on Libraries & Books
Thoughts on Reading, Literature, and Book Culture
Dalmilling Cards.. For those people annoyed, like me, by people thinking that someone reading would rather just talk, instead. This helps you to be get rid of them, or at least be rude back. (Dalmilling is trying to talk to someone while they are trying to keep reading, more information here.
On Reading Journals. I don't use them, but what the hell? Maybe you want to and are looking for a few quick and easy suggestions...or just general irreverant advice.
And, because I do get asked about this from time to time, let me give you another great essay from the desk of me: "You're Damn Right I Read It More Than Once!.
Animals and the Looming Apocalypse, A Brief Essay on How Non-Human Life Features in the Novels of Children of Men and Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?
The Four Horror Endings. Four general ways that a horror novel (or movie) can end.
Joe Hill's Which of these three Brits had the biggest cultural export impact and my answer (22 Jul 2009). Here's a hint, I said Dickens.
Informal survey: The rereading of books, stories, and so forth (30 Jul 2009). Only a couple of people responded when I first posted this, so I figured I would leave it up to see if anyone else wanted to take a crack.
Ways that Books just might be better than Movies... (14 Sep 2009). (1) They are books. Booyah! Mixing serious and tongue-in-cheek (when do I not mix those two?) I describe ways I find books to be better than movies.
Brians as a unit of measurement, reading HGttG book 6, website updates, and compiling my poetry (13 Oct 2009). Part one introduces "The Brian", something I plan to take back up in future times. Basically, how big a pile of crap is this book compared to the previous parts?
Sporadic tokens or a plethora of white? (5 Dec 2009). Should we keep using token (as in token black, token hispanic, token gay) characters, or should we move away? Is the alternative of not using minority characters at all better? [cross-posted to ...on Media].
"A Well Read Book" (poem) (13 Mar 2010). A poem about the stains that books have, and a challenge to those who think that books should always be pristine if you love them. That is not so, and this poem explains why.
Literary Heroes: That Sticky Road (19 Apr 2010). On the subject of literary heroes, and the inherent dangers of colluding the man for his works; on going whole hog in fandom; and on the way writers tend to dial everything, as it were, to eleven.
A Nation of Hoarders, not Readers. On the question of the twin heads of codex consumption... (20 Feb 2011). Eric Forbes has a blog post [by Ng Je Enn?] about the benefits of reading versus the general trend of aliteracy in Malaysia. In it, the phrases hoarders not readers crops up. But with bookstores closing while libraries reach something like record circulation, what really *is* going on with literacy in this country (and others).
By the sixth page he was brought short with the number four. Or, how far do you read a book to know it is good? (13 May 2011). How far into a book, by whatever unit you wish to stake that measurement, must you read before you can decide the quality of good or bad? Do negative reviews take longer, or shorter, times than positive ones? We we talking in terms of sentences, paragraphs, pages, chapters, or section? One reviewer took one word on page 6. How about you?
Find and Replace Public Domain Gone Mad...Celebrity Chekhov (11 Aug 2011). Take a famous novel. Swap out character names for celebrity names. Profit?
NYTimes, On the falseness of quotes... (31 Aug 2011). We all love a good quote. Love them. Bumperstickers. Wall posters. Email signatures. So on and so on. But Brian Morton starts digging into the truth behind some of the most loved...
Bookmarks and me. No not the web thingies. Yes. The paper thingies. Yes, well, it is a minor topic to blog about... (8 Sep 2011). Having spent about 10 minutes this morning looking for a particular bookmark, I thought it might be interesting to write about bookmarks. Interesting to me, at least...
Finding books by their covers. Or, why hasn't a search engine been made already?.. (2 Jan 2012). There is the old yarn about library catalogs/classification needing to be by book cover. The real question is, why hasn't someone attempted it?
Looking more closely at the numbers from that "The Next Time Someone Tells You Internet Killed Reading, Show Them This Chart" story... (8 Apr 2012). Is reading in decline? Maybe. It really depends on who you ask, which metrics you use, and so forth. One popular article suggests it is all hullabaloo, but fails to point out the rest of the story.
A well-meaning rant of dead-tree fetishism starts off well, dive bombs into personal attacks, and pulls up on the back-side of surreal (27 Mar 2013). Zoe Triska says What NOT to do with books, and while the article seems mostly well-intenioned, it manages to go off to weird and not altogether healthy places...
One of my pet peeves with the "I only read REAL books" movement, it's not like real books are quite what they used to be... (12 Sep 2013). Usually when people slag off ebooks, they do it with a gleam in their eyes that suggest that they, the slagger, are the keepers of real-literature. And then they bring out their cheap paper-pulp editions...
I like reading 1-star reviews on Amazon, it helps to find things like this... (23 Sep 2013). 1-star reviews on Amazon.com often represent little glimpses into anonymous lives. Sometimes, though, they help you to find mild diversions.
Apparently my natural reading speed is a little over 750 words per minute (3 Feb 2014). There are many factors that contribute to reading speed, but taking a fairly normal test with no attempt at speed reading or notable chunking or any such thing lead to a score of about 750 words/minute. That's ok, I guess.
A Cracker of a 1-Star Review (4 May 2014). Some 1-star reviews are delightful.
Turns out Goodreads has a Fail Whale (20 Jun 2014). Goodreads has a fail whale, which I'm strangely just now seeing.
Old EC Ad: If you hate comics, you're a communist! (23 Jan 2015). Back when EC was coming under increasing fire for their content, they ran an ad designed to decry detractors as dirty reds. Dark Horse recently reprinted this ad, so I figured I'd share.
Library Sued Over Book (19 Jun 2009). A library is sued because a book is on the shelves. It's more complicated than that, sure, but that's the general gist.
Privacy Rights and Circulation (21 Jun 2009). Looking at the ALA's code of ethics and how that factors into privacy and circulation.
Videogames the public library system (8 Jul 2009). For better or worse, libraries are getting more and more shots at luring kids in with videogames. Here's some of my (initial, anyhow) thoughts on the matter.
Doug and the Librarian Profession (my final for LS501) (15 Dec 2009). This sums up a lot of my ideas about why I want to be a librarian and where I think the profession is going and what I can do for it. It starts out with how I avoided the choice for a while, considering books as just a hobby, and ends with how I think I can contribute best to it.
Lazy Days, Policies and Procedures, Months without Facebook, Inception, etc (29 Jul 2010). Briefly discuss the importance of P&P for new technologies in the library.
10 Years Later, people look back at the "10 reasons the Internet is no substitute for a library" poster (20 Apr 2011). One post proclaimed proudly that the Internet is no substitue for a library [if you are talking about a good to great library, it really isn't, not for many tasks and information seeking behaviors]. Now, 10 years after the original article was published, Amercian Libraries looks back at some recent critique.
University of Maryland's McKeldin Library has 13.5k books fall due to earthquake (bonus: Dating girls who [do/n't] read) (26 Aug 2011). Though the 5.8 earthquake is considered smallbeans by many, it has had its moments of destruction.
Doug Responds to Things Spotted on the Internet: Someone maybe doesn't get banned book week and just one point about meat-substitutes (01 Oct 2014). Banned Books Week gets some flack, but at least one piece of flack feels weird. Also, while I get what some people are saying about meat-substitutes, let's be honest for a moment.
Librarians and Being a Librarian
Tattooed Librarian calender. Hmmm (3 Aug 2009). A calendar featuring tattoed librarians is published and some react poorly. To me, the real problem might be this idea that librarians are so particularly easy to stereotype that anything outside of this stereotype is treated as heroic.
My So-Called "Rough" Night, the "I Promise It's Y" Exchange Type (02 Oct 2009). Talking about people refusing to believe your suggestion at first, and a little about library anxiety.
One honest problem facing new librarians: the part-time job (7 Dec 2009). Of all the problems facing us young'un librarians, it seems to me that the potentially worst one is being forced to take a part-time job that requires graduate school work and years of experience.
Unfortunately, not exactly an atypical virtual reference exchange, or: Why e-ref needs reference interviews, too. (15 Aug 2010).
Can you guess why A Study in Scarlet was banned? (3 Sep 2011). The Study in Scarlet gave us, then unlikeable, Sherlock Holmes. It is not a great mystery, but is a significant one. Recently it got banned, want to guess why?
Some personal notes about designing a library newsletter (bonus: open source tools and submissions across a department) (extra bonus: tips and tricks section) (12 Oct 2013). I recently had a big part to play in the design, editing, and printing of our first ever library newsletter: The Call Number. I decided to share a few notes that can help to act as pointers, tips, warnings, and/or humorous commiserations.
Ebooks and Digital Downloads
There are numerous pros and cons for using e-books (the article also includes a brief description of an easy to use e-book store, discussion of copyright issues, and possible formats) , which I try to list out in the aforelinked article.
Also, I want to bring your attention to Cory Doctorow's article E-books: Neither E nor Books, which I have a plain text edition hosted here on my site. Doctorow is a big promoter of the new potentials of e-books, and my hat goes off to him.
Does the Kindle 2 Hurt Audiobooks? Revisted. (on Feb 25, 2009). Older post, in the older DoaB format (so it will load a larger page with the post as a portion), but still somewhat viable.
The Flirtatious Reader, by Odwar Dergey (3 Jun 2009). How are us readers supposed to get our reader-loving flirt on now that we use Kindles, netbooks, iPhones, and laptops? It's a problem, it really is.
Bag o' Links: Books, eBooks, and Libraries edition (11 Sep 2009). While my random collections of links and such aren't always the most repostable (who knows when the links are going to be broken), I kept this one because of the bit at the end, where I address a school library who shunted all of their material in favor of ebooks.
E-book's biggest thorns: ownership and the concept of what loans a book (09 Nov 2009). I look at various EULAs and such to talk about what companies think they are selling you (namely: the right to glance at some text but nothing else).
The two biggest problems I see facing e-book acceptance (outside of legal issues)? (11 Dec 2009). I describe some issues with the sameness of ebook experience (and how it can be annoying) and the much stickier question of who gets to decide the cost of ebooks (hint: it's not customers!)
Eight reasons why the iPad isn't a Kindle killer (and four reasons it might be, after all) (30 Jan 2010). The death knell is once again being rung for the Kindle. I think it's premature, and I give some reasons why.
Who Loves Books More: pReaders or eReaders? (aka, Doug gets Tongue in Cheek) (7 Feb 2010). After being told a few times that people who read ebooks like me are why books are in the gutter (more or less), I figured I would respond. Mostly, though, a humorous look at the differences between those who love ebooks, and those who hate ebooks.
Some more pbook-love turned ebook hate, but at least Random House seems reasonable (14 Feb 2010). As long as there is more than one way to make a book, there are going to be those who swear there is only way to read a book. This post briefly looks at one guy who bemoans the loss of book covers as an art-form, and how Random House shows maturity and wins my dollars by not demonizing ebooks.
Overshadowed by the jail-breaking of the iPhone: a good thing about eBooks in the copyright ruling, too (27 Jul 2010).
Kindle's update brought page numbers AND... (23 Mar 2011). A lot of talk went around about the new Kindle update bringing page numbers. It also brought a new feature, a 'Before You Go', that I've yet to hear mentioned much.
Ten reasons why ebooks cost as much as paperbacks (25 Apr 2011). People keep asking why various ebook publishers think that $12.99 to $14.99 are a good price for ebooks (and those people apparently have no idea that up until recently, ebooks were released equally priced with the hardcovers). I have decided to give ten reasons to see them through...
Amazon drops IPG's Kindle titles. How ebooks' second storm will be the real test (22 Feb 2012). Amazon drops IPG's Kindle titles over a contract lapse. IPG says the new terms are unacceptable. What does that mean? Don't know, but it's pretty clear that the eTether storm will make the eBabel one look like a minor excursion into madness.
Article starts out railing against the evils of Amazon, but then seems to recall something... (15 Apr 2012). Hatred of Amazon is a primary driving factor to those who are taking Apple's side, even those who don't want to take Apple's side, but sometimes when someone who has their own irons in the fire writes an article, they have to lead up to the third options.
The Nook Simple Touch with GlowLight [trademarked buzzword warning!] looks sexy, but... (6 May 2012). It has better font control, SD card support, and innovative light glow technology. For it's epub support and these features, I kind of want one, BUT...
Watching the Amazon Kindle Price Weenies Shoot Themselves in Their Own Collective Foot... (15 May 2012). There are a dedicated group of watchmen, determined to bring ebook prices back down to below $10. And as the world moves on without them and their arbitrary prices, it only takes a little bit of searching to show that they are still off in their own little corner, oblivious but angry...
Doug Responds to Stuff: The Netflix of Books (9 Sept 2013). Oyster is setting itself up as a pay-a-fee, read as many books as you want service. What does this mean? Probably not too much, yet.
Literary Movements and Genre
Here is a pet-peeve of mine: Genre fiction still treated as a trash-pile with only an occasional winner (16 Jan 2010). Science fiction and fantasy are still treated as a pitiful quagmire which drowns good stories. Have these critics even paid attention to all the pop-lit books that rehash the same self-denigrating plot?
Fratire versus subversive literature (15 Feb 2010). Fratire is a genre that celebrates the immature aspects of the male mind, that delights in breaking the PC rules, and seeks to speak out against the 'feminization' of the masculine. Tonight, though, I could not wonder if fratire is to subversive literature what torture-porn is to splatterpunk; a second[ rate]-cousin meant to actually popularize the unpopular.
Lampshade Hanging (23 Nov 2009). When an author does something dumb or preposterous, and then makes sure you know that he knows that it was dumb. Theoretically you will forgive him for it.
Book Publication and Industry
Some ISBN Facts
The "Like New" Lie, or, One Man's Misadventures with Amazon Marketplace (16 May 2009). AKA, why is it that all of my "like new" books from Amazon look like they have been fed to a large animal and vomited back out?
Cracked.com's Kickass Lessons Books Can Learn from Movies (11 Jun 2009). Can books be more profitable if they took a page from the movie handbook?
Failure to meteor watch, a quick musing about the book industry (13 Aug 2009). I muse about whether it really is a bad thing for books to be culled back a little in popularity. As our society becomes increasingly aliterate, is aiming for the least common denominator actually good for books?
The one about textbooks and the "free textbook seekers" (26 Aug 2009). This is partially about people trying to check textbooks out of the library. It is mostly about the cost of textbooks and what I think it means and how come it and all that.
The end of hardcovers? Maybe. Bargain books, price wars, loss leaders, and epublishing (11 Nov 2009). How the book industry is changing and whether or not it is changing for the better. I look specifically at questions about the relative value of hardcovers versus other formats.
Eraserhead Press is ten years old (woot!), the worst part of being sick, and goofy freaking browser issues (16 Dec 2009). I celebrate Eraserhead Press, the indie press that has been bringing us Bizarro lit for over 10 years. I also mention a few other meandering things, which seems fitting.
One Annoying Thing About Loving Books: The Impossibility of Getting Good Consistent Numbers of Sales (30 Dec 2009). While this article is mostly about ebook sales, I have to ask: why is that book sales are so hard to get in general?
Macmillan books gone from Amazon? (30 Jan 2009). A day or so ago, Macmillan's books disappeared from Amazon (excepting the Marketplace and some twin sites). It might be due to Macmillan demanding a certain minimum price point for their ebooks. If that's the case, who is the bad guy? The person who wants to charge us readers more? Or the bookseller who doesn't listen to the book publisher?
Books LLC: a brief search into who they are now that they show up in all of my Amazon.com searches... (22 Sep 2010). Books LLC has been showing up in my Amazon.com searches more and more. I was curious to find out what was up. Turns out that the books showing up in my searches were copies of Wikipedia articles, sans graphics, printed and bound and sold as reference works.
Removing the N-Words so as Not to Offend, or The " ew" Adve tures of Huckleberry Fi (4 Jan 2011). A new edition of Huck Finn by NewSouth Books attempts to swap out the old racial n-word for another. Some small outcry has been heard about this, but what really does it all mean? Can changing out a word change a book, or the past? Will such an edit even be noticed? It's complicated.
And you thought the edited Huckleberry Finn was a trip... (12 Jan 2011). Beating NewSouth's un-n-worded Huck Finn by a year, WordBridge's N-Word of the Narcissus goes so far to put the edit in the title. However, is this a joke?
Writers are leading a boycott against Dorchester Publications (24 Mar 2011). Dorcheter Pub, home to Leisure Horror amongst others, had a wide wallop of problems last year leading them to reorganize themselves as an ebook centric book publisher. Except, along the way they have run into apparent delays, had some writers go off on their own, and fulfilled their bookclub subscription by sending out other publisher's overflow (basically). Today, Brian Keene and others have started calling on a boycott of Dorchester in retaliation of yet another thing: DP continues to publish ebooks that they have no right to publish.
One reviewer's critique leads to an author's pique... how a 2-star review lead to a 4-letter word. [plus, man bites top off beer can, be amazed!] (29 Mar 2011). When a certain reviewer (we'll call him R) reviewed a certain book (B) by an author (A), A took exception with R and decided to air the exception publically. It went south from there...Bonus Video: man bites top off of beer can...
Goodreads is seeking new metadata source, leaving Amazon for...well, something. "Rescue" operation underway... (25 Jan 2012). Goodreads is trying to move away from using Amazon as its backend for metadata. Apparently this means it has to go through and have someone re-enter data on a lot of books who take their source from Amazon. Something like a rescue operation is underway.
For my bookstore friends, "honest" labels for Barnes and Noble style displays... (21 Feb 2015). One of the weird banes of existence for bookstore workers is coming up with displays. While gathering beloved books under fun ersatz categories should be exciting, and should be fun for browsers, they never quite work out as such. Someone has at least decided to have a little fun with it...so let's have a wry chuckle.
Academic publishing once more brews up a storm (5 Feb 2012). With some academics starting to promote boycotting of publishing to Elsevier, and a congressional bill underfoot which might help to hose open access, academic/scholarly publishing continues to inch closer to a boiling point where it will all come out.
Being a Book Consumer: Shopping and So Forth
The Many Errors of Barnes and Noble's Complete Lovecraft (8 Mar 2011). Barnes and Noble has two nice editions out of a complete Lovecraft, but they are apparently haunted by dozens and dozens and dozens of errors. Literally hundreds, if not thousands. See the errata below.
The Internet Speculative Fiction Database has lots of user submitted information on your favorite SF stuff.
The Online Books Page Presents Banned Books Online. Includes many links to books you can read for free, as well as discussions about why these books were banned. Could be an excellent resource for teachers.
While not the most scientific thing in the world, Books that Make You Dumb is a fun website that plots SAT/ACT style scores against favorite books on Facebook.
Bookstores I Shop Online
The king of all online bookstores is undoubtedbly Amazon.com. If you are one of those who hasn't used it (a surprising number, at least when I managed the bookstore and would occasionally bring it up), I do recommend it. It has an unprecedented selection, good discounts, connections to lots of other buyers, and so on. Now, some smaller bookstores claim it is the death of the book business, but that is not precisely true. I worked for a small bookstore chain that was doing just fine. The feeling of picking up the book, thumbing through it, and putting it back on the shelf is a strong one for a booklover. At the same time, though, no brick-and-mortar is going to have this level of selection in this number of languages and editions.
My second most used online bookstore is Science Fiction Book Club. They are a "book of the month club" and all that implies (annoying letters in the mail, cheaper edition books passed off as "hardcover quality", weird and kind of variable selection). At the same time, they often reprint hard to find SF/Fantasy classics and are an intriguing way to see books you might not normally hone in on. Also, they have very regular sales at good prices.
The Library of America is an excellent way to preserve America's writing, and comes highly praised from me.
Baen's Webscriptions is one of the best places to get e-Books, assuming you like, generally, military science fiction. While their titles are sort of limited as to genre, their model is astounding. A simple, DRM-free, HTML-based ebook delivery for a reasonable price. Includes a "memory" of which books you have already bought so you can redownload if you have to. Complete with free books (of good quality, too) and sample chapters to help make up your mind. Hopefully others will pay attention to them.
My other two frequented bookstores are eReader.com, which focuses on PDB files for their own reader software, but has a good selection and I like the reader; and RPGNow which publishes lots of indie-RPGs in a ton of formats.
"The hidden is greater than the seen."