Tag Archives: Books

Interview with Jason Chen – Storybundle

I was lucky enough to interview Jason Chen via email about his new ebook startup Storybundle. He had some interesting things to say about the ebook market. Unsurprisingly, as a new ebook startup, he didn’t even consider libraries at first.

As to whether or not this is good for libraries, at the current time I hadn’t even considered libraries, so I’m going to aim for personal use for the first few bundles and see where things go from there. It depends heavily on the author, because the promo is a limited time thing, and making a sale to a library becomes a forever thing.

Head over to TechSource to read the full interview!

More on the Family Fang

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!

The Family Fang

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.

 

Interfaces

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.

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

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?

Ebooks explode this week

This week, ebooks were all over the tech news, and there were at least two huge announcements. Well, one announcement, and one not-so-secret launch coming Monday.

The announcement was the Google Book mobile service, which gives users access to 1.5 million books from the Google Book scanning project OCR’d and formatted for mobile screens, like those of the G1 and the iPhone. In one fell swoop, Google has made these platforms the home of the largest electronic book library in the world…the Amazon Kindle store currently has 230,000 books, while Project Gutenberg has just over 100,000.

The upcoming announcement is that almost certainly on Monday, Amazon will announce the Kindle version 2. Leaked photos make the v2 look sleeker, more updated, and with much better physical form-factor. What I’m most excited about is the possibility of v.2 of the software, which better UI and possibly more features. As long, of course, as the software is ported back to the original hardware.

Are these the things that will finally push ebooks firmly into the public consciousness? Time will tell, but I can hope.

Cryptonomicon via tag cloud

Two tag cloud posts in a row is a bit much, but I had the idea, so I went with it. This is an infographic of the word frequency of the text of the novel Cryptonomicon by Neal Stephenson.

Cryptonomicon

It’s a really interesting way to visualize texts (as I’ve pointed out before). So let’s see if I can start a meme. Doesn’t have to be a new book, you can pick one from Project Gutenberg…there certainly are enough good books there. Pick your favorite (or one of your favorites), and post it up.

I’m tagging: Iris, Amanda and Tombrarian.

Snow Crash

Betsy surprised me a few days ago with this, which she claims is either a late birthday or early father’s day present: a signed, numbered, limited edition of Snow Crash by Neal Stephenson.IMG_3153.JPG

It’s put out by Subterranean Press, and is gorgeous. Subterranean is a press that specialized in high quality printings of limited edition fantasy, scifi, and horror…I want to own nearly everything they print.

But for now, I will just stare and covet my copy of my preciou….I mean, Snow Crash.