Bag o' Links: Books, eBooks, and Libraries edition

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Friday, 11 September 2009

(08:44:26 CDT)

Bag o' Links: Books, eBooks, and Libraries edition

Due in part to assignments previously mentioned on Dickens of a Blog, and also to the fact that some interesting news has showed up lately, thought I would drop a small handful of book related links on you, this morning. As always, ripe with Doug commentary.

  • How Green Was My E-Book?. E-reads presents the interesting conundrum. Books, as you are well aware, kill trees. How many and how fast is sort of the optimal question. They also are heavy, requiring lots of shipping costs (the article points out the fact that our current practice ends with a fair number also returned to vendor), and have bits of glue and acid and other chemicals holding them together. However, even though your average e-book doesn't eat up any trees, has a mild electronic footprint, and all that; what impact would the electronic reader have when you factor in the plastic and the mercury and the fact that most only last a few months before a new model comes along? The article does not really answer any questions, just asks them, and I figured I would share.
  • What YA Lit is and isn't. Another one of those "more questions than answers articles" but still interesting to thumb through. Especially for her discussion of genre (why have any genre? she asks, in what I take to be an overzealous application of reductio ad absurdum).
  • Huntsville, AL, Library Bans Paid Tutors from Branches. Local news for a good number of my readers, partially had to share because it's not every day that Huntsville makes Library Journal.
  • R.I.P. - Movie Time Listings in Newspapers. Speaking of "local news", some major theater chains have decided to stop listing daily times in local papers. Kind of a minor subtraction, but another statement about what they (the theaters) consider priorities and what they think of newspapers. Not sure what the death date will be the old pape technology, but it might not be too much longer. [Link ganked from Nathan]
  • The future of libraries, with or without books. This got posted to a couple of message boards and listservs that I frequent. Now that people are pulling away from books as the focus of information, and technology is more prevalent, librarians are changing jobs, slightly.
  • How many orphan works are there? 580,388 according to one count. Now that copyright law outlives the average lifespan of a book (as in, most books fall apart before their copyright law) and book sales figures are only being bragged about with a few titles, implying, in part, that only a minority of books are being reprinted; how does this figure in with orphaned works? Works that sit around, the author passed on, in diminishing numbers of physical copies, unable to be reprinted without their consent? The article does not have a whole lot of data, and is there more to think about than anything else.

Finally, the most intriguing story amongst all of these: Welcome to the library. Say goodbye to the books. A school library completely removes its books in anticipation of using a wholly electronic format. The reply I left in the class discussion board about this is quoted below. Keep in mind, I am a proud Kindle owner, and not merely slashing out against the ebook portion of the equation.

Brilliant. You get rid of hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of books and buy 18 handheld devices that, by law, cannot be lent out. Students now have the option of sitting around in the library, thumbing through the Kindle, or not. If they lend out the Kindle, they have a max circulation of 18 and run the risk of some sort of legal action being brought against them. Students who have their own reading devices will still have to purchase (or download for free) their own material anyhow.
Then you get rid of the personal reference service (I'm assuming they are going to make Google their de facto reference librarian, which is just awesome since every student knows how to effectively look up everything, right?) and replace it with a coffee shop so students can sit around in a library and, rather than read, browse facebook and sip $5 coffees all day.
I think the part that bothers me is that they could have easily integrated the Kindle format directly in with their old. They could have done the e-textbooks without touching the older books and had both. The only reason they got rid of their books is to brag about getting rid of their books. That's not really progressive at all, that's actually regressive because now they have to contend with all the legal gray areas that ebooks live in, have to pay yearly fees to license ebooks to institutions, and so forth.
I have no doubt that paper books are going to be in the decline and ebooks on the increase, but this level of drastic measure is putting the image ahead of the student.

Si Vales, Valeo


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