Lawyers & Librarians: Google’s Battle for the Books

I’m happy to announce the publication of my e-book, The Battle for the Books: Inside Google’s Gambit to Build the World’s Biggest Library.

This is a 50 page tale of gossip and rivalries between lawyers and librarians, and shows a cultural collision between Silicon Valley and the east coast over control of books and knowledge. You can order it here from Amazon, Apple or Barnes & Noble.


Welcome to My Website

Thanks for visiting.

This website provides an overview of my work as a lawyer and a journalist and is only updated from time to time.

Please visit my profile page to learn more about who I am and what I do.

You can find some of my clips immediately below or on the “Best of” page.

If you wish to contact me with an idea for paidContent or GigaOM, please email: jeff.roberts [at]

For other matters, I can be reached at: jeffjohnroberts [at] gmail dot com

A Tale of Love and Kidnapping

Kristen Mulvihill and David Rohde knew of the risks involved in Rohde’s work as a foreign correspondent for The New York Times. Before getting married, they had even discussed the worst, including what to do if Rohde was killed overseas.

The couple had not, however, contemplated what to do if kidnappers grabbed Rohde and told his wife she must pay $25 million and secure the release of Guantanamo prisoners to save his life.

Read more in the Overseas Press Club Bulletin

Protecting the bagel and other national treasures

Amid the parade of iconic brands that adorn Beverly Hills is an unexpected piece of culinary culture from home. There, one block from Rodeo Drive, is a small establishment called St. Urbain Street Bagels that offers up Montreal’s famous foodstuff in a bakery full of historical posters of the city.

The sight of a distinctive Canadian culinary item in the world’s most famous shopping district might be cause for pride. Except for one fact: The doughy confections for sale in Beverly Hills have as much resemblance to Montreal bagels as Velveeta does to cheddar. Rather than burnishing the city’s gastronomic image, the pseudo bagel cheapens it.

This diminution of a favourite food raises the question of whether Canada should be doing more to protect its distinctive culinary products.

Read more in the National Post

Anti-guru: Management prof bites big

Strategy gurus beware: management professor Henry Mintzberg is back with a new book that turns some favourite corporate conventions on their head. In Strategy Bites Back (Prentice Hall, 2005, 292 pages) Mintzberg serves up a lighthearted gallery of tidbits to debase and debunk anyone who proclaims to know the secrets of strategy.

Described by Business Voice as “a really cheeky little brat of a book which ought to be spanked soundly and sent to bed without any supper,” Strategy Bites Back promises to make strategy fun once again, slipping witty insight into sections with titles like “Forecasting: Whoops!” “The Soft Underbelly of Hard Data” and “Strategy is a Little Black Dress.”

Read more from the McGill University Press Release

Being Boustan

It’s four o’clock on a grey early-winter afternoon, when Imad Smaidi arrives promptly. In a smart blue shirt and red-and-white tie, he looks restlessly at the crutch under his arm which has kept him from his usual post this past week. Instead, Smaidi’s son, an easy-going 16-year-old, is manning the counter at Boustan today.

Smaidi hobbles to a stool, shakes my hand and invites me to sit down. When asked for his name, he seems almost disinterested, implying that it is not particularly important. And perhaps he is right. After all, for our purposes, he is the Boustan Man-the creator of the best Lebanese food in the city. His chicken and falafel sandwiches are legendary, a source of pilgrimage for tourists and Montrealers alike.

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