15 August 2012

a serious post . . . o.m.g . . . the torches burn bright!!!

hello dear readers,

as much as i know you are used to clicking on the link to this blog with the anticipation of giddy school boys and girls awaiting the candy store to open, this blog post may disappoint in its entertainment value. but it surely will entertain your thought-provoked neurons (if there are such things, and i think there are).

maple street. location of a thought-provoking event in a famous episode of that old show, "the twilight zone," called "the monsters are due on maple street." there are humans. there are aliens. every conflict has to have two sides. if you haven't watched it, you should. hysteria ensues, kinda like the story i'm about to discuss.

i have no idea how i missed this story, but i am all over it now because it clearly, in one fell swoop, covers one of the biggest fears associated with e-books, authors and publishers . . . piracy!

now i know you are thinking, what story is she talking about?  THIS ONE! okay, i'll tell you the title: "piracy witch hunt downs legit e-book lending website."

whoa. first off, let's look at some of those terms... "piracy," "witch hunt," "legit," and "e-book."

i'll try to break it down in a few bullet points:
  • indie author writes book
  • indie author allows barnes & noble and amazon to sell said book
  • barnes & noble and amazon allow lending privileges for said book (one-time, 14 days)
  • guy creates website to facilitate lending, called lendink (wikipedia site).
  • indie author mistakes lending facilitation for piracy, creates twitmob, indie authors send C&Ds to website guy and his ISP (C&D=cease and desist; ISP=internet service provider)
  • website guy's ISP downs website
  • website guy cries (okay i made that part up)
  • indie authors realize mistakes, some say "i'm sorry"
  • website guy out of business
that, in a nutshell, is a potent combination of ignorance + confusion + fear with a little greed thrown in for flavor.

FULL DISCLOSURE: i used to work for one of the big box retailers referenced above and in that capacity i worked with a lot of authors, indie and mainstream.

now, i'm not one to cast the first stone (usually, the second), so i read through a few articles about this story before i became outraged and put up this post. my rage is two-pronged and both aimed at the authors. one is the totally ignorant, misguided, mob mentality that resulted from alleged authors FAILING TO READ. AUTHORS FAILING TO READ!!!! ironic? failing to read their agreements with amazon and barnes & noble that THEY signed,  failing to READ the information on lendink's website, failing to ASK questions, EPIC FAIL!

the second prong is aimed at authors who apologized. i know, sounds counterintuitive. but, hear me out. the amount of effort and misguided anger they put forth to protect their own property simply is not matched by a simple, two-word apology. there was a commercial years ago, where one of the characters said, "sorry doesn't feed the bulldog." one author actually said, in her revised comment to lendink's owner, "Now that I know the truth, I'd be happy to have my books up on your site." well, OF COURSE YOU WOULD!" isn't that why you publish to begin with?? so you can feed the bulldog??

*sigh* on a side note, i also blame publishers. they have continued to foster this notion that, somehow, e-books are bad for publishing, bad for authors because it can't be controlled (of course it can) and it can't be priced competitively (well, that's for you to fight out with jeff bezos). an author of one of the articles below says publishers spread FUD (fear, uncertainty, doubt).  unfortunately, at the end of the day, who suffers? in this case, the small business guy and us, the consumers.

well, i'll get off my soapbox now and leave you with a reading list of articles on the lendink debacle. another side note: in my feeble attempts to use google, i did try to find articles that might have fallen on the side of the misguided aggrieved authors. i couldn't find any. and i looked. really looked. i really did. if you find something, let us know.

13 August 2012

back from the future ... back to the future

Harvey Christensen works on the Oregon State College
Electronic Analog Computer, ca. late 1950s

hello, dear readers

well, a promise is a promise, even if i didn't really promise.

in a previous blog post, welcoming my own return to the blogosphere, i mentioned that i would be following up on some past blog posts from the infancy of this experiment i call the naked library.

hold on as we go back, back, back in time to...2009. initial blog posting title: winthrop prof uses kindle to spark new age of learning. pretty ambitious, wouldn't you say?

the winthrop professor is dr. mark herring, who also happens to be the dean of library services at winthrop university, here in good 'ol south carolina (rock hill, specifically).

his grand experiment? give each student in his class a kindle dx and see what happens. sparks? flames? inferno? 

i emailed dr herring to ask him for an update on his kindle experiment and he was kind enough to respond. i think we might all know where that kindle experiment went, but wait until you see where winthrop's library went, and dr. herring's thinking along with it.

read all about it by clicking this link. it's a microsoft word document i'm sharing with you on google drive. 

google drive? there's something we haven't talked about yet that didn't exist in 2009 - cloud storage for the masses. hmmm...future blog post? probably.

happy reading...no matter the format!


thumbs up - a discovery of witches (first in a planned trilogy) by deborah harkness. it's about a witch who doesn't want to acknowledge she's a witch who falls in love with a vampire while looking for an obscure monograph also being searched for by other witches, vampires, and werewolves. NO! it's not twilight. besides, the protagonist is a librarian. trust me on this one... it's good. really!! seriously!! stop laughing!!

thumbs down - the borrower by rebecca makkai - librarian winds up on road trip with kid, accidentally. i couldn't pretend a librarian wasn't smarter.

07 August 2012

is it 'e' you're looking for?

i work at an academic library and a co-worker forwarded a blog posting from "librarian in black." librarian in black  is really sarah houghton, director for the san rafael public library (california) and the posting is titled "i'm breaking up with e-books (and so can you)"(subtitled e-book suckitude). i like it!

[WARNING! DANGER WILL ROBINSON! it contains salty language! yes, the S-word and the F-word are used, sparingly, but used). still worth the read.

now, i'll admit that at first glance, i took offense because i...love...e-books! love, love, love them! and paper books, tooooooo!

but upon further investigation, it turns out that sarah (i'll assume it's okay to call her sarah) isn't breaking up with e-books but is breaking up with overdrive, the major e-book provider for libraries in the country. and she's not planning on picking up with another suitor (sorry, 3m).

okay, this bandwagon i can jump on.  it just so happens that i met last week with one of our local community college librarians who wanted to talk about...you guessed it, e-books and e-book providers.

but, back to sarah and her upcoming bad breakup with overdrive. in her looooong blog post, she compares her library's relationship with overdrive (through a consortium) with a relationship with a bad boyfriend. nice and shiny and full of promise in the beginning, but eventually all that wears off and you're left with crap and you settle until one day... 

basically, she sees overdrive as a promise unfulfilled. not only that, but almost as though overdrive was fraudulent in their intent to begin with. 

i tried to highlight the basics in the article, but even the highlights (lowlights) stacked up, but here goes (by the way, this doesn't mean i don't want you to read the article!!):

  • the whole situation sucks:  "the copyright nightmares, the publishers, the fragmented formats, the ridiculous terms of service, the device incompatibility, the third-party aggregation companies libraries do business with."
  • we have ourselves to blame:  "libraries have not been included at the table for negotiations on digital copyright, terms of service, licensing conditions, technology integration, none of it. And yes, that stinks. And yes, we’ve complained about it enough. We haven’t been heard largely because we’ve been too polite and too quiet for too long. It’s our fault. "
  • too many restrictions suck:  "We can’t buy from most of the major publishers, and even for those we can buy from we have extreme restrictions or highly inflated costs... lack of development of usable download processes, fair-use-friendly terms of use, and privacy options in keeping with libraries’ professional values and ethics."
  • we didn't get our fair share "eBooks never gave us as libraries–full selection, right-quick downloads, and sharing rights. We got no love at all, but our prettier sister, the consumer, got a better deal. Still not everything, as she also has to put up with restrictive DRM, licensing and not owning, and privacy violations."

  • the promise of collaboration remains just that "publishers continually feed libraries the line that they’re “experimenting with different models” and “hope to continue to work positively with libraries in the digital space. Uh huh.  Libraries and eBooks aren’t shacking up anytime soon, not for real…not as long as publishers continue to falsely view us as a threat instead of a partner. "

  • maybe it's just not ready "eBooks in libraries are a non-starter, their path has been set for the foreseeable future, and their future is determined by people who are not us. ...those who produce them for profit...the publishers…the, until recently, necessary middlemen in the process between creators and consumers. Now that they’re not necessary to the process anymore, largely due to their inflexibility and inability to change in the face of rapidly shifting market conditions, they have attempted to salvage their failing business model with high prices, limited licensing policies, and technology so locked down that it remains impenetrable to many people."

kinda in a nutshell. i know it sounds whiny, but i think rightfully so. even in an academic setting, there is still confusion over the e-books we have available in our catalog, i.e., ebsco, netlibrary, etc., that can be used on campus with some restrictions as far as printing, downloading, etc. and those e-books i call "consumer e-books" like the ones they download to their ipads and kindles and nooks from whatever vendor they choose any time they choose and keep for as long as they choose.

what's a library to do? cliffhanger...spoiler alert!!

here's sarah: "At our recent regional library consortium meeting, I said I wouldn’t give more money to OverDrive, beyond the bare minimum that the consortium’s contract required of us, and only until we can legally terminate our contract–at which point I personally want out of OverDrive.  The title selection is awful and getting only more so month by month, their policies are restrictive, and their business practices are unethical–including trading away core librarian values (user data privacy, no commercial endorsements).  I’m not going to give any money to 3M or Baker & Taylor either unless things change on their end, just for the record. I’m finished promoting an inferior eBook product to our patrons. I’m finished throwing good money after bad money. And I’m finished trying to pointlessly advocate for change when change has to come from places waaaaaaay above my influence level or pay grade."

hmmmm. bold. brash. risky? now, granted this is a smallish, public library system. but, when consumers  encounter an inferior product, especially one that's not a necessity, don't they stop purchasing it or find an alternative? i don't like it when the lights go out in my neighborhood due to lack of improvements to infrastructure from my utility company, but i don't have much choice (unless i go prairie style and use candles for light and warm my water over a campfire). i'm a city girl, forget that!

but i don't HAVE to have ebooks, i just like 'em. and libraries don't HAVE to provide e-books. or do they? and if our patrons want e-books, should we just provide them any way we can and let them figure it out? or should we wait to provide them with the best product we can, even if we don't know that product is coming?


side note: here is a great (and up to date!) chart provided by the colorado library consortium: Comparison of Library eBook Choices

and two other librarian bloggers seem to be on the same bandwagon: andromeda yelton and annoyed librarian.