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.

Unwitting AddThis Experiment With Tracking Technology That Is Difficult To Block

https://www.techdirt.com/articles/20140721/14523127960/tons-sites-including-whitehousegov-ex...
ProPublica has a new story about the rise of "canvas fingerprinting," a new method of tracking users without using cookies. It's a method that is apparently quite difficult to block if you're using anything other than Tor Browser. In short, canvas fingerprinting works by sending some instructions to your browser to draw a hidden image -- but does so in a manner making use of some of the unique features of your computer, such that each resulting image is likely to be unique (or nearly unique). The key issue here is that the popular "social sharing" company AddThis, which many sites (note: not ours) use to add "social" buttons to their website, had been experimenting with canvas fingerprinting to identify users even if they don't use cookies. As ProPublica's Julia Angwin notes, it's very difficult to block this kind of thing -- and tons of sites make use of AddThis -- including WhiteHouse.gov (whose privacy policy does not seem to reveal this, saying it only uses Google Analytics as a third party provider).

A Philandering President's Love Letters To Go on Display

From the New York Times a preview of the collection of love letters between President Warren G. Harding and his mistress, Carrie Fulton Phillips. The letters are going on display next week at the Library of Congress.

A Love Letter to Public Libraries

From Huffington Post Books.

First printed book in English sold for over £1m

http://www.bbc.com/news/entertainment-arts-28344300
A 540-year-old book, known as the first to be printed in the English language, has sold at auction for more than £1m.

The Recuyell of the Histories of Troye is a version of a French book written around 1463.

It was translated over a three-year period by William Caxton, who pioneered the printing press in England.

The story of WebP: How Google wants to speed up the web, one image at a time

Google wants WebP to become the internet’s next dominant image file format. That’s not likely going to happen anytime soon — but WebP could still have a huge impact.

http://gigaom.com/2014/07/19/the-story-of-webp-how-google-wants-to-speed-up-the-web-one-imag...

Amazon Isn't Killing Writing, the Market Is

"Driving the prices lower isn't likely to expand the market of readers, since book prices don't seem to be the deciding factor on whether someone reads a book (time is). But those lower prices directly shrink the incomes of authors, who lack any other means of translating their sales into additional revenue. "

http://news.slashdot.org/story/14/07/19/139219/amazon-isnt-killing-writing-the-market-is

UNLV Students creat solar-powered book drop to roast bed bugs

http://www.newsobserver.com/2014/07/18/4014220/libraries-battle-bed-bugs-in-books.html
UNLV undergraduate engineering students Jack Cheney, Nicole Ramos and Vachara Maneeraj created a solar-powered book drop that roasts bed bugs to death. The project was part of UNLV's engineering senior design competition in May. All engineering students must collaborate for a year to produce a product using their engineering skills.

Close The Libraries And Buy Everyone An Amazon Kindle Unlimited Subscription

It's Simple Math!

"I’ll use the numbers from my native UK here simply because I have a better grasp of them. As a country we spend some £1 billion a year (currently around $1.7 billion) on supporting the library system. There’s some 60 million citizens meaning that we can, from that sum, afford to pay perhaps £20 (as with most numbers I use, there’s a lot of rounding here, the numbers are not meant to be accurate, just informative as to magnitude and so on) for each subscription. That’s a lot less than Amazon is currently demanding but I would bet a very large sum of money that an adequate bulk discount could be arranged for such a slug of customers."

A Liaison for a Classroom Building? Curating a Learning ecosystem.

It is very common for librarians to serve as liaisons to academic departments. They teach classes, purchase materials, answer reference questions, assist with research endeavors, and generally get involved with the odds-and-ends of those units. Some librarians also liaise with defined user communities such as first-year students, international students, or students associated with particular residence halls.

This classic approach enables librarians to connect their expertise with different user segments that likely share similar needs, interests, or perspectives. In short, these librarians serve as the human interface of the library.

Full article

Amazon is testing “Kindle Unlimited,” an ebook subscription service for $9.99/month

Amazon is testing an ebook and audiobook subscription service called “Kindle Unlimited” that would cost $9.99 a month. According to pages that were pulled down, it will offer access to over 600,000 titles.

Full story here.

Sci-Fi & Fantasy's Best Librarians

Via Tor.com:

Chances are the Doctor won’t be showing up at your local library anytime soon—unless, of course, you have an infestation of Vashta Nerada (in which case, don’t forget to count the shadows!). But whether in fantasy or science fiction, there are any number of amazing fictional libraries we’d love to visit, especially to meet up with the guardians of the stacks. So we turned to Twitter to find out where your SFF librarian loyalties lie. Here are your favorites, as well as a few of our own!

Top fictional librarians are from Buffy, Discworld, Star Wars-The Clone Wars, Sandman and others. Check 'em out!

Books out, 3D printers in for Reinvented US Libraries

How about that headline folks?

From New Scientist:

IN THE small town of Fayetteville in northern New York, you'll find the local library in an old furniture factory dating from the turn of the 20th century. The refurbished building retains hints of its industrial past: wooden floors, exposed beams, walls lined with carefully labelled tools.

But instead of quietly perusing stacks of books, many of the patrons are crowded around a suite of 3D printers. One machine is midway through a pink mobile phone case; another is finishing up a toy sword.
This is Fayetteville's maker lab – and it may very well be the future of libraries.

In 2011, Fayetteville became the first public library in the US to set up a maker lab. Besides 3D printers, the space features a laser cutter, electronics kits, workshop tools, Raspberry Pi computers and an array of sewing machines. It functions somewhere between a classroom and a start-up incubator – a place where people from all over the region can get involved with state-of-the-art technology.

Since the lab opened, similar spaces have been popping up across the country, including in cities like Sacramento, Pittsburgh, Denver and Detroit. According to the American Library Association, about 1 in 6 libraries now dedicates some of its space to maker tools and activities. The New York Public Library – one of the largest in the country – is watching these developments to inform its upcoming renovation.

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