An absolutely beautiful video that shows off the place I live. Watch it in HD if you can, it’s worth it.
Yesterday I had the pleasure of presenting to the librarians at Western Kentucky University during their 2011 kickoff event. When discussing a topic with the Dean, I was told that they were interested in the future of the academic library, technology, and how to manage the changes that are coming. That’s definitely in the sweet spot of my library interests, so I gave it a shot. Below you’ll find a slideshow with accompanying audio of my presentation, along with the Q/A session at the end. The whole thing is about 1.5 hours, but my presentation is just the first hour or so. I’d love to hear what you think, especially if you disagree with any of my points.
Keynote about the future of libraries, change management, and technology over the next 5 years given to Western Kentucky University Libraries, August 24, 2011 by Jason Griffey
I know I just blogged about this a few days ago, but there’s been more amazing responses to Kevin’s book that I thought I needed to follow up. There was this really great review from NPR, during Fresh Air on Aug 8th that is about 6.5 minutes of praise about the book. And then there is, most strange to me, a biographical piece in the New York Times that talks about Kevin’s family and life in Sewanee. It’s not strange because it’s untrue, or because it’s hyperbolic, but just because it’s strange seeing the people I hang out with in the NYT. This is especially true of Griff, one of Eliza’s best friends…from the article:
The family lives outside Sewanee on the edge of a one-acre pond in a thicket of woods teeming with rabbits, bats and deer. Inside the house signs of Griff, 3, were everywhere: a basket of toys near the wood-burning fireplace, a child-size canvas swing from Ikea hanging from the ceiling and a remote-controlled train set taking up most of Ms. Couch’s office upstairs, where she writes her poetry on a drafting desk in the corner.
I’m thrilled to see Kevin getting such attention…he and his family are amazing, awesome people. I hope that The Family Fang is a massive hit, and that they find the success they deserve. As I said in my last post, if you haven’t bought it, go buy it. It’s an awesome read, and hopefully one of the year’s bestsellers.
And if you are in any of the cities where Kevin is speaking/reading on his book tour (going on NOW…he’s speaking in an hour or so in Birmingham, AL) you should definitely go and see him read.
Literally while I was writing this, my wife texted me to tell me that she was taking Eliza to the playground to meet up with Leigh Anne and Griff. Hilarious!
One of my best friends, and the father of one of Eliza’s best friends (and maybe Eliza’s favorite person who isn’t Mom or Dad) is an incredible, wonderful writer. His name is Kevin Wilson, and his first novel, The Family Fang, is coming out August 9th. I mention this because today the book got an outstanding review in the New York Times.
Mr. Wilson explores the damage inflicted on children raised in an atmosphere that is intentionally confusing. They have been told that their parents do important things; they have been told that their own feelings do not matter. They have learned the hard way that either of them might be betrayed in an instant by parents who bring a lofty, arty, guilt-free approach to everything they do. So as “The Family Fang” begins, Mr. Wilson shows just how badly the adult Annie and Buster have been damaged by Fang ideas of fun. He also makes it clear that the senior Fangs can be amusing. And then, all of a sudden, they are not.
His previous book of short stories, Tunneling to the Center of the Earth, won an Alex award from YALSA in 2010, and should be a part of any library collection by now. If you haven’t picked it up, do so…it’s an incredibly good book.
The Family Fang is something else entirely. It’s a book that stands up to anything on the shelves, a brilliant first novel. I’m in awe of Kevin when it comes to his skill with words, his imagination, and can’t wait for this thing to be a huge hit so that everyone can see how talented he is. And it’s not just that I know the guy…he’s getting reviews from all over:
So: Go buy it now. Seriously. Buy a copy for yourself, and put it on the purchase list for your library. It’s going to be huge.
I haven’t blogged much about Library Renewal, a new library non-profit that I am involved with…but we’re about to hit ALA Annual, and a bunch of things are coming together online. It seemed like a good time to remind people where they can find us. Here’s a quick list, including the new Youtube channel:
Coming soon, a lot more…including the ability to donate to Library Renewal (and receive some awesome premiums for doing so) and a new web-based tool that I’m not allowed to talk about yet. Interesting things will be happening in the next few months. Keep an eye on us.
And if you are attending ALA Annual, make sure you carve out time to see our Beloved President of Library Renewal, Michael Porter, present You Mean Libraries Will Be Able To Deliver Electronic Content Better Than iTunes and Netflix? on Saturday, June 25, 2011 from 1:30pm – 3:30pm in Convention Center Rm 244.
I decided that the only thing worse than a writing project is a writing project without a deadline…so here’s me self-imposing a deadline via public announcement. For the last month, I’ve been working on revising my Library Technology Report from April of 2010, Gadgets & Gizmos: Personal Electronics and the Library.
In April of this year, publication rights for the text reverted to me. Rather than just re-releasing it as is, I wanted to update it with more information about each of the Gizmos discussed in the original text. In addition, I’m adding a chapter related to to the iPad and tablet computing…believe it or not, when I delivered the text to TechSource for publication, the iPad hadn’t been released. So it’s pretty clear that any text about personal electronics has to take the new tablet space into account.
Here’s the interesting bit…whatever this becomes, it’s not going to be published by a “traditional” publisher. I’m still working on the specific details, but you can bet that it will be available as widely as I can possibly make it. As long as I can get the look/feel right for every eBook store, I will be making sure that it’s on the Amazon eBook store, the Apple iBook store, the B&N store, etc. I’m also going to be searching for a print on demand option for libraries that wish to have a print copy. I will also be making it available for free, under a Creative Commons license, through my website…although I’m also going to try to find an interesting way to make that happen.
To be fair to TechSource, I’m already under contract for a Gadgets & Gizmos 2.0, to be delivered and printed in 2012…so this is going to be Gadgets & Gizmos 1.5, in a sense. So in 2012, there will be an updated version from ALA, but in Summer 2011, there will be an update from me, directly. I get to test the waters of electronic self-publishing and hopefully learn a lot along the way. Stay tuned for more information, coming soon.
Head over to Library Renewal to see what I think about the recent news that Amazon may be turning on ePub support on the Kindle. It should tell you something that the original title of the post was “ePub don’t mean shit”.
So the twitterverse exploded a bit ago with the report that Amazon had talked to publishers about submitting ePubs instead of the traditional mobi/AZW format to the Amazon eBook store. This quickly became “OMFG AMAZON IS GOING TO ALLOW EPUBS ON THE KINDLE”. Let’s back up here just a second, and take a closer look at what the report actually says:
It seems many publishers have been told by the company that in the near-future, they should be submitting their books to Amazon in EPUB format and not exclusively MOBI. They also went on to let us know that Amazon was indeed planning something BIG and that soon the Kindle ereader will have the full capability to read ePub books.
Is this possible? Sure…all it would take is a quick software patch and every Kindle in the land could read ePub files. The questions we should be asking, though, are: What does it mean for patrons and for libraries? Why would Amazon do this?
The second question is easier to answer: If true, Amazon is almost certainly positioning themselves for the release of their Android Tablet. There may be good reasons to move to ePub as a result of that, including support for much more complicated media types. The article linked above says:
MOBI/AZW is known to have similarities with the ePub data structure and has most of the code embedded into its format
which is not quite true…both are markup languages, but ePub is a much more modern filetype, and is a combination of open standards (XHMTL for content, XML for structured metadata and such). If Amazon does have a tablet up their sleeve, moving to ePub could be necessary for those plans.
The first question is harder, but the answer is, almost certainly that ePub don’t mean shit to libraries or to patrons. Why? Our good friend DRM. It is extraordinarily unlikely that Amazon will replace their own DRM with that used by the library industry (and by others in the eBook world), Adobe Digital Editions. If you aren’t familiar with the various DRM used in the industry, I’ll refer you to my previous post on eBooks, Filetype, and DRM.
So what this means is that while the Kindle might get ePub abilities, it almost certainly won’t get Adobe DRM capabilities. There is no chance that Amazon is going to give people the ability to purchase books from Barnes & Noble and load them onto their Kindle…which is what it would mean if they did turn on Adobe DRM compatibility. So you still won’t be able to load non-Amazon DRM’d ePubs.
Given an ePub-ification update to the Kindle, you should be able to load and read ePubs without DRM. This is almost completely meaningless, because if you had a collection of non-DRM ePubs you wanted on your Kindle, you could just use Calibre to convert and load them.
So for libraries & patrons, the ability for the Kindle to use ePub is a non-issue. It doesn’t give us any ability that we don’t already have. The only advantage here is to Amazon, and only if they are positioning themselves for a new device that needs ePub. Let’s not get too excited about this.
There’s been a ton of discussion around the web about the Kindle/Overdrive library deal over the last week, but this thread over at Librarything is full of some real gems. If you haven’t read it, go there and take a look.
The online library world is abuzz today with the announcement of Kindle Library Lending, which promises to finally bring the ability for libraries to check ebooks out to patron’s Kindle (or Kindle software-driven devices). The announcement itself is full of promise and light on details, including such gems as:
Customers will be able to check out a Kindle book from their local library and start reading on any Kindle device or free Kindle app for Android, iPad, iPod touch, iPhone, PC, Mac, BlackBerry, or Windows Phone. If a Kindle book is checked out again or that book is purchased from Amazon, all of a customer’s annotations and bookmarks will be preserved.
Translation: Amazon will be maintaining notes and details of the book you read on their servers, and providing a way to purchase said book as a part of the library experience.
Amazon is working with OverDrive, the leading provider of digital content solutions for over 11,000 public and educational libraries in the United States, to bring a seamless library borrowing experience to Kindle customers. “We are excited to be working with Amazon to offer Kindle Library Lending to the millions of customers who read on Kindle and Kindle apps,” said Steve Potash, CEO, OverDrive. “We hear librarians and patrons rave about Kindle, so we are thrilled that we can be part of bringing library books to the unparalleled experience of reading on Kindle.”
This appears to mean that Overdrive will be the library-facing partner in this enterprise, and I’m guessing that the checkout experience and user interface will be Overdrive driven. This is (IMNSHO) a disappointment, as I’d much rather deal with Amazon directly (even though I’m sure they would not rather deal with libraries…thus, Overdrive).
Bobbi Newman, as always, has a thoughtful post up about this, and asks a couple of questions for which I’m going to guess the answers. She asks:
Will libraries be forced to add a third ebook format (which will only spread their already thin money thinner?)
- Will I be allowed to borrow library ebooks in epub and pdf format on my Kindle?
- Will owners of other devices (such as the Nook or Sony) be allowed to read Kindle books on their device? (the press release reads as “no”)
I would find it VERY hard to believe that Amazon is going to convert all of their proprietary files into a new format just for libraries…so yes, I believe strongly that there will be yet another format. I also find it hard to believe that Amazon will suddenly decide to embrace Adobe DRM…which means that there is little chance that library books via Overdrive or another vendor that are in the epub or pdf format will start working on the Kindle.
As to the last question…I believe very strongly that if Barnes & Noble and Sony decided to allow Amazon DRM/filetypes on the nook or Sony reader, Amazon would be thrilled to provide them with books. But that’s probably not going to happen either. For a reminder of all the intricacies of the filetype/DRM issues here, see my post on eBook Filetypes and DRM.
I have requests out currently for answers from Overdrive and Amazon on the following questions…if either of them get back to me, I’ll make sure to post it here.
Will the Kindle Library Lending functionality require the use of the Overdrive Media
Will the functionality require a “buy this book” link in the Overdrive catalog?
Will the KLL functionality require the library patron to be physically in the library, or authenticated via IP address, or will they be able to access this remotely? Or some combination of the two?
The press release mentions that Whispersync will be enabled to remember page numbers, which implies that patrons will be able to load Kindle books that they check out onto multiple devices…what will the mechanism for this be? If I check out a book, and then load it onto my Kindle, my Kindle DX, my iPod Touch, and my iPad, will that count as 4 checkouts, or one?
Currently, the Overdrive ebook model works with Adobe Digital Editions and ePub…I am assuming that the Kindle books will remain in the standard .azw format, and use Amazon DRM. Can you confirm this assumption? If so, can you describe the process by which patrons will check out a book using this service?
What will the limitations on the KLL catalog be? How does it compare to the overall Kindle ebook catalog?
Will publishers be able to opt-out of allowing Library lending in the same way that they can currently opt-out of other features of the Kindle?
What is Amazon doing to ensure the privacy/confidentiality of library patrons?
Overdrive finally posted to their blog about the issue, and I just received a callback from Overdrive marketing. While they weren’t able to comment a large number of things, I did get confirmations on a few details. On the Overdrive blog post, they say:
A user will be able to browse for titles on any desktop or mobile operating system, check out a title with a library card, and then select Kindle as the delivery destination.
The exact quote that I got from the Overdrive marketing department was that the books would be “deliverable to Kindle” and that did include any Kindle and Kindle app.
The blog post also says:
Your existing collection of downloadable eBooks will be available to Kindle customers. As you add new eBooks to your collection, those titles will also be available in Kindle format for lending to Kindle and Kindle reading apps. Your library will not need to purchase any additional units to have Kindle compatibility. This will work for your existing copies and units.
When asked about the potential catalog non-overlap (what happens when a book available via Overdrive isn’t available on Amazon), the answer from Overdrive was that they hadn’t looked fully at the catalog overlap yet. But it sounds like the Kindle compatibility is simply going to be there for your existing books as an additional option…well done!
MASSIVE SPECULATION AHEAD:It sounds to me like Overdrive will be providing the ability to checkout a book and click “deliver to Kindle”, much in the same way that Amazon currently does when you purchase a book. If I’d been thinking for half a second, I’d have realized that’s the ONLY way they can do it and support Kindle Apps.
None of the Kindle apps that I’m aware of allows for any sort of side-loading of content…all the content that is in them can ONLY come from Amazon directly. CORRECTION: Kindle App for iOS does allow side-loading via emailed or web-linked files of the appropriate filetype (mobi, azw)…but no tethered side-loading. You can obviously plug your Kindle directly into your computer and throw a random PDF on it, but you can’t do that with Kindle Apps. They have to deliver these to you via Whispernet…there’s no other choice.
Back to the blog post!
The Kindle eBook titles borrowed from a library will carry the same rules and policies as all our other eBooks.
One answer that I’d really like from Overdrive is relating to this piece. On the phone call, I asked if a publisher limited the number of times that a book could be downloaded (which some do), whether this would effect the number of devices that I could have said book delivered to. The official statement was that they didn’t have that information right now, but that whatever the solution it would “support publisher’s existing models”.
Last bit of news for now: I tried to get Overdrive to give me anything on a timeframe, and they weren’t even willing to promise/commit to a quarter of the year…all they would say was “in 2011”. So we could have some time to wait for this.