Category Archives: Books

Books I am reading or have read.


I’m sure this isn’t an original thought (so very, very few are), but it was novel enough to me that I needed to write it down…and that’s pretty much what a blog is designed for.

I’ve written and talked about how libraries need to become comfortable with the containers of our new digital content, as since we move into the future the containers (ereader, ipad, tablet) will be important to users. We already know, more or less, how to deal with content. I’ve also been thinking about the interfaces that we use to access this content, and it just hit me:

Print is the only example of a media where the User Interface, Content, and Container have been, historically, the same thing. With music and video, we are completely used to the container, the content, and the user interface each being distinct: we put a tape into a player, which we control with kn0bs or buttons, and the content itself is ethereal and amorphous. With print, until very recently, the content, container, and interface were all the same thing…a book, a magazine, a broadsheet, a newspaper. All are content, container, and interface wrapped into a single unit. This may point to one of the reasons that people seem to feel a deeper connection to print materials than to the 8mm film, or the cassette tape.

I’ve been thinking a lot about these distinctions between container, content, and interface….I think that these three concepts could inform the way that libraries conceptualize what we do, and maybe find better ways to do it.

ALA TechSource Trends Webinar

TechSource has posted the recording of the TechTrends Midwinter 2010 Webinar that I was a part of a couple of weeks ago, along with Sean Fitzpatrick, Kate Sheehan and Greg Landgraf. I’m really pleased with it…check it out, and let me know if there are any questions you’d like me to follow up on.

TechTrends: Midwinter 2010 Webinar Archive from ALA Publishing on Vimeo.

TechTrends: Mid-Winter 2010, an archive of the 2/11/10 ALA TechSource webinar. The ALA Midwinter meeting was discussed from a library technology perspective. Our panel of experts offered their own unique perspective, sharing what they learned from the conference and what trends they thought stood out, plus, a question-and-answer session with the panelists.

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


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!