Category Archives: Publishing Industry

CRS report: Government Printing, Publications, and Digital Information Management: Issues and Challenges

From the summary of Government Printing, Publications, and Digital Information Management: Issues and Challenges (Nov. 8, 2017 R45014):

In light of the governance and technological changes of the past four decades, a relevant question for Congress might arise: To what extent can decades-old authorities and work patterns meet the challenges of digital government information? For example, the widespread availability of government information in digital form has led some to question whether paper versions of some publications might be eliminated in favor of digital versions, but others note that paper versions are still required for a variety of reasons. Another area of concern focuses on questions about the capacity of current information dissemination authorities to enable the provision of digital government information in an effective and efficient manner. With regard to information retention, the emergence of a predominantly digital FDLP may raise questions about the capacity of GPO to manage the program given its existing statutory authorities.

These questions are further complicated by the lack of a stable, robust set of digital information resources and management practices like those that were in place when Congress last considered current government information policies. The 1895 printing act was arguably an expression of the state of the art standard of printing technology and provided a foundation which supported government information distribution for more than a century. By contrast, in the fourth or fifth decade of transitioning from the tangible written word to ubiquitous digital creation and distribution, the way ahead is not as clear, due in part to a lack of widely understood and accepted standards for managing digital information.

This report examines three areas related to the production, distribution, retention and management of government information in a primarily digital environment. These areas include
 the Joint Committee on Printing;
 the Federal Depository Library Program; and
 government information management in the future.

— Joe

In another move to compete with WEXIS, Fastcase launches imprint for secondary works

When Fastcase hired industry veteran Steve Errick this summer, observers knew things were going change. And they have. Fastcase has launched Full Court Press to publish law journals, legal treatises, deskbooks, forms, checklists and workflow tools. First up, RAIL: The Journal of Robotics, Artificial Intelligence & Law. For details, see Bob Ambrogi’s LawSites post. — Joe

Natural language processing and machine learning tools in HeinOnline

Check out Shannon Sabo’s two part series on HeinOnline’s implementation of natural language processing and AI: Part One and Part Two. — Joe

Fastcase adds blog commentary to Fastcase 7

In a major coup for both the LexBlog network and Fastcase, Fastcase has integrated the LexBlog network’s bloggers commentaries into Fastcase 7. Now, a Fastcase searcher can access contemporary analysis on legal developments in addition to linkage to HeinOnline’s library of legal periodicals. “We’re pushing hard to add the best secondary sources for our members,” said Fastcase CEO Ed Walters. “The LexBlog network is a platform for some of the nation’s leading experts in law to report and synthesize legal news and developments. And the collection of every day’s LexBlog posts reads like the most compelling legal newspaper in America.” Quoting from Bob Ambrogi’s LawSite’s post. — Joe

What sort of information transparency is necessary for reliance on analytical tools?

According to RNRMarketResearch.com, the legal analytics market is growing at a compound annual growth rate of 32.7% and is projected to grow from $451.1 million in 2017 to $1.858 billion by 2022. But not all legal analytical products are created equally. On the AALL CS-SIS blog, Jonathan Germann demonstrates this by comparing Docket Navigator with Bloomberg Law. The latter comes up lacking. “As information professionals become regular users and gatekeepers of analytics tools, what information transparency is necessary for reliance?,” asks Germann. He proceeds to provide a transparency checklist. — Joe

Going solo as in licensing Lexis only or Westlaw only

Over 50% of large law firms license only Lexis or only Westlaw according to Feit Consulting. Some 22% of BigLaw firms with 750+ attorneys have gone solo provider. Michael Feit looks at the duopoly of our very expensive search vendors and the best route for individual firms in One of the largest law firms goes sole provider, does this finally foretell the Wexis monopoly demise in the largest segment?

Feit Consulting has been monitoring the sole provider trend for over a decade. As corporate clients pushed back on research costs, firms were not able to recover costs entirely. The affect on the bottom line pushed some firms to make the decision to go sole provider. The freedom of funds allows firms and organizations to purchase wish-list software and technology to enhance the delivery of legal information. While this has worked for some, the big question is whether it is the right decision for your firm or organization.

H/T to PinHawk’s Legal Administrator Daily — Joe

LexisNexis tests research assistant chatbot

Here’s how LN chief product officer Jamie Buckley described this development in this Venture Beat story.

“Something that we’re playing with in the lab, we actually have an internal chatbot where you can start asking it questions. It replies with either an answer or what it thinks might be what you’re looking for, and it also helps you filter the results,” Buckley said. “So you might get 100,000 results on the return, but it can help to understand where are some of the differences between the results and then ask you clarifying questions based on that.”

— Joe

LexisNexis sells 150+ law enforcement titles to Blue360 Media

From the July 13, 2017 press release:

Blue360° Media has acquired over 150 law enforcement publications from LexisNexis® Group covering 40 U.S. states. Blue360° Media publishes Law Enforcement Manuals, Code Books, Field Guides, and an Officer Series focused on professional development.  With over 170,000 publications ordered each year, Blue360° Media helps new recruits learn the criminal and traffic laws for their jurisdiction, assists seasoned professionals in quickly finding legal changes, and helps department managers institute best practices with guidance on issues such as report writing and passing promotional exams.

“2017 has been a particularly active legislative year, and it is important that our officers remain up-to-date on the ever changing criminal code. At Blue360° we are passionate about serving our men and women in blue, and we seek to keep them safe and successful in protecting and serving in our communities,” said CEO Susan Slisz.

— Joe

Elsevier acquires Bepress

The story is in The Scholarly Kitchen.  It’s pretty stunning news, especially after the acquisition of SSRN and the controversy over licensing that occurred shortly after that takeover.  So, is the fate of successful open-access scholarly archives to ultimately turn into arms of large corporations?  —Mark

Is BOOC (Book as Open Online Content) the path toward the academic book of the future?

From the introduction to this very interesting development:

BOOC is not the answer to the question, ‘What will the academic book of the future be?’ – and it doesn’t claim to be. It is, however, the tangible result of a great deal of consultation, discussion, innovation, and perseverance. It represents some of the issues – contentious, complicated, deep-rooted, emerging, and provocative – that confront everyone who engages with academic publication. It will, hopefully, help deliver some practice-based answers to these issues, and in doing so, move the debates on. In Geoffrey Crossick’s report on Monographs and Open Access (HEFCE, 2015), he talks about the more ambitious ways open access allows authors and reviewers to interact. He talks about an ‘open-ended “living” document’, which is where BOOC takes its inspiration from. BOOC is a community ‘book’: a space where different approaches, different sorts of research, and different perspectives can be presented, read, and analysed together.

H/T to Gary Price’s Infodocket post. — Joe

Facebook plans to monetize Instant Articles sooner rather than later

Reporting for The Street, Kinsey Grant reports that Facebook is preparing to monetize its Instant Articles: “Instant Articles hosts news pieces on Facebook’s mobile app. Instead of operating a subscription service itself to get users on the Instant Articles, Facebook is said to be implementing a paywall after 10 articles on the app. Once a user hits 10 pieces from a particular publisher in a month, Facebook will send him or her to the publisher’s site to sign up for a subscription.” — Joe

Pubishers win antitrust appeal against small vendor

Here’s a little postscript to the Apple e-book antitrust case.  A failed e-book retailer BooksOnBoard (BOB) sued the publishers in 2014 for antitrust violations, essentially blaming conduct by the five Apple defendant publishers for its failure.  BOB purchased e-book inventory from a third-party wholesaler and sold books at a discount via its web site.

BOB claimed that the agency model pricing scheme destroyed its ability to compete in the e-book market, among other injuries.  The publishers presented evidence contradicting BOB’s claims.  The move to agency model pricing actually increased revenues for BOB.  The District Court opinion also mentioned factors such as the inability to link product to dedicated e-readers such as the Kindle or Nook and questionable management practices.

The District Court opinion from 2016 is available here.   The Second Circuit Court of Appeals opinion which largely adopted the District Court’s reasoning is here.

—Mark

LexisNexis adds ALM titles to LN Digital Library

LexisNexis announced yesterday that the company is adding 250 titles from ALM to the LexisNexis Digital Library.  From the press release:

As a result, the LexisNexis Digital Library will now feature titles from ALM’s publications including Law Journal Press, The National Underwriter Co. and analytical titles from respected regional brands such as The Legal Intelligencer, New York Law Journal, New Jersey Law Journal and more. These titles will provide in-depth information on the latest issues and insightful analysis from leading lawyers, practicing attorneys and experts.

–Mark

Fastcase appoints Steve Errick as Chief Operating Officer and announces plan to launch own imprint for secondary works

Yesterday Fastcase announced that former LexisNexis executive Steve Errick will join the company’s executive team on July 1 as Chief Operating Officer. He will be responsible for executing the company’s strategic vision, developing new editorial products, and developing the company’s organizational structure as the company expands. From the press release:

“We couldn’t be more excited to have Steve join the team,” said Fastcase CEO Ed Walters. “Fastcase is an increasingly complex company, with sophisticated legal data updating operations, multiple product lines and more than 100 employees in three offices – and we’re growing all the time. Steve’s deep relationships in the industry and his experience in managing legal publishing companies at scale will be important as we are becoming one of America’s largest legal tech companies.”

Fastcase also announced that it would begin editorial publishing starting in 2018 to expand the reach of its legal research service, which to date has focused exclusively on primary law such as case law, statutes, regulations, court rules, and constitutions. The company will launch it’s own imprint of expert treatises, secondary material, journals and partner with its various State Bar Associations in developing new state workflow products to serve the state practitioner markets.

“Early in my career at West, my challenge was finding the best authors,” Errick said. “Most recently at LexisNexis it was acquiring the best companies and building a product team to drive those businesses. And now, I get this wonderful opportunity to use these diverse experiences to help accelerate the pace of the most innovative company in legal tech.”

Sometime in the future, the hiring of Steve Errick will be viewed as the stimulus for taking Fastcase to the next level to compete with Thomson Reuters, LexisNexis and Bloomberg BNA. It is no coincidence that Fastcase’s press release announced both the hiring of Errick and the move into the secondary source market in 2018. — Joe

Why did Lexis Advance never receive AALL’s New Product Award?

AALL’s annual New Product Award gives the recipient vendor free fodder for an advertising campaign and a dose of much needed good press each year. “This award honors new commercial information products that enhance or improve existing law library services or procedures or innovative products which improve access to legal information, the legal research process, or procedures for technical processing of library materials. A ‘new’ product is one which has been in the library-related marketplace for two years or less. New products may include, but are not limited to, computer hardware and/or software, educational or bibliographic material, or other products or devices that aid or improve library workflow, research, or intellectual access. Products that have been reintroduced in a new format or with substantial changes are eligible.” Quoting from AALL’s New Product Award page.

Thomson Reuters won the award for WestlawNext in 2011 and Bloomberg Law won for BLaw in 2012. What ever happened to Lexis Advance? Launched in 2011, Lexis Advance would have still been eligible for the award in 2013 but PLI’s PLI Discover PLUS received it that year. PLI Discover PLUS is an excellent service but…it’s not from a major vendor of what was then a next-generation search service like, for example, WestlawNext was at the time Thomson Reuters received its award. Besides, I believe, PLI Discover PLUS would have been eligible for the award in 2014.

Lexis Advance was no better or worse than WestlawNext and arguably better that BLaw back in 2011-2013. So I’m left wondering why LexisNexis never received AALL’s New Product Award. For that matter, why didn’t LexisNexis receive the New Product Award when it launched the first professional grade, enhanced law eBooks and/or the first law eBook lending platform, the LexisNexis Digital Library? If LexisNexis systematically enhances its secondary works accessed on Lexis Advance with videos as it did with one title, the Company might be eligible again because “products that have been reintroduced in a new format or with substantial changes are eligible.” — Joe

List of Previous AALL New Product Award Winners

2017: Casetext, Pablo Arredondo, Vice President, Legal Research, San Francisco, CA, CARA

2016: Ravel Law, Daniel Lewis, CEO and Co-Founder, San Francisco, CA, Judge Analytics

2015: Lex Machina, Josh Becker, CEO, Menlo Park, CA, Legal Analytics®

2014: William S. Hein & Co., Inc., Getzville, NY and Fastcase, Inc., Washington, D.C., HeinOnline/Fastcase Integration

2013: Practicing Law Institute, New York, NY, PLI Discover PLUS

2012: Bloomberg Law, New York, NY, Bloomberg Law

2011: WestlawNext Team, Eagan, MN, Thomson Reuters – WestlawNext

2010: Fastcase, Inc., Fastcase Legal Research iPhone App

2009: William S. Hein & Co., Inc., Subject Compilations of State Laws (HeinOnline)

2008: Cassidy Cataloging Services, Inc., WLX Cataloging Record Service (WLX E Treatise Collection, Lexis II Primary Sources, and Westlaw IV Journals & Law Reviews)

2007: No award

2006: No award

2005: Thomson Gale, The Making of Modern Law

2004: Jenkins Law Library & American Lawyer Media, http://www.palawlibrary.com

2003: No award

2002: No award

2001: W.S. Hein & Co., Inc., Hein-On-Line

2000: IndexMaster, Inc., IndexMaster

1999: West Group, Key Cite

1998: Congressional Information Services, Inc., CIS Congressional Universe

1997: BNA, Inc., Health Law & Business Series

1996: No award

1995: Shepard’s McGraw-Hill, Inc., How to Shepardize

It’s about time: LexisNexis publishes first multimedia secondary work

Since the foreshadowed demise of Lexis and Westlaw classic versions back in 2010 and 2011, I’ve been expecting to see the use of multimedia by our very expensive digital legal publishers in their newer search service platforms because it could be a transformative value-add-on for the traditional text-only electronic delivery of legal information. LexisNexis’ The Wagstaffe Group Practice Guide: Federal Civil Procedure Before Trial embeds 150+ short videos within the content of the work when you subscribe to the publication on Lexis Advance. LexisNexis press release. It appears, however, that the videos may not be embedded in a standalone eBook edition of this work. The work’s blurb notes “The eBook versions of this title feature links to Lexis Advance for further legal research options. Video content and links are exclusively available with a subscription to this title on Lexis Advance.” That’s disappointing but not unexpected; both Thomson Reuters and LexisNexis require a subscription to their search service to access resources linked to in their eBooks.

H/T to Bob Ambrogi’s LawSite post. See also Jean O’Grady’s Treatises are not dead they are just being transformed. Lexis Launches First Video Treatise. Can the Gamified Treatise Be Far Behind? — Joe

“Low-cost can cost you” campaign: Does LexisNexis now acknowledge that Fastcase and Casemaker (and even Google Scholar) pose competitive threats?

On Lextalk, LexisNexis makes an obvious distinction: it offers resources low-cost search services do not provide. In a nutshell, Low-Cost Legal Research = Low-Value Results. LexisNexis Equips You with Much, Much More (March 18, 2017) claims that Lexis Advance is simply better because of its offerings (even if you don’t need the resources, tools and other value-add-ons). No metrics, no comparison of search engine performance, simply an unsubstantiated warning to lawyers that “cost savings usually equals case-law light,” meaning as displayed below, “low-cost can cost you.” See also Lextalk’s Low-Cost Legal Research: Go Cheap, Get Gaps. Go LexisNexis, Gain Confidence (Apr. 5, 2017).

In LexisNexis Comes Out Swinging Against Lower-Cost Legal Research Services, the Lawyerist’s Lisa Needham makes a perceptive observation: “What LexisNexis seems to overlook in their eagerness to go after everyone else is that it merely highlights how much they see things like Fastcase and Google Scholar as competition. If you’re scared enough to mount an entire campaign about how great you are and how terrible other services are, you’ve pretty much already acknowledged that they represent a legitimate threat. Fastcase and Casemaker should be nothing but proud to be highlighted in this fashion.”

Competition is definitely increasing in the small law market with Lexis, Westlaw and Fastcase in a virtual tie in the small law market and it does look like Lexis is mounting a campaign to acquire a larger install base in it. Lextalk recently published posts such as Texas Legal Research: 4 Ways to Get It Done Quickly, Thoroughly, Massachusetts Legal Research: 4 Ways to Get It Done Quickly, Thoroughly and Illinois Legal Research: 4 Ways to Get It Done Quickly, Thoroughly, all of which were published on April 25, 2017. Each post offers a discount for Lexis Advance that is limited to any attorney in a law firm with 1 – 50 attorneys. So has Lexis been losing ground to Casemaker and Fastcase in the Texas, Massachusetts and Illinois small law market? — Joe

End note: Members of the state bars of Texas, Massachusetts and Illinois receive Fastcase access as a membership benefit.

Why is Thomson Reuters’ profit margin for tax and accounting resources and services so much lower than its legal resources and services division?

At the close of 2016, Thomson Reuters reported that the operating profit margin excluding fourth quarter charges for Thomson Reuters Legal was 30%. For Thomson Reuters Tax & Accounting, the operating profit margin excluding fourth quarter charges was 20%. This 10 percentage point difference is not atypical in the Company’s annual financial reports for both divisions. Some years the difference is even greater. But why?

I believe there are sufficient similarities to compare these two markets. Consumers in both markets are, for example, information and analytics intensive professionals. Both markets acquire similar information resources with (presumably) similar publishing costs. And both markets are dominated by a small number of very large and expensive value-adding suppliers who offer a similar mix of resources and services in print and digital formats.

Is the answer to the question “why?” that Thomson Reuters’ faces stiffer competition from specialty law publishers like Wolters Kluwer and Boomberg BNA to produce a 10% percentage point profit margin differential? Or is it that tax and accounting information consumers are better price negotiators than we are? I think both come into play. But since one can negotiate better pricing — one has greater bargaining power — in a more competitive market, competition from well-entrenched specialty tax and accounting providers probably is the primary reason Thomson Reuters’ profit margin is 10 percentage points lower that its legal division.

Being privately held, we have no financial data for Bloomberg BNA but we do for Wolters Kluwer. In 2016, Wolters Kluwer’s operating profit margin for its Tax & Accounting division was 26.9%, almost 7 percentage points better that Thomson Reuters’ Tax & Accounting division. One can almost say that Thomson Reuters is an also-ran in the tax and accounting market. Of course, one can also say that Wolters Kluwer is also almost an also-ran in the more general law and regulatory market because that market is dominated by LexisNexis and Thomson Reuters. (Wolters Kluwer reported an operating profit margin of only 12% for its Legal & Regulatory division. Remember, Thomson Reuters Legal reported a 30% profit margin.)

In a practice I would recommend to library budget managers because of the insights to be gained, I have followed the financial reporting of RELX Group (for LexisNexis), Thomson Reuters (for TR Legal) and Wolters Kluwer for several years now, since the beginnings of the Great Recession in fact. This information is handy to have for background purposes when representatives from our very expensive value-adding providers of law and law-related information knock on your office door to discuss their latest offer. — Joe

Bloomberg Law gets a make-over

Spurred by customer complaints about the difficulty they experienced navigating BLaw, Bloomberg Law has rolled out a streamlined user interface for conducting searches and finding specific types of content. For much more, see Bob Ambrogi’s In Major Redesign, Bloomberg Law Streamlines Its Search Interface. — Joe

Going digital only: CALL responds to possibility that print publication of annual Statutes of Canada may be discontinued

From Connie Crosby’s, (President of the Canadian Association of Law Libraries (CALL)) letter to Minister of Public Services and Procurement Canada wherein she explains the concern Canadian law librarians have about the possibility that the annual Statutes of Canada will stop being published in print:

Recordkeeping is an important foundation of any advanced democracy. In Canada, the Publication of Statutes Act and its regulations were designed to ensure that all Canadians were provided with long term access to archival versions of our statutes. This law was necessary at the time to ensure that the medium chosen (paper) conformed to the best standards known at the time for archival formats. In a common law system history matters; this means that all citizens are entitled to long term access to our statutes, and the government must keep this squarely at front of mind at all times.

The question is, what law is necessary today to ensure that the medium chosen (digital) conforms to the best standards known at the time for archiving?

And on CALL recommendations in the Crosby letter:

If the government continues on the path towards “digital only” publication of the Statutes of Canada, we would encourage you to REPLACE the Publication of Statutes Act with a comprehensive plan that considers:

  • maintaining a small print run for long-term preservation purposes;

  • the future of the Canada Gazette, and in particular the Canada Gazette Part Three which provides our only official online version of annual statutes, as well as the helpful Table of Proclamations;

  • the future of the Table of Public Statutes. This Table was published as a stationary publication in the Statutes of Canada each year. The online version on Justice Laws is not sustainable in its current format – an annual archived version could be contemplated;

  • what will be the official version of our Statutes of Canada moving forward in a digitalage?

  • a way to maintain the side-by-side, English/French comparison, which can be an important part of some statutory interpretation exercises, while still meeting accessibility requirements.

H/T to and for more, see Michel-Adrien Sheppard’s Slaw post. — Joe