Private equity firms Carlyle Group and Kohlberg Kravis Roberts (KKR) have reportedly joined the race to acquire Thomson's higher education publishing arm. The firms are competing separately against Warburg Pincus, Apax Partners and a consortium of Blackstone, Thomas H. Lee and Bain, former owners of educational publisher Houghton Mifflin. It is expected that bids for Thomson Learning could come in at nearly $3.5 billion.
Thomson is the latest in a string of publishers to divest educational assets, after the sale of Houghton Mifflin to Riverdeep and the disposal of Wolters Kluwer's smaller education business to Bridgepoint. According to sources, German media giant Bertelsmann is also involved in the auction. It was thought to have linked up with fellow German publisher Holtzbrinck, but some sources say that it was trying to partner with the Blackstone consortium.
In October 2006, Thomson had announced its intention to sell the Thomson Learning businesses as it no longer fit into the electronic publisher's strategy.
WoodWing USA, part of cross-media workflow solution provider WoodWing Software, Netherlands, has announced a partnership with and Alfresco Software Inc., US, a leading open source alternative for enterprise content management.
Under the deal, WoodWing's Smart Connection Enterprise editorial workflow system and Alfresco's 2.0 open source enterprise content management system (ECM) will be delivered as an integrated solution for the publishing industry. According to industry officials, this partnership is expected to benefit customers across the publishing spectrum.
The new solution, which comes on the heels of WoodWing's latest update to its industry-leading editorial system, Smart Connection Enterprise v. 4.2, combines WoodWing's three-tier open architecture editorial workflow system with version 2.0 of Alfresco's open source ECM software. It gives book publishers, magazines, newspapers, corporate and agency clients a scalable publishing system that is easy to implement, maintain and integrate with front and back-end systems.
FirstWord Publishing, US, publisher of FirstWord, a leading daily digest for the pharmaceutical industry, has announced the launch of FirstWord Mobile. FirstWord Mobile is a mobile edition that provides links to several stories about companies and products dominating the media. The new edition is in response to increased demand for mobile news.
FirstWord Mobile is claimed to be the only mobile publication that allows subscribers to customise its content, selecting specific drugs, world markets and international companies to follow on a daily basis. It will provide full synopses of breaking news, chosen from a variety of publications including The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, BusinessWeek, Forbes, Bloomberg, CNN, CNBC and other leading sources. In addition, FirstWord will monitor over 2,000 medical journals and a number of conferences for news that responds to subscribers' keywords. The new edition is poised to tap into some of the eight million business subscribers currently served by BlackBerry.
Executives seeking in-depth coverage can choose between FirstWord PLUS and FirstWord Executive PLUS. Both these custom services will allow users to access stories and medical literature for up to 25 products and an equal number of companies, countries or regions of their choice, filtering out the mass of pharma news online each day.
Scientific publisher Inderscience Publishers, Switzerland, has announced publication of the first issue of 6 new journals bringing the total number of journals published to more than 150.
The new titles are: International Journal of Agent-Oriented Software Engineering; International Journal of Automation and Control; International Journal of High Performance Systems Architecture; International Journal of Information and Communication Technology; International Journal of Intelligent Information and Database Systems; and International Journal of Technoentrepreneurship.
In addition, the scientific publisher is expected to begin publication of over 30 new titles later this year. In all there are around one hundred planned titles in various stages of development at present.
An EU expert group on digital libraries has reportedly decided on a basic model for handling copyrights for digitalised cultural publications in libraries. The copyright issue has been the major barrier in the negotiations among cultural institutions and the rights-holders.
The deal is part of the European Digital Library initiative, launched in June 2005, to protect European cultural and scientific heritage and make it accessible online in closed networks. The model, recently accepted by parties which included major stakeholders such as the British Library, the German national library, the Federation of European Publishers and Google, covers only orphan works and out-of print works. It also has built in elements that can be adopted for commercial publications in the future.
The deal was welcomed by the commission, which had earlier asked the rights-holders and the cultural institutions to find a voluntary agreement. No change of law will be required to implement it.
The European Science Foundation (ESF), France, has published a report which reveals some concern on the shortcomings of peer review and outlines some possible measures to cope with them. The report, 'Peer review: its present and future states', draws on ideas from an international conference held in Prague in October 2006.
Scientists are questioning whether peer review, the internationally accepted form of scientific critique, is able to meet the challenges posed by the rapid changes in the research landscape. The ESF report showcases a number of options that could lead to greater openness in innovative research. A central theme of the report is that the current peer review system might not adequately assess the most pioneering research proposals, as they may be viewed as too risky. The conference called for new approaches, enabling the assessment of innovative research to be embedded in the peer review system. Participants agreed that the increasing importance of competitive research funding has also added on the pressure on referees and on research funding agencies.
The report stresses the need for better European cooperation in the peer review process. All contributors to the conference report agreed that peer review is an essential part of research and that no other credible mechanism exists to replace it. Further, they also agreed that a continuous monitoring and exchange of information will be an effective way to work together to develop and improve it.