While trawling through the web one day…

Welcome to Tuesday, the week before my kids have Spring Break from school. And I don't. For what it's worth, my birthday (March 28) has always fallen the week of their break. When they were little I told them that's the purpose of their week off, to celebrate my birthday. For a while there I'm pretty sure they believed me.

Kids. It's so fun messing with their minds.

Here's some stuff I found on the interwebs. Hope you enjoy it.


This one may make you CRY. It did me, forcing me to face the fact I can't read all these gems:


Have you read any you feel I simply cannot die without having read? Loads of them already on my wish list…


Amazingly wonderful and thoroughly considered blog post re: the current eBook battle between libraries and publishers:



Essay on finding artistic inspiration:



A favorite quote:

"Like many novelists, I tend to experience an existential crisis every time I finish a book. Why bother? Why engage in such an intangible and self-involved vocation when I could be doing something more tangibly and socially useful? (i.e., stopping a pipeline, regrouting the bathroom.) Why write longform narrative in a world that prefers to live swiftly and episodically?"

– Kyo Maclear, from "The Beautiful Afterlife of Dead Books"





Lizzie Skurnick on 50 Shades of Grey: The new self-published eBook erotic thriller that's (inexplicably) shot to the top of the bestseller list.

Review and thoughts on the book from Smart Bitches Trashy Books


Book review lust:





Four First Novels Reviewed:

The Telegraph






And, finally, this Youtube Video: Super Mario Saves the Princess (รก la The Family Guy):





Books vs. eBooks, Libraries vs. Publishers

Weirdly enough, I don't often post here as a librarian. Or, I should say, about being a librarian, specifically. But lately there's a continually rising trend so disturbing I can't keep mum about it any longer.  Namely, libraries are – or are planning to start – getting rid of physical books in favor of digital/eBooks. Re-design plans for library space have either been set in motion or are under discussion. "New" library floorplans strip book collections down to the bestsellers, the books most checked out. Older, less obviously popular books will be escorted to the door, their mylar covers ripped off and security tags removed.

You may say, "Big deal. These books aren't getting checked out often anyway, plus the space could be better used housing tech labs, private rooms for meetings or study or teleconferencing – things people actually use."

If you're bloodless, unappreciative of things like serendipitous discovery of new books and authors, topics and the free exchange of ideas, good for you. Your ignorance precedes you and isn't likely to go away, thanks to your closed-minded logic. But if, for the rest of us, the very thought of the "libri" root of the word library still evokes actual books you can hold in your hands, flip through and enjoy the heft of actual papers glued between two covers, this is positively chilling.

Ironically, now libraries willing and in the process of chucking print books are running into a bit of a hitch. Namely, it's finally dawning on publishers they're becoming the only game in town, the one source of the very digital books libraries need. And, sure, they were the suppliers for paper and glue books, too. But those cost a lot more money to produce, store and ship than their digital counterparts. Digital books, they're realizing, are a true cash cow. And who needs eBooks in order to provide books to their patrons? Why, the same libraries heaving print books out the door. The same who need to provide newly electronically-enlightened patrons with copies of digital books they assume will, or have, supplanted the old fashioned book book.

So publishers are raising their prices for eBooks, tightening up their licenses in order to continue making money – not such an odd thing for a business. Prices are raising not 10 or 20%, or even 50%. Try numbers like 300 % over the prices they were just a couple weeks ago – at least in the case of mega-giant Random House.

Publishers like Penguin are refusing to sell eBooks to libraries at all, figuring they're missing out on a hefty profit when these books are checked out over and over, never wearing out, never needing to be replaced. Because, for the foreseeable future, digital is forever. Some are in negotiations with libraries to charge per however many checkouts they deem normal for an equivalent paper book, estimating how long book books last before needing to be replaced. And libraries are horrified, justifiably or not.

There's a lot that's up in the air but who'll be suffering most? Ah, that's right. The readers. The public, the students, the whomever is queueing up to make use of these books. And their patience won't last long. The first time they go to check out a new book and hear, "Umm… We don't have that in electronic form because the publisher is charging too much money for it and we won't buy from them" I don't think they'll find it in their hearts to feel too badly for the library itself. Rather, I think they'll scream their heads off, holding onto their Nooks, Amazon Kindles, Sony eReaders and whatever else is coming down the pike.

Library patrons are keeping libraries in business. They're paying property taxes which pay for books, maintenance, little things like librarian's salaries. And, in exchange, they expect service, an institution that meets their needs. When libraries are at war with publishers patrons don't care. They expect one or both to suck it up, get over it and provide the services and materials they need.

When books are swallowed up by digital books, libraries have become computer labs instead of storehouses of information and the world has rolled over in response to the pressure of staying on the cutting edge of technology, where will humans be? At what other time in history has so much change been forced upon people in such a short time? And, where will the non-technical people be? Left in the dust, I guess.

Luddite I am not, proof positive being my presence here, my possession of an iPhone and a Kindle Fire. But I'm also a bibliophile. My house is bulging at the seams with books numbered in the thousands: the old-fashioned sort made of paper. What I am is concerned and one of the things bothering me most is the possibility the world outside the library profession doesn't realize all that's going on right now, all the turmoil, certainly, but the threat to paper books as well. Or, the threat to paper books especially.

I hope you'll take what I'm saying here and turn it into library activism, on whatever scale you can. Maybe things where you are haven't – and even won't, for a long time or forever – changed but for those of us in major metropolitan areas things are changed already. Libraries are jumping on the bandwagon to be ahead of the curve. Some have renovated already, taking out the books, modelling themselves after the now-defunct Borders, putting coffee bars where books used to be.

All well and good but there's more at stake. The battle between publishers and libraries is joined and getting more bloody by the minute. Being a librarian, I'm trying to straddle the line, eager to provide eBooks to those who want them but also stubbornly against sacrificing books to do so. I'm one of those who walks in the library stacks, one finger on book spines like a child running a stick along a picket fence. When a title, or an image strikes my fancy I love pulling it off the shelf, reading the dustjacket blurb and considering if it would suit me or not. If those books are no longer there I'll never stumble on them. I'll never experience the excitement of finding a new-to-me author not recommended by Amazon, because someone else who bought a certain book also bought this one. And while I can page through lists of eBooks, neatly organized in alphabetical order, that grows tedious awfully quickly.

While understanding the upsurge in providing eBooks, I also think all this is becoming a self-fulfilling prophecy. Libraries are turning from books (who'd ever believe that would happen?) so as not to seem old-fashioned, and now publishers and libraries are at each other's throats. Those without e-readers are being shoved out into the cold and books more than a few years old are either going to used book sales or being pulped. It's a mess, quite frankly. One I'm expected to stay on top of, to keep abreast of what's new and generally support the library and its new mission.

Between you and me, I wish I'd been born much earlier, even long enough ago I'd be turned to dust by now. Because I'd rather not have lived to see all that's happening. Words can't describe how much I hate what's being lost. Call me old fashioned, or backward, or whatever you'd like. Honestly, I don't care. What I dread is the day I have a grandchild who grows up without need of a bookcase, because all s/he needs is a pouch to hold an e-reader.

The scary thing is, this may not be far off the mark. And I still don't want to be here to see it.


For more:





For Librarians:




A neurotic librarian moment. Please indulge me.

Forgive me for this librarian nervous breakdown moment, but I'm getting a little annoyed by the debate of book vs. ebook. Does that issue bug me? Heck, yeah! But all that's idle chatter next to the really big problem: information storage and retrieval.

Most of the arguments against electronic books center on the loss of physical books themselves, but that's only a small part of the story (pun semi-intended). The long-term problem is once existing technology is replaced by something "better," what happens to everything stored using the previous technology? Where will all these electronic books – and all the other media, like newspapers, digital photographs, public documents, materials already archived using different technology – go once their storage method is rendered extinct by the NEXT BIG THING?

This is what keeps archivists/curators/defenders of information up at night. The book vs. the ebook? Sure, that's upsetting. But consider all the information we have today and how it's stored. Who will be doing all the necessary updating to keep that information as formats change? As years pass more information will be accumulated. It will be impossible to keep up with it, to store the previous batch before the next one rolls in. Then what happens?

In the past, if you wanted to write a biography about, say, Teddy Roosevelt, you would delve into books and other paper sources. While really old paper documents have their own issues – crumbling due to age, etc. – nevertheless they're ideally archived together in one uniform format. They can also be photographed, either on film or digitally. Or both, to be doubly sure.

On the other hand, if you were – years from now – to write a biography of Barack Obama, books would still be a primary source, but the real meat of your information is going to be electronic. Instead of his letters, you'd need to have access to his email and other electronic documents. But someone has to weed through those, pull out what's security-sensitive and leave what would be considered interesting. But who? And what if that person decides to ditch things like, "Let's meet for lunch at McDonald's on Tuesday," or anything else that seems unimportant. What if some of that turns out to be more important than they thought, but now they've pressed a button and it's gone forever?

Then again, what if they keep everything? Where will this everything be stored for everyone, for the purpose of archiving lives that would previously have been documented on paper?

See the problem? What happens to our collective history if we have no way of saving it - in a usable format - for the future?

Boggling, isn't it?

So, while I agree it's frustrating Amazon's electronic book sales have surpassed those of conventional books by far, what I find even more troubling is how all the electronic information we have now will be usable in the future. Like you didn't have enough to keep you up at night, right?

You will still have to pry my paper and glue books out of my cold, dead hands. And I won't stop buying books, and admiring how they look on my shelves (as opposed to the charm of my Sony Reader, which should never be underestimated).  But the seduction of downloading books instantly, paying less than the cover price of a book to have it right away…  Agony, for this librarian. I never thought I'd be torn over this, but I am. And I'm more than a little embarrassed to admit that. Still, honesty, policy, etc.

Consider this a simplistic introduction to what we're in for in the future. Books vs. ebooks has gotten the attention of the masses, but be advised this isn't all we have to worry about. For a full list of other things I recommend worrying about, see me. I can empty any glass you can fill.

But do me a favor and keep today's issue in mind, because it will have an impact on all future generations. And if you can find a solution, make sure you cut me in. I would like to be really, really wealthy. I think I'd make a good rich person. A very good rich person.