Archive for September 2008

I would gladly blog today but…

… gosh, I just need to fly to Washington to dig our country out of economic crisis. Please click on the archives to enjoy a rerun, instead.

More Netflix free trials

Since you all liked this so much last time, I have four more free one-month trials to Netflix to give away. First four people to comment with a valid email address get these; I’ll email you the code and URL.

Survey says

Just a brief FYI: The book review blog survey is closed (it filled up pretty quickly — thanks for sharing!). Stay tuned for info on where this goes next, and, if you have comments but didn’t get in before the survey closed, feel free to email or to comment here.

The bookless librarian

I know intellectually that people process information, and prefer their entertainment, in different ways, yet it always gives me pause to hear librarians talking about how they don’t tend to read a lot of books, or about how they’ve never personally liked to read. So, I was interested lately to see a couple of higher profile librarians mention this. John Berry’s most recent LJ posting, for instance, talks about new media in the context of liberating us from the book. He explains:

I never “loved” reading, the way so many people declare they do. It is especially true among those you encounter if you spend your life around libraries, books, and librarians.

I was intellectually motivated, so the ability to read fast and still comprehend the content was important to me, but I always tried to avoid or minimize the need to read.

In this new phase of my life, I have begun to view the progress of media and information technology as advancing my liberation from reading, or at least from much of the guilt and drudgery I associate with it….

Of course, I still read and enjoy books, newspapers, and magazines. But now I see the act of reading as a kind of last resort, something I turn to when no other means or format is available. I see reading as a time-consuming, inefficient, and increasingly problematic way to get ideas from another human into my consciousness.

Then, in a recent post on the Amazon Kindle, Jenny Levine talks about how her reading habits have changed post-Kindle, and notes that she’s now read two books on the device in four months:

I know two books doesn’t sound like a lot and some people read that in a week, but for me, this is a big difference. Before the Kindle, I think I’d finished two books in two years, both when I was away on vacation. And even though most people may read books more during the summer, I tend to read fewer, as I’m working and playing outside a lot more. In fact, during the summer I tend to start multiple books and finish none of them.

Berry realizes that people may see his post as a “confession.” Perhaps so; I’ll admit I’m taken aback whenever I talk to librarians who admit that they don’t read many books. Not in the “sustained reading of complex texts” sense, necessarily, but more along the lines of “how could you NOT?” I spend a lot of time reading (and, obviously, writing!) online, but couldn’t imagine ever giving up my books. Not only do different media serve different purposes, I think they also feed different parts of our soul — I’d buy a Kindle if I commuted by train, like Jenny, but I’d also keep making weekly trips to my local public library.

But then, the less knee-jerk part of my brain wonders if we actually do need different types of librarians to match up with our different types of patrons. We already have a pretty good lock on the brand=book thing — so do we need more librarians like me, who entered the profession in large part because of (yes, I admit it!) a love for the physical book? Or, do we need more librarians like Jenny Levine, who has greater insight into, say, gaming than I’ll ever possess (even if I do enjoy the occasional game of Guitar Hero).

Going to Internet Librarian 2009?

… in Monterey next month? I am, so, if you’d like to meet up, grab lunch, talk over a book idea, or just talk, drop me a line. One of the main reasons I go to these ITI conferences is to meet potential new authors. Sometimes it’s a lot easier to kick around ideas in person, so don’t be shy about taking the chance to chat if you’ve had one in the back of your mind. (Plus, they have really good food there!)

Random writing-related ramblings

This is somewhat old news, but HarperCollins has launched a new site, Authonomy, that aims to be a sort of social slushpile:

authonomy invites unpublished and self published authors to post their manuscripts for visitors to read online. Authors create their own personal page on the site to host their project – and must make at least 10,000 words available for the public to read.

Visitors to authonomy can comment on these submissions – and can personally recommend their favourites to the community. authonomy counts the number of recommendations each book receives, and uses it to rank the books on the site. It also spots which visitors consistently recommend the best books – and uses that info to rank the most influential trend spotters.

We hope the authonomy community will guide publishers straight to the freshest writing talent – and will give passionate and thoughtful readers a real chance to influence what’s on our shelves.

This site cracks me up, partially because the #2 book on their charts right now is titled Vlad the Inhaler:

Full of dark humour, Vlad the Inhaler tells of an eleven-year-old vegetarian and asthmatic hupyre (half-human/half-vampire) who has to overcome cowardice to rescue his friends.

Well, why not? If you’ve ever wanted to spot — or be noticed as — unsung new talent, here’s your chance.

And, if you need some fodder for your Authonomy submission, Debbie Ridpath Ohi today sings the praises of mining your own spam folder for character names. Talk about reuse/recycle!

Alas, poor computer media…

LJ is cutting my “Computer Media” book review column; October’s will be the last. So long, and thanks for reading! :)

Since this leaves a gaping hole in the review literature, I’m thinking of starting a new computer book review blog for librarians. To this end, if you purchase computer books for your patrons, please do me a favor and take this short survey on whether this sort of thing might be useful to you, and what you’d like to see there. (This is a little free SurveyMonkey survey limited to 100 respondents.)

Librarians can predict the future!

Just a note to say: I find it highly amusing that librarians seem to have been somewhat prescient about the current tone of national politics.

Shooting ourselves in the foot

So what is it with public libraries lately? Most have never been good at marketing per se, but now it seems that every week brings us a new story about a public library doing something incredibly stupid and patron-alienating, usually having to do with kids. It’s not enough to kick out the knitting girls, now we’re carding and turning away students who want to walk across the street from their high school to use the library on their lunch hour. (Wow, would I have loved to have a library across the street from my high school! But I digress…)

It’s one thing not to market yourself, it’s another thing entirely to create your own bad publicity — especially in an age where a negative story about one library’s actions spreads to tarnish public libraries in general, and the social web encourages others to share their negative experiences as well. Every time one of these stories breaks, you can expect the comments: “I’m not surprised — because, get what my library did to me…

Let’s try really hard not give any more ammunition to the “librarians are mean; libraries are irrelevant” meme, OK?

Best. Book. Trailer. Ever!

This should officially close the negative reviews theme. At least for a while..