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Digital Textbooks Gaining Favor: As printed books get more expensive, electronic versions are on the rise as a popular, cost-saving alternative. Mary Hughes Stone, a psychology professor at San Francisco State, often directs her students to iChapters. Stone says it's an "optimal system" for visual learners and she sees "definite value" in the multimedia components. Because the e-books are distributed on the Internet, they also have the advantage of being weightless and easily accessible from any computer.
Particularly if you live in New York City or another urban area, you might have seen Orthodox Jews reading or quietly reciting daily prayers from a prayer book while on a bus or subway or at a quiet corner at work.
Now it's been made easier, by technology of course. NY's Gothamist has a story on a new twist to the Blackberry for observant Jews: the "Jewberry".
Two Jewish entrepreneurs have developed software that can turn an average BlackBerry into a sacred prayer book. They've dubbed their upgrade "The JewBerry," and have sold it to over 10,000 customers for $30 a pop, according to the NY Post. Co-creator Jonathan Bennett explains the appeal: "Throughout the day, Jews gather in office-building stairwells and conference rooms to pray, and while sometimes you might not remember your prayer book, no one goes anywhere without their BlackBerry."
In the New York Times:
I’m alone on a cold October morning at Kennedy Airport. The flight will be pleasantly solitary. I anticipate my enforced freedom from conversation and the Internet with excitement bordering on euphoria. There’s a Major Tom factor to air travel now: silent go the devices as up we rise, while the taut invisible Web wires snap one by one until finally we’re floating in a placid immaculate zone where no one can Twitter or gchat or e-mail. If the airlines knew how precious that icy aloofness was to some passengers, they’d find a way to make us pay for it. The JetBlue ColdSpot.
Even so, I’m taking a Kindle with me on this flight, for the first time. Amazon first offered its Kindle, a device for reading e-books, a year ago, and I don’t know why I waited so long to buy one. I can’t seem to put it down. It’s ideal for book reading — lucid, light — but lately it has become something more: a kind of refuge. Unlike the other devices that clatter in my shoulder bag, the Kindle isn’t a big greedy magnet for the world’s signals. It doesn’t pulse with clocks, blaze with video or squall with incoming bulletins and demands. It’s almost dead, actually. Lifeless. Just a lump in my hands or my bag, exiled from the crisscrossing of infinite cybernetworks. It’s almost like a book.
The talk show host who has done wonders for books sales through her book club – not to mention certain presidential candidates -- is expected to give e-books a major boost today by endorsing the Amazon Kindle on her show, reports the Financial Times.
The E-book. At the Frankfurt Book Fair, the E-word was aggressively buzzing around the stands. A handy electronic device, capable of containing thousands of digital books, the first version was produced just ten years ago, only to disappear again a few years later. However, this time around, the timing seems to be right. Is the printed book doomed, and will we in future take an E-book with us to the beach?
Revolutionary plastic e-paper set to hit the high street: The era of the traditional newspaper could soon be over as scientists launch production of a revolutionary electronic version - made out of plastic.
The e-reader is the brainchild of students at Cambridge University's Cavendish Laboratory and will be developed by manufacturing plant Plastic Logic at a factory in Germany. The invention is due to hit the high street next year.
I do caution that this likely has warts, typos, grammatical silliness, and worse. It is not a finished item and should not be treated that way. It is a work-in-progress that I am not finished revising and editing. It is planned that such be included in LISTen #43 in one form or another:
Commentary – The Strange Case of the Annoyed Librarian
For all the heat generated recently over the hosting by Library Journal of a blog by a person writing under the pen name “Annoyed Librarian”, there are disturbing things to be considered.
What is Library Journal? Is it a voice for the profession? While the publication may be that, it must also be remembered that it is a commercial entity. Unlike the libraries it serves, Library Journal has to turn a profit somehow. Library Journal is not owned by a professional association but rather Reed Business Information which publishes quite a few magazines and journals in fields beyond librarianship. Publications also produced by Reed Business Information include titles such as Modern Materials Handling, Home Textiles Today, Broadcasting & Cable, Daily Commercial News, Professional Remodeler, and more. The only thing that keeps such a publication afloat is the revenue derived from advertising and subscriptions. Library Journal is a for-profit entity quite unlike the predominantly not-for-profit world it serves.
As a for-profit media outlet, Library Journal is part of a world where it has to compete. Publications can host forums and blogs that do not necessarily agree with their editorial views. An example of such is the Washington Post which has a forum hosted by Ramesh Ponnuru who happens to be listed in the masthead of National Review as a senior editor. For those not familiar with such, the Washington Post is typically considered to be a liberal publication while Ponnuru writes for a publication associated with neo-conservatives. The forum continues and seems to be thriving. Similar works such as the blog network hosted by CNET, now part of the Interactive division of American television giant CBS, also allow for such diversity of views to be expressed even though they do not reflect the overall editorial view. For a year CNET had its own equivalent to the Annoyed Librarian known as the Macalope.
The outbursts and anger online over the hosting of the Annoyed Librarian's blog pose problems. For as much as librarians are supposed to be masters of information, are librarians well behind the curve in terms of media trends? Has the world changed and left librarians behind? It seems to be that even though librarians have tried to embrace Web 2.0 technologies that the louder librarians online don't quite see how the for-profit media landscape has changed. That becomes highly problematic, for example, in a public library setting when trying to answer questions at a reference desk without knowing about changes to the landscape that holds answers.
The Editor-in-Chief has made an open call for anybody willing to serve as a counter-balance to have hosting space from Library Journal. You could even potentially be paid for such! A big problem becomes whether it is easier to complain about somebody you don't like or to take action. If the granting of space to the Annoyed Librarian is such an existential threat to all librarianship then perhaps it is necessary to oppose such through a counter-balancing blog.
The two big benefits you could get from such would be the feeling that you are standing up for traditional values as well as some supplementary income perhaps. As someone who first saw their byline in newsprint ten years ago, I can say that the rules for the media realm are such that complaining about how hateful and spiteful someone may be is hardly as effective as providing competition. As such comes up in the for-profit realm routinely, it can hardly be said the skills to support providing competition are all that present in the non-profit realm most libraries inhabit.
Not all editorials need to give explicit marching orders in their calls to action. This one certainly won't. Sometimes editorials, let alone blog posts, are written just to hopefully jump-start the brains of those who hear or read such.
Be thankful that the Annoyed Librarian only got hosting space at Library Journal. Could you imagine seeing such as an arts and culture newspaper column distributed through a features syndicate that even the laity could see? Perhaps we can be thankful for small blessings that this is merely intramural for now.