a serious post . . . o.m.g . . . the torches burn bright!!!


hello dear readers,

as much as i know you are used to clicking on the link to this blog with the anticipation of giddy school boys and girls awaiting the candy store to open, this blog post may disappoint in its entertainment value. but it surely will entertain your thought-provoked neurons (if there are such things, and i think there are).

maple street. location of a thought-provoking event in a famous episode of that old show, “the twilight zone,” called “the monsters are due on maple street.” there are humans. there are aliens. every conflict has to have two sides. if you haven’t watched it, you should. hysteria ensues, kinda like the story i’m about to discuss.

i have no idea how i missed this story, but i am all over it now because it clearly, in one fell swoop, covers one of the biggest fears associated with e-books, authors and publishers . . . piracy!

now i know you are thinking, what story is she talking about?  THIS ONE! okay, i’ll tell you the title: “piracy witch hunt downs legit e-book lending website.”

whoa. first off, let’s look at some of those terms… “piracy,” “witch hunt,” “legit,” and “e-book.”

i’ll try to break it down in a few bullet points:

  • indie author writes book
  • indie author allows barnes & noble and amazon to sell said book
  • barnes & noble and amazon allow lending privileges for said book (one-time, 14 days)
  • guy creates website to facilitate lending, called lendink (wikipedia site).
  • indie author mistakes lending facilitation for piracy, creates twitmob, indie authors send C&Ds to website guy and his ISP (C&D=cease and desist; ISP=internet service provider)
  • website guy’s ISP downs website
  • website guy cries (okay i made that part up)
  • indie authors realize mistakes, some say “i’m sorry”
  • website guy out of business

that, in a nutshell, is a potent combination of ignorance + confusion + fear with a little greed thrown in for flavor.

FULL DISCLOSURE: i used to work for one of the big box retailers referenced above and in that capacity i worked with a lot of authors, indie and mainstream.

now, i’m not one to cast the first stone (usually, the second), so i read through a few articles about this story before i became outraged and put up this post. my rage is two-pronged and both aimed at the authors. one is the totally ignorant, misguided, mob mentality that resulted from alleged authors FAILING TO READ. AUTHORS FAILING TO READ!!!! ironic? failing to read their agreements with amazon and barnes & noble that THEY signed,  failing to READ the information on lendink’s website, failing to ASK questions, EPIC FAIL!

the second prong is aimed at authors who apologized. i know, sounds counterintuitive. but, hear me out. the amount of effort and misguided anger they put forth to protect their own property simply is not matched by a simple, two-word apology. there was a commercial years ago, where one of the characters said, “sorry doesn’t feed the bulldog.” one author actually said, in her revised comment to lendink’s owner, “Now that I know the truth, I’d be happy to have my books up on your site.” well, OF COURSE YOU WOULD!” isn’t that why you publish to begin with?? so you can feed the bulldog??

*sigh* on a side note, i also blame publishers. they have continued to foster this notion that, somehow, e-books are bad for publishing, bad for authors because it can’t be controlled (of course it can) and it can’t be priced competitively (well, that’s for you to fight out with jeff bezos). an author of one of the articles below says publishers spread FUD (fear, uncertainty, doubt).  unfortunately, at the end of the day, who suffers? in this case, the small business guy and us, the consumers.

well, i’ll get off my soapbox now and leave you with a reading list of articles on the lendink debacle. another side note: in my feeble attempts to use google, i did try to find articles that might have fallen on the side of the misguided aggrieved authors. i couldn’t find any. and i looked. really looked. i really did. if you find something, let us know.

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back from the future … back to the future


Harvey Christensen works on the Oregon State College
Electronic Analog Computer, ca. late 1950s

hello, dear readers

well, a promise is a promise, even if i didn’t really promise.

in a previous blog post, welcoming my own return to the blogosphere, i mentioned that i would be following up on some past blog posts from the infancy of this experiment i call the naked library.


hold on as we go back, back, back in time to…2009. initial blog posting title: winthrop prof uses kindle to spark new age of learning. pretty ambitious, wouldn’t you say?

the winthrop professor is dr. mark herring, who also happens to be the dean of library services at winthrop university, here in good ‘ol south carolina (rock hill, specifically).

his grand experiment? give each student in his class a kindle dx and see what happens. sparks? flames? inferno? 


i emailed dr herring to ask him for an update on his kindle experiment and he was kind enough to respond. i think we might all know where that kindle experiment went, but wait until you see where winthrop’s library went, and dr. herring’s thinking along with it.


read all about it by clicking this link. it’s a microsoft word document i’m sharing with you on google drive. 

google drive? there’s something we haven’t talked about yet that didn’t exist in 2009 – cloud storage for the masses. hmmm…future blog post? probably.

happy reading…no matter the format!

reading?

thumbs up – a discovery of witches (first in a planned trilogy) by deborah harkness. it’s about a witch who doesn’t want to acknowledge she’s a witch who falls in love with a vampire while looking for an obscure monograph also being searched for by other witches, vampires, and werewolves. NO! it’s not twilight. besides, the protagonist is a librarian. trust me on this one… it’s good. really!! seriously!! stop laughing!!


thumbs down – the borrower by rebecca makkai – librarian winds up on road trip with kid, accidentally. i couldn’t pretend a librarian wasn’t smarter.

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is it ‘e’ you’re looking for?


i work at an academic library and a co-worker forwarded a blog posting from “librarian in black.” librarian in black  is really sarah houghton, director for the san rafael public library (california) and the posting is titled “i’m breaking up with e-books (and so can you)“(subtitled e-book suckitude). i like it!

[WARNING! DANGER WILL ROBINSON! it contains salty language! yes, the S-word and the F-word are used, sparingly, but used). still worth the read.

now, i’ll admit that at first glance, i took offense because i…love…e-books! love, love, love them! and paper books, tooooooo!

but upon further investigation, it turns out that sarah (i’ll assume it’s okay to call her sarah) isn’t breaking up with e-books but is breaking up with overdrive, the major e-book provider for libraries in the country. and she’s not planning on picking up with another suitor (sorry, 3m).

okay, this bandwagon i can jump on.  it just so happens that i met last week with one of our local community college librarians who wanted to talk about…you guessed it, e-books and e-book providers.

but, back to sarah and her upcoming bad breakup with overdrive. in her looooong blog post, she compares her library’s relationship with overdrive (through a consortium) with a relationship with a bad boyfriend. nice and shiny and full of promise in the beginning, but eventually all that wears off and you’re left with crap and you settle until one day… 

basically, she sees overdrive as a promise unfulfilled. not only that, but almost as though overdrive was fraudulent in their intent to begin with. 

i tried to highlight the basics in the article, but even the highlights (lowlights) stacked up, but here goes (by the way, this doesn’t mean i don’t want you to read the article!!):

  • the whole situation sucks:  “the copyright nightmares, the publishers, the fragmented formats, the ridiculous terms of service, the device incompatibility, the third-party aggregation companies libraries do business with.”
  • we have ourselves to blame:  “libraries have not been included at the table for negotiations on digital copyright, terms of service, licensing conditions, technology integration, none of it. And yes, that stinks. And yes, we’ve complained about it enough. We haven’t been heard largely because we’ve been too polite and too quiet for too long. It’s our fault. “
  • too many restrictions suck:  “We can’t buy from most of the major publishers, and even for those we can buy from we have extreme restrictions or highly inflated costs… lack of development of usable download processes, fair-use-friendly terms of use, and privacy options in keeping with libraries’ professional values and ethics.”
  • we didn’t get our fair share “eBooks never gave us as libraries–full selection, right-quick downloads, and sharing rights. We got no love at all, but our prettier sister, the consumer, got a better deal. Still not everything, as she also has to put up with restrictive DRM, licensing and not owning, and privacy violations.”

  • the promise of collaboration remains just that “publishers continually feed libraries the line that they’re “experimenting with different models” and “hope to continue to work positively with libraries in the digital space. Uh huh.  Libraries and eBooks aren’t shacking up anytime soon, not for real…not as long as publishers continue to falsely view us as a threat instead of a partner. “

  • maybe it’s just not ready “eBooks in libraries are a non-starter, their path has been set for the foreseeable future, and their future is determined by people who are not us. …those who produce them for profit…the publishers…the, until recently, necessary middlemen in the process between creators and consumers. Now that they’re not necessary to the process anymore, largely due to their inflexibility and inability to change in the face of rapidly shifting market conditions, they have attempted to salvage their failing business model with high prices, limited licensing policies, and technology so locked down that it remains impenetrable to many people.”

kinda in a nutshell. i know it sounds whiny, but i think rightfully so. even in an academic setting, there is still confusion over the e-books we have available in our catalog, i.e., ebsco, netlibrary, etc., that can be used on campus with some restrictions as far as printing, downloading, etc. and those e-books i call “consumer e-books” like the ones they download to their ipads and kindles and nooks from whatever vendor they choose any time they choose and keep for as long as they choose.

what’s a library to do? cliffhanger…spoiler alert!!

here’s sarah: “At our recent regional library consortium meeting, I said I wouldn’t give more money to OverDrive, beyond the bare minimum that the consortium’s contract required of us, and only until we can legally terminate our contract–at which point I personally want out of OverDrive.  The title selection is awful and getting only more so month by month, their policies are restrictive, and their business practices are unethical–including trading away core librarian values (user data privacy, no commercial endorsements).  I’m not going to give any money to 3M or Baker & Taylor either unless things change on their end, just for the record. I’m finished promoting an inferior eBook product to our patrons. I’m finished throwing good money after bad money. And I’m finished trying to pointlessly advocate for change when change has to come from places waaaaaaay above my influence level or pay grade.”

hmmmm. bold. brash. risky? now, granted this is a smallish, public library system. but, when consumers  encounter an inferior product, especially one that’s not a necessity, don’t they stop purchasing it or find an alternative? i don’t like it when the lights go out in my neighborhood due to lack of improvements to infrastructure from my utility company, but i don’t have much choice (unless i go prairie style and use candles for light and warm my water over a campfire). i’m a city girl, forget that!

but i don’t HAVE to have ebooks, i just like ’em. and libraries don’t HAVE to provide e-books. or do they? and if our patrons want e-books, should we just provide them any way we can and let them figure it out? or should we wait to provide them with the best product we can, even if we don’t know that product is coming?

*sigh*

side note: here is a great (and up to date!) chart provided by the colorado library consortium: Comparison of Library eBook Choices

and two other librarian bloggers seem to be on the same bandwagon: andromeda yelton and annoyed librarian.

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where are the books? and the bookkeepers for that matter?

the bookless library @ drexel university

hello, dear readers

this time last year, according to time magazine, (see what i did there? “time,” according to “time” magazine. oh, i crack me up) was the time of the bookless library. kansas state, stanford, drexel and UT-san antonio all have “naked” libraries.

the library without books. which would be called something else, i’m sure, maybe a warehouse, a pod, a large booth or i guess it depends on what else is inside it.

ask any joe or jane on the street to name a building with books in it, probably 5 out of 10 would say library. the other 5 might say bookstore upon hearing the word “book.” so if a building doesn’t have physical books in it, can it still be called a library?

what if it’s a building with chairs? could be an auditorium, could be IKEA.
a building with chairs and computers? could be an internet cafe, could be offices.
what about chairs, computers and e-book collections? could be a bookstore, heck, could be my house!

could that also be called a library? what if you add a cafe?

now, of course, i’m only talking about the physical structure. the library as ‘place’ (ugh!).

oed (oxford english dictionary, of course) definition of library: a place set apart to contain books for reading, study, or reference. (Not applied, e.g. to the shop or warehouse of a bookseller.) note that the definition says contain books (but not what kind – could be e-books, perhaps?)

merriam-webster dictionary: a place in which literary, musical, artistic, or reference materials (as books, manuscripts, recordings, or films) are kept for use but not for sale. hmmm, interesting. not specific to books.

encyclopedia brittanica:
collection of information resources, in print or in other forms, that is organized and made accessible for reading or study. double hmmm, more interesting still. the word “OR” regarding other forms. not “AND.” curious?

the most striking part of this blog post is…
i got none of these definitions from a book

oh, alright, okay, hold on…brb.

okay, 78 steps and 3 minutes later (i work in a library close to the research assistance desk), i have gone to the webster’s 3rd new international dictionary (the physical print volume) for the definition of library: a room, a section or series of sections of a building or a building itself given over to books, manuscripts, musical scores or other literary and sometimes artistic materials, as paintings or musical recordings usually kept in some convenient order for use but not for sale. i love the term “given over” as if there was some sort of invasion of marching tomes. i do find it interesting that this was the only definition that mentioned “some convenient order” as opposed to organized.

now, i’m not complaining here, but in less time than it took me to walk over to that dictionary, i got the previous 3 definitions online. convenient? you betcha!!

now, back to the time magazine article. it mentions drexel university’s new library learning terrace, with nary a book in site. “we don’t just house books, we house learning.”

kansas state’s fiedler library – “fiedler library is designed primarily as an electronic library.”

stanford university’s terman engineering library – pruned all but 10,000 volumes to make room for tables and study space.

univ of texas-san antonio/applied engineering and technology library, – labeled “the nation’s first completely bookless library on a college or university campus.”

what is it that patrons want from a library? books or information or guidance to information?

as for bookkeepers, i really mean librarians. who are they? what are they? if there are no books, does that make a librarian any less a librarian? is he/she now an informarian? hey, i like that. although i hate the term, maybe librarians are now media specialists. or information specialists. or locators? human divining rods? sherpas? will they be any less so if a library doesn’t contain actual books?

maybe our love of libraries comes from its physical, tactical nature. we are, after all, human. humans, usually, judge things through the senses. if something’s rotten in denmark, we know it. can we still find a love for literature if we can’t wander the stacks, using our sight to guide us. our brains to process the information on that all-important inside flap? maybe we’re afraid that we won’t be able to get as much as we have if it’s not laid out in front of us in a physical manner. maybe we’re just . . . afraid.

just something to think about…while you’re wandering the stacks of your library or the aisles of your bookstore, or the electronic bookshelves of amazon or google books or combine the two at barnes & noble. because no matter what or how, a good story is still a good story.

happy reading, no matter the format!

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i’m baaaaack…again!


oh . . . my . . . goodness!! it has been quite a while.

i really thought this post would be about shutting down the blog.

however, i have had two people in the past six months ask me about it. i started this blog, back in 2009, because electronic “everything” was taking over the world and folks were talking!!

my first post was two sentences. haha!! it was a link to a comparison of e-readers: kindles (priced at $259, currently $79), nooks ($259, now $79), the iREX (huh? and it was $399) ,sony’s reader ($399-wha?), and a couple of also-rans.

my second post was about a local professor using a kindle in the classroom. click here for the memories.

in between then and now, we’ve got more kindles and nooks, an iPad that blew us away in terms of what we could do with technology and how portable it could be, e-books downloaded at the press of a button (or two), bluetooth and wireless technology for portable presentations, telephony, and who knows what else.

in 2009, everything old wasn’t new again, it was old. new was new and new was good. new was shiny and new was liberating. new was also scary. who knew? (haha-see what i did there).

so after thinking about this for a while, i realized that there’s still a LOT to talk about in the naked library. sooo much, in fact, that i’ve decided to put the paddles to the heart of this old blog and zap some life back into it. CLEAR!!!

so, there you have it. the naked library is back and her shelves are FULL of stuff you wanna know (or not). here’s a sneak peek of some ideas i’ll be blogging about soon:

  • Free Library of Philadelphia Know-It-Alls 
  • remember the professor i referenced above using kindles back in 2009. i’ve emailed him for an update on what he’s been doing. when i know, you’ll know
  • REAL naked libraries – fad or for-real
alright, i don’t want you to get too excited and spill your coffee or your veggie juice!
hey…it kinda feels good to be back!
happy reading…no matter the format. speaking of reading…
READING: thumbs up: wolf hall by hilary mantel (henry the viii, thomas cromwell, thomas more anne boleyn, good stuff). i read this in preparation of the sequel, bring up the bodies. also, the sisters brothers by patrick dewitt. old-fashioned western starring two brothers. GREAT! thumbs down-what alice forgot. 3/4’s in…i didn’t care anymore.
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book buyers are . . . people! who knew??


ahoy, dear readers

look at the picture to the left. do you recognize what that is? take a close look. what do you see? people? books? magazines? cash register? if you answered museum, you are . . . INCORRECT! if you answered brand new independent bookstore, give yourself a big attaboy or attagirl!

this short post is about a clip i just saw on the vaunted, celebrity-laden, funny and politically tuned “colbert report,” (pronounced coal-bear re-pore) with stephen colbert.

yesterday, february 20th, 2012, colbert (pronounced cole-bare) had the author ann patchett (pronounced pa-chay-no, just kidding, it’s patch-et) on his show. now, if you are reading THIS rag, i mean blog, then surely you know who ann patchett is. she is the author of such wonderful books as the award-winning bel canto, truth and beauty, and her latest, state of wonder.

but, she is also known as the woman who opened an independent book store, parnassus books, in nashville, tennessee when everyone knows the physical book is d-e-a-d, dead as a doornail, dead. why did she open an indie? well, the two bookstores in town, totaling 60,000 square feet) closed. both of them. around the same time. that left no bookstore in nashville. zero. zilch. nada. goose egg.

here’s the interview from the colbert (pronounced, oh, never mind) report with ann patchett. enjoy.

and remember, soylent green is people.

actually, according to ann patchett, maybe bookstores are people? enjoy!!

thumbs up reading – the call by yannick murphy. hunker down in vermont with a large-animal vet and his family.

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OVERdrive UNDERperforms…


dear readers!!!

what the heck is going on in the world of libraries and ebook providers?? why i’ll tell you what’s going on…SHENANIGANS!

penguinUS, publisher of such well known titles as “with a bare bodkin” and “the strange case of miss annie spragg” and some lesser known titles such as “the satanic verses” and “the help,” anyway… has terminated their contract with the company Overdrive. I’m sure you know that, currently, Overdrive is the main provider of e-books to libraries. even here in little ‘ole greenville, south carolina, our county library is a customer of overdrive. heck the NEW YORK PUBLIC LIBRARY uses overdrive to distribute their e-book content to their patrons. the NYPL – the holy grail of public libraries. patience & fortitude. which brings me to my next point…because that’s exactly what you’re going to need when dealing with this issue.

but, dear reader, in the interest of time (and, of course, your edification), i will give you a reading assignment. and, if i haven’t told you before, which i don’t think i have, paidcontent.org is an EXCELLENT way to keep up with this digital book experiment thing that everybody’s talking about. here are some stories to get you on your way – a chronology of sorts

now if you will remember way back when, i reported on harper collins decision to limit the number of times an e-book could be loaned by a library, then said library would have to re-up each time they ran out of “loans.” that was the beginning of the publisher pushback on library e-book lending.

but, wait, dear reader. just when you were about to lose all hope, random house, publisher of some little trilogy by some swedish guy about a girl and a tattoo, has decided that they will KEEP their e-books in library catalogs…but raise the price. maybe we need a third lion . . . benevolence?

as for overdrive . . . me thinks thou dost promise too much (sorry will shakespeare). the sticky wicket overdrive is caught in seemed to have started when they decided to work with amazon on having content available in kindle format (that exclusive of exclusive amazon format). in addition, links within the overdrive library interface sent users to amazon for possible purchasing of books they may have borrowed from or were interested in borrowing from the library. maybe there were 62 people in front of you when you decided to check out miss annie spragg’s tawdry tale (okay, i haven’t actually read it, so i can’t really say her tale is tawdry). so you think, well, maybe i’ll just pony up the $7.99 to purchase it. from amazon??!!! sacre bleu!! sacrilege!

i had a little internet run-in with a publisher on facebook a couple of months back regarding this very issue. he seemed to take offense to the library/amazon partnership and basically said librarians sh0uld be ashamed of themselves for promoting amazon i.e., allowing patrons to purchase from amazon through the interface. i countered with the fact that the librarian works for the patron, not the publisher. even as a retail bookseller in my previous life, i (and the company i worked for) would rather the customer get the book they needed, even if it meant we helped them go to another store. why? because we are there for the customer/patron.

so what’s a library patron to do? do you still try to be a good citizen and incorporate your local library in your technological advancement? lots of people got e-reading devices for christmas and birthdays and when the gift card that inevitably came with it runs out, where can a patron turn? the other issue for libraries to consider is that when these things happen, the patron doesn’t know the wizard behind the curtain. they only know the library isn’t providing the service expected. so how many black eyes will a library endure until it says “no mas” and throws in the towel (or throws the towel at overdrive). we’ll have to wait and see on that one.

happy reading…no matter the format.

what’s good to read? a red herring without mustard by alan bradley (3rd in the flavia de luce series). that red herring link is to amazon. hah!

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