Saturday, March 7, 2009

Erotica stimulating ebook sales?

Link to March 6 IT WORLD post, "Salacious content driving the adoption of ebooks?"

One of the challenges of selling ebooks (pre-Kindle) has been the plethora of formats available.

This strikes me as both a strength and a weakness of ebook sellers. If you've got any kind of device with a screen you can probably find an ebook reader that supports one of these formats. But as a new user hitting the site, the choices can seem overwhelming. Presumably this is the reason for the more focused site: Step 1, download our reader software for your device. Step 2, Start buying books from us.

This is also why Amazon probably has the best shot of taking ebooks mainstream.

Barnes & Noble abandoned ebooks once, so why are they coming back to them now? Because the format is starting to take off. Why is that? What's popular on Fictionwise? Well, once again it seems like porn is blazing a path to a new media format. Of the top 10 bestsellers under the "Multiformat" category, nine are tagged "erotica" amd the last is "dark fantasy".

Library Use Helps Spelling Bee Winner

Link to March 7 Baraboo News Republic article, "Love of reading helps local teen succeed".

Excerpt: "When I got to middle school, I started checking out books in the library and reading those harder words and stuff," he said. "I kind of remembered the words a little bit and just kind of pieced them together over time."

OK, Maybe Not So Smart In This Case

Link to March 7 Sheboygan Press article, "Alleged thief leaves library card behind at crime scene".

According to a criminal complaint:

A bartender at Cozy Bar, 116 E. Mill St., called police about 2:30 a.m. Feb. 22 after discovering lights on, a cooler open and a window screen cut in the basement.

She also found Lehnhardt's Mead Public Library card on the floor by a door, where it appeared to have been used in an attempt to unlock the door.

Missing were four cases of Miller Lite and six cans of Pabst Blue Ribbon beer.

2008: A Very Good Year at the Colby Public Library

Link to March 7 Marshfield News Herald article, "Numbers add up at Colby library", a column written by Library Director Vicky Calmes.

2,748 people of all ages attended our special programs in 2008.

32,500 people were welcomed as they walked through our door.

58,994 was the number of circulations at the Colby Public Library in 2008. This is an increase of 84 percent in the past three years. [Retiring Guy's emphasis.] If the library seems like a busy place, we can assure you it is. We thank you, the patrons, for this support.

And this is just a sampling of the Colby Public Library's overall success story.

Friday, March 6, 2009

Advice from an Unlikely Source

The words in bold have been changed from the source material.

But if you are unsure of the patron's question, then [asking] a close-ended question serves you ill, because it immediately, perhaps irrevocably, moves you along the wrong track.

What does it take to succeed with open-ended questions? The librarian has to make the patron feel that he is really interested in hearing what they have to say.

Even if the librarian asks the right questions, the patron may not be forthcoming because of his emotional state. The goal of the librarian is to get to the real information need, and to do so he has to understand the patron’s emotions.”

Notes from my recent SLIS session on the reference interview. Well, yeah, they are, but you might be surprised by the source.

Book Review Central for Free Marketers

Your portal to Moonbattery.

Nothing to do tomorrow? Here's a suggestion. It's a chance to meet Joe the Plumber.

Rogier van Bakel offers some weeding suggestions


Planning for Expansion in Baraboo

Link to March 6 Baraboo News Republic article, "Creating the Perfect Library".

Excerpt: A ground-level entrance, more space for quiet individual or small-group study, more light for the children's section and respect for the beauty of its historic design were among the desires voiced by community members during a forum on expanding the Baraboo Public Library.

"We hope to instill the belief that the library is a home to them."

Link to March 6 Daily Union online article, "Jefferson library youth services expanding, despite tight budget".

Excerpt: Community support always has been an important part of that equation, Jefferson children's librarian Sharon Weber told the Jefferson Rotary Club Wednesday during its weekly meeting.

"We have a better program than our budget can support," Weber said, crediting that to the individuals, businesses, and community organizations that have contributed money, time and effort to make the Jefferson Public Library's youth offerings the best they can be.

As with libraries everywhere, the Jefferson Public Library has had to absorb some hard cuts recently, Weber said.

"I know for sure my book budget was cut from $10,000 to $5,000, and that does not go far," she said.

Those who haven't been in a library for a while might be amazed to find it a bustling place, full of people, activities and fun.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Pop Quiz

Rearrange the following generational groups according to their percentage of public library use -- in descending order.
  • Gen Y (18-30)

  • Gen X (31-42)

  • Trailing B0omers (43-52)

  • Leading Boomers (53-61)

  • Matures (62-71)

  • After work (72+)

No peeking at the result of a 2007 Pew Research survey.

Insert Mark Twain Quote Here

Link to March 5 Buffalo News article, "Anna Quindlen spotlights printed word at UB speech".

Excerpt: Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist and best-selling author Anna Quindlen is not about to write a eulogy for the printed word on a stark white page.

Not in Anna's future.

What Reference Librarians Are Up Against

Nutty Idea of the Day

Courtesy of West Virginai Democratic Delegate Jeff Eldridge.

The Evidence Keeps Piling Up

Link to March 5 Wisconsin Rapids Tribune article, "Out There: Library usage up as economy heads south".

Excerpt: "I don't think the use has gone up so much in terms of borrowers," Ron [McCabe, Library Director] said. "It's more in terms of the amount of use of things here, and that has gone up very, very dramatically."

In 2008, 489,554, items were checked out -- a 17.4 percent increase over 2007.

Of course, the library isn't just for checking out books, movies or art. On-site computers and Internet get plenty of attention.

Todd Larson, 45, Rome, who was laid off by Hamerski Farms in Plover, chatted online with friends Wednesday at the library.

"We want (Internet) at home, but just can't afford it right now," he said.

The library offered 340 programs in 2007, attended by 12,731 people. Last year, 17,752 people attended 417 free library-sponsored programs -- a 39.4 percent increase.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Nutty Idea of the Day

Courtesy of the blurred brain of Joel Anderson, a Republican Assemblyman from the San Diego area.

Dun of the Dead

Apparently, you can take it with you.
Link to March 4 New York Times article, "You’re Dead? That Won’t Stop the Debt Collector".

There's just no escaping technology. Improved database technology is making it easier to discover when estates are opened in the country’s 3,000 probate courts, giving collectors an opportunity to file timely claims.

DCM Services, a Golden Valley (!) Minnesota company that specializes in this service, trains its new hires in "empathic active learning". Hmm, sounds like a follow-up discussion on the reference interview is in order for my SLIS class tomorrow.

Remember what John Steinbeck wrote about Golden Valley in "Travels with Charley". I still have that arrogant plan -- into St. Paul on Highway 10, then gently across the Mississippi. The S-curve in the Mississippi here would give me three crossings of the river. After this pleasant jaunt I meant to go through Golden Valley, drawn by its name.

Survey Says....

.....a majority of American adults (57%) have not lived outside of the state in which they were born. (Link to Pew Research Center report.)

Here's Retiring Guy's line-up.

Auburn, Washington (1949-1952)

Great Falls, Montana (1952-1957)

Warren, Pennsylvania (1957-1968)

Buffalo, New York (1968-1970)

Minneapolis, Minnesota (1970 summer)

Buffalo, New York (1970-1971)

Laguna Beach, California (1971, Aug-Dec)

Buffalo, New York (1972, Jan-May)

Laguna Beach, California (1972, Jul-Aug)

Buffalo, New York (1972, Sep-Dec)

Warren, Pennsylvania (1973, Jan-Aug)

Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania (1973-1974)

Deer Lodge, Montana (1974-1975)

Warren, Pennsylvania (1975-76)

Springfield, Massachusetts (1976-1978)

Oshkosh, Wisconsin (1978-1986)

Middleton, Wisconsin (1986-)

Trying to Make Its Point Again

Link to February26 post, "Atlas felt a sense of déjà vu".

The book's 30-day average Amazon rank was 127 on February 21.

And there are currently 27 holds on 37 copies in LINKcat. Something's in the air.

I, too, shrugged, though it was after I finished the ordeal of reading the book. I actually read all of that 50? 60? page rant. (Yeah, no copy in my personal library.) Back in the day -- that would be almost 40 years ago -- reading The Fountainhead, my intro to Ayn Rand, was a lot of fun. Of course, I focused on the plot and characters and didn't bother with the brain-dead philosophy.

Then there's the appropriately melodramatic Hollywood take, with over-the-top music by Max Steiner, who never met a screeching chorus of violins he didn't like.

Take a look, give a listen.

West Bend Update

Link to WTMJ newsradio website, "Overflow Crowd Forces West Bend Gay Books Meeting Postponed".

The more than 300 who attended exceeded the capacity of the West Bend Common Council chambers as allowed by the city's fire code.

The article includes this hopeful note: Many came to the library board meeting to dispute that argument, i.e., that a number of alleged "pro-homosexual" books should be removed from the library. (Ginny Maziarka will want to be sure not to do business with any of these 259 companies.)

Read more at Ginny's blog, WISSUP = WISCONSIN SPEAKS UP.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Money Talks, Free Access Walks

Link to March 2 Huffington Post, "Is John Conyers Shilling for Special Interests?"

Right now, there's a proposal in Congress to forbid the government from requiring scientists who receive taxpayer funds for medical research to publish their findings openly on the Internet.

This ban on "open access publishing" (which is currently required) would result in a lot of government-funded research being published exclusively in for-profit journals -- inaccessible to the general public.

The authors of this post point out that Conyers received twice as much money from the publishing industry as those on the relevant committee who are not sponsors.

Kiss and Make Up? Pat Conroy and The Citadel

Link to March 3 New York Times article, "Reconciliation at the Citadel, Through Basketball".

Excerpt: The Citadel’s most famous alumnus is not an athlete, or even a general, but a novelist, Pat Conroy, class of ’67, who dared to write about the place and made himself so unpopular that for 30 years he was all but barred from the campus. Last week, though, he was on hand to see his former team thump Furman, its archrival, 75-54.

Let's see now. The Lords of Discipline was published in 1980. My math tells me this adds up to 21.

Fact Checking: After the Fact

Another publisher with egg on its face.

Link to March 3 New York Times article, "Errors Cast Doubt on a Baseball Memoir".

What a story!

Racism. Steroids. Profanity. Wacko behavior.

Wait a minute? Hold on here, say Benjamin Hill and Alan Schwarz, the article's authors.

But statistics from that season, transaction listings and interviews with his former teammates indicate that many portions of the book are incorrect, embellished or impossible.

Congratulation, Viking Press. You're the latest winner of the Eggface Award.

Cool bookshelf design


Survey Says......

.....In PRINT we TRUST… and on the WEB we LOOK.

Link to March 2 post.

316 respondents ranging in age from 12 to 72 seems like an awfully small sampling.

Survey Says

Pew Research looks at generational difference in online activities.

Excerpt: Contrary to the image of Generation Y as the "Net Generation," internet users in their twenties do not dominate every aspect of online life. Generation X is the most likely group to bank, shop and look for health information online. Boomers are just as likely as Generation Y to make travel reservations online. And even Silent Generation internet users are competitive when it comes to email (although teens might point out that this is proof that email is for old people).

"Gay Books" Under Attack at West Bend

West Bend Community Library

Link to March 2 GM Today article, "Action filed with West Bend Library Board to remove specific gay books".

Excerpt: Concerned with the presence and appropriateness of some materials at the West Bend Community Memorial Library, West Bend residents Ginny and Jim Maziarka are taking action.

The Maziarkas have filed a formal, written complaint with the library. The complaint has been placed on the March agenda and will be heard by the members of the Library Board when they convene for their monthly meeting on Tuesday night.

You might also want to read this and this.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Libraries are new front lines of job hunt

Atrium of Central Indianapolis-Marion County Public Library

Link to March 2 Indianapolis Star article.

Excerpt: With the economy in a downward spiral, computer usage last year at the city's 23 library locations jumped by 42 percent from 2007.

"We're beginning to see more people wanting to use the computers for (employment reasons)," library Chief Executive Laura Bramble said. "I think the economy has had a huge effect."

Beyond surfing the Net for job postings, people are using the computers to file for unemployment benefits and to write and update their resumes.

Someone Has a Very Exclusive Definition of "Our"

Link to February 24 post at WISSUP = Wisconsin Speaks Up, "West Bend Library Thumbs Nose at Taxpayers".

Remember to vote for Tony Evers on Tuesday, April 7!


Maybe I Should Watch My Step

Link to March 2 New York Times article, "Copyright Challenge for Sites That Excerpt".

It's called "scraping", shaving away potential readers and profiting from the content, a sense of the word you won't find yet in a dictionary definition.

Some traditional news organizations -- desperate for revenue, clueless about the changing times -- are now grousing over this practice of using of excerpts from original content. I do it all the time, excerpting no more than a few paragraphs per article, with the idea that the reader will click on the link I provide and read more. And I should be so lucky to profit from this activity!

No one's ever complained to me about this practice. In fact, every once in awhile I receive an email like this.

Quite a list, isn't it?

After I posted the story, a private investigator said he could have pointed me to where I might find most of the missing information. The exception was financial and medical records, which I could have obtained only by breaking the law (through social engineering).

Thanks for reading!--Robert L. Mitchell

This was in response to a link I provided to Mitchell's "What the Web Knows About You". My 1/28/2009 blog post included lists of "Information Discovered Online" and "Not (Yet) Found Online" that the author had included in his article.

What's next? A One Newspaper/One Reader campaign? I can't share my copy of the New York Times with anyone. They'll just have to buy their own.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Tapping New Sources of Green

Link to February 28 New York Times article, "Struggling States Look to Unorthodox Taxes".

Rep. Mark Miloscia, a Democratic state representative from Washington, suggested a tax on pornography -- 18.5 percent on everything from sex toys to adult magazines.

The reaction, in Miloscia's own words: "People came down on me like a ton of bricks. I didn’t quite understand. Apparently porn is right up there with Mom and apple pie.”

I wonder if he had any input from the folks in Utah?

In California, Tom Ammiano, a Democrat representing California's 13th Assembly District (San Francisco), suggests legalizing and taxing marijuana. According to Betty Yee, chairwoman of the California State Board of Equalization, this proposal could raise nearly $1,000,000,000 a year. Retailers would be charged a fee of $50 per ounce. Not to mention $400,000,000 in additional sales taxes. That additional revenue, in part, could certainly provide a shot in the arm for library funding. (Oops! Wrong drug metaphor.)

Other ideas from this series of "everything is on the table" discussions:

State Senator Bob Coffin, an Independent Democrat from Clark County, plans to introduce legislation to tax Nevada's brothels, with a fee structure "based on the amount of activities". Senator Coffin, an itemized list, please! (OK, but I just can't resist. The first item on the "Personal and Professional Achievements" portion of Coffin's resume is the Charles Dick Medal of Merit. My apologies to the National Guard for making light of this award. But then, as you can see from this LA Times headline, I'm not the only one having fun at Sen. Coffin's expense.)

And a group of Hawaiian legislators proposed legalizing same-sex unions as a way to turn around a slumping tourism industry.

And here in Wisconsin, all our legislators can do is work up a sweat over taxing haircuts.