This week, Library Journal’s Barbara Hoffert analyzes trends in circulation and budgets of public libraries.  This is a survey of 175  libraries who responded to questions sent out to Library Journal subscribers.  Here is the link:

Materials Mix: Investigating Trends in Materials Budgets and Circulation.

Among those reporting, 65% of circulation was fiction vs non-ficion.  The top fiction genres were mystery, general, romance, and thriller; while non-fiction’s most popular subject areas were cooking, health, how-to, and arts/crafts.  No big surprises there.

More revealing, perhaps, are the discussions of eBooks, self-publishing, apps, and social media marketing opportunities.  One particularly interesting fact: eBook circulation was still only 3% of the total but grew close to 70% among libraries serving over 250,000 residents.

This information paints a panoramic backdrop against which we can highlight our own data from Collection HQ and other sources.

slower than molasses

January 28, 2011

this week is the Digital Book World Conference & Expo 2011.  on Wednesday, a panel of publishers convened to present “A CEO’s View of the Future.”  the panel consisted of Brian Napack, President of Macmillan, Jane Friedman, CEO of Open Road Integrated Media, David Steinberger, CEO of Perseus, Michael Hyatt, CEO of Thomas Nelson, and David Nussbam, CEO of F+W Media.

during the question and answer period of the session, Sarah Wendell, of the oft quoted Smart Bitches, Trashy Books, asked a very pertinent question (and kudos for her advocacy!):

Macmillan books are not available for digital lending in libraries. After making pronouncements about a publishers job being to unite the creators with their audience, and the importance of building a community, how can either of those things happen without library lending? I want to borrow Macmillan digital books in libraries, and I can’t – why not?

LJ summarized Napack’s answer:

Napack responded that Macmillan had “spent a long time looking for a business model” for putting Macmillan ebooks in libraries, but did not confirm when—or if—it would happen.

so while Macmillan is busy counting its money from library print sales, they’re unwilling to entertain the notion of making money off of library customers through ebook lending because of DRM and fear?!  how long is it going to take for publishers to recognize that people who borrow from the library don’t stop buying books and do much in the way of word of mouth in recommending books to others – we’ve all seen it.  Sarah passionately agrees on this point:

I find the idea of struggling with the question of a library business model absolutely barmy, because it demonstrates a lack of understanding about how libraries serve as a gateway to readers, to potential word-of-mouth sales, and to more book purchases by individuals who must own copies of books they loved. NOT having books available in the libraries for digital lending is a loss and a bad business model. Yet I don’t see Macmillan changing their position on this one.

and Jane of Dear Author put it quite succinctly in a retort to Napack:

Apparently publishers believe that the library patron is not a book buyer.  I am not sure where publishers get this idea as it is well known that publishers don’t view readers as their customers and thus have very little data on consumer spending habits.

Napack did little to change the impression that publishing is a business based on outdated models that responds too slowly to change.  i also can’t help but wonder if any librarians were at the Digital Book World Conference.

posting by marin who bids adieu to the readers of this blog – thanks for humoring my ramblings and engaging in a conversation, both online and in-person.

Kindle lending library

January 19, 2011

at the end of last year, Amazon announced Kindle lending which is similar to nook lending:

Eligible Kindle books can be loaned once for a period of 14 days. The borrower does not need to own a Kindle — Kindle books can also be read using our free Kindle reading applications for PC, Mac, iPad, iPhone, BlackBerry, and Android devices. Not all books are lendable — it is up to the publisher or rights holder to determine which titles are eligible for lending. The lender will not be able to read the book during the loan period.

of course, it didn’t take long for strangers to create their own facebook lending library for Kindle copies (via GalleyCat) with an active good reads counterpart (via Dear Author) and a web site dedicated to Kindle Lending (via lifehacker).  but as Jane on Dear Author points out, Kindle lending is quite restrictive (link to handy chart comparing Kindle and nook lending, as well as a list of participating publishers); lending is determined by the publishers or rights holder (see above verbage from Amazon) who aren’t likely to jump on this band wagon.

in fact, it should come as no surprise that in the last few weeks, it appears that the number of lendable titles on the nook is decreasing.  again, Jane from Dear Author:

Apparently publishers really don’t like digital lending even though they want to keep charging us print prices without giving digital readers corresponding print rights for the digital books. In other words, charge the consumer the same price but don’t allow her to trade, resell, or loan the book out.

oh publishers, when will you learn?!  when did lending become a bad word? haven’t publishers made big money from library budgets for years?

at least from a device perspective, Barnes & Noble and the nook are willing to play with libraries and allow lending via that route, small victories.

posting by marin

Laura Lippman made the rounds on the “Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson” to promote her new book, a stand-alone thriller called “I’d Know You Anywhere.” (via EarlyWord)  during the interview, Lippman and Ferguson trade quips on personality tests and outlets for dark urges.

in “I’d Know You Anywhere,” Eliza Benedict is contacted by the man who kidnapped and raped her when she was 15, the only girl to have survived a string of murders at the hands of Walter Bowman who is weeks away from execution.  both Booklist and PW gave it starred reviews.  from Booklist:

Stoked by stinging dialogue and arresting evocations of the fog of fear, doubt, and guilt versus the laser-lock pursuit of survival, Lippman’s taut, mesmerizing, and exceptionally smart drama of predator and prey is at once unusually sensitive and utterly compelling.

interestingly, ebook sales of “I’d Know You Anywhere” surpassed hardcover sales in the first week, 4,739 ebook copies vs.4,000 hardcover copies.  (via GalleyCat)

a galley to the first Sno-Isle Libraries employee to comment.

posting by marin who read said galley and thinks that Elizabeth Scott’s “Living Dead Girl” is a much more disturbing and emotionally charged take on this topic (perhaps it’s the lack of adult perspective?), not for the faint-of-heart.

Newsweek published a boxing poster graphic announcing the world championship bout between books and e-books:

Best quote: “Walking to the Library is still the most ecofriendly way to read”

via Shelf Awareness

posting by Lorraine

said with a straight face

August 11, 2010

in the last several months, reported ebook sales from Kindle, Apple, and Barnes & Noble were bandied about leading to some pretty funny numbers.  with Kindle reporting about 80-90% of the market and Apple and Barnes & Noble claiming 20% each respectively, it’s clear that something is amiss.

in an interview with CNET, Ian Freed, Kindle’s VP, was asked about the validity of these numbers:

Honestly, something doesn’t add up because we’re pretty sure we’re 70 to 80 percent of the market. So, something, somewhere isn’t quite working right. I encourage you to do some more research. Obviously, from the beginning of Amazon we’ve been very metrics-focused and we don’t typically throw out numbers we don’t firmly believe in. Take that 70 to 80 percent number and add up all the others and something somewhere isn’t going to add up.

this from a company that has yet to disclose the numbers of Kindles sold?!  sure Freed, in Amazon we trust.

(via Slash Gear)

posting by marin

a few days ago, Apple requested that an iPad app for a graphic novel adaptation of James Joyce’s “Ulysses” be cleaned up because it contained images of nudity (via GalleyCat).

Robert Berry, the illustrator of “Ulysses Seen,” said that an image of a woman with exposed breasts was one of the offending panels in the comic version of the book. He offered to pixelate the image or cover it up with a fig leaf, suggestions that were rejected by Apple.

thankfully, Apple reversed its decision and is allowing the app to be published as is.  said Chad Rutkowski, the business manager for Throwaway Horse, the publisher of the comic:

They basically apologized.  They said they gave it a second look and realized that it wasn’t obscene or anything like that. They’re clearly drawing a distinction now and they understand what we’re doing.

this is not the first time that Apple has made it its business to save the world from the “offensive.”  a couple of classics in the iPad bookstore were bowlderized including “Moby Dick” in which “sperm whale” became “s***m whale” and Joseph Conrad’s “The Nigger of the Narcissus” becomes “The N****r of the Narcissus.”

a Gawker post from this spring does a nice job of gathering some of the cartoons initially banned by Apple including one from Pulitzer Prize winning Mark Fiore (deemed unacceptable because it ridiculed public figures).  two of the three decisions were eventually overturned by Apple.

further evidence of Apple’s policy comes from Steve Jobs himself who responded to a customer questioning Apple’s role as the “moral police” with

We do believe we have a moral responsibility to keep porn off the iPhone.

clearly, this guiding philosophy also applies to the iPad.  nowhere does Jobs define “porn.”

are publishers ok with this?  is it really worth aligning themselves with Apple at all costs in order to diminish the Amazon stranglehold?  and what about libraries?  if we’re able to support ebook versions that are compliant with Apple products, will we in turn be supporting this censorship (guilty by association)?  as a library user, it’s my responsibility to choose what is and isn’t appropriate and i appreciate that freedom.

A variety of viewpoints are represented in the library collection and the library upholds the right of the individual to obtain information, though the content may be controversial, unorthodox, or unacceptable to others.

can Apple users not be allotted the same responsibility?

in a PW editorial mostly focused on Apple’s DRM, Cory Doctorow asks an important question that is relevant here, “Can You Survive a Benevolent Dictatorship?”  definitely many things to think about.

posting by marin

June 10, 2010

3D movies seem to be popping up everywhere — from the awesome (Avatar) to the ‘er less than awesome (Clash of the Titans).    Midwest Tapes our vendor for media has a nice summary of the current state of 3D film.

Some tidbits

ESPN will be broadcasting some World Cup games in 3D .  Those of you with Direct TV and a 3D television–call me–I’ll bring the goodies.

And while we’re on the subject of 3D

Dreamworks CEO Jeffrey Katzenberg said earlier this year that Titanic and Star Wars films may be converted to 3D. Besides giving us all something to drool over, Katzenberg said that sports events would probably be the driving force behind adoption of 3D technology in the home.  “Sports and gaming are going to be the earlier drivers in the home… . Curling works well,” he said. “Football and basketball, not so good.”

Huh what, CURLING!

Finally we know why NBC forced us to endure all those countless hours of Olympic curling.  It’s all a huge plot to get us to get hooked oh curling, and buy the new 3D television set.

Well my favorite 3D film of all time remains the classic…

Dr. Tongue’s 3D House of Beef.

posting by jim

apparently a hall monitor is no longer sufficient.  with the introduction of the iPad into the ebook market, the pricing war and debate has escalated to a whole new level.

publishers were gleeful at Apple’s entry into the ebook market despite Steve Jobs’ declaration a couple of years ago in response to the Kindle that “people don’t read anymore.”  they hoped to use the competition as leverage with Macmillan’s John Sargent leading the way, insisting that Amazon follow their rules or they’d withdraw their ebooks from Amazon.  a brief tussle ensued, but was ultimately resolved.

Apple negotiated with 5 of the big 6 publishers (Random House as the holdout) an agency model pricing structure which means that the publishers set the price with the retailers making a commission off the established price.  Amazon has operated under the retail model:  publishers sell to retailers who then establish their own price (Amazon has a fondness for $9.99) when selling to consumers, sometimes at a loss.  this has not pleased publishers, but Amazon is fighting back.

Exhibit A (via GalleyCat)

Exhibit B (via Dear Author)

Amazon is now selling some new Penguin hardcovers at a reduced price of $9.99.  there is speculation that this move (ya think?!) is pay-back for Penguin withholding ebook versions of their titles from Amazon when pricing negotiations failed (via Dear Author).

the deal with Apple appeared initially to be a win for publishers, but some are questioning that notion.  in a very thorough New Yorker article (is there any other kind?), Ken Auletta summarizes the ebook dramatics, players, and implications  in “Publish or Perish.”

But in the long term Apple and Google will not necessarily be better partners than Amazon. One day, they, too, will complain about the cumbersome publishing process, or excessive prices. Just days before the iPad went on sale, on April 3rd, there were rumors that Apple might list best-sellers for as little as $9.99. Apple agreed to the agency model for just one year, and, as publishers are acutely aware, Jobs has a history, with music and television companies, of fighting to reduce prices.

if you’d like to geek out further, Auletta was interviewed on “Fresh Air” which covers some of the same material (via Shelf Awareness).

Rich Aden over at TeleRead (via Dear Author) outlines several drawbacks of the ebook agency model:  publishers have burned their Amazon bridges; in forcing retailers across the board to adopt the agency model, publishers can’t evaluate its success (or failure) as compared to the wholesale model; and iPad users may not be ebook readers.

The big 5 have declared war on me (and like-minded ebookers) with agency model pricing and aligning themselves with the iBookstore. This may well be their Waterloo, yet it is a battle the publishers cannot afford to lose. If the iBookstore’s sales numbers do not at least meet the sales numbers of the wholesale model, publishers will have won the battle (imposition of the agency model) but lost the war (decline in sales and revenues).

plus, Aden identifies that the iPad has physical limitations (heavy and can’t read in sunshine) and the iBookstore frustrates consumers by locking down its ebook titles with a proprietary DRM.

this all gets a little more interesting with the news that Google is developing a tablet.  not surprisingly, Google announced that it will begin selling ebooks this summer (via Shelf Awareness).

Google has been discussing its vision for distributing books online for several years and for months has been evangelizing about its new service, called Google Editions. The company is hoping to distinguish Google Editions in the marketplace by allowing users to access books from a broad range of websites using an array of devices, unlike rivals that are focused on proprietary devices and software.

ruh-roh publishers, Apple, and Amazon – what’s next? what will the impact be on consumers?  and when will libraries enter the discussion?

posting by marin

also known as an information overload that resulted in procrastination and a lot of open browser tabs.

fortunately, over at Shelf Awareness, a compilation of some of the major reviews were gathered in one spot including a couple of my favorites from Jane at Dear Author and Sarah at Smart Bitches.  both bloggers provide in-depth, experienced, and thoughtful reviews with each concluding that the iPad is not the end-all-be-all nor a “Kindle killer,” but its ability to be many things rather than just a dedicated ereader is useful.  Jane goes one step further and summarizes the pros and cons of various ebook apps on the iPad including iBook and the Kindle app.

a day before the release, GalleyCat compiled critiques from not-yet-mentioned sources:  USA Today‘s Edward C. Baig calls it a “winner” though not without deficiencies; Cory Doctorow laments, among many other things, that a comic app kills the joy of lending; and Walter Mossberg of The Wall Street Journal examined the iPad in terms of its ability to replace a laptop (close, but not quite).

EarlyWord also dedicated a post to early iPad reviews including a link to an article from David Pogue evaluating the iPad from two perspectives: the techies and normal people.  while lauding the apps in the “Review for Everyone Else,” Pogue slams the ebook functionality in the “Review for Techies”:

There’s an e-book reader app, but it’s not going to rescue the newspaper and book industries (sorry, media pundits). The selection is puny (60,000 titles for now). You can’t read well in direct sunlight. At 1.5 pounds, the iPad gets heavy in your hand after awhile (the Kindle is 10 ounces). And you can’t read books from the Apple bookstore on any other machine — not even a Mac or iPhone.

basically, the 2 major complaints about the iPad are just that: the brightness of the screen which doesn’t utilize e-Ink technology and its heftiness.  a couple of days after its release, Gawker collected a somewhat tongue-in-cheek list of complaints against the “magical” device.

The LA Times compared the iPad to the Kindle to determine which one is more book-like.  the iPad wins with the Kindle described as “outdated.”

It’s not just that the iPad is beautiful. Nor is it just that the touch-screen interface is more intuitive than the controls on the plastic shell of the Kindle — which up to now has been the dominant e-reader.

So what is it? Simply this: Books on the iPad are electronic without losing their essential bookness, in a way that e-books haven’t been before.

David Lee King provides a concise, bulleted post on the background and impact of the iPad and other ereaders with the added benefit of a library perspective.

with over 1 million and counting sold, iPad is a game changer.

poor Nook, will anyone notice its commercial amidst all this iPad hubbub?  or that it’s being sold at Best Buy?

have any of you bought an iPad?  i never buy the first generation of any device and have a few reservations about Apple’s app business model, but that’s another blog post.

posting by marin

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