Publishing/Writing: Insights, News, Intrigue


The Printed Book – The Latest On Its Fate

                       Printed Books – Here to Stay?

In the continuing development of the ‘evolving publishing industry’, as in the evolution of ANY industry or of the world, itself, for that matter, there are going to be growth spurts and plateaus.

And when either one of these phenomena occur, speculation runs rampant Re why – and all kinds of predictions materialize running all the way from Armageddon of a product (e.g. the printed book) to the newest replacement product (e.g. the ebook)!

The truth of the matter is neither of these book platforms are going anywhere – In fact, more hitherto unknown platforms will be marching onto the publishing stage in the future AND the future thereafter 🙂

What is and will be happening is the acceptance of existing and new publishing products will be integrated, massaged and utilized by different demographic areas at different times.

Tonight’s research article outlines one such current ‘state of the printed book’ forecast; with a little of its history thrown in for good measure:


The Past, Present and Future of the Printed Book

By Anuj Srivas as printed in The Wire

Hear that? That’s the sound of Johannes Gutenberg rolling in his grave. Amazon, the very company that has done the most to disrupt the industry surrounding the printing press, has opened a physical bookstore.

Dustin Kurtz over at New Republic has a great review of what the company is billing as a “brick-and-mortar store without walls”: Amazon Books, located just outside a shopping mall named University Village in Seattle, comes with the company’s touch; reviews, ratings and all. Books are organised into stacks such as “Most Wish-listed Cookbooks”, customers can look at online reviews while physically browsing a book and the price of all inventory is determined by Amazon’s online algorithm, the one used for the company’s website.

Perhaps it’s only fitting that Amazon has finally opened a bookstore. The store’s existence shows us how developments in the publishing industry, which has often confused business analysts, have come full circle over the past ten years.

The all-too-familiar tale of digital disruption that we’ve seen play out in television (Netflix), transportation (Uber/Ola Cabs), accommodation (Airbnb) and music (iTunes, Spotify) hasn’t quite applied to the printed word. This isn’t to suggest, however, that Amazon is throwing in the towel and plans to open any more bookstores, or even pursue it as a serious strategy; only that the march of technological progress hasn’t followed its usual course.

Read the entire article here.


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Who Said Print Publishing Is Not Flourishing? An Example of Immense Growth


John R. Austin, Writer and Blog Researcher

Tonight’s post will examine one area of immense print publishing growth and reveal a little of just how it is being accomplished. From initial scouting for markets, setting up contacts/relationships, nailing down actual agreements all the way to setting up distribution channels, etc.

And where is this occurring? In South Korea in their English-as-a-second-language (ESL) educational course programs and children’s books.

Two key excerpts:

‘South Korean publishers have descended on the Guadalajara International Book Fair (FIL) in Mexico in a bid to tap into the potentially vast Latin American ESL market.’

‘The Korean Publishers Association is present at the FIL, heading a delegation of two educational publishers keen to expand into Latin America with English and Chinese-language learning textbooks.’

Come have your eyes opened a bit on how print is flourishing/expanding in other countries 🙂


This researched and reported by Adam Critchley in the Growth Markets section of Publishing Perspectives:


South Korean Publishers Eye Latin America’s Vast ESL Market

The South Korea stand at the Guadalajara International Book Fair

South Korean education publishers see Latin America as a potential growth market for their popular English-as-a-second-language learning materials.

South Korean publishers have descended on the Guadalajara International Book Fair (FIL) in Mexico in a bid to tap into the potentially vast Latin American ESL market.

The Korean Publishers Association is present at the FIL, heading a delegation of two educational publishers keen to expand into Latin America with English and Chinese-language learning textbooks.

Angie H Roh

“Our priority is to target countries where English is needed as a second language and there is market demand for children’s English education. We know Mexico is one of the countries with the highest demand, for example,” Angie H. Roh, marketing manager for Caramel Tree, told Publishing Perspectives.

Caramel Tree is a children’s imprint of JLS, a Seoul-based educational company with offices in Seattle, San Francisco and Vancouver.

“We provide textbooks for children from kindergarten to elementary school level learning English as a second language,” Angie said.

“We have international clients and we provide partial customization of books if required. We have 200 for elementary children and publish between 20 and 30 new titles every year. As well as export we have more than 100 ESL schools in South Korea, and therefore our print runs are high for our captive market.

Outside South Korea, other Asian countries such as China, Singapore and Thailand are our biggest markets, and we’re in talks with distributors in Brazil, Peru and Mexico.

“We definitely think there is a lot of potential for us in Latin America.”

The firm either imports directly to distributors, currently in 10 countries, or strikes up partnerships with publishers that bring out its books under license, and sells physical and ebooks via Amazon.

“Our books are written by English, Canadian and American children’s book authors, and we buy exclusive rights,” she said.

Kim Eun Hee


Kong & Park is the other textbook publisher hawking its wares in Guadalajara in a bid to expand its catalog of Spanish-language books into countries such as Argentina, Chile, Colombia and Mexico.

The Seoul-based publisher, which also has offices in Schaumburg, Illinois, is also looking to distribute Spanish-language books for learning Chinese characters in Latin America, according to the firm’s president Kyung-Yong Kong.

“We had yet to establish a relationship with Latin America, and so we have come to Guadalajara to allow our publishers to expand into new markets,” Korean Publishers Association international project development director Kim Eun Hee said.

“It’s a potentially huge market and we want to open it up. There are many readers but we have yet to see what they are interested in, whether it’s just picture books and textbooks, or also South Korean literature.”

South Korean publishers’ biggest markets for educational books are China, Taiwan, Japan and Thailand, she said.

Despite having an 84% Internet penetration rate, one of the world’s highest for a country of nearly 50 million people, the ebook has yet to take off, Kim said.

“Many people still like to read paper books, and with children, many parents are reluctant to let their children read on electronic devices.”

Readers’ love of books is evidenced by the country having more than 31,000 registered publishing companies and more than 13,000 libraries.

Also present at the FIL is the Literature Translation Institute of Korea, which provides translation and publication grants for South Korean writers.

The KLTI has formed an alliance with Toluca, Mexico-based publisher Bonobos Editores to produce books by authors from each country for translation and publication in Mexico and South Korea.

South Korean poet Keong Ho-Seung (b. 1950) presented his book Morir después de amar at the book fair, published by Bonobos in Spanish translation earlier this year.


More on Disrupting the Book Publishing Game

New publisher will do marketing & distribution

Or is ‘improving’ a better word than ‘disrupting’?

The Foundry Group, a venture capital firm located in Boulder, Colorado, is entering the book publishing field with an interesting but not totally new business model.

The purpose of the new Foundry Group Press (FGP) will be to connect authors directly with readers by exterminating the traditional role of publishers. FGP will split book revenue 50 – 50, not as good as Amazon, BUT, FGP will help with marketing and distribution (a big deal if done right) and commit to “uncompromising use of forward-looking technologies and approaches to create the best possible book,” their site said.

FGP will also produce traditional print books as well as digital e-books.

Co-founder and CEO Dane McDonald and especially Foundry Group managing director Brad Feld (a prolific writer in his own right) offer many insightful thoughts in their own published books that show why the relationship between authors, publishers, and readers is broken—and that publishing houses are at fault.

Insightful publishing research links are included in tonight’s source data article written by  in the Xconomy (Boulder/Denver):


Foundry Group Looking to Disrupt Book Publishing With New Startup

The Foundry Group is getting into the book publishing game.

The Boulder, CO-based venture capital firm said Wednesday that it has formed FG Press, a startup publishing house.

The purpose of the new press will be to better connect authors and readers by upending the traditional role of publishers, according to the FG Press website.

“We believe there should be no barrier to entry for the creation of long-form content, quality should never be compromised to grow the bottom line, and there should exist a direct and continuous relationship between author and reader,” the site said.

Sounds idealistic, perhaps, but not naïve. Among the innovations the press will offer is a 50-50 split of revenue from book sales, help with marketing and distribution, and a commitment to be “uncompromising in using forward-looking technologies and approaches to create the best possible book,” the site said.

The press will produce traditional print books and digital e-books, and it will experiment with technologies that allow for interaction between authors and readers, according to the site.

Co-founder and CEO Dane McDonald said the company will work with authors from a variety of genres, but at the start it will focus on what its backers know best—books about startups, entrepreneurship, and business management, along with some science fiction.

The press already plans to publish eight books this year. It will be self-funded and is a separate entity from Foundry Group.

Article continues here

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Print Gaining Popularity with Twenty-Somethings; Digital with Septuagenarians! Say What?

2013 Tokyo International Book Fair — Where Young People Preferred Print!

Interesting survey by BookLive Co with revealing numbers. Could be what I suspected for some time, that print would not only not degrade to zero but would actually experience a rebirth of sorts in time, may be coming to fruition.

And the underlying reasons are perfectly understandable. The survey and resulting data came from this year’s Tokyo International Book Fair (TIBF) and can be extrapolated globally.

Why wouldn’t older folks welcome lower unit book costs, lighter weight, adjustable text for failing eyes and greater choice from one device?

Is print prancing again? Could be.

More details and numbers by Edward Nawotka (and Dennis Abrams) in Publishing Perspectives:


Japanese 20-yr-olds Favor Print, Septuagenarians Like Digital: Why?


A survey conducted at this year’s Tokyo International Book Fair revealed a surprising fact: more seniors than young people are open to using electronic books.

The Japan Times reports that close to 70% of Japanese in their 20s prefer traditional paper to digital books, while less than 50% of those in their 70s feel the same way, according to a survey conducted by BookLive Co., an ebook arm of Toppan Printing Co.

The results, according to the Times, also suggest that more seniors are ready to switch to ebooks if they see a clear advantage to them, such as lower cost.

When asked what they want from e-books, 52.5% said low price. And among those who have already taken the leap into ebooks, 70.4% wanted to have a greater range of titles available.

But the statistics can be deceiving. First, the survey looks at ebooks — not manga and comics — which dominate the digital market. Japanese consumers turned to digital manga for a very good reason, and it’s not one you might expect: the most popular titles are typically published in print in large, thick compendiums. The book is cumbersome to read, particularly for a commuter. The emergence of the digital manga made it much more convenient and easy to read these very popular editions.

Other books, such as novels, on the other hand, are typically printed in small, light, beautifully produced pocket-sized editions (often on beautiful paper, I might add). The books are appealing and easy to carry and read. This, coupled with no particular price advantage (ebooks are typically priced at 70% to 80% of print prices) means that print still hold much of their appeal.


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The World’s First Truly Global Trade Book Publishing Company?

The Penguin Random House merger comes with costs you won’t find on a price sticker

‘A wave of consolidation has snapped what made imprints distinctive.’ – Boris Kachka

Does everyone really know just what the hell an ‘imprint’ is?

Is it a ‘bought’ company that now comes under the management and rules of the ‘buyer’ company but can still fly its own flag over its published works (sort of like a consolation prize for selling out)?

Or, as WikiAnswers defines it: it is the ‘ “brand name” under which a book is published. Most major publishers have at least a few imprints. Some of these imprints are organized as subsidiaries, or “companies within a company,” with their own editorial staffs, release lists, etc. Others are strictly brand names slapped on a book purchased and edited somewhere in the corporation. (According to Wikipedia, Random House, the world’s largest English-language trade book publisher, has more than 50 imprints.)

While the above definitions may be partially accurate (?) Wikipedia probably has the ‘most’ accurate idea of a publishing house imprint simply because it is the most complicated (like all things Re legacy publishing) 🙂 :

‘In the publishing industry, an imprint can mean several different things:

  • A piece of bibliographic information about a book, it refers to the name and address of the book’s publisher and its date of publication as given at the foot or on the verso of its title page.[1]
  • It can mean a trade name under which a work is published.[citation needed] One single publishing company may have multiple imprints; the different imprints are used by the publisher to market works to different demographic consumer segments. In some cases, the diversity results from the takeover of smaller publishers (or parts of their business) by a larger company. This usage of the word has evolved from the first meaning given above.
  • It can also refer to a finer distinction of a book’s version than “edition“.[citation needed] This is used to distinguish, for example different printings, or printing runs of the same edition, or to distinguish the same edition produced by a different publisher or printer. With the creation of the “ISBN” identification system, which is assigned to a text prior to its printing, a different imprint has effectively come to mean a text with a different ISBN—if one had been assigned to it.
  • Under the UK Printer’s Imprint Act 1961,[2] which amended the earlier Newspapers, Printers, and Reading Rooms Repeal Act 1869, any printer must put their name and address on the first or last leaf of every paper or book they print or face a penalty of up to £50 per copy. In addition, under the Political Parties, Elections and Referendums Act 2000, any election material – including websites – must show the name of the promoter of the material and the name and address of the person on whose behalf it is being published.’

Actually though, imprints (and how they are or are not allowed to operate) have a greater affect on readers and writers when publishers consolidate as just happened with Random House and Penguin.

After consolidation, some companies prevent their imprints from bidding against one another for manuscripts. This results in not only lower advances for writers — ‘but also fewer options for writers to get the kind of painstaking attention — from editors, marketers and publicists — that it takes to turn their manuscripts into something valuable.’

Boris Kachka writes these details in The New York Times:

Book Publishing’s Big Gamble 

“IT’S official,” Alfred A. Knopf Sr. tweeted last week. “We’re now #PenguinRandomHouse.”

Mr. Knopf — or rather his ghostly avatar, the actual publisher havingsold his namesake firm to Random House in 1960, died in 1984 and rolled over many times since — was celebrating the largest book-publishing merger in history.

The mergerannounced last October and completed on July 1 after regulatory approval, shrinks the Big Six, which publish about two-thirds of books in the United States, down to the Big Five. HarperCollins has reportedly been flirting with Simon & Schuster, which would take it down to four. (The others are Hachette and Macmillan.)

The creation of Penguin Random House (“the world’s first truly global trade book publishing company”) is partly a response to unprecedented pressures on these “legacy” publishers — especially from Amazon, which came out on the winning end of an antitrust lawsuit over the setting of e-book prices. It is also a way to gain leverage and capital in an industry that has been turned upside down. This endgame may be inevitable, but its consequences can’t be ignored.

Consolidation carries costs you won’t find on a price sticker. Dozens of formerly independent firms have been folded into this conglomerate: not just Anchor, Doubleday, Dutton, Knopf, Pantheon, G. P. Putnam’s Sons and Viking, which still wield significant resources, but also storied names like Jonathan Cape, Fawcett, Grosset & Dunlap, and Jeremy P. Tarcher. Many of these have been reduced to mere imprints, brands stamped on a book’s title page, though every good imprint bears the faint mark of a bygone firm with its own mission and sensibility.

Read and learn more

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S and M = Sadomasochism or Serious Money?

50 Shades of Grey by E.L. James (pictured)

Sadomasochism (deriving sexual pleasure by giving or receiving rough sex pain) has never been a favorite pastime of mine — But, it is a hot, in-demand, reading topic since ’50 Shades of Grey’ hit the shelves in the U.S. about four months ago.

‘With more than 20 million copies sold in four months in the U.S., the erotic Fifty Shades trilogy seems to be giving mouth-to-mouth to the barely breathing book industry—and slipping in some tongue for good measure. The series accounted for one in five adult print books sold this spring, so it makes sense that publishers are scrambling to reproduce its success.’

These interesting details and numbers are provided by Lizzie Crocker in The Daily Beast

Publishing Looks for S&M

With more than 20 million copies sold in four months in the U.S., the erotic Fifty Shades trilogy seems to be giving mouth-to-mouth to the barely breathing book industry—and slipping in some tongue for good measure. The series accounted for one in five adult print books sold this spring, so it makes sense that publishers are scrambling to reproduce its success.

“E.L. James has opened up these genres to a whole new subset of readers who might not have previously been familiar with them,” said Paul Bogaards, executive vice president of Knopf, whose imprint, Vintage, publishes Fifty Shades. Sylvia Day’s Bared to You, an erotic romance with Grey-like themes (emotionally burdened characters and rough sex), has climbed to the top 10 on several bestseller lists. Originally self-published in April, Bared to You was picked up a month later by Berkley Books and marketed as a Fifty Shades clone, down to its gray book jacket featuring a pair of cuff links and the tagline: “He possessed me and obsessed me.”

Day insists Bared to You is different from Fifty Shades because it’s not a Cinderella story, but she didn’t fight Berkley’s marketing strategy and even thanked E.L. James in the back of the book.

Fifty Shades has absolutely contributed to sales,” said Day, whose previous bestselling book, Bad Boys Ahoy!, sold about 9,000 copies. Bared to You has already sold roughly 10 times that number.

Read and learn more

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History Says: Book Publishing Will Survive Digital Age

Book Publishing Survival?

How many times have you heard the old adage ‘if history is any indication …’

Well, I found a little history and intrigue RE the publishing industry that points out its numerous fights for survival against medieval digital-age-like challenges 🙂 The results of these scrimmages may point to a future outcome a little different than envisioned by some today enamored with all things digital. 

From by Ellen F. Brown:

Why Book Publishing Can Survive Digital Age

Word on the street is that the publishing industry is under attack by technology. Inc. has launched a bare-knuckled assault against independent bookstores. Print-on-demand firms make it possible for anyone to get his work on the market, and thus threaten to render agents and editors obsolete. And with e-books priced so low, how can authors and booksellers earn a decent living?

Yet the publishing industry has a long history of weathering these sorts of challenges, and its past offers some optimism for the future.

In the 1920s, drug, grocery and department stores gave booksellers fits by offering popular titles at cut-rate prices. An old industry yarn tells the story of a flapper looking to buy lipstick. She walks into a bookstore and excuses herself when she realizes she had made a mistake. “I’m sorry,” she says, “I thought this was a drugstore, I saw books in the window.”

Also problematic was the Book of the Month Club, a distribution company founded in 1926 that sold inexpensive hardcover versions of popular books through mail order. Within 10 years of its founding, the club had almost 200,000 members. Ten years later, there were more than 50 imitator clubs in North America with more than 3 million participants.

And, of course, there was the ultimate competitor to bookstores: public libraries. Throughout the first half of the 20th century, communities across the U.S. funded the construction of facilities where books could be had for free, albeit only on loan.

Then came the “paperback revolution.” According to Publishers Weekly, word spread at the 1939 American Booksellers Convention that “some reckless publisher” was going to bring out a series of paperback reprints of popular novels to be sold for only a quarter a piece. The industry was equal measures aghast at the nerve of such a plan — American readers had proved notoriously resistant to paperbacks — and terrified that it might succeed. Major publishers fretted that, if the books proved popular, the reprints would kill hardcover sales of the featured titles. Most booksellers refused to stock the series, unwilling to compete with their existing inventories of full-priced books.

Undeterred by the negative buzz, publisher Robert de Graff advertised his New Pocket Books directly to readers with a mail-order coupon system and to wholesalers who sold magazines to newsstands and grocery stores. He touted his books as small enough to be carried in a pocket or purse and “as handy as a pencil, as modern and convenient as a portable radio — and as good looking.”

The industry watched with amazement when the books sold like wildfire. Skeptical publishers couldn’t remain aloof for long in the face of such obvious success and rushed to produce their own lines of paperback reprints.

Read and learn more

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An 84 Year Old Surviving, Thriving Bookstore!

Benjamin Bass, founder, the Strand Book Store in NY

Who the hell said that bookstores are a thing of the past … emulsified in the wake of the digital storm?

I got news! There is an 84-year-old bookstore in New York that is not only still standing …  BUT, is thriving on the printed word …

Behnam Nateghi reports in The Voice of America:

Books and bookstores, have been having a hard time in the United States in the last few years.  Not long ago, large discount booksellers drove many small, independent book stores out of business.  Now,  those superstores are taking a hit from on-line and digital book sellers. Borders —  the country’s number two book chain — recently declared bankruptcy and Amazon says it is now selling more e-books than printed ones. But in New York City, there’s a family owned, independent book store that is still going strong.

Family owned business

The Strand Book store, in New York’s East Village, is surrounded by huge buildings belonging to New York University. It is more than 84 years old and is among the oldest cultural institutions in New York. It’s affectionately known for the row of tables outside, filled with one-dollar books.

Nancy Bass Wyden, Strand’s manager, is the granddaughter of the store’s founder, Benjamin Bass.  

Nancy and her father, Fred Bass, say the store owes at least part of its success to its location in New York City.

Read and learn more  

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Espresso Printed Books…Instantly at Point of Sale!

I have posted many times RE my belief that the rapid developing new digital publishing technology would also spur new streamlined print technology tangentially.

One aspect of the new print tech is here and sold by On Demand Books.

Customers enter a brick-and-mortar store, or in some cases a library, and purchase any book from On Demand’s massive catalog of public domain and copyrighted titles, pay for the title, and walk out with a fully-bound, professional-quality paperback print copy of the book.”

You like printed books? Get yours here…And now…At your command.

This from Good eReader by Mercy Pilkington:

OnDemand Books Provides the Technology to Run Digital Publishing

Dane Neller, CEO of On Demand Books, which produces the software and machinery for the Espresso Book Machine, had a specific goal in mind for the BookExpo America 2011 event: to convince publishers that giving customers and book retailers the power to print any of its almost 7 million titles directly at the point of sale was a good idea.

“BookExpo was everything we hoped, it was a very promising three days. We met with a lot of publishers who are now on board with the idea of releasing their titles to our catalog for immediate sale to customers,” says Neller of On Demand’s presence at BookExpo.

It shouldn’t have been a hard sell. Customers enter a brick-and-mortar store, or in some cases a library, and purchase any book from On Demand’s massive catalog of public domain and copyrighted titles, pay for the title, and walk out with a fully-bound, professional-quality paperback print copy of the book. Yet there have been publishers who are reluctant to release their titles to print-on-demand technology, largely due to the relationships they maintain with their printing houses. Another hurdle to leap is the fact that publishers set a suggested retail price for books and the booksellers set the actual price’ On Demand simply makes the technology available without getting involved in the politics of setting price points.

But On Demand’s Espresso Book Machine is a win-win for publishers, booksellers, authors, and readers. The publisher chalks up another sale, the book store can push high-interest product without losing valuable shelf space to stagnant inventory, the author comes away with another happy member of his fan base, and the reader gets a great book.

Read and learn more

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E-books Sales Up – Print Books Maintaining

Filed under: Amazon,Apple,e-books,iPad,Kindle sales,print books — gator1965 @ 2:50 pm

Another view that puts print books in proper perspective…They are still a strong force.

Bob Hoover , of the Pittsburg Post-Gazette, writes this intuitive piece that points out some figures that are sometimes ignored or forgotten:
Amazon, the online retailer, has been selling its Kindle digital book reader for nearly three years now, one of a handful of these electronic devices, including the recent Apple iPad that combines a bunch of “applications” that the other digital readers lack.

Despite the makers’ suggestions that the device will make the old-fashioned print book extinct, it seems clear, for some time to come, at least, that these “appliances” are alternatives to books, not replacements.

My two-week experience with a Kindle last year convinced me that it’s fine for reading straightforward narrative fiction and nonfiction while traveling, but it’s a cold, impersonal experience for a “dinosaur” like myself, not raised on computer screens.

And, it’s the screen itself that limits the eyes from roaming around unlike a standard book with its two-page view, as though you are inhabiting the story rather than getting it in restricted chunks.

No matter. E-book readers are selling well. Apple said last week it had sold 3.27 million iPads since April. Amazon said Kindle sales have tripled. Sony chimed in as well, claiming to have scored 10 million book sales at its online download store.

What boosted those sales was price cuts. Barnes & Noble sells a Nook model for $149; Amazon dropped the Kindle from $259 to $189 recently.

Amazon raised the level of its aggressive marketing strategy last week when it announced that e-book sales have surpassed print book totals on its website.

“Over the past month, for every 100 hardcover books has sold, it has sold 180 Kindle books,” the company said.

Jeff Bezos, founder and CEO, called the event “the tipping point” for digital books, meaning his company’s digital-book department and its Kindle.

Perhaps we should place that claim into perspective.

As Michael Cader of the trade observer Publishers Lunch pointed out, sales of print books last year were 205 million, a number that must reduce digital book numbers to insignificance at this point — if we had those figures, but Amazon won’t provide specific numbers, either for book or Kindle sales.

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