Round up #198: the old-time internet, library mini round up

Round up #198: the old-time internet, library mini round up

The ILMK Round ups are short pieces which may or may not be expanded later.

Seth Godin: “The End of Books”

I enjoyed this

blog entry at Typepad by Seth Godin

There are some really good lines, and it’s an interesting look at the shifts in book culture. This short excerpt was one of my favorites:

“READING FOR PLEASURE was largely extinguished by four generations of not-very-good teaching philosophies. By treating a book as homework and a punishment, we’ve raised people to not look forward to reading.”

and it ties neatly into this post, Reading in school, that I did not too long ago.

I recommend that you read it, and I don’t want to give too much away. Godin goes through a list of the challenges, and then suggests that we will overcome them…and I do agree. 🙂

Has our perception of the internet changed that much since 1997?

Oh, it’s exactly the same…not! Sorry, just trying to get into that 1990s (remember them?) 😉 vibe, although yes, Wayne’s World was five years before 1997.

This

CNET article by Eric Mack

links to an amazing video from 1997 having kids explain how to use the internet, and how cool that is. It’s a long video (almost half an hour),but it’s really camp, like an old cautionary movie from the 1950s.

Open Road gets $11 million

Open Road Media is one of my favorite publishers for e-books. They never block text-to-speech access, they weren’t part of the Agency Model, and they bring us great backlist titles.

That’s why I was pleased to see this

Wall Street Journal post by Jeffrey Trachtenberg

Regular readers know that I think Trachtenberg is one of the most informed mainstream journalist about e-books, and I always look forward to new articles.

These new investments aren’t being primarily used for acquisitions, but for technology improvements…but that counts. 🙂

The New York Times: “Expecting the Unexpected from Jeff Bezos”

Thanks to a reader who sent me a heads-up to this

New York Times article by David Streitfeld and Christine Haughney

in a private e-mail! Sorry I haven’t replied to you…you’ll always get a faster response (if desired) by commenting on something on the blog. I just check those and get to those faster. I also did see this article other places, but I’d rather you tell me twice than not at all. 🙂

It’s inspired by Jeff Bezos’ purchase of the Washington Post, although like a lot of articles, it to some extent treats Bezos and Amazon as the same thing. It’s a lengthy piece, and has some good insight.

I liked this quotation:

“Bezos is fascinated by broken business models. And whatever else you think of newspapers, the business model is broken.”

by Jeff Marcus, a former Amazon employee.

I think it’s worth reading.

I’m not particularly concerned about billionaires buying newspapers. It doesn’t feel that different to me than, say, William Randolph Hearst (not that I’m saying Hearst was a good thing). Unless somebody figures out how to get the Washington Post to make money (and Jeff Bezos hasn’t been proven to be that great at making a profit so far), you want someone who can afford to hemmorhage money….and Bezos can do that for a while. It’s possible that Jeff will find something sustainable, and I really don’t see the Amazon CEO Bigfooting any political stories into the “paper”.

Um…let me think…no!

Thanks to Publishers Lunch for the heads up on this CTV news story,


Should the price of books be regulated?

This article has a two minute video about Quebec debating regulating e-book prices…to keep them higher, basically, to support small bookstores.

You could only give discounts of ten percent for the first nine months the book was in the market (both e-books and paper).

Yes…because raising the prices will clearly help those small bookstores stay in business, when people pirate the books online and steal them from bookstores, and smuggle them in from other places, and switch to reading something else…well, I think you can see where I stand on this. 😉

The issue is being debated now…if you live in Quebec, you might be able to let them know what you think (pro or con).

How do libraries get funding in this day and age?

Surveys overwhelmingly show that people like public libraries and think they are important.

So, naturally, cities, counties, and states fund them, right?

Not always.

This

NPR article and recording by Neda Ulaby

For example, in Vermont (according to the article)

“…once a year the town librarian has to go to a town meeting and make a case for funding for next year.”

Many libraries depend on donations to stay open. Some people leave them books or money in their wills.

Well, at least very rich people don’t own the libraries, am I right? 😉 Just kidding, lots of rich people do donate to libraries, and sometimes get things named after them there. That’s okay with me.

In Santa Clara, California (a town I know pretty well), upset citizens are demanding that a long-delayed library open, according to this

USA Today article by Melanie Eversley

There appears to be a bit of a legal mess which has resulted in a library being build, but no books.

Let’s stick with public libraries for one more story:

Demand for e-books is draining library budgets

That Sun Sentinel (Florida) article by Lisa J. Huriash gives you a really good local perspective on how expensive e-books are for libraries. They can’t just pay $9.99 for an e-book from Amazon. You can’t use e-books you get from the Kindle store for commercial purposes, and libraries basically fall under that (even though it isn’t exactly commerce). The article cites a price of $70 – $80 for a James Patterson novel.

Maybe equally interesting to many will be the observation of how many senior citizens are using e-books. Heidi Burnett, the library manager of Oakland Park, is quoted as saying,

“We are helping a lot of senior citizens coming in with their various devices — Kindles, iPads, on Nooks, on their tablets, on their laptops — and they are vitally interested in that…”

Early surveys indicated that Kindles were used disproportionately by people over 50, and that made sense. Those are the serious readers, the people who could afford the devices, and the ones that benefited most from increasable font sizes and the lightness of the devices compared to paperbooks (p-books).

The youngest Baby Boomers are in their mid-50s, after all, and that’s the generation that largely invented home electronics. Steve Jobs would have been 58, for example.

I think the average age has probably significantly dropped, especially with the marketing of tablets to kids…at least, the age of e-book readers has probably dropped on average. In the beginning, though, when a device cost hundreds of dollars, it seemed to skew older.

I sometimes have a hard time getting people to realize that at work. When I train people, the New Millenials (who, shockingly to me, are getting to be thirty years old, at least some of them) can be harder to teach technology than people in their fifties.

Why?

The New Millenials have grown up with largely smoothly functioning technology. Some of them don’t want to put up with it when something doesn’t work smoothly the first time. A Baby Boomer gets it when you have to click somewhere, then click somewhere else, then click on the first place again to get it to work because it is glitchy. If a button doesn’t do it what it says it will do, some New Millenials just want to move on. Not all of them, of course, and it’s not an unreasonable attitude to have…it can just make it more challenging.

What do you think? Is government limiting discounts on books a good idea? Were you aware that has been tried before in other places? Is your public library reliably publicly funded? What will survive from our book culture of ten years ago? Feel free to let me and my readers know what you think by commenting on this post.

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the I Love My Kindle blog.

4 Responses to “Round up #198: the old-time internet, library mini round up”

  1. scottishbookworm Says:

    Yes, I’m in Quebec, and I’m definitely concerned by the move. I hope a compromise can be achieved.

    • Bufo Calvin Says:

      Thanks for writing, scottishbookworm!

      How would one try to influence the discussions happening? In the USA, we’d say, “E-mail your Congressperson”. Is there a good equivalent for the group debating the issue?

  2. Edward Boyhan Says:

    I lived in North Conway NH for 12 years. Not only was the library funding subject to approval at town meeting, but EVERY expenditure large or small had to be approved at town meeting. The school board could negotiate a teachers contract with the union, but it didn’t mean squat unless it was approved at town meeting (got the teachers to show up en mass at town meeting 😀 — even so some years the contract was NOT approved).

    BTW the town meeting form of government is prevalent across all of New England — not just Vermont.

    Every year that I was there the library trustees petitioned for a bond issue to fund a library expansion, and every year it was defeated — seems prescient to me now.

    I think that not only are the business models for newspapers broken, but so are the models for public libraries and bricks and mortar bookstores.

    I’m not impressed by polls showing the popularity of libraries and small bookstores — I suspect that most of the poll respondents are older, and have always had libraries, and bookstores as part of their landscapes.

    When reading devices fall under $25, and younger people reach adulthood — not having the same experience of physical bookstores and libraries (kind of like rotary dial telephones), I suspect the poll results for bookstores and libraries will be quite different, and spending priorities at town meetings will probably be focused on things that we can’t even imagine today.

    I think we have to get beyond the nostalgia that bookstores and libraries engender — or my age cohort has to pass on to its reward — either way long term (one or two generations) IMO libraries and bookstores are toast 😉

    • Bufo Calvin Says:

      Thanks for writing, Edward!

      In terms of bookstores, I think we already see a very diminished shopping experience in many of them. Not in small independents, but in larger stores. That means that young people who do go to bookstores now don’t get the “golden memories” that Boomers might have. That’s going to matter. Indies aren’t generally discounted, so they don’t appeal to the same crowd…they may appeal more to those who are more financially established. So, in terms of p-books, we may go back to the way it was before mass market paperbacks: an “upper crust” thing.

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