Tag Archives: Kindle

A Bibliophile’s Challenge

Mark your calendars everybody. Synch up your Android or I-Phone, charge up the Ereader (or E-Reader), make sure the reading lamp works and double check the library card – the 2012 Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh Winter Read-a-Thon is almost here.

From Valentine’s Day to the Ides of March – February 14th to March 15th – you read and it counts.  It counts towards your enjoyment, edification and pleasure.  It counts if you read to your kids, sitting in your favorite chair or during the obligatory 30 minutes you need before falling asleep.  It even counts if you listen to a book in your plane, train or automobile.

What counts?  Reading counts, and only for the sake of reading.  This year’s Winter Read-a-Thon has a goal.  We, all of us participating, are going to finish 20,012 pages, and it doesn’t matter if they’re paper, digital or audio; they’re all tomes and they all count.  For convenience sake, attending a book discussion counts too, and even newspapers and magazines figure on the pagination abacus.  Now that I’ve revved you up, where are the details you ask.  Think of this as a sneak preview without the preview.  Details will be forthcoming but they’re not ready yet.

In the meantime, if you’re looking to prep for your winter’s perusing or need some ideas, here are a few easy to find tools to utilize.  We like most of them — we made most of them.

These lists are updated and added to regularly by our librarians and other staff.

  • New Fiction (There will be waiting lists for some of these.)  Take a look at some of the latest additions to our New and Featured Fiction collections! We check in new books nearly every day — check out the First Floor’s LibraryThing account where we log all of our newest arrivals!
  • Nonfiction Additional sub-lists of favorite subjects and genres.
Finally, if you’re skeptical of the tools used (and assembled) by the hoi-polloi, then we can always direct you to the New York Times Best Seller List – all 23 of them – from Paperback Trade Fiction all the way down to Political Books.

So stay tuned, keep coming back to our pages, or call us at 412 622-3114 and ask about the 2012 Winter Read-a-Thon.

-Richard

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Something is Rotten, and it isn’t in Denmark

It’s much closer to home amongst us at the library and with you the reader.  To be more precise, with you the eBook reader.  Not to worry though: this isn’t anything either of us did – it’s the way things currently are.  I’ll elaborate shortly, but first a little background.

When Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh buys books (the original paper ones), it’s a pretty straightforward process.  We select titles based on several criteria, determine how many copies are needed, and place our order. Given our size and the volume of materials we purchase, process, catalog and distribute, we aren’t buying retail.  We don’t do this at Barnes & Noble, on Amazon or at Half-Priced Books. We buy from wholesale book distributors called jobbers.  We have a preferred hierarchy based on pricing and service models, and can purchase pretty much anything in print — regardless of publisher. Remember that last line — regardless of publisher.  The books (or journals, magazines, microfilm) arrive and are physically owned and stored by the library, and used by you the user.  We all usually know where they are or how to find them. They are as real as . . . go ahead and pick a cliche.

EBooks aren’t such a straightforward proposition. Much of the selection process is the same, matching need and potential need with titles, subjects and appropriate numbers of copies.  Beyond that though, eBooks become more complicated. There are format considerations, staff training requirements, privacy concerns, and questions about ownership. (Are they really ours if we don’t physically have them?)  And finally the rotten aspect — the blatant, deliberate, and unwarranted discrimination practiced against public libraries based on incorrect assumptions in the name of an unknown or undeveloped business model.

What do I mean? Remember my tag line in the paragraph before last — regardless of publisher?  Well, in the eBook world it doesn’t work like that. Look at the following list, and see if you think it makes sense.

  • Simon & Schuster and Macmillan outright do not “sell” or license ebook content for distribution to public libraries.  Neither does Hachette.
  • Harper Collins will, but only for a lifespan of 26 circulations,  a bibliographic actuarial assessment they pulled out of their. . . ears.
  • On November 19th Penguin had been selling ebooks through Overdrive to public libraries in several formats including Kindle.
  • On November 21st Overdrive (a digital distributor of eBooks, audiobooks, music, and video) informed its public library customers that Penguin was suspending sales to public libraries of new titles in eBook format, AND was going to retract the Kindle format from titles previously purchased.
  • On November 23rd Penguin relented and restored the Kindle format to previously purchased titles, but announced that new titles would not be available to public libraries.
  • Not all titles available in Kindle format at Amazon are available for purchase by public libraries. I haven’t been able to determine if that’s a specific publisher issue, or if Amazon regulates the number of Kindle compatible titles that are made available.

This isn’t supposed to be entirely about Amazon and my intention isn’t to paint them as the bad guy. The reality though, is Amazon’s proprietary Kindle format is to eBooks what Windows and Microsoft were to operating systems in the 90s — the dominant or preferred emerging format. We’re still in the infant stages of the eBook as a practical and popular format/medium.  Amazon’s licensing of the Kindle format for use by public libraries has ignited eBook use, leading to multifold increases (by percentage) of eBook circulation, and real increases in eBook’s share of circulation relative to all library circulation, a trend that seemed unstoppable just two months ago. I’m no exception. I thoroughly enjoy my Kindle, reading both borrowed eBooks from the library and buying others from Amazon. I believe these publishers mistakenly assume one use precludes the other, that they’re mutually exclusive.  I have to tell them, that assumption is a mistake.

But now? I’m not so sure the upward curve will be what it might have been. We the libraries and you the library user are more than a little marginalized as authors, publishers and distributors/vendors try to determine how they can make a profit (not a bad word IMHO,) or even just an income in a non-traditional marketplace. For them, it may be a brave, or fearful, new world; for us, it just stinks.

— Richard

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