News 28.07.2023

Need to Know

Digital Public Library of America counters book bans with new book club, Marta Indeka’s Foresight Friday and why Klarna’s daily downloads are dropping.

Digital Public Library of America launches banned book club

The Banned Book Club by Digital Public Library of America, US

US – The Digital Public Library of America (DPLA) has introduced The Banned Book Club, a new initiative to combat the rise in book bans in schools and public libraries across the US. In partnership with creative agency FCB Chicago, DPLA offers free access to banned books for readers affected by bans.

The Banned Book Club uses GPS-based geo-targeting to create virtual libraries in communities where specific books have been banned. Readers can download these banned books for free on any hand-held device using the Palace e-reader app.

John S Bracken, executive director of Digital Public Library of America, said in a statement: ‘Today, book bans are one of the greatest threats to our freedom, and we have created The Banned Book Club to leverage the dual powers of libraries and digital technology to ensure that every American can access the books they want to read.’

Supported by former President Barack Obama and former First Lady Michelle Obama, The Banned Book Club stands as a digital solution to promote the free exchange of ideas and safeguard the right to access diverse literary voices and stories covering topics such as gender, race, identity and feminism – narratives known to educate and empower marginalised communities that some US politicians would prefer to censor.

Strategic opportunity

With constraints like book bans reducing free access to educational resources on topics related to women’s rights, race and identity, employers should set higher diversity and inclusion targets to provide their team members with alternatives. Ensure your company is not only a safe space but also a learning space

Foresight Friday: Marta Indeka, senior foresight analyst

Victoria Ling for The Future Laboratory Victoria Ling for The Future Laboratory

Every Friday, The Future Laboratory team offer an end-of-week wrap-up of the topics, issues, ideas and virals we’re all talking about. This week, senior foresight analyst Marta Indeka shares snippets of surrealism – shoes that look like filters, filters that look like lemons and gender equality in sports.

: I am no football fan, but this brilliant ad by Orange is something I can cheer. Although, now that fashion designer Martine Rose has unveiled her own sports channel, MRSTV, I might just pick up an interest in the ball sport.

: Speaking of celebrations of women’s contributions to culture on the small screen, I’m excited about Netflix’s upcoming documentary on women in hip-hop. I hope that Ladies First will succeed where The Idol failed in portraying how women can rewrite what it means to find fulfilment outside of conventional life paths.

: Meme brands are peaking. Riding the success wave of the big red boot, MSCHF has partnered with Crocs for the big yellow perforated boot, shown off by no other than Paris Hilton in the launch campaign. This joint effort to engineer hype makes me wonder: how much plastic will we need to mould for influencers to capture a few seconds worth of content? And what does it entail for the future of footwear manufacturing?

: Coachtopia brought a bag factory on a New York building, Jacquemus rolled lemons at the seaside and Barbie towered over Burj Khalifa in Dubai this week. Bigger-than-life AR activations are having a moment. I look forward to seeing the next creative iterations playing with this blend of surreal and almost deceiving realism.

Quote of the week

‘All we ever wanted was a fucking edit button’

– Twitter user commenting on Elon Musk’s rebranding of the social media platform to X

Stat: Buy Now, Pay Later providers face challenges amid slower growth

Wise. Identity by Ragged Edge Wise. Identity by Ragged Edge

Global ­– After a boom during the pandemic, Buy Now, Pay Later (BNPL) providers are encountering obstacles due to higher interest rates, reduced venture capital availability and investors’ profit expectations. As they seek additional revenue streams and new users, some companies have cut staff and withdrawn from certain markets.

Bank of America analysts tracked app downloads and monthly active users of BNPL providers, including Affirm, Afterpay, Klarna, Sezzle and Zip. The data showed that, although the BNPL industry remains macro-sensitive, it is likely to endure, appealing to specific consumers and merchants.

Sweden’s Klarna reported the largest drop in daily downloads, plunging 38.1% in the second quarter of 2023 compared with the same period the previous year, while San Francisco-based Affirm experienced its first decline of 5.7% in daily downloads in the quarter. Only Australia’s Afterpay saw growth, of 9.2% year on year.

The report also highlighted that repeat users contribute more to BNPL growth than newcomers, especially as younger consumers have an innate trust in the power of technology to help manage their finances, as reported in Money Market: Generation Z. As the industry navigates challenges and changes, analysts await clarity on BNPL providers’ profit models and their ability to weather macroeconomic cycles.

Strategic opportunity

The declining popularity of BNPL indicates that consumers are worried about increasing their debts during a cost of living crisis. How can you as a business lessen the pressure of rising costs on them? Working with consumers will be rewarded with loyalty

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