More than 900 authors protest Amazon in NYT ad

More than 900 authors have signed an open letter condemning Amazon's boycott of Hachette authors over the online retailer's contractual dispute with the publisher.

Full piece here.

Technology making us "smarter than you think"

With every advance in technology, skeptics lament the loss of a more meaningful and simpler time, arguing that attention spans are shrinking and critical thinking is corroding. But in his book, Smarter Than You Think: How Technology is Changing Our Minds for the Better, journalist Clive Thompson offers a different take. Brooke spoke with Thompson last year about how all of the YouTube videos, blogs, Twitter feeds, and Wikipedia pages have produced a unique human intelligence.

Google, Barnes & Noble Team Up To Take On Amazon

Google and Barnes & Noble are joining forces to tackle their mutual rival Amazon, zeroing in on a service that Amazon has long dominated: the fast, cheap delivery of books.

NYT

Aiming to Be the Netflix of Books

Monthly subscription services from Amazon, Oyster and Scribd offer access to unlimited e-books, but many newer books aren’t yet available.

NYT article

Mike, the Liberian Librarian. Trying to Help His People While Dealing With Civil Wars, Illiteracy and Now Ebola

Via Huff Post:

In his 60 years Michael Weah, like most Liberians, has had to contend with realities most of us in the United States can not even comprehend. Thirty-four years ago, when he was 26, came the bloody military coup staged by Samuel Doe, that upended what had been the social and political order in Liberia since its colonization by American freemen and former slaves in 1820. Then in 1989 Charles Taylor overthrew Doe, and Liberia slid into a period of on-again-off-again civil wars.

During the period of the civil wars, when life in Monrovia was restricted by a curfew that began in the late afternoon, Michael Weah established a small lending library, supplying anyone who asked with reading material - books, magazines, newspapers, donated from overseas. All he asked was that when a person was through with the reading material they pass it on to someone else who would use it to sustain them through the interminable periods of daily isolation.

During the decade-plus of civil wars, the initial operation grew into the We-Care Library, the only real library in Monrovia, Liberia's capital city. Every day the library is literally jammed with school children of all ages, who come to study, do their home work, and expand their horizons.

The library recently had to close due to the spread of the Ebola virus in West Africa. As Mike wrote the other day to friends in the U.S. and Canada, "family wise, I have lost three persons: my doctor, the man who clears our books from the port, and a young nephew. Everybody fled from the house when the young boy started to show the symptoms. He died alone and his body is still lying on the porch where he passed. The health workers were called about six hours ago. They may come or may not."

How a New Dutch Library Smashed Attendance Records

From Shareable:

Facing declining visitors and uncertainty about what to do about it, library administrators in the new town of Almere in the Netherlands did something extraordinary. They redesigned their libraries based on the changing needs and desires of library users and, in 2010, opened the Nieuwe Bibliotheek (New Library), a thriving community hub that looks more like a bookstore than a library.

Guided by patron surveys, administrators tossed out traditional methods of library organization, turning to retail design and merchandising for inspiration. They now group books by areas of interest, combining fiction and nonfiction; they display books face-out to catch the eye of browsers; and they train staff members in marketing and customer service techniques.

With out-facing books, the New Library looks more like a bookstore than a library. Oooh, nice!

Harsh Children's Book Reviews

From Quartz.

"One hundred years before post-millennial parents were deeming Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs inappropriate for young vegans, the children’s librarians of the New York Public Library kept a card catalog of hand-typed kids’ book reviews.

“There’s about a billion card catalogs in the library,” says Lynn Lobash, who oversees reader services at the NYPL. “But these are special in that they were used as a tool for collection development, for the staff to evaluate the children’s collection.”

Fave comment written in 1975 on an index card is "Just what we've been waiting for. A DIRTY TEENAGE NOVEL" about Judy Blume's Forever.

Summer Reading Programs Finishing Up

Many public libraries have summer reading programs. Does yours? Please comment below to let us know how it's going/gone...

From My Eastern Shore Maryland:

STEVENSVILLE — Whoever said summer reading is a drag hasn't been to the Queen Anne's Public Library this summer. On July 31, parents and children gathered at the library in Stevensville for the Summer Reading Wrap-Up, an event to celebrate the end of the library's annual summer reading program. Children built structures with Legos, made art pieces on paper plates, watched science demonstrations, and talked about the books they've read this summer.

George Burchill, a 9-year-old from Stevensville, said that his favorite books this summer have been the “Ranger's Apprentice” series by John Flanagan. The soon-to-be fourth-grader has read 21 books so far over summer vacation, all several hundred pages long. Asked how he could read so much in that amount of time, he laughed, “Most of the day I read.”

Sad Book Returned to NYPL After 54 Years

From Melville House:

Every so often, a book is returned to the library so late, it makes headlines. The due date of the sad book in this particular headline was August 17, 1959.

The New York Public Library recently received a copy of Ideal Marriage by Th.H. Van de Velde, M.D. The librarian reports it’s a “very wordy” and scientific guide to sex from 1926. (It’s “certainly more juicy than The Tropic of Cancer,” writes Billy Parrott of the Mid-Manhattan Library.)

It was such a source of shame, it wasn’t returned by the patron, but by his in-laws after the patron’s death:

We found this book amongst my late brother-in-law’s things. Funny thing is the book didn’t support his efforts with his first (and only) marriage… it failed! No wonder he hid the book! So sorry!!

A shocked in-law

Free David Lankes book

You can now download a free copy of the book Expect More for free from David Lankes' website

Book is $9.99 on Amazon - Expect More: Demanding Better Libraries For Today's Complex World

David Lankes comments on Kindle Unlimited

Excerpt: Perhaps, you may think, I am an ivory tower academic blind to the coming disruptive change…like when the Internet was going to put libraries out of business… then Google…then Netflix…then Yahoo! Answers. Here’s the plain truth: there is a HUGE disruptive change happening in libraries, and it is facilitated by things like Google and Kindle Unlimited. Libraries are shifting from collection-focused buildings to centers of innovation focused on communities. If you think of libraries as places filled with books, you are in for a bit of a shock. Any library that can be replaced by a $10 a month subscription to stuff SHOULD be replaced.

Full post here.

Librarian and Romance Writer Enthusiast

Special to USA Today: Librarian of the year, man of RWA, aspiring cover model … these were just some of the names Sean Gilmartin was called while attending this year's Romance Writers of America conference in San Antonio.

"I (Gilmartin) was very close to adding car thief" to the list but luckily I can leave that out. Apparently, when a driver is holding a sign that clearly states Barbara Samuel, who just happens to be a seven-time RITA winner and RWA Hall of Famer, that vehicle is not for you. Needless to say, I didn't steal her ride from the airport but ironically was only a few hotel rooms down from her. Barbara, if you're reading this, I promise I wasn't stalking you at the conference; we really just kept running into each other. By coincidence. A lot.

That was the start of my RWA and the launch into my hashtag on Twitter: #SeanDoesRWA. I intended for it to be a way for family and friends to easily follow my escapades, but it actually turned into my best communication tool. People all over the conference were saying hello and despite not having met in person, we were chatting daily. I would then run into someone, standing in line for a book signing or whatnot, and we would actually meet. It was a surreal and incredible experience that lessened the fear deep inside of me that fueled my preconceived notion that as a librarian I would not fit in. It didn't matter that RWA has a special award for librarians — no, I was certain that I would feel isolated in the midst of 2,000 romance authors. I could not have been more wrong, and people could not have been more friendly, kind, and gracious to me every single day of RWA.

Librarians, Media React to Launch of Kindle Unlimited

Excerpt: “I’m enough of a realist to assume that consumers will gravitate to the cheapest, most convenient source of content, whether that’s Amazon or the public library,” said Jimmy Thomas, executive director of Colorado’s Marmot Library Network. “Amazon continues to set a high standard of convenience libraries should attend to. And every time this huge corporation does something on a massive scale, libraries should be reminded to approach services differently. Competing with Amazon on its own terms is not a good direction for libraries. But thinking about how to complement Amazon is worthwhile.”Full piece

Turning Whitman’s ‘Leaves of Grass’ into a work of art


In an old industrial building in San Francisco, the lines of American poet Walt Whitman’s “Leaves of Grass” are being printed exactly as they were when the first edition was published in 1855. Jeffrey Brown visits Arion Press, one of the country’s last fine book printers that handcrafts works from start to finish.

Subscriptions are in the news this week

Subscriptions for ebooks are certainly in the news this week. Amazon just announced their Kindle Unlimited offering, taking its place beside Oyster and Scribd as a “one price for all you can eat” Netflix- or Spotify-for-ebooks program. And the Book Industry Study Group has released a lengthy and fact-filled report from Ted Hill and Kate Lara covering subscriptions across publishing segments.

It is hard to quarrel with the report’s contention that “subscriptions are here to stay”. The report makes clear, and documents extensively, that there are a great variety of ways subscriptions can be offered and that tools making it easier to manage them are becoming cheaper, better, and more ubiquitous. The report suggests that subscriptions could occur for as narrow an offering as one author’s works. As technology enables subscription offers to be economically viable with less and less revenue, the tendency for more and more publishers to want to “own” their customers, combined with the tendency for publishers to build up their intellectual property inventory in an audience-centric (vertical) way, either organically or by acquisition, it is easy to see how they could proliferate.

Full piece

Self-Published Authors Make A Living — And Sometimes A Fortune

Five years ago, printing your own book was stigmatized and was seen as a mark of failure.

"But now," says Dana Beth Weinberg, a sociologist at Queens College who is studying the industry, "the self-published authors walk into the room, and they say, oh, well, 'I made a quarter million dollars last year, or $100,000, or made $10,000.' And it is still more than what some of these authors are making with their very prestigious contracts."

Weinberg says there is still a strong financial case to be made for publishing books the old-fashioned way, but there are now many well-known independent authors who have made a fortune self-publishing online.

Full piece

Observations on The New Millenium and How Technology has Changed Our Habits

A piece called DIARY from the London Review of Books from Rebecca Solnit. It begins:

"In or around June 1995 human character changed again. Or rather, it began to undergo a metamorphosis that is still not complete, but is profound – and troubling, not least because it is hardly noted. When I think about, say, 1995, or whenever the last moment was before most of us were on the internet and had mobile phones, it seems like a hundred years ago. Letters came once a day, predictably, in the hands of the postal carrier. News came in three flavours – radio, television, print – and at appointed hours. Some of us even had a newspaper delivered every morning."

How Much Will Elvis Presley's Library Card Bring This Time?

From the New York Times Arts Beat:

Elvis Presley’s earliest known signature – on a library card he signed as a 13-year-old student in Tupelo, Miss. – is one of the main draws in an auction of Elvis memorabilia to be held at Graceland, the singer’s palatial headquarters, in Memphis on Aug. 14.

In 2012, the card was sold for $7500 – a bargain, you would think .

Very Cool Book Posters by Gunter Rambow

remarkable book posters by German designer Gunter Rambow for S. Fischer Verlag from the 1970s while compiling images for the post, and I thought I would share them now while you wait.
http://www.casualoptimist.com/blog/2014/07/15/book-posters-by-gunter-rambow/

Biggest Ever Library Book Donation to Sacramento Area Friends Group

A Sacramento man has donated 13,000 books to the Friends of the Arden-Dimick Library, the largest donation the organization has ever received and one that includes works spanning topics from the Civil War to women’s studies.

Frank Rose, 85, spent decades amassing the collection, which he stored in two apartments in the building he manages. Library volunteers this week began packing the books – 500 boxes worth – to move to a storage space provided by Hines, a real estate firm, in preparation for sale. Rose also threw in steel bookcases.

“We take daily donations, but nothing on the scale of Mr. Rose’s,” said Margaret Clausen, a board member who oversees book sales for the Friends of the Arden-Dimick Library.

Read more here.

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