Category Archives: Books

Books I am reading or have read.

Shut up and get out of the way

Google, on the Book Settlement, from arstechnica:

“Approval of the settlement will open the virtual doors to the greatest library in history, without costing authors a dime they now receive or are likely to receive if the settlement is not approved,” Google’s filing reads. “Nor does anyone seriously dispute, though few objectors admit, that to deny the settlement will keep those library doors locked while inviting costly, fragmented litigation that could clog dockets around the country for years.”

Or, in other words: Shut up, and get out of the way.

Collection distribution by publication date

At my place of work, we’re just beginning a massive weeding project as a part of the larger new library building project. We are hoping to weed the entire collection for, effectively, the first time in the history of the library. Needless to say, it’s kind of going to own our lives for the next 18 months.

As a part of this, my awesome co-worker Andrea created this chart showing the distribution of publication dates for our collection. The massive amount of 1800’s is from our Early English Books Online collection, but the rest of it shows a pretty great distribution of “when did the library have funding” over the decades.

collection by pub date

Delaying ebooks

I was going to blog about the recent article describing how publishers are going to be slotting ebooks into their traditional Handcover-then-Paperback release schedule. I was going to point out that treating digital objects like physical objects has never worked, will never work, and to expect it to work is a fundamental error of modern media.

I was going to do that, but then Chad Haefele over at Hidden Peanuts did it for me. Go read it.

From his post:

Scribner has created an ecosystem where piracy is literally the only option for potential customers who would otherwise line up to give them money, AND that piracy delivers what’s actually a superior product with no DRM.

Yep, that’s pretty much what they’ve done. And, like the music industry, they are going to shoot themselves right in the foot.

Drowning in eReaders

I’m in the middle of writing an issue of Library Technology Reports on Gadgets in your Library, focusing on personal electronics (eReaders, personal media players, cameras, audio recorders, etc). I’ve been drowning in electronic readers lately, starting with the Barnes & Noble Nook finally shipping and going all the way through a myriad of hardware vendors that are jumping into the eReader space. A few of the eReaders that might not be on everyone’s radar:

BiblioMashups – Reading Radar

There’s a ton of good work being done in libraryland with mashups and bibliographic data (I’m looking at you, LibraryWebChic!). But for user experience and overall awesome, I love this mashup by John Herren of just the New York Times bestseller list and Amazon APIs:

Reading Radar

ReadingRadar

He detailed how he did it in this great blog post, and it set my mind to racing with possibilities for libraries. For one, I didn’t know that the NYT bestseller list had an API! Public libraries all over should be leveraging this on their websites, with links to their holdings.

CluetrainPlus10 – Thesis 17

Companies that assume online markets are the same markets that used to watch their ads on television are kidding themselves.

As many will probably say about The Cluetrain Manifesto, it’s almost scary how precient it was. To put it into perspective, when the authors were writing Cluetrain, Google had less than a dozen employees and has just moved out of a garage. The word “blog” had yet to be used to describe a chronological website. Napster hadn’t shattered the media industry yet. And statistics put the number of people on the Internet at just about 150 million, or around 10% of the current number.

Christopher Locke, Rick Levine, Doc Searls, and David Weinberger put together an amazing set of principles that are even more relevant today than they were 10 years ago.  The sad part about Thesis 17, in particular, is that companies haven’t yet learned this lesson. Some of them are trying, with standouts like Zappos. But far too many companies are failing to see the benefits of participatory marketing and extreme customer service.

The market is no longer passive. Almost no one under the age of 35 these days interacts with products in the way the older generation did…we expect to be involved in our consumption, connected to it. We ask friends, we poll our social networks, we take recommendations of the people we know very seriously. We have to love both the object and the process or we just don’t buy. And loving means becoming involved, knowing more, interacting with the makers, asking questions, and otherwise being active.

We want a relationship with our products, and producers who try to feed us advertising may be ok short-term, but the days of the passive are over. The new market is fragmented and participatory, and content producers will have to adjust or die. Making a better product isn’t enough. The companies that will thrive in the coming years are the ones that understand and cultivate the one-to-one relationships with their customers and their potential customers.

This post is a part of the larger CluetrainPlus10 project. Follow other reflections on the Cluetrain there!

Kindle 2 on Techsource

Just a note for those that might have missed it…I’m one part of a three part post over at TechSource on the Kindle 2 and libraries. I’m pointing it out mainly because of the fact that I did the very first, I think, video for TechSource, showing off the Kindle 2’s Text-to-Speech feature. Go take a look, and let me know how you think it came out.

Ebooks, copyright, and the University of Virginia

I’m in the middle of writing a book about Mobile Technologies and Libraries, and am researching libraries providing mobile-specific services of all sorts. I came across the University of Virginia’s Ebook Library, and decided to take a look at what they are offering. It’s a very old ebook collection, with the original Etext division starting in 1992. Here’s the part that made me scratch my head…it’s in their Access and Conditions of Use:

While many of these items are made publicly-accessible, they are not all public domain — the vast majority of the images, and a number of the texts, including all of those from the University of Virginia Special Collections Department, are copyrighted to the University of Virginia Library, for example, and a number of other texts are still copyrighted to their original print publishers and made available here with permission.

I have no qualms with the texts that are copyrighted by their original publishers, and that UVA got permission to use. My eyebrows raise at the bit about “including all those from the University of Virginia Special Collections Department, are copyrighted to the University of Virginia Library…”

Really?

I had my suspicions here…it’s not like the UVA Special Collections Department are writing books, right? After look around, I found this text: Po’ Sandy by Charles W. Chestnutt. Published in 1888 in the Atlantic Monthly in New York, it is clearly in the public domain in the United States. But there it is, in the front matter:

Copyright 1999, by the Rector and Visitors of the University of Virginia

Looking around just a bit, it looks like this shows up on all sorts of texts that UVA digitized. My favorite is The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin, completed in 1788 by Franklin but the particular version republished by UVA was published in 1909 by P. F. Collier & Son Company in New York. Also, without any doubt, in the Public Domain in the US. It also has the note:

Copyright 1999, by the Rector and Visitors of the University of Virginia

What gives UVA the right to claim copyright on these texts? They couldn’t have legally digitized them if they weren’t in the Public Domain at the time of their digitization, and changing the form of something doesn’t give you the right to claim a copyright, especially on the bits that make the work up. Even stranger, they aren’t just claiming copyright, but including a EULA!

By their use of these ebooks, texts and images, users agree to follow these conditions of use:

  • These ebooks, texts and images may not be used for any commercial purpose without permission from the Electronic Text Center.
  • These ebooks, texts and images may not be re-published in print or electronic form without permission from the Electronic Text Center. However, educators are welcome to print out items and hand them to their students.
  • Users are not permitted to download our ebooks, texts, and images in order to mount them on their own servers for public use or for use by a set of subscribers. Individuals and institutions can, of course, make a link to the copies at UVa, subject to our conditions of use.

Really? Is UVA asserting rights here that they just do not have? Not permitted to republish? Only if there is a copyright concern…which I think that UVA is asserting incorrectly here. It’s possible that there is some piece of copyright law that they are leaning on for these claims, but on the face of it, this seems like over reaching. Can anyone explain to me how they could possible have legitimate copyright claims on things that they didn’t create and are beyond the time limit for copyright protection in the US?