and has felt a little shaken and a little lost till they found their footing in their new situation in their new metaphorical land. 

In order to encourage her friends to get them read the book, Shweta Kumar has offered a discount coupon for exclusive use within her network which can be used in case of buying more than a single book and the scheme lasts until July 12.